Difference between Having and Being : Jug Suraiya

19 Aug

” JUG SURAIYA reads John Galsworthy’s The Man Of Property and discovers an allegory that depicts two different modes of consciousness :

I’ve just finished reading Galsworthy’s novel The Man Of Property, the first part of the trilogy The Forsyte Saga. The first time I read i, more than 30 years ago, I took it to be a study of the social manners and mores of the British upper middle class at the end of the 19th century.

This time round, however, I discovered in the novel, which helped the author win the Nobel prize for literature, an allegory that depicts two very different modes of consciousness: the consciousness which is obsessed with possessions, and the consciousness which rejoices in the contemplation of pure being, unensnared by the desire to possess.

Right Of Ownership

The man of property of the title is Soames Forsyte, a member of the prosperous, London-based Forsyte family. As their name — which is a pun on the word ‘foresight’ — suggests, the Forsytes are conservative and prudent about social and financial matters, and place great stock on the ownership of property of all kinds. In this regard, Soames is the archetypal
Forsyte, with a belief in the paramount right of ownership which he has exalted to the status of a secular religion.

Soames measures himself and his life by what he owns: his house, his investments, his collection of paintings. But his most prized — and most elusive — possession is his beautiful
wife, Irene, whom he managed to wed after a long and doggedly determined courtship.

Irene is the epitome of beauty,and Soames loves her with the desperation that a man dying of thirst yearns for water. But his all-consuming desire to possess her, body and soul, repels and disgusts Irene.The more he seeks to own her — the way he owns his other possessions — the more she seeks to escape him.

Soames’s obsessive love of his wife is contrasted by the very different kind of love that the 70-year-old Jolyon Forsyte, his uncle, also has for Irene. In the winter of his life, Jolyon warms his hands in the radiant glow of Irene’s beauty, without any desire to possess her, physically, emotionally or spiritually.

He feels a joyous exaltation in her presence, which enables him to transcend the frailties of age and the certitude of mortality.When he is with her, he experiences a sense of pure being, of consciousness untrammelled by the ego’s compulsion to have and to hold all that it believes it owns, starting with itself.

Passionless Ecstasy

Irene’s beauty inspires in Jolyon the passionless ecstasy of a worshipper whose devotion is freely reciprocated by the one who is idolised. That same beauty ends up destroying Soames who wants to put it under safe lock and key, along with all the other possessions, all the other
properties, he takes such pride in owning.

The point that Galsworthy seems to make in his novel is also made by William Blake in four lines of poetry: He who bends to himself a joy/ Doesthe winged life destroy;/ But he who kisses the joy as it flies/ Lives in eternity’s sun rise.

The ceaseless quest for beauty — which is only another word for goodliness, or godliness — is an imperative of life; it is what makes life rise above brute existence and gives it meaning.
But if the pursuit of beauty, of the good, begins and ends in a desire to entrap it, put it in the cage of possession, it defeats and destroys itself.

Earthly beauty, as all else that is of this earth, is a transient joy, to be savoured without the corrosive longing of attachment. Jolyon intuits this, and is rewarded by Irene’s chaste love. Soames wants to imprison the ‘winged life’ of Irene’s beauty and invites her scorn.That is the difference between the fullness of being and what Sartre would have called the ‘futile passion’ of possessiveness. ”

Source: http://www.speakingtree.in/spiritual-articles/new-age/difference-between-having-and-being?utm_source=social&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=solomo

Another reference: http://blogs.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/jugglebandhi/true-beauty-of-being/?sortBy=OLDEST&th=1

I had remembered reading this piece by   Indian Journalist and columnist Jug Suraiya and wanted to share the same for you dear freinds. I had really liked it.  I have not read Nobel Laureate John Galsworthy’s The Man Of Property” and this piece is so succintly beautiful. Sometimes a fine interpretation is near enough.  The distinction between having and being is thematically explored with possessive and non- possesive love. I feel even if you are lucky to be with the one you love, It should be non- possesive. It must be shared and non- possesive.

I have had fleeting moments of happiness and wonder how they would be if they had sustained? Sometimes miss people and situations. Then reconcile that every thing must be non possesive , mutual and shared.  I am talking of happy moments and not just romantic love.

To give an example , recently met a father and daughter duo at a course and was stunned to know the girl is only sixteen. I could only appreciate father’s immense foresight and bravery to send his daughter for a course on transformation. I asked the little  girl ” How did you find the course and did it help you” and she told me excitedly ” I learnt a few things and my mom also sees a change in me now. Then she asked me ” why we never spoke before”  like only a child would ask excitedly 🙂

I happily waved them Good Bye. I may never meet the lovely father- daughter again. It was in a different city. A transient moment of unadulterated Joy. Some times my very young cousin excitedly calls me and always feel happy to hear from him. Its again a transient joy till he calls next time. Same with my friends. My childhood friend.

We experience many such moments of fleeting Joy. May be that’s why we have good memories.  Hope you like this article as much as enjoyed sharing it with you.  I have mostly read Jug Suraiya’s columns thinking he is a humorist and this is such a fine piece on a great book.

Hope you have a lovely day dear friends. Love must not be caged. It must be free and mutual. Do I miss people ? Horribly 🙂 Do I love people ? Horribly 🙂

Thank you!


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