‘I Lose Everything’

One man I speak with believes and feels that he has “lost everything.” He keeps changing jobs with a view to bettering his financial situation; the overall economic situation in this South American country continues to be more precarious; he lost his dog and his longtime therapist recently; he may be separating from his wife.

Without question, all of this is hard, and without question what we should feel is compassion (karuna) for him.

Yet one thing is true: he has not lost everything; he has only lost, and may stand to lose, temporal objects.

This philosophical and spiritual search often begins, as it began for Gautama and Job, with the feeling that one has lost everything and hence that life is suffering. Did you note what I just wrote? This loss is so often the beginning.

If one is a truth seeker and if one is courageous enough, then one is bound to ask: “Is there a greater reality that is not subject to the flux of gains and losses, of comings and goings of the kind felt so acutely in the secular, temporal world?”

Asking that question swiftly leads one to consideration of matters of ultimate concern. In time, what initially was merely conceptually understood may be feelingly understood. I leave all this as a mystery for now.

For now, it’s enough to see that the secular, temporal world has seduced us into believing what is not ultimately true. Only now, given these shattering losses, might we stand open before the existential questions that could light up reality of the kind we’ve never known.