Wow! This is a really big subject and I have to write something brilliant in 900 words or less…Yikes. I am possessive of everything from my purse to my relationships, to my clothes, and my car. How about the furniture I spent so much time picking out and waiting for that sale to buy it? What about my friend if I see him or her enjoying the company of someone else without being included? Goodness, don’t forget the place that you sit in the Zendo each time? Feels like I could go on and on for at least 500 words on this list alone–but I won’t!
The thing about my possessions is that they end up possessing me—it is not the other way around. I had to move in with my mother a few months back due to her Alzheimer’s disease and then I had to give up some of my “stuff” because it would not fit in her two bedroom apartment, which was already filled with her stuff, I was in a quandary. So I left a lot of the things in the apartment that I had been sharing with a friend. Then my friend had to move! Now what?! So I really had to decide what possessions I was willing to give up, which ones I “could” give up, and which ones I just “had” to hold on to…not sure for what reason but the urge was there.
Believe me when I tell you that I have been a corporate trainer, teacher, and college professor for over 25 years and I filled up two giant recycle bins with files, papers, tests, handouts, and more! It took me 2 days to go through them all and to dwindle the “to keep” pile down to one small box from the moving section at Home Depot. Did I possess them or did they possess me? So now I think I’ve got it…I’ve mastered this possession “thing” and I am able to throw things out, release them, and let them go.
Oh yeah! Then I opened Reb Anderson’s book and Robert Aitkin’s book and I read from Reb, “Even if you do not hold onto ordinary things of the world, the merit of that is insignificant compared with the merit of not avariciously holding onto dharma treasure (page 168).” So, when I finally make a breakthrough in my sitting, or in my demonstration of compassion, or showing unconditional love and patience and am feeling great about my successes in my practice I have to give that up too! So what can I keep?
Robert writes about Hui-hai. He says, “When Hui-hai was asked about entering the Tao, he said we enter by the danaparamita, the perfection of relinquishment, the perfection of giving over (page 83).” He goes on to say, “When the Buddha held forth a flower before his assembly, that was a full and complete presentation of the entire universe and of all the teachings of all the Buddhas and Ancestral Teachers (page 85).” And what did the Buddha do with that flower, he immediately gave it away!
There is great wisdom in the eternal idea of giving things away—any and all things. Meister Eckhart said, “To give a thousand marks of gold to build a church or a cloister would be a great thing, but to give a thousand marks for nothing at all would be a far greater gift (page 83)”
Looks like I’m stuck with giving it all up, giving up the good of giving, giving up the pride of giving, giving up the self-righteousness of giving, and giving up the giving up. Now does that mean that I can’t collect things, ideas, or good deeds? Not at all simply get them and at the same time release them and let them go. In Unity we had an affirmation that said, “I release it and let it go to find its highest good elsewhere.” Or you could say him or her in place of the pronoun it. So yes you can give and receive! So give away—just don’t give with the idea of attachment—of getting something in return. And if you can’t figure all of this out—you may want to give up trying! That may be the best “give away” of all…
To this “flower” I bow, three full bows…for no reason at all.
Things to focus on this week:
- Step one: Begin simply by giving up whatever needs to be released each and every moment of the day: ideas, thoughts, things, people, emotions etc.
- Step two: Set your intention to release and let go of your attachment to either “having it” or “releasing it.”
- Step three: Accept the Buddha’s help throughout this process.
- Step four: Finally, keep a journal on the precept and make note of how learning to embody truth in all its aspects thoughts, words, and actions is affecting your life. Good luck with that!
 Anderson, R. 2001, Being Upright Zen Meditation and the Bodhisattva Precepts. Rodmell Press: Berkeley, CA.
 Aitken, R. 1984, The Mind of Clover Essays in Zen Buddhist Ethics. North Point Press: NY