a world of things


sycamore 1“Those who float away their lives on ships or who grow old leading horses are forever journeying, and their homes are wherever their travels take them.” [Matsuo Bashō 1644 –1694]

OLD NOTEBOOKS: East Anglia: It’s the last day, I’m leaving, this is it… the end – no more departures and arrivals I’m leaving now for the very last time. The house is to be sold, the rooms are empty, all remaining things ready to be put into boxes for the recycling people to collect after I’m gone. Right now it’s all arranged in two groups: a) stuff to be given away and, b) ‘stuff that I can’t let go of YET’… still some reluctance, lingering over things I want to keep. Gazing fondly at a pile of books, a framed picture, pondering, hesitation, attachment… but how will I get all this into checked-in luggage for the flight to Thailand? Some time spent considering this but, impossible, let’s face it. In the end it’s a decision pushed along by the momentum of leaving; there’s a car coming for me in the afternoon. Out of time, ok, pack up and leave… and I move everything into a), the stuff-I’m-giving-away group. That settles it.

But I’m tugged back… did I just do that? Hands reach out to take the stuff back again. Pause for a moment to think about it and everything stops, emptiness, there’s nothing there… thought is an elaborated construct built in a landscape of no-thingness. An awareness event turns up out of nowhere, the kind of thing that couldn’t happen in any other circumstance: let someone else have these things. It’s the letting-go thing, the generosity of easing, the release of all that tight energy – giving it all away, giving it all back to the world, returning to the context of how it all arose in the first place. I stop for a moment to think about how that feels, but there’s no thought, everything is still wonderfully clear and completely empty. There’s a world of things, then there’s not.

Suddenly it feels like everything I’ve been holding on to doesn’t matter anymore, and that’s okay. The loss is only there if I ‘think’ it into being. Sit down, close my eyes and everything  becomes invisible. Feel the pressure points, lower back, seat in chair, feet on floor, elbows on the arm rests – but no body, no head – it occurs to me that sometimes the universe doesn’t exist… takes my breath away. Only a curious intensity in the place where the thought used to be contained; something that really never happened… years and years of nurturing a dream about something that wasn’t there.

Last thing to do is bless the rooms, hands held in anjali in that small dwelling: Wishing in gladness and in safety, may all beings be at ease… There’s a clear sense of closure. Going through the door… I’ve been in this house 36 years and it’s gone in a flash. Standing outside, blinking in the bright daylight, surprised to discover it’s a just a day like any other day. A last look inside, sunlight extends in from the doorway… goodbye little house! Pull the door closed, lock. Get in taxi, door slam. We’re off across the landscape…

‘When this exists, that comes to be. With the arising of this, that arises. When this does not exist, that does not come to be. With the cessation of this, that ceases.’ Samyutta Nikaya 12.6

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Many thanks to Jeff for: ‘stuff that I can’t let go of YET’ – source: Leaving Lexington. Photo: a stand-alone Sycamore tree at the top of the hill

46 thoughts on “a world of things

  1. I find it an interesting exercise to inventory what I have to try to determine what I’m not prepared to let go of, YET.

    For a long time it was books and records, but I think I’m over that now.

    These days it’s my pet rabbits but I also wonder how well I’d cope if I lost my computer and all it’s backups. There’s a couple of decades of my life recorded on hard disk.

    Most of what I’ve learned I could do without came the hard way. I was forced to give it up despite desperate struggles to hang onto it – then in the end (sometimes after a very long time) I realised I never needed it in the first place.

    But I reckon the things I’m furthest from being able to give up don’t even appear on the list, because it usually doesn’t even occur to me they are separate to me and so can be surrendered. My intellect, my sense of humor, my enjoyment of music … I wonder what else. It’s the things I’m in the habit of thinking of as ‘me’ that are hardest to renounce.

    So maybe I should inventory not what I think I have but what I think I am.

    • This is it, how to give up being ‘me’, it’s a hard one. The alternative is to learn to live with it… you’d have your cute rabbits too – not too bad 🙂 Another thing to be taken into consideration of course is death, but let’s not get into that. I can understand what you’re saying about being forced to give up things tightly held and then realising you never needed them in the first place. It doesn’t take much, in fact, to allow oneself to be pushed over the edge of having it/not having it and then seeing life goes on okay without it. I’m still mourning the loss slightly, roots pulled up and a commitment to spending the rest of my life in someone else’s country. Whatever, it’s irreversible now and I find that helps somehow…

  2. Great writing as usual, I have found some wonderful quotes, like this one: “…thought is an elaborated construct built in a landscape of no-thingness..”. Also there are feelings and emotions tangled with things, and tangled with thoughts. We give a bit of our love, our true essence, to these things that surround us and are with us in our daily living. That’s why the separation is hard, we feel the loss not only for the thing by itself, but for our feeling, for our object of love.

    • Thank you and yes, it’s not easy to give up our things, but maybe just knowing it’s like this is enough; knowing that the entanglement of feelings and emotions with things and thoughts is what keeps it all so tightly ‘held’. Still hard to let go, of course, but it’s been seen through, and in a way the separation has started already…

    • Thanks yes, I’m focused on letting-go at the moment and notice that even though things seem to be sticky, once you release one thing, it’s easier to release other things…

    • Thanks Ben, I really like how you use the word ‘poised’. It’s meaningful to me; the necessary balance needed to identify that point of letting-go without making a big hoo-hah about it. I rewrote the post a number of times, motivated by the thing itself, and when it decided to let me go, I just left it at that…

  3. Beautiful writing, Tiramit. I loved the feeling this line evoked for me: “Feel the pressure points, lower back, seat in chair, feet on floor, elbows on the arm rests – but no body, no head – it occurs to me that sometimes the universe doesn’t exist… takes my breath away.” There’s these bodily aches, these nags, these very local and focalizing sensations– then the flooding realization none of the vastness exists.

    And I loved the way, when it finally ended, and you blessed the house, you stepped into blinding daylight. That was like a starburst in my mind. I almost squinted. There was darkness in the house, in the sorting, not in a bad way. Just the way it was. But I didn’t realize it until that starburst hit my mind. We don’t realize how free we could be, until we let go…

    Michael

    • Thanks for this wonderful description of light entering. It was like this, inside the house, seated on the chair and the experience of being empty to the extent ‘I’ am not there. I feel the places where the body touches the chair, otherwise there’s this invisibity; the room, the floor, the walls and objects are seen passing through the body. Then, as you’re saying here, step outside and the blinding starburst of light sweeps through the glass-like clarity…

  4. Loved this post. You go to the heart of the matter. Giving things away is good for the soul but seems so hard for just things. The tough stuff, I find, are the letters and manuscripts– the dreams and the memories– the stuff that almost no one would want but that is part of the self, the ego. I am struggling with that now. Mooji says you have to make a clean break. Anyhow, great post!

    • Thanks and yes, a clean break, this is it. But sometimes we need a little push to get the momentum going; the force of circumstances is enough, quite gentle, reaching a kind of tipping-point and it all comes tumbling down. After that there’s this tremendous ease, release, peace. I’ve got heaps of letters and papers like you, and thinking maybe I’ll scan everything in digital form, get rid of the originals and get all the files into a folder on the computer. Then put it on a CD disc, trash the original file, empty the trash, label the disc and leave it on the bookshelf for a while. Then one day, if I feel like it, I might take the disc out to the lake fling it like spinning a frisbee, away over the waters, and listen for it to fall. Splash!

      • 😄Ha! Good idea! I am about to toss another manuscript save for a few pages– especially since I just spent two hours or more finding out you can’t edit scanned documents!!! The frisbee idea is a good one. But your writings might be too good to toss. Mine were about a lot of things I’d rather send to the bottom of the lake. Now on to articles…

      • This might sound like I’m encouraging the holding-on thing, but before you send it to the bottom of the lake, there is a way of editing scanned documents, OCR (Optical Character Recognition). Here’s the link: Free OCR Sorry I had some difficulty with the link, but it works ok now. You just select the file, usually a JPG but other image files too, then let it do its thing and end up with a .doc file, or whatever you use and can edit that…

  5. Thank you SO much, Tiramit. Got the link and may try it tomorrow though I am a bit thick when it comes to these things. Was actually going to consider retyping the salvageable part of the manuscript. A huge help. Hope I can help you out sometime. Still have info about self publishing an online book. Thanks again!!

  6. Lots of letting go here as well. I suspect it is a lifelong issue for most of us, this “world of things” which is and then is not. Am currently exploring mindset and your post was quite helpful. As always, thoughtful writing.
    Karen

    • Thanks Karen, I’m listening to a lot of Rupert Spira talks at the moment, and the posts are infuenced by that. Otherwise just knowing it’s possible to ease back from the holding to ‘self’ sometimes and that’s enough…

  7. I’m very touched by your story. Your writing, beautiful as always. But this particular was felt extra special to me. I was there with you looking at your home, locking it up for the last time. I am filling out divorce papers. We will be putting our house on the market soon.
    I absolutely am in love with the lining up of the Universe. Just yesterday morning in meditation, at my sangha, I received the message that I should go home, pack up all of my books and give them away. Set them free. This didn’t alarm me or cause me anxiety. It brought relief…a letting go. I haven’t taken any action yet. I have been pretty low energy with a bit of something settled in my throat and chest, along with the fatigue. So I am letting it run its course before I pull out any boxes, pack up any books. Books I love but can’t seem to make myself read. Maybe today? Before I dig into the paperwork.
    May you be at peace in this new leg of life’s journey.
    With metta,
    Suzanne

    • Thank you Suzanne, sounds like you still have quite a lot of letting-go to do. It’ll be so good when it’s all done. I had a similar situation with my books, about 500 of them. Once I understood I wanted to give them away, it was such a wonderful thing to take them to the recycling shop and just hand them over – even though some were quite valuable; generosity/letting-go/ a gift to the world…

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