Thursday, August 28, 2008

The Gospel of Non-Possession


Thought For Today: Gandhi's Thoughts.

The Gospel Of Non-possession
Key to Service
WHEN I found myself drawn into the political coil, I asked myself what was necessary for me in order to remain absolute untouched by immorality, by untruth, by what is known as political gain... it was a difficult struggle in the beginning and it was wrestle with my wife and--as I can vividly recall-with my children also. But be that as it may, I came definitely to the conclusion that, if I had to serve the people in whose midst my life was cast and of whose difficulties I was a witness from day to day, I must discard all wealth, all possession....
I cannot tell you with truth that, when this belief came to me, I discarded everything immediately. I must confess to you that progress at first was slow. And now, as I recall those days of struggle, I remember that it was also painful in the beginning. But, as days went by, I saw that I had to throw overboard many other things which I used to consider as mine, and a time came when it became a matter of positive joy to give up those things. And one after another, then, by almost geometric progression, the things slipped away from me.
And, as I am describing my experiences, I can say a great burden fell off my shoulders, and I felt that I could now walk with ease and do my work also in the service of my fellow-men with great comfort and still greater joy. The possession of anything then became a troublesome thing and a burden.
Exploring the cause of that joy, I found that, If I kept anything as my own, I had to defend it against the whole world. I found also that there were many people who did not have the thing, although they wanted it; and I would have to seek police assistance also if hungry, famine-stricken people, finding me in a lonely place, wanted not merely to divide the thing with me but to dispossess me. And I said to myself, if they want it and would take it, they do so not from any malicious motive, but they would do it because theirs was a greater need than mine.
It is open to the world...to laugh at my dispossessing myself of all property. For me the dispossession has been a positive gain. I would like people to complete with me in my contentment. It is the richest treasure I own. Hence it is perhaps right to say that, though I preach poverty, I am a rich man!
Voluntary Self-denial
Our civilization, our culture, our lives depend not on multiplying our wants-self-indulgence, but upon restricting our wants self-denial.
Non-possession is allied to non-stealing. A thing not originally stolen must nevertheless be classified as stolen property, if we possess it without needing it. Possession implies provision for the future. A seeker after Truth, a follower of the law of Love, cannot hold anything against tomorrow. God never stores for the morrow. He never creates more than what is strictly needed for the moment. If, therefore, we repose faith in His Providence, we should rest assured that He will give us every day our daily bread, meaning everything that we require....
Our ignorance or negligence of the Divine Law, which gives to man from day to day his daily bread and no more, has given rise to inequalities with all the miseries attendant upon them. The rich have superfluous store of things which they do not need and which are, therefore, neglected and wasted, while millions are starved to death for want of sustenance.
If each retained possession of only what he needed, no one would be in want, and all would live in contentment. As it is, the rich are discontented no less than the poor. The poor man would fain become a millionaire, and the millionaire a multi-millionaire.
The rich should take the initiative in dispossession with a view to a universal diffusion of the spirit of contentment. If only they keep their own property within moderate limits, the starving will be easily fed, and will learn the lesson of contentment along with the rich.
Perfect fulfillment of the ideal of non-possession requires that man should, like the birds, have no roof over his head, no clothing and no stock of food for the morrow. He will indeed need his daily bread, but it will be God's business, and not his, to provide it. Only the fewest possible, if any at all, can reach this ideal. We ordinary seekers may not be repelled by the seeming impossibility. But we must keep the ideal constantly in view, and in the light thereof, critically examine our possessions and try to reduce them.
Civilization, in the real sense of the term, consists not in the multiplication, but in the deliberate and voluntary reduction of wants. This alone promotes real happiness and contentment, and increases the capacity for service.

Have a sunny day. Fine Art and Jewelry.

4 comments:

Janet Campbell said...

Laura
I have an award for you! Drop by my blog to pick it up!
Many Blessings
Janet

Laura Winslow Godsil said...

Thank you so much for the recognition Janet.

Mel Avila Alarilla said...

I think God did not want it that way. He wants us to view things as God's possession and us as wise stewards of all His creation. When God created the earth, He gave it to man to subjugate. Man became a steward or overseer of God's creation. The matter of daily bread was instituted by God to show man that He is the source of all of man's provisions. Hence when manna rained from heaven, the Jews where instructed to gather only their day's requirements, no more no less. Those who stocked for the next day found their manna eaten by maggots. The solution to the problem is not to dispossess but to look at one's possessions as belonging to God and us as wise stewards of God to use such possessions to extend assistance to our fellowmen thereby glorifying God. In other words, we become God's channels of blessings to others. Jesus Christ had rich and powerful disciples like Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus, a member of the Sanhedrin. The solution is not to dispossess but to attain a state of non-attachment to worldly things especially wealth. Thanks for your interesting post. God bless.

Laura Winslow Godsil said...

Thank you Mel for your fine comment. If you read part II of this post I think you and mister gandhi are on the same train track. You use the word non-attachment and Gandhi uses the word non-possession.I think they both mean the same thing.Have a sunny day and thanks again.