You have things. Just not all to yourself.

With a sense of “I” comes the desire to own things – and even people. This can be crazy confusing, given that we have our bodies, our lives, and our dreams, which qualify us for all rights human. We delineate “healthy boundaries” using what we think belongs to us as bargaining chips. This sacred “me” must stand apart, stand out, and stand strong. And it’s all true – except for the word “own.” It is more likely that we borrow.

My body is made of atoms, which have been recycled by forms since a supernova exploded and provided the primeval soup for our solar system. We literally don’t know where our atoms have been – perhaps part of a cactus, a kangaroo, Benjamin Franklin, or all of the above. When I die, my atoms will be swept up into another form to participate in its strong sense of “I,” and then into another.

You may agree that I borrow the atoms of my body, but what about my belongings? Maybe I have land, cars, herds of cows, or buildings – surely these belong to me? In truth, anything my eye falls upon had been claimed before by someone else. Even the land I walk upon has been fought over and over again. A footprint is not a stamp of ownership, and time’s ocean swallows all footprints. So, I borrow all of my belongings.

What about my soul? Surely that belongs to “me” alone? It is what makes my life unique, is it not? Perhaps the configuration of the soul does strike a unique cord amidst the harmony of the universe, but even my soul is not immortal. The soul is eventually transcended and flows into the life that birthed all souls – including mine. So, I cannot even claim ownership of my soul without simultaneously surrendering all that I may believe I am.

If I do not and cannot own anything to revel in immortality, what is there to hold onto? Where is this legacy that humanity is so hardwired to want to leave behind?

We long for static things to matter and look to freeze something in time – some rock of ages. But eternity rests in flux, not form. Eternity is flow and not stagnant mirror pools. Eternity slips through fingers, bodies, planets, stars, and galaxies. Every claim must be surrendered, eventually.

Because we own nothing does not mean we that we mean nothing. We have not yet shifted to embrace that which changes as the primary and are tone-deaf to the keynotes of our existence.

But, because there is only change, we will eventually open to such music – body, mind, and soul. Because there is change, this too shall pass. How would our lives change if we knew that we borrow rather than own?

16 thoughts on “You have things. Just not all to yourself.”

  1. Hi InEx, I seem to be having problems putting comments on your Spirit and World page, so I am going to try commenting here to the above post as found complete on Spirit and World.
    Rather than saying we “borrow” things, even where people can be considered as things, I might venture to use the word pretend, as in we “pretend” to own things. Yet another way to say that could be that it is our ego which does the owning, since ego and owning are both ephemeral.
    In my way of thinking there are three levels of consciousness at play in our earthly lives. Most prevalent is physical consciousness, which I designate with the word ego. In the middle is mental consciousness, which I designate with the word mind. The third, and least prevalent in our world, is spiritual consciousness, aptly designated as spirit.
    Again, in my way of thinking, ego is the first to die, mind second, but spirit does not die, but continues on a different plane of existence. With ego, everything that is associated with “I” dies, including, as you say, ownership. With mind, everything that is associated with thinking dies, including ideation, creativity, knowing, understanding, etc. What is left is usually not much, but I call this tidbit life-wisdom. It is what we learned about life that is taken to the next plane of existence, or possibly a place of consciousness outside all planes of existence. This “place” is, for me, one of the steps that have to be taken on the way to returning to the One Life, from which all life comes, and to which all life must go, IMO.

    1. I like the rephrasing of “pretend” to own – that seems accurate. It’s as if we play a game with ourselves of forgetful pretending… I don’t see us as having to wait until death to embrace the life source. At that point, we enter a state that can only be described in paradoxes using our language…

      1. I don’t know about paradoxes, it might fit, bur certainly our language, vast as it is, does not contain words to describe what can be known. That is why I appropriatle words like spirit and spirituality and make them mean what I want. But this creates confusion, because very few understand what I mean. I tried inventing words and phrases, unsane, spiritual atheism, responsible anarchy, but that didn’t work either. English, for all its ability to steal from other languages, is not flexible enough to state certain ideas, and my poor mind is too old to learn new ones. Sometimes I feel it is impossible to say what I really mean (though that does not stop me from trying).
        No, we do not have to wait till death to embrace the source of life, but that puts us in the land of religion–we have no way to prove that which we know to be true. You are a scientist, I am a layman, and while we can describe, we cannot prove. And the world does not need another religion, we have tried that and failed. We need a new way…

        1. I have no need to prove anything – that certainly takes away any “burden” of proof. We can only share and inspire. The world does not want or need any convincing

          1. Ah, the barriers of an inexact language! There is no “need” within “our” minds, for we know. But those who don’t know, but want to know, or at least to understand, they want proof–they need proof, at least for now. I guess I hang around too many atheist websites. I am so used to their language that it obscures the langage of spirit, just like religious language obscures the language of atheism for them.
            Sharing and inspiring, those are words I know quite well. My favourite word in that vein is “model,” as in role-model. I try my best to model my spirituality at all times, it isn’t very hard. The hard part is for the viewer, for they seldom see the role I am modelling. They see “something,” but they seldom know what.

        2. We may not possess the right words for what we mean, but that is the power of metaphor and simile, as you know, dear Jerry. Let the poet loose when describing these difficult-to-describe concepts. We, as a species, reason by analogy; we learn by tying new concepts to already accepted ones. And you, dear sir, have a gift with poetry. You need not write whole poems to get your point across, but let the poet try to describe what you are saying…

          I adore you, and mostly agree with you in the ideas you present. But sometimes (it seems to me), as you struggle to find the “right” word or “practical” example to make your point, you come across as more combative than you mean to be. And then you wind up having to “defend” your choice of words or examples, instead of sharing your wisdom. The poet might help soften those edges and highlight that wisdom…

          Just a totally tangential opinion from my corner, offered with all the love I have in my heart. Not intended as criticism, but as encouragement.

          1. No problem, Lisa. A lot of my writing depends on my mood at the time I write. Yup, I make mistakes, but other times I make a kind of beauty. Thank you for the kind words about my poetry.

          2. I wouldn’t call them “mistakes,” as I believe you make your points. And I certainly wasn’t criticizing. I was just making a suggestion for dealing with the “language” issue you were discussing. 😀

  2. Intense question with profound implications! My immediate response is that it changes EVERYthing, from my need to “protect” my stuff (and me) to the things I pursue in life…

    Then I walk it back a bit, realizing you said “borrow, not own,” which implies some of that “stuff” IS mine for a while, especially that which is part of “me.” So maybe not so radically changing my life after all…

    I mean, all of this is temporary anyway; I’ve known that all along. We are all dying from the day we are born, and we can’t take our physical possessions with us. My sense of self hangs on a little tighter, but even it can (and has!) been shed before.

    So perhaps what changes most for me is simply my perspective, my attitude, my possessiveness. For if I truly believe that everything is “borrowed, not owned,” I am more likely to hold it loosely and be grateful for it. I am also more motivated to take good care of it. And mostly, I am urged to stay more present, in the now, to enjoy it more fully while it is in my temporary possession.

    1. This feels very profound
      “I am more likely to hold it loosely and be grateful for it. I am also more motivated to take good care of it. And mostly, I am urged to stay more present, in the now, to enjoy it more fully while it is in my temporary possession.”
      Thank you

      1. Thank you for posting this. My life “erupted” this week on a couple different fronts. I did not buckle under pressure, and I managed to stay focused in the moment. But now that the pressure is off, I find myself trying to integrate the whole experience into the framework of my life…

        Your timing, of course, is impeccable, as it reminded me to shift the weights a bit. Nothing is as dire as it feels, nothing is permanent. You reminded me of that… 😀

  3. I believe our need to hold on so tight would relax. I also believe we would experience a different response to letting go when the time comes. We might also be more willing to give back!

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