26 August 2010

A Little Secret

For the past 10 years or so I have kept a list -- an actual list -- of the things I own.

It started after I had realized, for what I then hoped would be the last time, that I owned things that I neither remembered I had nor actually needed or wanted. I figured that if I listed it all in black on white I would get a clearer sense of the scope of my possessions.

I was instantly ashamed, so I started paring down.

The list has been shrinking-to-steady ever since. I'm now down to a point where I cannot in all reasonableness pare much further without significant changes in my basic lifestyle. I need a car to get to work in Indiana, for instance, and only if I leave my job can I begin to think about going carless. There is a small number of things I own simply because my one kid stays here from time to time, and I need to make her comfortable as well. Who knows? In a few years, some of that stuff might be able to pass on as well.

Today I happened upon a website listing a bhikkhu's permitted and prohibited possessions. Aside from a few items, I noticed that my list and the bhikkhu's list were not terribly far apart, all things considered. I'll now look at those few items again as well. Maybe they could go, too.

Seems to me that the tradition has outlined a reasonable life for those of us who would be home-leavers. A very reasonable life.

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