In with Nothing, Out with Nothing 

“No matter how attractive the objects of the senses may appear to be, they’re simply powerless to provide us with any lasting happiness.” Chökyi Nyima Rinpoche

A Soul is Born to Earth…with nothing and leaves this Earth with nothing. So what are we holding onto?

We are temporary caretakers of all material objects. We really own nothing, ever. Everything is on loan. There are times I look around my house and think, “Someday this home and everything in it will be someone else’s.” The thought makes my heart sink a little. We built this home from a hole in the ground nine years ago, it’s the longest I’ve lived anywhere, and we’re raising our kids here. But it’s really only my emotions wrapped around those thoughts which are leading me down a sad road. Held up to a different light, the same thoughts can motivate me to take good care of the things to which I am temporarily entrusted, in order to pass them on, in the best condition possible, to the next user. Same thought, two different emotional paths. I get to choose.

The only monetary or emotional value a material object has is what we decide to project upon it. Value is relative. Take Picasso paintings for example. Art experts give them a value and the rest of us go along with it. But they are really only canvas and paint, monetarily worth only what those materials cost, a value which has also been determined by someone we don’t know and that we’re just agreeing to. Same goes for your house, car, or wedding ring. Someone gave it a value, and you agreed to it, even signing papers to say so. Any emotional value tied to these things are what you alone attach to them. To anyone else, they are most likely “worth” much less.

A personal example, I have an old wall clock my mom gave me years ago that belonged to my grandma, whose Soul has gone on to its next adventure. I don’t remember this clock being in her home. I don’t relate this clock to my grandma whatsoever. To me it is wood, metal and chimes. It does not hang on my wall. The only reason I keep it is because my mom will ask about it every so often. And on the chance she would ask to see the clock the next time she visits, I can easily retrieve it off the shelf in the basement where it sits collecting dust, thus not hurting her feelings because to her it has sentimental value. But you better believe as soon as she passes on, that clock will be out of here faster than you can say garage sale.

It’s not that I hold no attachment to any material object. If I lost baby pictures of my kids I’d be devastated, for years. My books, although replaceable, are my most prized possessions. And this is a picture of my favorite coffee mug. I clutch it dearly each morning. Even though made of hard ceramic, it’s cozy and warm. The curves are soft, the handle fits my four fingers perfectly and it holds a vat of coffee. I hope to drink from it for the rest of my life. And when I’m gone I hope someone gets as much pleasure out of it as I do when they slurp from its shiny lip. If it broke, I’d find a new one, but my heart would break a little too.

The issue is not about enjoying and finding sensory pleasure in material things. We are here as humans to experience all that this magical life has to offer. However, the enjoyment turns to suffering at the point where we cling to things, like they really belong to us, like they are an extension of who we are. In the end though, what’s really going to matter? We must always live with our mortality in mind if we want to live a meaningful life. On my death bed I won’t be clutching my favorite coffee mug or any of my books. I will hopefully be holding the hands of my babies.

If you need some help in letting go, take a trip to an antique store. I get really uneasy every time I go. All those things belonged to someone who is most likely dead now. Maybe that cracked plate set was a family’s fine China. Maybe that scary looking doll was a little girls favorite toy. That scratched wooden desk is where hundreds of kids learned math. And someday all your stuff will be there too, or at the dump. Waste is a  topic that deserves it’s own post, as I don’t have the mental energy or space to tackle that beast here.

Although this does feel like a good time to say that all my blog posts are lessons coming through me that I most need to learn. I take them to heart and send them out to the universe via cyberspace trusting that these words will be heard by someone else who needs them too. The intention is never to tell you what you “should” do, think, feel, or how to live your life. Simply absorb what resonates with you and let the rest bounce off for someone else to catch.

With that said, these days are numbered my friends, whether we want to face it or not. It matters not what we have, but how much we loved, how gently we lived and how gracefully we let go of things not meant for us.

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From the Tao Te Ching, translated by Wayne Dyer.

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