The Greater Weight

This is a copy of a comment I left on a previous posting titled Landfill Fodder.

I’ve given away books a number of times, only to regret it later. I’ve lost a whole box of my basic Buddhist reference books and then found them again four years later in an attic. I was really glad to be reunited with them too. So there is a shifting population and a shifting relationship to books for me.

When I went to the US to be a monk in 1980 my belongings were in a backpack, which I could lift and carry. There was also a box of books, which came via mail. That’s all I had in the world and it felt good to be traveling light. Very soon however I found out the greater weight was what I carried in my mind!

If I had talked to somebody about this drastic shedding of my belongings before entering the monastery I’d probably have kept more stuff. Some of it would have come in handy later on in my monastic life. So, if you are thinking of following up on a monastic vocation, the physical stuff doesn’t need to all go. Just the clinging to it.

Here is a young chap writing about his journey with accumulation, and his journey with letting it go.

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5 thoughts on “The Greater Weight”

  1. We share the same shifting relationship towards books. I’ve given away more than I can count over the years. It would be nice to have been able to easily revisit some of those. But at least someone else may have seen some benefit from them so it isn’t a total loss.

    You are of course correct to point to attachment to stuff, not the stuff itself in most cases, being the root of the problem. I’m not quite dumping everything yet. What I am doing is asking myself why I bought these things in the first place and will I really need them in the future? Is there a point to having all this stuff? I find the whole exercise very productive and revealing.

    Thanks for pointing towards the middle way and also for calling me a young chap :)

  2. I recently decided to clear out our attic – mainly boxes of books and other little used stuff. I picked up each thing and many of them brought back memories so went back in a box. Thanks for this (and “RB”‘s) encouraging reminder of what is important. I’ll set to the task with more steadfastness tomorrow!

  3. The other side of the coin to clinging is pushing away. I seem to swing between the two like a pendulum. I’m attracted, I get too involved, I get burnt/swamped/etc, I get rid of, I feel restless again.

    The phrase “That void is still there but it isn’t as hungry” resonates well with me. I think the times when I’ve made the most progress have been when I’ve just stopped and felt the ‘lack’.. it’s uncomfortable, but it seems to allow new life in.

  4. Hello RM Mugo,
    I was reminded by your picture of the books in the bin of another picture you posted some time ago. It was of used farm equipment. I see a lot of that now that we live in a farming area, and it’s always so evocative. The books and the comments reminded me of a yard sale we had at the Berkeley Priory, I did a major divestiture of Buddhist books. They were all spread out on a tarp and two students came along and bought the whole lot plus some others. I was happy to see the eagerness as these young people scooped up those books, and at the same time had a feeling similar to when I see the old farm equipment. So much potential, and yet…so much responsibility.
    Thank you for your blogging efforts and the comments of your cyber co-respondents.

  5. Many thanks for these contributions around letting go of stuff and the personal training that this brings up.

    Yes, it is so good to have your thoughts, personal stories and messages of appreciation. Much appreciated.

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