Once in a while some interior need for a precise word leads us to inventone. In thinking about the hindrances to the spiritual life described by the exhortation of Anthony DeMello’s method of “Sadhanna” to “drop attachments,” I have come up with a thought that necessitates the coining of a word. Under the circumstances of lay life in America in these times it seems to me that the answer to dealing with attachments is to surrender to possessions rather than to “possessionness.” This may, at first, appear to be a rationalization for convenience sake, but let me explain “possessionness.” It’s akin to the old adage about “eating to live or living to eat.” To have possessions that serve you, for whatever reasons, in and of itself, should not be a hindrance to a growing relationship with You.However, when one’s heart is imbued with the having of things for the sake of conveying some kind of image of oneself either to oneself or to others, we indulge in being possessed by our possessions. In other words, we have made ourselves victims of “possessionness.” We live to possess rather than possessing to live.
There is the word “possessiveness” with similar overtones, but its frequent use in regards to our relationship with people close to us leads me to believe there is a distinction between possessiveness and the possessionness I’m talking about. It is quite a fine distinction but it exists nonetheless as a descriptor of the difference between the love of a person and the love of a thing. I may be guilty of excessive possessiveness in regards to my children, but it is not the same as my excessive possessionness in regards to my record collection.
Before this all starts to sound too contrived, the point is that a small amount ofloving possessiveness in a personal relationship such as we have with You may be healthy, but not possessionness of the relationship which tends to objectify it, nor of things that get in the way of it which block and hinder it.