Friday, September 11, 2015

Hell in a Handbasket: Laptops, Cars, and Other Spiritual Vices
artwork by Ingrid Lill

Quiz Time:

In this bright, big world of good and shiny things, there are possessions, and then there are things that are MINE, right?  What I mean is that possessions as I usually think of them are things like My House (which belongs to the bank, thank you), My Jetta (which belongs to yet another financial institution), My Samsung laptop (Ok, this actually is something I paid for in full).  You get the idea.  Those are my things, the very items I'd mourn if they went missing.  I mean seriously cry because I've invested some hard-earned cash.

Spiritual perfectionists would tell me that I need to ditch those things to be happy, or at least not be so god-awful attached to them.

Meh.  I'm not that spiritual, I guess.

The next level of stuff I own is this entirely amped up level of possessions. These are things I'd spare absolutely nothing to keep, including the house, the car, and that laptop.  Nevermind the cash.  That's replaceable but these things are most certainly not!

My body
My mind
My brain

The third level is what I'd call the intangibles belonging to me. 

My intellect
My feelings
My ego
My desires

The list goes on.

Essentially, what I've done here is to make a list of things and ideas or concepts.  They quite naturally seem to be MINE.  I've never doubted this and could fight for them in a court of law, so that makes is SO. 

Oddly, I cannot find the thing that all of these possessions belong to.  I mean, what does my body belong to?  Or, for that matter, how about my brain or mind?  If I call the body MINE, why is it that I cannot define what the thing that owns it is?  If I say that this body belongs to the soul, I run into a problem because I also say, "My Soul".  That's sort of a real dead end I've walked into with that one.

So what about the body belonging to my spirit?  Except that it's the same problem yet again because it's called "My spirit". 

If I do this exercise with any of the things on this list, it becomes quite evident pretty early on that though it's a very nice list, there is no finding what they all belong to. 

This isn't just a philosophy problem.  This is a real one.  I'm looking for the tangible entity I've been talking about my ENTIRE life and yet when I look, it's not there.

How about you?  Find the owner of your stuff yet?  If you can point to it so that I can see it too, I'll give you my car.

Drop me a comment below.


  1. The image at the following address has a red arrow pointed at an image of myself. The maroon arrow is pointed at an image of my phone.
    Thus providing you with an example of being able to point at the owner of my stuff (in this case my phone).
    When can I arrange to collect your car?

    1. Not quite! But good one. ;)

      Whose image is it? Point to the entity or thing that owns the image, and the body in the image. All you're pointing me to are images!

  2. How can you see what I'm pointing at over such vast distances without using images?

    1. Describe it so that I can tell what it is. I haven't been able to find anything to point to except a body. Are you able to find more than that to point to?

    2. Let's be simple... Point at Delma, then point at something which Delma legally owns... The dilemma should now be resolved!

    3. Delma is said to "have" this body and mind, so where is Delma? I can't find anything to point to.

      Is your name Jim? Can you point to the one who has Jim's body? :)

  3. this body and mind, as you call it, is called Jim, just as a convention, for convenience. There is no Jim separate from the body mind.

    There is no owner of this body mind.

    But, this body mind (called Jim) does possess physical things like laptop and phone etc. And this body mind can be pointed at, as can the possessions...

    1. That's true. Except the inquiry was for me to find the owner of the body and thoughts. I couldn't find that. The body? Yes. Thoughts? Yes. But what possesses them?

      While what you say is true and accurate, the question takes a step back from there and looks for the owner of those things.

      I like that you're still inquiring with me!

  4. It was not clear in your original article that your final question only referred to non external objects, because you do start out with houses and cars and laptops. And they definitely do have owners that can be pointed to.

    But if your question only pertains to a human being then no, of course, there is no separate entity that owns a human being, including any processes that arise - like fear or thought or memories etc etc.

    Are you familiar with Excel, the spreadsheet program? If a cell references itself in a calculation, it gets caught in an endless loop, it's called a circular reference.
    The idea that thoughts are owned, is similarly a circular reference.

    Another striking example is the thought that thought should stop :-p

    1. Yes! Sorry it wasn't clear. I was looking at the doodle and using examples from it. Great example with the spreadsheet circular reference. Very clear.