June 11, 2009

To own nothing

The topic at Wednesday night's gathering was about ownership and non-ownership.  So, I'm writing this morning on that same topic yet some of what I'm writing was not necessarily said in the same way last evening.  

It has been popular in our contemporary culture to speak of owning ones tendencies.  Someone might say, "Own your jealousy, own your pride, own your anger, own your fear."  It's true that we have to be honest about our behavior, our thoughts, our urges, but when we think of ownership of these tendencies, we can make the mistake of identifying with tendencies and giving them too much stock.  The weight of such claims can be damaging rather than allowing Original Self to be realized, to be functioning in an awakened way in daily life.  The same is true if we make such a heavy tendency claim about another person; we arrest them in the enclosure of tendency and we deny their true Nature.  In this mistake, we can easily create a war of like and don't like, good and bad, get ride of this and keep that. 

This is also true with illness, the body, or any phenomena that places false claims on our being.  For instance, if I refer to an illness as "my cancer" or "my headache" or "my diabetes" I apply incorrect ownership to something that is simply a condition, a phenomenon that appears in the human dimension.  None of these conditions can be owned any more than we can own the air that we breathe, or own the sky that we gaze at.  Thinking that those conditions are "mine" gives entry to a whole array of psychological tracking that isn't necessary and isn't even true. 

Where is the Self that could own anything?  Who is the Self that could own things, be it illness or goods?  If we accept the premise of no abiding Self, then it simply follows that there is no Self which can actually cling to anything, can own goods, can own partners, can own property, can own illness.  The property part you may not like as an American, but even though you have a deed to your land, you still can't own it in the deep sense of which I'm speaking.

Nonownership does not absolve us from responsibility to care for all that is before us.  As a matter of fact, the more we realize nonownership, the better we become at having a wide enough view to truly care for what needs to be cared for in the way that it needs to be cared for.

All this leads to Practice and the nonownership of Practice.  We hear people say such things as, "This is "my" practice" or "I don't do that in "my" practice" or "My practice isn't like that."  All of these ownership statements are misunderstandings.  Practice cannot be owned or corralled by anyone.  Practice is not mine, or yours, or his or hers.  Practice is simply awakened activity and is the natural expression and gateway to Buddhahood and has been conducted by all Buddhas and Ancestors.  Practice and realization are completely one and the same.  Perhaps to hyphenate the word would say it better:  practice-realization is the Way.  The Way is beyond differentiation of the one and the many.  Therefore, we cannot lay claim to "having my practice" or "doing my practice."  We can only Be Practice itself.  To continue in Practice-realization is to care for that which is innate in us.