Spiritual leaders answer on possessions

Editors note: Every Friday a question is printed at the end of this column inviting a response. If you are a religious leader on Kaua‘i please send in your thoughts or suggestions for future topics. Next week’s topic is on the body. The topic at the end of the column is for the following week.

Rebecca DeRoos

Science of Mind practitioner

“A man’s life does not consist in the abundance of possessions.” Luke 12:15 This says it all. To be possessed by possessions, I’ve found, does not make for a happy life.

As one who’s given up a home with all its possessions twice in my lifetime, I know what it feels like to be freed up of all possessions. It feels great. What a relief not to have to worry about maintenance and value of each and every thing. I knew that my move to Hawai‘i 18 years ago would mean letting go and letting God with all but very few of my possessions. I knew my prosperity lay with spirit and it has.

Lately I’ve been reading the real-life story of Greg Mortenson, “Three Cups of Tea” by Mortenson and David Relin. It tells of a village high in the mountains amidst the glaciers in Pakistan. The people are described as the “happiest people on earth” and yet food and comfort are minimal. Before Greg created a school building these village children were content with sitting on their knees in their outside glacial classroom using sticks with mud to etch out and practice their multiplication tables in the dirt. Some more fortunate had a slate upon which they’d use their sticks with mud. The children were at their classroom five days a week, even though the “borrowed” teacher from other villages appeared only three days a week. The other two days the children would practice their learning and begin the day singing their song of allegiance to their country — Pakistan. And yet they were happy … without possessions.

It is said that spirit loves us so much that it wants us to have anything we want. It is up to us to ask.

“Ask and it shall be given unto you.” — Matthew 7:7

But the joy in receiving and being with our possessions is up to us. Sometimes our fears take over and we’re afraid we’ll never have that same item again once we’ve given it away or that we’ve even given away our status. Freedom and wealth are received to greater extents with the giving. Whatever you give out, you get back 10-fold in ways you couldn’t imagine.

It is not for us to own things, but to rejoice in their use and share this joy of use with others. It takes practice to share and rejoice in the sharing.

The hardest part about cleaning out a closet is letting go, but it feels so good once it’s accomplished. Possessions are for a short time — living freely is a joy forever.

The Spiritual

Assembly of the Baha’is of Koloa

God does not want us to suffer or to deprive ourselves of physical possessions. Material possessions are here for us to enjoy, as long as we do not allow what we have to affect what we are.

We must remember that we are first and foremost spiritual beings here to develop our spirituality. We must share with the less fortunate, use our money to better society and to give thanksgiving to our merciful and loving Lord.

The Baha’i faith teaches, “Detachment does not consist in setting fire to one’s house, or becoming bankrupt or throwing one’s fortune out of the window, or even giving away all of one’s possessions. Detachment consists in refraining from letting our possessions possess us. A prosperous merchant who is not absorbed in his business knows severance. A banker whose occupation does not prevent him from serving humanity is severed. A poor man can be attached to a small thing.”

Further, “Man reached perfection through good deeds, voluntarily performed, not through good deeds the doing of which was forced upon him. And sharing is a personally chosen righteous act: That is, the rich should extend assistance to the poor, they should expend their substance for the poor, but of their own free will, and not because the poor have gained this end by force.

For the harvest of force is turmoil and the ruin of the social order. On the other hand, voluntary sharing, the freely chosen expending of one’s substance, leadeth to society’s comfort and peace. It lighteth up the world; it bestoweth honor upon humankind.”

Rev. Rita MeKila Herring

Universal Brotherhood Movement

The only real possessions we own are what we “came in with.” What does that mean, really? Does it mean that it’s wrong to enjoy the material things in life? Does it mean that nobody really owns anything anyway?

As we move through life we become so attached to “things” — our cars, our homes, our bodies, together with all the little things that go with each. Often we mistakenly take on similar attitudes of attachment to the people in our lives — our friends, our children, our spouses.

If we’re honest with ourselves, deep down we realize that all of those things can disappear in an instant. Living in the middle of the Pacific we are graced with the blessing of being a little closer to that awareness than a lot of other parts of our country. Is there any question when an energy such as Iniki blows through that we aren’t always able to be in charge of the situation?

What did we come in with? We came in with the love of our creator. We came in with the wisdom of our souls. We came in with the ability to think, learn, and grow. We came in with the capacity to love. These are the things we truly possess. These are the things that we have the power to hold onto. These are the things that we own.

Is it wrong to enjoy the material things in life? Not at all. Our challenge comes in keeping things in perspective. Pay attention to the attitude you hold about the people, places and things in your life and remember to cherish the “possessions” you came in with.

Next week’s question:

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