Multi coloured balloons fascinate any child. He cries to possess them and doesn’t let his father rest till he buys one for him. Finally the father gives in. The child is delighted and fascinated with the bounce, the colour, the lightness, and plays with it all the way home. The father knows the temporary nature of the balloon and is therefore waiting for it to happen! The child is mesmerised with the beauty and can’t take his eyes off , he laughs, he plays, he runs around with it! Then suddenly there is a sound, Phutt , and the child is shocked. He picked up a small piece of wrinkled Latex in his hands and burst out crying. The father is neither sorry nor crying, but trying to console the child,but the child is inconsolable.
Doesn’t the same thing happen to all of us? Maybe not with a balloon, but with other toys that we value? A car , a house, a diamond ring, a pet, a new and expensive dress, or any one you love and treasure? “ I never expected this Swamiji?” we say. So, why didn’t we expect it? Is this not a world of continuous change? Is it not a world where people are continuously being born and dying? Don’t we know for sure that anything and everything will first change and then get destroyed? Finitude is the very nature of this universe!
This is where the Vedanta teaching comes in. If one is firmly rooted in the knowledge of the changeable nature of all things and beings, then attaching oneself to them as if they are permanent, is utter foolishness . So, the ignorant child feels the terrible sorrow and bereavement when his beautiful balloon dies, but the father, rooted in his knowledge of the balloon’s temporary existence laughs and reassures his child that if one bursts another will come soon.
Prarthna Saran, President Chinmaya Mission Delhi. Email: prarthnasaran@ gmail.com