“Those who consider it a misfortune to lose children, slaves, money or any other of their belongings, must realize that in the first place they should be satisfied with what is given to them by God; and then, when they have to give it back, they should be ready to do so gratefully, without any indignation at being deprived of it, or rather at giving it back – for since they have been enjoying the use of what was not their own, they are not in fact returning it.
“A good man does not sell his inner freedom for money, even if he happens to be offered a huge sum. For things belonging to this life are like a dream, and the fantasies of wealth are uncertain and short-lived.” ~The Philokalia
I would not consider children to be “belongings”, but otherwise I agree with most of this quote.
The point of the first paragraph quoted is that we are not the creators of these objects, therefore we have them only on loan. They do not truly belong to us so we should not object when they are lost to us. This is, obviously, not an easy teaching to follow, yet it is a wise one. Spiritual teachers of all types have said for many centuries that becoming too attached to physical things, to property, to good, to money and other forms of material wealth, is both foolish and harmful. Foolish, because these things are temporary and, as the old saying goes, you can’t take it with you. To devote your entire life to pursuing material goods, only to die leaving them behind, is about as foolish as spending your life building a boat when you live in the middle of a desert and have no reason to believe a flood is coming.
The material world is what it is. It is not going to become permanent. It is not going to become real. It is not going to stop constantly changing. So attaching all your hopes and desires to it is like chaining yourself to the wind.
This does not mean, as I have said before, that we need to give up all material possessions. God does not require us to live in poverty, but He does require that we not become so attached to the material that we ignore the spiritual, or push it aside as something to deal with when you have the time, which you never do. He does require that we place the care and feeding of the spirit and soul above that of the physical body and the brain/mind. It is really simple logic; the permanent is more important than the temporary and everything material is temporary.
As the second paragraph of the quote says, the good man (or woman) does not sell his “inner freedom” for money, even if the sum is huge. What is meant by inner freedom is the permanent spirit and soul. Some think that because the spirit and soul are permanent, they need to nothing to care for them. Nothing could be further from the truth. If you don’t awaken the soul now, while you are on the physical plane, it will separate from you when you dies and go it’s own way. It is permanent, but you do not become permanent with it unless you awaken it and integrate with it while you are still on this level of existence. I’m not sure we can truly say this world is just a dream, but it is certainly a fantasy, a delusion. Quantum physics tells us that our observation of a thing changes it (and vice versa), therefore we do not really know the thing itself, only the version of it that we observe. So should we really be spending most of our time pursuing phantoms and fantasies? I think not. Let’s start pursuing the permanent and unchangeable, the spiritual. Also, the material world is changing and will at some unknown time in the future become spiritual as it was once before. When that happens, those who have anchored themselves to the material will cease to exist. So be satisfied with what you have.