Thursday, January 12, 2012

What We Talk About When We Talk About Possessions

Reading the wonderful Essential Sangharakshita, there's the pithy comment, that renunciation is not about giving up, but about growing up.  I did a review of possessions with my friend.

I've got way too many books.  I put a lot on but they're not being taken.  I am building up my sons' library, and I'm keeping most of my books, but I continually scan through to weed out books I'm unlikely to reread nor need as reference.  I like it when I was going to social work school, and I would take a backpack of books to pay for my lunch.  It was a sad day when at the Strand, they didn't want the books I was offering.

I have a gas guzzling car, which someone gave me, in aid of the family.  But I think I could eventually move towards a more modest car, and walk to work more, bike or take public transport.  Whether I get rid of the car or not, I can use it less.

I really like my computer and smart phone, but they might dissipate some energy.  I think I'm more likely to get a basic phone instead of smart phone when my phone dies.

I've moved a lot recently and finally settled into a place I expect to live in till my young sons go off to college, so I have divested myself of a lot of objects.  I want to make sure I don't really accumulate more, as you do when you settle.  I do actually have space, it's not cluttered yet.

I remember an order member talking about divesting himself of things.  He would go back out to the garbage can and take something back, he did it very gently with himself.

My friend talked about kitchen stuff.  I think if you like to cook, a well stocked kitchen is important.  And cooking is not only a gift you give to yourself, but also to others.  And if you're cooking vegetarian and healthy, it's not just about pleasure, and you have to eat.

So, while I only put one book to be swapped, I think it's a good conversation to have.  How can I pare down my existence and simplify?  I look where there's room for improvements, soft spots in my ideas, and work towards growing up.  It's a work in progress.

And applying it to children isn't always easy.  I'm collecting board games and books for them.  Since I felt deprived about video games, I'm trying not to deprive them with those.

Camping equipment is also something I want to collect.

I have an informal moratorium on buying new things.  Do I get rid of 2 books for every book I bring into the house?  Things to think about.

And it's not just thinking, follow through is important too, but also gentleness and persistance.

1 comment:

4eyedfreak said...

I've got a bunch of camping stuff in storage in upstate New York. If you can use some of it, I get to divest myself of some possessions, and it's less camping stuff you need to buy. I don't have an inventory list, but there's at least one tent, at least one sleeping bag, tarps, and assorted other stuff.