Ownership is a western concept that, along with power, causes a great deal of anxiety and trouble. Ownership is, after all, tied up in power. “This is MINE, and you can’t have it,” is an often-heard opinion from many a two-year-old; and, unfortunately, those who are much older.
Ownership and the desire for it are the cause of many a war. I-want-your-land/oil/riches-and-I -will-have-it-one-way-or-another. During the 1960’s Dennis Lambert and Brian Potter wrote a song about this level of ownership.
Ownership creates attachments, what the Buddhists say is the source of all suffering. Some people actually define themselves by what they “own,” rather than their spiritual way of life: money, land, businesses, cars, etc. Yet when the floods, fires, and winds come, they discover how fragile their “ownership” is.
The entire western economy is based on feeding the notion of ownership. Buy this; buy that. If you have this particular thing, you will be happy and fulfilled. Yet, in reality, people are feeding the hungry ghost within, a being representing a need that has a huge belly and a tiny mouth and neck. It can never be full.
Even worse is when people think they own other people. Even parents, because they see their children as “theirs,” have been known to impose their dreams and desires on their children rather than allowing the children to be their own selves. If you are interested, Kahlil Gibran offers us wisdom on the alternative. On Children by Kahlil Gibran - Poems | Academy of American Poets
What if we could take a look at the indigenous way of practicing our relationship with other entities? In the indigenous way of life, we are only caretakers. We take care of what is in our lives until it is time to pass it on to someone else to take care of it.
What if all of nature was something we needed to take care of? What if all the objects present in our lives were something we needed to take care of until it was time to pass it on to someone else?
Minimalists say that we only need 100 things in our lives. If you're like me, you have that many things in one of many “junk” drawers!
Take some time to consider ownership and how it plays out in your life. Far too many people are themselves “owned” by the hungry ghost of ownership.
What about you? Are you free?
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The words found here were written by the caretakers of APOL and students