Thursday, February 28, 2019

Detachment, Emptyness and Discarding

A member of the press staff of the Catholic Peace Weekly writes in the Word and Silence column about the dream he had of a library full of books. The day never came and even after moving over ten times, the bookcase stands on one side of the living room.

When someone turns on the TV, the gleaming light and sound dominate the space. The bookshelf is in the wrong place. He spent the New Year holidays throwing away his books. Books were scattered throughout the house. The solution was to thin them out.

Books are not just a treasure house of knowledge and a fountain of wisdom. Ready to throw out a book memories come back. The coffee stain on the page, the words underlined, remarks in the margins, the memory of the book on the beach, summer, do you want to erase all these memories?

He thought the selection of the books would take only a few hours but continued until the next day. In front of the books, reasons for their survival made the trial stretch out indeterminately. When appeals for survival came from certain books they were put on a list to be read. He was forced to set up a strict standard for the slaughter. A book unlikely to be read is boldly discarded. He ignored the memories, passions, and virtues of youth. Only books he would read would remain.

So he ended the Chinese New Year with this slaughter. He filled three bookshelves and got some free space. Looking at the books that survived, the trial was never fair. Another hidden criterion exerted its force. It was a camouflage to hide his lack of  knowledge. This was vanity, he wanted to show off the books he had read. Maybe merely an excuse for oneself. What was left on the bookshelf were not books, but lies and greed? It was the size of his desire and obsession that he still had not forsaken.

Looking back, not just books, things are scattered all over the house. Objects he wont use and regrets throwing away; clothes that he won't wear again, bowls not seen in years, a gift unwrapped never used, and the giver just a flickering memory. 

Many things should have been given away. Things that did not go to the person who needed it lost value and became one of his odds and ends. Not a sign of thrift and diligence but a token of stupidity and egotism.

Space becomes bigger the emptier it is. The more you throw away, the more space you have. Objects encroach upon space and gradually infiltrate the mind. The soul overcome with a desire for gain does not contemplate heaven because of its eartly weight.

Obsession is a property of fragile souls. Greed reveals the emptiness of the mind. A person who has not accumulated treasures in his heart is obsessed with wealth. The less a person has to show the greater the ostentation. He wants to begin to get rid of what he has.

He is not far from retirement both from work and society. He will no longer be on active duty or given a role to fill and should be learning the wisdom of emptying and abandoning. He'll be throwing things out one by one, no more collecting. He wants at the end of life to pray in an empty room with only a Bible on his desk.