Again and again, I find myself returning to the couplet of knowing and owning and the second couplet of owning and suffering. For it seems, what we believe ourselves to own becomes the measurement of ourselves; our possessions become our masters. Just as there is something illusory about knowing, so there is something equally baseless about owning. And yet, we go through our lives placing greatest importance on both of these parts. Subtly, the belief in such a thing as “my life” gives birth to “a liver” who will try to live rightly; an owner of experience who will try to experience rightly.
It is important to say, though, that knowing is not in opposition with “unknowing” or “non-knowing”. The two things are very different, originating in different places. We can know a great deal about, say, water; how to recognize it, differentiate it from lemonade or petrol, talk about its properties, and so forth. At the same time, in the moment of experiencing water, we can also allow that natural response of being “a complete stranger” to the actual thing, itself. And water is a good example because it seems to have extra significance here. We all need to drink from life itself to feel complete; we all need water, itself….which is to say, we crave that conflict-less place of non-knowing; paradoxically, non-knowing turns out to be the closest thing to “knowing” life.
If we turn to owning, perhaps our most heartfelt, deeply assumed-to-be-true possession, is life itself….hence “my life”, “my experience”. This is a gigantic assumption. Of course we do not own experience, how could we? Ludicrous though it is, we believe it and suffer the consequences. Unable, of course, to hold experience in our thimble-minds, we abuse it, overlook it, torture it into shapes, pin it down and try to freeze it, arrest it, replicate it. How could we ever own something that is presented to us from who knows where or how? We create the sense of knowing and owning between ourselves, within our groups…but we are not privy to the “inner face” of life itself.
Life is a sequence of experiential assets that are apparently laid out in front of us, but there is no ownership. The moment you notice how tightly you are gripping and possessing (your) experience, you may let go and notice what happens. Life becomes unlimited again, un-owned, and you’ll start picking out all the finer notes and hues that you have been treading on (notice too, how our human relationships are such metaphors for this kind of existential abuse). Experience is allowed to design itself rather than be designed, to cut its own shapes into the sand.
We have been raised to believe that we can “have a life”. See what happens when you hand it back. To “de-own” experience is like releasing a Champagne cork; art will start flowing uncontrollably, recklessly.