July 3 – I-Ing and My-ing – Mark Nepo, The Book of Awakening

The shore thirsts, but does not own the ocean that keeps it soft. So, too, the heart and all it loves. 

In the ancient Indian language Pali, the word ahamkara means “I-ing” having or making the feeling of “I.” The word mamamkara means “My-ing,” having or making the feeling of “mine.” In Buddhism, the feeling of I-ing and My-ing are considered so dangerous and poisonous that they are seen as yet another cause of spiritual disease.

This tells us that as soon as we start to separate what cannot be separated, our mental health will suffer. This tells us that the dearest things in life cannot be owned, but only shared. In truth, we share this mystery called life the way sea creatures share the ocean. While each fish has its nest and small patch of bottom to gum, none can live without the deep that flows through them all.

We are no different. Yes, we can own a watch or a car, but no one can own the love or peace or energy of life that must flow through our hearts if we are to survive.

As soon as we devote ourselves to I-ing and My-ing, we are drawn into a life of distraction from what really matters. Once we commit to making things “mine,” we unleash a career of gathering and storing. Now there is the need to wall in and maintain. Now there is endless sorting through the things of the world that could be mine. Now the attaining. Now the insuring. Now there is possessiveness and jealously and envy, and the need to protect, and the right to bear arms. Now there is the secret want to get what others have, and the right to sue. ¬†This I-ing and My-ing can sicken the strongest soul.

It often contaminates how we love. How many times have we all asked our lovers for the reassurance, “Are you mine?” Even as I write this, I struggle, like you, not to have things, but to make good use of them; not to guard and parcel out my care, but to let the love through. I am , that is for sure. But what is truly mine, beyond this vibrant sense of being alive, that I keep opening to?

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