This life is vehemently anti-zen when it comes to possessions.
I’ve been working for years to overcome this difficulty. Not until I was over 50 years old did I learn about zen’s approach to “things” and our attachments thereto.
To start out, I never had a chance. I was born free of things.
I had nothing tangible, no possessions, just a naked baby with the only important things in this world: the people who love me.
Then it started, almost immediately. I probably had somewhere between thirty seconds and two minutes.
Someone wrapped me in a blanket, put a knit cap on my head, gave me a wrist band with my mother’s name on it. My freedom from possessions was over before I even knew I was a human.
Then the world taught me that I wanted everything. Toys, games, a puppy, lunch, ice cream.
As I grew, trapped and brainwashed by this world, I continued to covet things. “He who dies with the most toys wins!” exclaimed a bumper sticker, written by adults, stuck by an adult on an adult-owned vehicle.
You need a good job. Gobs of money to get THINGS with. House, baby, car, truck, TV, phone, shag carpet, ceiling fan, garden fences, wind chimes, antiques, collectibles, coats, shoes, more shoes and still more shoes, and maybe some boots.
Now I classify myself as a hoarder. Spent the last five years getting rid of things. Throwing them away, giving them away, using them up without replacements, avoiding their purchase in the first place.
I see my big farmhouse, where we raised a big family. Kids are grown and on their own and the house is still full.
I think of the years in the autumn of my life. I imagine grampa’s little house when grampa is a little older.
I think of the winter of my life. Suppose I end up in one of those tiny nursing home rooms? What space will I have, or possessions to fill it?
How much space and possessions do I really need?
I will leave this world in a similar fashion to my entrance. I will no longer have possessions when I cease to be. Even then, with our human convention to memorialize and inter the body preserved and intact like some Egyptian royalty preparing for the afterlife, I will be encumbered against my will and without my knowledge.
There will be a coffin, a final-rest suit of clothes, perhaps a headstone. A headstone! NO! NO! A possession for near-eternity! (Nothing lasts forever.)
I must act now. Notify my family of my final wishes.
Is there any chance you could just skip the coffin & the suit & the rock?
Any chance you could send my body back to the earth from whence it came in the same state that it arrived?
Just a naked baby, with the only really important things in the universe: the people who love me.
Be at peace,