Let us talk about ownership today - the next big thing after relationship.
We have a legal system that gives us a sense of ownership over goods and property. We get paid money for work. Some people try to one another in gaining possessions, wealth and money.
Let us go beyond this socio-legal construct of ownership and ask the question, "Do we really own anything?"
Note that this discussion does not imply that the socio-legal construct is useful. Of course, it is! A civilization that respects ownership is better than one that doesn't.
However, is there anything real about ownership?
In some countries, there is great importance given to private ownership. In other countries, government ownership is deemed correct. In some places, the land can belong to anyone. In other places, the land belongs to the people or sons of the soil.
Is there anything real about any of these various forms of ownership? Does the land not belong to plants and other animals? Do they have a right to ownership?
If we agree that there is nothing radically different in humans from other forms of life, and that we are continuous as biological forms, why is it that our philosophies of ownership do not respect animal habitats and territories?
These questions are easily answered by the evidence of locks, doors and other safeguards put in place to protect property. Deep down, we realize that our property does not belong to us. Everything we own can be taken away given appropriate social conditions. We can lose our houses, money, possessions, why, even the body.
There is no essential bond between I and my property. What is mine can easily come in to the hand of some one else. Losing a pencil is non-different from losing something expensive. Both are manifestations of the same principle: in reality, outside our constructs, we do not own anything.
The extreme case is this: I assume this body to be mine and use it to fulfill my needs and wants. However at death, this body will come into the possession of someone else. It may be buried or burned as they deem fit.
No, this is not the extreme case.
The extreme case is that even I do not belong to me. Even if I turn super-spiritual, I cannot will my salvation. I cannot choose whether to be born and become associated with a particular body,
In the Śrīvaiṣṇava Viśiṣṭādvaita system, the unquestioned illusion that one belongs to oneself is considered the root cause of all theft.
A verse asks, What theft is not committed by one who has stolen oneself? In truth, everyone and everything belongs only to Nārāyaṇa.
The root cause of all suffering is also this illusion of independent individuation. Once again, we say to the detractor, "You can argue that you have no faith in Nārāyaṇa, but you cannot deny that you do not possess anything in reality. What is your's today becomes another's tomorrow. Things that belonged to others are given to you. You have no choice of the body you choose to dwell or become born into. You have no control over the fact of your existence. You can call it nature, universe or universal spirit. But, we are all in its bind. We can choose not to be attached to things. But, we cannot will away that which produces attachment. Needless to be emphasized that we cannot will away or obtain things by mere wish."
So, this is truth. This is a fact. We do not own anything, not our bodies, not even our deepest selves. Let the legal contracts exist for peaceful coexistence but not to bind us in illusion.