Nothing to Own

In my last blog, I talked about moving, and how it made me realize that life is constantly on the move. Another thing that changed for me, primarily because of moving so often is that I don’t own anything. Because I didn’t stay in one place for long, things frequently changed. I didn’t own the apartment I lived in, the things I had, the rented bike, even the relationships. The temporary nature of living here really made me think about what is it that I really own?

And just recently I learned that even my thoughts are not my own. When I heard that, it blew my mind away. What I thought I knew was all gone, and a new kind of understanding emerged. A question arose: How can my thoughts not be my own? Deep down, it made sense. One train of thought after another. It just comes and goes. Think about it for a moment. Do I decide what my next thought is going to be? It’s all so subtle and tricky. What’s tricky is how quickly we conclude that it’s our own when we didn’t even choose to think that thought in the first place. Right now, I am writing this sentence, but I don’t know what the next one is going to be. It’s so amazing!

This learning is so small but has changed everything for me. If my thoughts are not even my own, then what is? The whole idea of “me, myself, and I” changes. Yes, I do get to make decisions, but what makes me make those decisions? If you’re thinking, how come I didn’t know this before. Of course, I knew that “I” doesn’t exist. Throughout Gurbani, we learn that we are just trapped in “Haumai.” But this understanding was different. I had not thought about thoughts in this way. Even if I had, this time, it was set on a different stage from a different perspective that changed my view about life and me.

We are just like a star in the sky that knows its a star and thinks it is so amazing. But it doesn’t know how it came to be. It doesn’t care to know either. It just thinks it’s all there is. It doesn’t know anything beyond itself. Another great analogy I’ve heard time and time again is that: we are like a wave emerging from the ocean, not realizing that we are part of the same ocean.

This blog, everything I write comes from my thoughts, but where do those thoughts come from? So, really, I cannot take credit for any of this. It’s just what came to my mind. I didn’t decide for it to happen to me, simply like I didn’t decide to enter into this world where I can know this existence. I am just another lowly speck in the unlimited vastness there is.

ਮਃ ੧ ॥
ਆਪੇ ਪਟੀ ਕਲਮ ਆਪਿ ਉਪਰਿ ਲੇਖੁ ਭਿ ਤੂੰ ॥
ਏਕੋ ਕਹੀਐ ਨਾਨਕਾ ਦੂਜਾ ਕਾਹੇ ਕੂ ॥੨॥

– Rāg Malār, Guru Nanak Sahib Ji, SGGS Ang 1291

You are the writing tablet and You are the pen.
You are also what is written on it. Speak of the One, O Nanak; how could there be any other?

Learn more about how we are really powerless in this youtube video which is a part of a whole series on Anand Sahib and its interpretation in English by Nanak Naam.