POSTCARD #164: New Delhi: The rental agent calls to say she’ll pick me up at 11am to look at a few houses. I’m glad to be going out because packing for the move is difficult; the attachment to possessions is so strong it’s like they’re being pulled from my grasp by the sheer force of having to move from here – I hold on tight, fingertips clutching the surfaces but it’s slipping away… no choice. It’s a last minute thing, there’s a moment of familiarity, remembering this in other places I’ve been, doorbell rings, put much-loved object into the box marked ‘Give Away’ and get up from the cluttered room. That’s the letting-go, the final goodbye… walking away, the rental agent is here, get keys, step outside, close door behind me. Into the car, chatting with the agent, and we’re off.
I visit a house in a popular area… crowded. Walk up the path, open the door, go in and there’s a feeling of the previous tenant everywhere. In my state of recent relinquishment it’s like this is still their surroundings and it’s me that’s the potential new owner of their life … walk into the living room – the ‘living’ room? Suddenly I’m in someone else’s life – feel like I stepped out of my own life and into someone else’s by mistake – who am I? The world is how I/you perceive it, he/she, perceives it. We/you/they look into each other’s lives. A window opens into another realm inhabited by someone else in the network of interconnected lives. It’s just a slightly different angle on a world that’s seen, felt and understood, but through the same sensory awareness mechanism we all have.. a kaleidoscope of different coloured lights. The only difference is the ME that feels it, thinks it’s different from all the other ‘MEs’ walking around thinking they’re different too
Now there’s this feeling I’m looking for a place to ‘be’, the sense of a presence interlacing with the transparency of the presence of others. Observing the motion of the body in a sort of surprised way seeing that it can do it by itself. Gently stumbling around these empty rooms – looking for a place to sit down but can’t find anywhere because there’s no furniture. Well, isn’t this nice, says the agent, and I’m thinking, I’m tired, maybe this’ll do, maybe here I can invent another life I’ll be happy with.
‘Pretending you’re not “it” is exactly the same as “it”‘ [Alan Watts]
Yeah, isn’t the notion of possessions weird.
That you might not only have a ‘right’ to use something but that you own it. It has somehow become a part of you or your realm. Your property.
It’s always cracked me up that people even think they can own land. That an ancient mountain supporting thousands or millions of other life-forms and affecting climate and ecosystems hundreds of miles away can belong to a small blob of transient protoplasm.
And as for owning other beings …
Then a threat to the things you own becomes a threat to you. And their eventual loss can almost be like having a part of yourself torn away. You seek possessions to increase your sense of security even as owning them undermines that very sense.
Yet the concept seems so basic and fundamental. People of all ages and cultures seem to do it and even animals often seem to have the idea they own things or territory. Or is that just anthropomorphic projection?
Wierd indeed. Interesting you should say: ‘Or is that just anthropomorphic projection?” It’s as if we humans are projecting our being on to the lives of animals and thus a kind of ownership exists. Reading your words I get the feeling of the Pali term for ‘becoming’ bhava – something to do with that tendency to say it’s ‘mine’ and there’s ownership of self. Antidote is generosity. As it is, bhava leads to rebirth. There’s such a deep familiarity with this ‘becoming’, so deep people never think about it of course – just grab, enforce, possess…
Great post Teramit. Reminds me of:
“Home is where you feel at home. I’m still looking.”
~ Truman Capote, Breakfast at Tiffany’s
That’s a great quote David thanks. In fact I got that book in a second-hand bookshop long time ago. I’m going to see if I can find it. Home is where you feel at home… looking for that at-home feeling. Thanks again.
This reminded me of what has helped me in letting go of objects and ownership to a great extent…perhaps you may find my account of it interesting: https://serenereflection.wordpress.com/2012/04/22/anything-of-true-value-only-multiplies-with-sharing/
Good wishes for your move 🙂
Thanks for the link Sangeeta, it’s this letting go of objects and ownership, there’s so much in this. Now I’ve read your post I’m feeling much lighter because that heaviness of holding had gone; it’s a tremendous weightlessness somehow, ease and gentleness.
Also non-attachment to Calvin and Hobbes albums – I have only one left. It’s difficult to let go because we readers are the only ones who know Hobbes is real… so we’re like a child and a doll – Songs to Aging Children Come, simply holding on, because it’s hard to let go
We think we may have found a place already but everything is uncertain…
Is the Urban Ashram still functioning?
Glad it helped you feel lighter Tiramit 🙂 and you are right about Hobbes, it is difficult to explain what he means.
Also agree that life tends to remind us of uncertainty, the moment we think we have found stable ground. Have you read the Sufi story ‘Maujood’? Osho’s commentary in it is wonderful.
Urban Ashram is less active than before. The owners have taken to traveling quite a bit, as they are quite involved in the Moved by Love initiatives. The library, and others inspired by it do go on, to the best of my knowledge.