All that we have possessed is not really ours if we can only take from this world, that which we have brought into it. All glory, all prestige, all money, all power, fades like shadows when we cross into the light of death. And so the very idea of possession is corrupt. We come; we enjoy these borrowed moments upon the earth. But what are you without these possessions? After all, it is possessions that give you your identity. And yet, even identity itself is a temporary possession.
I watch a new baby reaching for things in the airport and I know that he has started his journey, the journey of loosing himself. He does not know that what he possesses (the innocence and detachment of pure being-ness), is something that he will spend the rest of his life trying to get back. He takes it for granted in this arcade of distraction that we call life. His eyes follow the glittering colors and the migration of people down the corridors. The peacefulness of his being is becoming lost to the development of his mind. Sometimes I smile to myself when I hear people suggest that there is such a thing as peace of mind. A man who knows peace and a man who knows the mind, is wise enough to know that the two concepts co exist like oil and water. Peace can only exist in the absence of the mind. Where peace is, the mind is not. And where the mind is, peace is not. And so it should be. This is how it was designed to be. So that this child may one day find his way back to what he took for granted in the first place… himself.
I can possess nothing. I can only enjoy these borrowed things. My borrowed paint set, my borrowed bed sheets, my borrowed house, my borrowed land, my borrowed clothes, my borrowed body, my borrowed beliefs and my borrowed minutes. It is scary to know that one day you will be stripped of anything you did not come into this life with. It is a scary enough notion to cause emperors to bury themselves in darkened tombs littered with their riches. But it is also freeing. There is an inherent sense of nudity in the knowledge; a sense of exposure to the world which makes you feel like you have nothing whatsoever to lose. It is liberating (if you let it be) to know that all you create is not really yours. When you die, it will all pass on to the next person who wants to borrow it. In essence, all things that we think we own, are borrowed from the future. And if we know that we are borrowing all things that we come into contact with, we save ourselves the pain of attaching to them as part of ourselves. We save ourselves the pain of taking our creations personally. And in the absence of that identification, we allow them to fly. When we offer them that much space, they can stretch their wings and morph into their own creations; creations far more brilliant than the vision that we could ever hold for them.
When I contemplate the borrowed nature of my very life, I am left only with one question…What do I want to borrow? There is no wrong answer to this question. The only mistake we make is not asking ourselves this question in the first place. We borrow a great many things that do not bring us joy. And instead of throwing them away, we haul them on our backs year upon year, waiting for someone else to pass them on to. It is a tragic kind of poetry the way we make ourselves suffer. And an even greater tragedy that we believe this suffering makes us good.
Watching the people stand in line at the help center in the Atlanta airport, I was reminded again that people who are full of fear can never move beyond the known. They can never take the risk of throwing away the familiar weight of the belongings, which no longer serve them. And the heaviest of all belongings, are their beliefs. They bend and break under the heaviness of them. But to them, it is not an option to let go of their belongings. “Do not leave your luggage unattended, please be sure to keep your belongings near you at all times” is the announcement that comes across the airport PA system. It is ironic. The kind of irony that is as bitter as it is sweet.