Killing the Inner Pack-Rat: Step Two

In Which We Came to Believe That a Power Greater Than Ourselves Could Restore Us To Sanity

Well shoot, I sure as heck hope so because if a Power Greater Than Ourselves can't help us then we are all toast!

This second step got me thinking: many, if not all, of the major religions and spiritual practices of the world offer valuable insight into accumulated stuff, its power over us and the importance of freeing ourselves from this bondage. Like it or not, we live in a culture of greed and excess. And it isn't just "them," those "others," the "1%ers" or whatever some might think. It is all of us. If you are reading this blog, you probably have more than you need......like time to read this blog.... Hello? Shouldn't you be working or something? Heck, I know I am neglecting something just thinking about this! (The cat just informed me it is his dinner I am neglecting. Silly cat, doesn't he know I got rid of his dinner as one of today's 21 things?) But I digress. While I can't cover all variations of this Greater Power, let's see just how our sanity might be restored by It, shall we?

Starting with what practice I know best, I am confident Jesus would be quite displeased with our excess here in the U.S., my house included. I am pretty sure that when he said if you have two coats, give one away, that he actually meant it; not only because he wanted us to be generous but he probably truly didn't think we need so many coats...because obviously he didn't live here in Minnesota and clearly had no idea what he was talking about! (Silly, Jesus.) But seriously, when he told us not to lay up for ourselves treasure here on earth, this was a pretty direct statement that we need not gather more and more possessions, so many that we forget what we have and go buy more the same stuff or start running out of space to contain it all. And he also really meant what he told us, that where our treasure is, there our heart will be also. I am 100% sure that my heart is better off with God and those I love than it is packed away in a box with a hundred useless trophies from the first 18 years of my life. God can actually make good use of a heart like mine (and yours, too), if only I am willing to take it out of the box. So perhaps Jesus was onto something when he told us to sell our possessions and give to the needy because when we finally get around to getting rid of our junk (and stop spending money on junk to replace it!) and use the free space/time/money to help others, we are one step closer toward restoring our sanity. Come to think of it, Jesus said a whole lot about this. And I'll be the first to admit that I have personally glossed over those particular passages because certainly they apply to those "other" people who are greedy and have way too many things, not someone like myself who just has, um, way too many things......ahem....

In Luke, Jesus says: “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” Amen, Jesus. So, I'm pretty sure he was talking to me....and I am pretty sure he means it is time to let go of my abundance and replace it with more meaningful life.....and it is up to me, to us actually, to either respond positively or to walk away sad like the rich man in Matthew 19 who "had great wealth"....a story that ends with Jesus confirming our second step by saying, "With man this is impossible but with God all things are possible." It is a Power greater than ourselves that restores us to sanity, not our own doing. (Thank God because I was certain to go crazy trying to do it myself!)

Similar to the Hindu belief that there are three gateways to hell (lust, wrath and greed), in Buddhism, greed (or the selfish desire of, or attempt to possess something that is beyond personal need) is one of the Three Poisons that leads to evil and suffering. (The other two are anger/hatred and ignorance/delusion.) And get this, in Buddhist tradition, at the center of the Wheel of life are a snake, representing hate; a pig, representing ignorance; and what could possibly represent greed? A ROOSTER! So. Darn. Fitting. Dang it! According to Buddhist tradition, the three of them combined keep us bound to samsara, the cycle of birth, death and rebirth, which apparently is like being held in the hamster wheel of bondage, so, kind of a bad thing. The word they use for this suffering is dukkah. You don't want to get stuck in dukkah. You just don't.

But Karen, you argue, I have a lot of stuff but I don't think that means I am greedy. After all, most of it came from gifts and hand me downs and really great sales!

Ok, you and Pig just keep thinking that. Let me know how that works for you. But you might want to know that smug ol' Rooster over there is cock-a-doodling through your dukkah.... 

The bottom line, if you have more than you need, too many coats in your closet or clothes in your wardrobe, if you can call a charity pick-up after a week of purging and decluttering and know that you will need two or three more pick-ups (my hand is raised here), chances are greed is somewhere in the mix. And maybe delusion. I don't know for sure but I am willing to bet it's tough to get off the cycle of samsara with so much excess. Which is why a Power greater than ourselves really comes in handy here.....

In the Muslim faith, the third Pillar is called Zakat, which means purification, specifically, purifying one's heart from greed. They believe that wealth is a gift from God and that it is a human's natural inclination to love and even hoard wealth. They believe it takes God's help for a person to part with some of his wealth which is why they require the payment of zakat (or 2.5% of a person's wealth and assets). And that of course got me thinking: shoot, only 2.5%? They get off easy compared to Jews and Christians who are commanded to tithe 10%.....but when I told Kurt maybe we should reconsider our faith, he reminded me that giving 2.5% would be an increase for us....insert tail between legs and doh! Watch out for that dukkah! 

I'll have to address that issue after I finish the purging though because really, there is only so much a girl can handle...perhaps this is where that higher Power comes in.....it's too bad that my Higher Power didn't intercede BEFORE I started writing this post!

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