Friday, May 03, 2013

Ownership Is a Limited Concept

Custer poster, in Monroe

Our house was built in 1863. Looking out the upstairs window of my home office I see the land "owned" by General George Custer's cousin Neville. General Custer and his family lived in a house that's 400 yards to the west of ours. Did they own that house?

I am certain they lived in it, and claimed the farmland that since has been divided and subdivided many times. But, obviously,  they don't have the house or the land now. I live on the land they walked on. What they thought they possessed slipped out of their hands, upon their deaths. Therefore, they "possessed" neither the land nor the house, or their clothes or cattle or jewelry or whatever.

To conjugate your life using the verbs "to have" or "to own" or "to possess" is to live a life of illusion because, literally, we own nothing. One day someone else will be wearing your clothing and living in your house and non-attending to your garden.

If the meaning of "to own" or "possess" or "have" includes "This object/person/time/space/place is mine,'" then surely that it false.Thomas Merton, in The Sign of Jonas, wrote: "Now my whole life is this - to keep unencumbered. The wind owns the fields where I walk and I own nothing and am owned by nothing." To say that the winds "own" anything is to speak metaphorically. It is instructive to note that to say you or I "own" anything is also to speak, in an important way, metaphorically. Ownership is a limited concept and it is important not to get too serious about it."

To live in the truth of essential non-ownership is to live freely. As you have freely received, you then can freely give. The biblical God-idea is that we have been made "stewards" over a few things that belong to our Master. Hold loosely to them.

If you possess nothing then nothing can ever be stolen from you. (Les Miserables, correct?)