Sunday, October 11, 2009
Ownership Is An Illusion
“Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That's how the light gets in.”
Leonard Cohen, from Anthem
I went to a party last night. It was in honor of Zara Kriegstein, a beautiful and very talented artist, originally from Germany, who died from too much drinking of alcohol—and a failed liver. The party was at the home of a wealthy physician and local patron of the arts. As I arrived with a friend and pulled up to the palatial home, I had brief nostalgia for prestige and pleasure that comes with ownership of a home. Inside, a mariachi band played in front of a sweeping view to the west, and a gorgeous sunset. Artists and art lovers mingled, talked, ate delicious food, and admired Zara’s artwork that was displayed prominently for the occasion. A curator, her son, and her sister gave eloquent testimonies to her extraordinary life.
In the end, I think ownership is an illusion. All of life is contingent and we cannot change physical laws. Animals that we think we “own” get sick and die despite our ownership. The land we think is ours existed before us and endures after us. Our cars and bank accounts vanish and so do homes. Even our bodies are given to us, but only for a short time. Moreover, I do not want to get tangled up in forming relationships with physical objects that then make a demand on me. It seems material things need attention, and the more objects, the more demand for attention. I like being connected to the earth and nature, but in a way that I can enjoy it freely, like the wind that roams across the planet. Death teaches us that everything physical comes to dust. My philosophy is that it is better to be alive in Spirit that permeates and animates every atom in the universe and is independent, than be attached to the outward appearances that are doomed by mortality.