In a world increasingly fixed on having "belongings," the very notion of nothing belonging to us is unnerving to many. Someone is likely to argue, "But I have this house, this car, this relationship," and so on. People may even argue that they have their memories and emotions, but that isn't true either. We don't even have our bodies. We simply are renting them, and they do break down over time. Some are born with limitations that many people forget exist such as cerebral palsy. If parts of the body don't do what you want them to do, how much do they really belong to you?
It is a deeply humbling journey for the unconscious ego to see that nothing belongs to it. No matter which way it turns, whatever the ego thinks it has will be taken from it. This forces us to face the truth and to embrace the temporary nature of life. When you realize that you truly have nothing, whatever is currently in your life becomes a gift. But I'm getting ahead of myself. Let's explore about the things we think we have and look at the truth of the matter.
Be Nobody." It's not a sexy idea in a culture that wants to be a somebody, but it is a deeply freeing truth if we embrace it. Being nobody is the expression of the reality that we simply are. We are consciousness. We are fluid beings in this human world, and holding onto a "somebody" requires a lot of work. A LOT OF WORK. Each morning we have to remember who we are. We have to remember hundreds of beliefs and behavior patterns to be ourselves--to be somebody.
A tree doesn't have to do this. It never wakes up and forgets that it is a tree. It doesn't try to run like a jaguar. But we wake up and try to be a myriad of different traits. We have to remember our names, what we like to eat, where we work, what each of our relationships are like and how to interact in them, and so on. It takes an enormous amount of energy to remember all these behavior patterns, and the more unhealthy the patterns, the more work it often takes to sustain them. It is exhausting being in an emotionally abusive relationship, but people stay in them all the time. Their egos--their somebodies--have to. It is programmed in. People on the outside often don't appreciate it, but that's usually because they don't understand their own "somebody." Thus our very somebody-hood keeps us in ignorance to how and why others live their lives, and this often cuts us from compassion and understanding for others.
But at any time we can drop all of that somebody-ness and be a nobody. Nobody requires no work. It is a dynamic place where any action is possible, and it is an open place where we can be clear about what feels true. Truly nobody is a vastly superior way of experiencing life if you want to be free. However, initially, it seems like the end of your world. So most people fear being a nobody and cling to their somebody-ness and all the associated belonging that that somebody thinks s/he needs.
Cataloging Your Physical BelongingsIt's easy enough for all of you to catalog the things you have. You can do this without much help from me, and I recommend you do it. Get a notebook or use a spreadsheet and write down all the things you have. You are probably going to get really exhausted in the process and want to stop. But I encourage you to not stop until you find every last thing. I want you to feel the exhaustion because that is a sign of how much energy you have invested in things.
But wait...there's more.
And then, then create a random percentage of how much you use, look at, or interact with that belonging. How often do you do anything with the old knitting set from your grandmother? Is it 1% of your average waking time in a month? Is it .25%? Is it less? You probably will be surprised at how rarely you use most of what you have. Yet you have this stuff. Why? Why do you need it? I can obviously tell you its to keep your lonely ego company, but it is always important to determine the truth for yourself. You can keep lots of this stuff or get rid of it after evaluating it, but you should take a good long look at what you are holding onto just in the physical world. It's costing you a lot of energy. That's why giving away stuff often feels so good and therapeutic to many of us on our spiritual journeys.
Reviewing the Emotional InventoryOur belongings in the physical world are a pittance to most of the stuff we hold onto in the inner world. So many old emotions live in all the different crevices of our hearts and minds. We hold grudges, fears, sadnesses, joys we want to return, and so much more. We selectively remember some of them as part of our somebodies, and then our somebody represses many of the feelings we don't want to remember. So despite having a vast inventory of emotions, we tend to not feel most of them, and we tend to hide from many of them. This is why when many people have significant spiritual shifts or a spiritual awakening, suddenly all these trapped emotions burst out. The somebody who was repressing or avoiding the old emotional inventory that was labeled as "bad" or "should not feel" suddenly is gone. That block in the river unleashes the river, and people feel tons of emotions all at once. It can be overwhelming in those first several days, months, or even years. But as always, we can embrace them and breathe into them. If this is happening for you, feel free to reach out to me about a one-on-one Skype session.
For more about having your emotions unleashed, check out this post:
After a Spiritual Awakening Unleashes All Your Emotions
Releasing Emotions and Clearing SpaceI already have a lot of posts about processing and releasing emotions. In short, most people eventually realize that they don't want to hold onto emotions of any kind. These types of belongings greatly weigh down the heart. Whether it is the loss of a child or feeling wronged by a neighbor, the emotions that people take on and hold onto are terrible weights on the emotional body. They wear people down. They embitter them towards others and towards life. Releasing these painful emotions is crucial to feeling alive and vibrant again or perhaps for the first time in someone's life.
The Embittering Process
This goes for "good" emotions too. Many people want to hold onto joy, fun, excitement, bliss, and other pleasurable feelings, but these too must be allowed to pass. They came, and then they went. Constantly striving after good feelings can become a terrible trap because the human experience is full of ups and downs. Some of those difficult days with difficult emotions are vital to our growth. If you cut them out, then some of the key moments of growing are gone. And sometimes that takes with it the opportunities for greater joy, although this should not be the goal. In short, all of our emotions are sacred, and yet they do not belong to us. They are passing through. Let them come, and let them go. It will free up your heart to fully embrace the present moment without clouding it and choking it up by holding the fears of the future and weights of the past.
Lost in Spiritual Bliss: Reclaiming Your Self From the Trap of Good Feelings
One of the biggest and most difficult lessons people have to learn is that not even your body belongs to you. That's right. This vessel you've been wandering in for years isn't yours. If at some point a nerve ending stops working in a key place, then you can't lift your arm. Not even an inch. How can that be, right? If you owned your body, it would work according to how you thought it worked. Instead, you are a servant to the body because if it gets diseased and hurt, then your whole life drastically changes.
Realizing Your Body Is not Yours
Furthermore, you don't even own your mind. Your mind is a product of your physical brain's capacities, and if it is limited in some way or undeveloped. then your ability to think is limited. It is humbling to see how much isn't really yours, is it not?
In this humility, we can only come into gratitude for what the Divine and Life have loaned us. Just think that since your brain works well and so do your eyes and you have learned to read that you can read this post today. Wow! Isn't that amazing? That's a lot of stuff that had to happen for you to have the opportunity to read. If you lose your eyesight tomorrow, then you can't. So enjoy reading and seeing today. You see? (Pun intended for those who can see). That's the type of gratitude that begins to arise when we realize that nothing belongs to us, and our body and so many internal processes that we think are our most central aspects of ourselves--the things that belong to us most--actually aren't ours at all.
Deepening into Gratitude and HumilityNothing and no one belongs to you. Not your mind. Not your children. Not your body. Not your thoughts. Everything in this human world is temporary, so take it as a gift. It is a gift that pain can come and go. It is a gift to enjoy a beautiful cloudless summer day. There are certainly hardships in life, but if you are alive, then you can engage and negotiate with whatever difficulties life has given you. Find your way towards gratitude for simply being. It took a bazillion--this is a technical term--occurrences over billions of years to birth you into this body, so enjoy it as much as you can. You will not get to keep this body long. Not one of us will keep our bodies even after a hundred happy years, and diseases like Alzheimer's remind us that we might not even keep our minds to the end of our lives.
So embrace your nobody-ness and relax into the truth that nothing belongs to you. Do your inner work to let go of all these things and somebodies you try to have and to be, respectively, so that you can melt into the gratitude of being.