During our lifetimes, we accumulate many things we claim we now “own”: cars, houses, land. Closets full of stuff. All these things start owning us and force us to “take care” of them more than of our Self. How much time and money we spend maintaining our car, our house, our computers? Do we even spend a fraction of this time and money on ourselves?
We come with nothing into this world but our physical body. During our lifetime we accumulate masses of things around us while we neglect and deplete our insides. As we have to work harder and harder to secure and maintain our “stuff”, we sacrifice more and more of our inner self, of our creativity, playfulness, emotional and sensual experiences. We switch to autopilot, going through the motions of living without feeling it. We sacrifice our health and youth so that we can afford to be old and sick later, for an extended time. We postpone wealth and relaxation for our retirement age – if we are lucky enough to be able to enjoy it. What’s wrong with this picture???
Our concept of ownership has a lot to do with our fear of change, our secret refusal to accept the new, to be surprised. When we meet a new person, we carefully study their dress, their car, their watch. We have made “owning” an easy indicator for success. Not being. The idea of ownership separates us from each other. The one who owns more might not want to share with the one who owns less.
I look at my “own” body in the mirror and realize I don’t “own” anything, not even my body. We have limited control over when we will have to leave it behind. We are “renters”, not “owners”. Take it a step further: your family doesn’t “belong to you”, your spouse, children or your friends. Not even your pets, even though legally we still claim ownership over them as if they were slaves. Our pets have their “own” mind and destiny, we are only their stewards.
Take a moment to look at all the things you believe you have “created”: none of those achievements were possible without elements that are given to us for free: the sun, the air, the nutritional power of the soil. The programming inside a seed, its knowledge how to grow into a plant. The qualities of steel, wood, glass, plastic. We never created minerals or chemical elements. We re-combine what’s freely given to all of us. And then we claim “patents”, or ownership over them, so we alone can profit. We have no more right to claim ownership over nature and her gifts as we have claiming ownership of the sun or the air.
Once we manage to question our old believes regarding “ownership”, many things take on a whole new meaning. We’re not the masters and owners of our lives. With this realization comes freedom: Freedom from the burden of “ownership”. Freedom also from the burden of “non-ownership”: there is no reason to feel “poor” without extensive ownership. We might feel peace realizing that no one else “owns” anything either. We THINK we do until the moment we draw our last breath. Then all our ownership turns into a blessing or a curse for the ones we leave behind. To them, our beloved memorabilia might be trash and that’s where it goes: straight to the landfill, where it becomes - yet again - part of our communal property: the earth (or else, it pollutes the atmosphere, again, for all of us). Private ownership is an illusion. Babies instinctively have this knowledge. Throughout our lifetime we venture far from this wisdom and reclaim it only in the dying process.