I was excited when I saw that the God of all worlds was speaking to us on possessions. A whole chapter in Wisdom from the Greater Community dedicated to ownership in the world.
“This is going to speak to me and prove me right,” I thought to myself. I had decided that my approach to life, of paring down my belongings to what could fit in a backpack, was best, and here I was going to settle on the floor (because I didn’t have a couch of course) to have my zen, minimalist lifestyle totally validated by the Lord of the Universe.
Without having studied Christianity, where God had spoken previously, I’d say I was in line with taking this quote literally: “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven.” – Jesus.
Perfect? Count my self-punishing, perfectionist personality in!
That quote can easily have us judging people with a lot of “stuff.” OK, I definitely did, and try not too, still.
I then dove in this chapter in Wisdom, which is one of the many teachings of the New Message from God. What is God going to tell us about our “stuff”? I found out I was only hitting the tip of the iceberg when I considered material things alone:
“The ways that people relate to their possessions and how they relinquish themselves to their possessions can be recognized in many, many forms of expression.”
You mean I am collecting thoughts?
I felt disappointed, and less and less impressed with myself for owning one spoon. But I could relate to this. God has a “perfect” way of finding us where we’re at, and taking it from there. And God can find all of us. Can you find yourself in here?
“Some people collect objects. Others collect ideas. Part of the attraction of collecting ideas is having exciting thoughts and having the thrill of having an insight, which is like the thrill of buying a new thing—perhaps a new garment, which you have the thrill of wearing for a few days, and then it just becomes a garment, one more thing. People often value insights in the same way. They have an insight, and oh, they are excited, and they think it is so meaningful. They walk around proudly with it and share it eagerly with their friends. Then after a few days, well, it’s just another thought to add to millions of other thoughts that are already there.”
Some people think owning things is disdainful, and so they go and collect ideas. Some people collect spiritual practices. Other people collect spiritual artifacts. Collect, collect, collect—whether it is objects or ideas—collect, collect, collect, until you are swollen and glutted with all this, and it all seems to fill up the emptiness within you that is a calling for Knowledge.”
Well OK, what do I do when I find myself swimming in ideas about myself? An empty home, or a transient life, but I have filled up my mind with thoughts about who I should be, based on who I was, based on my family’s ideas, or rebellion? Here it appears to be a mistake of attempting to control the outer life with rigid ideas, by creating a visible experience of simplicity, while underneath the calm surface, there is a pile of garbage that all started building up at some point in the ’80’s.
Where is the balance? A good way to begin is to ask yourself what you really need- as far as objects in the world and your ideas. Are you buying something that you think you’ll need later? Are you buying something because you’re afraid? Is that fear or caution speaking, by the way? In comparing objects to ideas, are they well-made? Can they sustain throughout varied times in your life? Is that idea about yourself really working NOW? You know, that idea about who you are, that you made up when you were 22? “Oh I don’t do that… that’s not me..” are you sure? Are you buying another pair of shoes that will only walk you a quarter way up the mountain?<
Speaking to the exhaustion of pursuing our collection based on what we think: “We preoccupy ourselves with what we had — or what we want to have — at the expense of what we have.”
― Mokokoma Mokhonoana
Another refreshing point was about “leaving space” in your life. You need an opening! Where can the truth fit in, if you’ve decided who you are already and what you need? Like shoe boxes piled to your ceiling, and a spare room full of exercise equipment you do not use, where are your true needs going to fit?
Here’s a little song I wrote about evaluating your possessions and ideas, years after encountering this teaching from God:
I think of a world where a large number of people begin to lighten their burden and create openings. All of a sudden the rays of sun and shine into your heart and windows because you’ve rid yourself of the objects casting shadows and blocking the light. You can see your neighbor. You can see people who have been standing there, peeking in once in a while to see if they are allowed in. What have your ideas blocked you from? It is not too late.
“The man and woman of Knowledge want economy because they need time to focus on Knowledge and on learning greater things. They cannot be bogged down with objects, ideas or people that are not part of their greater pursuit. This is economy, and this is important. As you progress and study The Greater Community Way of Knowledge, gradually things fall away, not because they are bad but simply because they are no longer needed. You cannot use them. You don’t want to carry a lot of extra baggage. Your life, in a sense, is becoming streamlined. Your burden is getting lighter. Now you can assume greater responsibilities.”
Further reading: Quotes on Wealth