We grasp onto so many things as being ours, but are we correct in doing so, and what effect does it have on our minds?
This possessiveness is an aspect of our attachment, which only ever functions to disturb our mind. Maybe we have a special coffee cup at work: how do we feel when someone else dares to use it? What about when people borrow our prized possessions and fail to return them?
We even regard other people as our possessions: my spouse, my child. I thought we’d banned slavery generations ago? When we get possessive, we start expecting people to act like an extension of us, for example expecting our children to adopt our own ambitions, and this can only put pressure on our relationships.
What does it really mean for something to be ours? If we truly possessed something, we would be able to take it with us when we die; but there is nothing outside of our own mind that we can hold onto after death. Even our own body – our most treasured possession – will be left behind. We do not possess any external thing.
Everything is impermanent: our material possessions, our family, even our youth and beauty and health. We can’t hold onto any of it, so grasping at them as ‘mine’ only causes pain. If we can learn to recognize their transitory nature, we can enjoy these things without grasping; in fact we can appreciate them more because we know they cannot last.