It was our belief that the love of possessions is a weakness to be overcome. Its appeal is to the material part, and if allowed its way, it will in time disturb one’s spiritual balance. Therefore, children must early learn the beauty of generosity. They are taught to give what they prize most, that they may taste the happiness of giving.
Ohiyesa (Charles Alexander Eastman) – Wahpeton Santee Sioux 1858-1939
The infamous Publishers Clearing House envelopes used to slide insidiously into my mailbox and now my inbox. Flashing and wiggling, with their gold stamps and promises of a fortune to be given to someone with my initials, this fantastical document, sewn together with fairy dust and self-delusion, is designed to make you do one thing; buy crap you don’t need. Do you really need a deviled egg tray when a dish will do? A chopper when a kitchen knife cuts just fine? Do you need a dragonfly purse, a coin set, a lotion applicator, garden gnome, crystal heart bear, Elvis clock or an electronic deodorizer?
Advertisements can be a siren song of greed, luring the unsuspecting with useless geegaws and exploiting the secret wishes of desperate people to be lifted from the grind of paying the bills. At best, you’ll lose money and gain a cheap and disposable knick knack, at worst you’ll throw your resources into an empty pit that will eat away at your soul. If you were an alien walking through New York’s China Town, you might think our species valued plastic eggs and wobble dolls above all else. Does our ability to chemically manipulate matter really lead to a mountain of “Lucky Cat” dolls?
People have amazing capacities. We are inherently creative and our very existence is pure consciousness in manifest form. We explore, discover, wish, hope, dream and tell stories. We are spiritual beings at play in a material world. Our radiant consciousness is so powerful, it can extend to outer objects, lighting things up with a depth of meaning they don’t actually possess. After all, the crystal heart bear only means as much as the love it represents. The worth of any object is a measure of the qualities your own consciousness projects onto it. Whether it’s an Elvis clock or a Stradivarius Violin, only your devotion or knowledge make it shine.
We’re living in strange times. In only two hundred years, the world population has grown from 1 billion to nearly 7 billion. If the world continues to fill up with geegaws, widgets and whatnots that serve no purpose in our lives, we will literally choke on them. The time has come to put away childish things, to sort out what is necessary and what is only a temporary salve to a deeper spiritual longing.
What do we need in our lives that we cannot buy? Is it space, freedom, love, fulfilling work, companionship, a sense of purpose? What can we offer the world? Can we give kindness, problem solving, charitable support, education, hope, love, art or justice? What can we offer all sentient beings? What is worth putting your divine energy into? Are your words helpful or selfish? If that seems overwhelming, then start small— give to those closest to you.
The American Indians have a tradition called “The Giveaway.” Tribe members give their belongings away. The more glorious the gift, the more power is derived from the act of giving. No matter how difficult life becomes, we can always give to others. In fact, we must continually empty ourselves, in order to be filled. We must give in order to receive. We must be open to change and new ideas in order to be enlightened. Toys can never fulfill us, they only have meaning when serving a greater purpose.The path to enlightenment concerns our spiritual growth, not our material indulgence.
Making space is a magical act. Evaluating the things in your life, whether you need them and what purpose they serve, is an important philosophical decision to make. The magic is to release the things you don’t need and free up energy in your life.