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August 17, 2011

Claiming No Possessions

If we claim no possessions, none can claim us. If we have nothing, we have nothing to lose. People have drowned clutching gold bars. It has been said that shackles are shackles even if they are made from gold. Often we may like to think we are living the good life enjoying our materialistic things. Yet we do not own these possessions, they own us. We must work harder, longer hours to pay for them. We fear they may be stolen. We are anxious that they are losing value or falling into disrepair. This ‘gold’ that we have keeps us chained to a fear of loss. By following the teachings of the ancients, through study and practice, we can learn to be free of all shackles. Ajahn Chah said this about attachment. Ajahn picked up the drinking glass next to him and explained how he found it useful to view the glass as already broken. He realized that sooner or later the glass would be gone. It might get knocked over or mislaid, stolen or borrowed and never returned, or perhaps he would be 'gone' first and be unable to take it with him! This being the case he was free to explore it's shape and feel, to enjoy the way the sunlight was transformed into wonderful colors by passing through it. Because he realized the futility of attachment to this object he could truly give his attention to it without any suffering, without any fear of losing it souring the experience.