A strange paradox is working its way through me right now–the concept of non-attachment, non-ownership of things with the notion of radical personal responsibility.
As a conscious entity who has been thrust onto the stage of a life and world with other conscious entities, it is impossible for me to conclude that I don’t exist at all, or that phenomena don’t really exist, that there is no I and the world. But, I can begin to see the wisdom of non-duality, in that my connectedness to all creation means there is no separate I who can exist independently of the world. Because I and every other soul effectively “own” the world, there is no real need to place my name upon anything I say or do with an eye to claiming some kind of immortality for when I die. However, there is a great importance in understanding that my thoughts, words, and deeds do impact other souls, either positively or negatively, for the same reason–we are all connected. If I stew in negativity for hours on end, hoping for something bad to happen to someone I don’t like, I will inevitably create the proper kind of conditions for something bad to happen–except, the bad thing might very well happen to me or a loved one or a nearby innocent bystander.
I don’t have to take ownership of all of the sins of the world, because Christ has already done this. However, I do have to take ownership of all of my sins and bring them to Christ and ask for repentance, while asking also that Christ will reach out to the hearts of those I’ve offended whom I know longer know, but remain full of bitterness and anger toward me. I have to take ownership of all of my bitterness and anger toward people, by constantly asking myself if this or that person still causes an emotional disturbance inside of me when I conjure up their image.
As I forgive and ask to be forgiven, then I can become detached. I know longer need to cling to or own those old, toxic memories. I don’t really need to own or cling to any memories, as God keeps them all in a mental memory bank more pristinely than I will ever be able to. The ones that are worth replaying will be there for me when I die. The ones that aren’t worth replaying will be there for me as well if I haven’t yet asked for forgiveness and forgiven the offender involved in the toxic memory.
This is not a quick and easy process. Many times over, I will declare that I have forgotten and forgiven, that I have let go, and suddenly, the memory will confront me again when it is triggered by an unexpected life event. Those are the moments where the habit of practicing quick renewal of the forgiveness becomes very important.
There is, of course, no need for me to be attached to material things, or attached to the words I have written. My words are like seeds that will be planted when I die–some may take root and bear fruit, most will not. Eventually, they will be completely disconnected from the particular soul/entity that is me. This is exactly as it should be. I no longer need to be attached with grief or hanging on to the loved ones who have gone before me. I won’t ever forget them, and it does me no good to try to continually resurrect them as clearly as possible in my mind and replay old memories and try to imagine myself communicating with them wherever they are how much I love them. I will see them again, God willing, and that should be good enough. I have to let go of so many things.
My mental tentacles are many and varied–they reach out from the mind and the heart, pulling me this way and that. Some attachments are simply to bring forth a little happiness, and others are deeply entrenched in my heart, and rake me over the coals when I summon them forth. The pain and release is its own kind of cathartic happiness, but it too, is completely unnecessary.
Other attachments that need to be severed are attachments to pride and ego and all manner of ways in which I’ve pumped myself up to be a great somebody inside of my mind. Such attachments have caused much of the recent bouts of anger–for I have continually demanded of God and the world why I am not getting something better–surely I deserve more than this because I am so special, right?
Obviously, owning up to my flaws and problems is a must, but owning them like a greedy miser or masochistic fool long after I have been forgiven of them is the worst kind of ownership. Being a hoarder of misery is an especially pathetic way to be. Hanging on to things that will not accompany me later in life and into death, or hanging onto things that will always be with me because they are natural gifts of the Lord and not really mine to begin with–hanging on to anything after it has been met and dealt with is hanging on to it for too long.