July 25

It is the preoccupation with
possessions, more than anything
else, that prevents us from
living freely and nobly.

Bertrand Russell


Today's Meditation:

Why are we so often preoccupied with possessing things?  Why are we so often focused on getting and spending, accumulating and hoarding?  In my life, my preoccupation with possessions has had much to do with my need for security, with my fear that I wouldn't be able to get things later for some reason.  So at times I've accumulated, only to find later that I've had too much and I've needed to get rid of much of the stuff that I've spent so much time and effort accumulating.

Wordsworth wrote that "getting and spending, we lay waste our powers," and I think that Bertrand would agree with him.  If we're preoccupied with getting more and more things, if our major focus is on what to buy and how to afford it and when to get it, then there are many other aspects of our lives that are being neglected, aspects such as giving and sharing and enjoying and learning.  There are so many other ways that we can spend our time and energy in more positive ways, yet our consumer-driven society keeps us thinking that the most important thing that we can do in life is to continue to add to our possessions.

But if we want to live freely and nobly, it's very important that we focus on things that are noble, on things that don't enslave us as our possessions so often do.

If we can learn to live with possessions without worrying whether we lose them or not, if we can enjoy them without being preoccupied with them, without allowing our identities to be wrapped up in them, then possessions can be a great addition to our lives.  But if they prevent us from living freer and fuller lives, then we really do have to re-examine our relationship with them, and to try to stop allowing them to overwhelm us and become preoccupations.

Questions to consider:

How would you define a "preoccupation with possessions"?

How might we move away from placing importance on possessions, and towards attaching less importance on them?

What to you entails living "freely and nobly"?

For further thought:

Remember, what you possess in the world will be found
at the day of your death to belong to someone else,
but what you are will be yours forever.

Henry van Dyke


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