Howdy, Stranger!

It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!

Examples: Monday, today, last week, Mar 26, 3/26/04
Image & file uploads are now fixed. Thanks for your patience.
Welcome home! Please contact lincoln@newbuddhist.com if you have any difficulty logging in or using the site. New registrations must be manually approved which may take up to 48 hours. Can't log in? Try clearing your browser's cookies.

Collecting things

KeromeKerome Love, love is mysteryThe Continent Veteran
edited February 17 in General Banter

At various times in my life I have had a number of collections... stamps for a while when I was younger, science fiction and fantasy paperbacks, comics. The thing that is left over which I still have is a sizeable hoard of dvd’s. Have you ever thought about the dharma aspect of collecting things? It seems something that feeds desire and attachment, and because of the effort invested it can be hard to let go of these things.

My uncle (who passed away a few years ago) was another noted collector, we discovered on clearing out his personal effects. He lived in a small room, where he kept a collection of modern paintings, crockery from the Danish Royal works, books, and shirts. There weren’t many signs that it made him happy though.

It can give a momentary pleasure, finding an item which fills a gap in your collection. But I was recently looking at the list of eight things that a Buddhist monk is allowed to own, and it’s a sharp contrast in approach to what you own. I’m beginning to feel perhaps a minimalist approach to furniture and items is best.

Do you have experiences with collecting things and letting go?

Comments

  • Lee82Lee82 Veteran

    I collect things also but agree a minimalist lifestyle would be more suitable. Collecting is a hobby and I don't feel particularly attached to the things I collect; if I list them tomorrow then it would cause me any great pain, but then why do I bother if I have no attachment to them. Magnets from places visited is an inexpensive collection whereas high quality hardback travel writing books is more of a coin sink.

  • FosdickFosdick in its eye are mirrored far off mountains Alaska, USA Veteran

    I collect rocks, apparently. Ordinary rocks, plain old rocks found lying on the ground, ones that once said "pick me up, take me home". They connect me to earth, perhaps, who knows? In any event, they will present no problems of disposal for my heirs, and no tax liability.

    Also, I seem to collect artists' paint brushes. This is a bit more questionable, since I actually only use a dozen or so with any frequency.

    If I got rid of all these rocks and brushes I would miss them, so I guess there could be an element of clinging there, but is it enough to constitute a hindrance of some sort? I don't know, I suppose it could if allowed to be.

  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator
    edited February 17

    @Kerome said: ... Do you have experiences with collecting things and letting go?

    Oh boy... where to start...?

    I remember in one of Lama Surya Das' Trilogy "Awakening" books he recounted the story of a woman who collected a certain item (I forget what it was) but deciding that clinging was not conducive to living her Buddhist life correctly, she gave almost all of it away, keeping only 5 or 6 pieces she was particularly fond of. Then, she had a house fire. She fortunately escaped entirely unscathed, but she lost the only things of her collection she had kept as precious...

    I lost my collections of fine porcelain china cups and saucers, including two small coffee tumblers bearing the portraits of Napoleon and his Empress Josephine, which had been wedding presents to my grandparents and had some worth. My husband dropped the box when we had packed to move. Out of 17 items, 2 cups and 2 saucers survived unscathed. Sadly, none of them matched.

    I also lost my entire collection of fine glass paperweights - about 30 in all - when they were in storage and I couldn't keep up with the payments. In fact, I lost the total sum of my entire belongings.

    I am rather encouraged to find I survived both ordeals relatively unscathed.

    Kundolobster
  • ShoshinShoshin No one in particular Nowhere Special Veteran

    Do you have experiences with collecting things and letting go?

    I use to collect teapots ( I'm a bit potty)...at one stage I had around 40 odd, now I have around half a dozen...I gave the rest away, they had served (pun intended) their purpose...The thought This too shall pass is never too far from mind...

    I have been collecting Buddhas & Bodais I have around 18 scattered around the apartment different sizes and shapes... I haven't found any new ones lately...Not that I'm really looking :)

    I guess their presence sends a subliminal message...Hmm and so the teapots were reinforcing my pottiness ;)

    More than what meets the eye our subconscious perceives

  • KeromeKerome Love, love is mystery The Continent Veteran

    @Lee82 said:
    Magnets from places visited is an inexpensive collection

    I do that too. When I go on holiday or somewhere special I will pick up a magnet, I keep them stuck to the front of my fridge as a reminder. My list of collections is still growing.

  • a collection of collections...

  • JasonJason God Emperor Arrakis Moderator
    edited February 18

    @Kerome said:
    At various times in my life I have had a number of collections... stamps for a while when I was younger, science fiction and fantasy paperbacks, comics. The thing that is left over which I still have is a sizeable hoard of dvd’s. Have you ever thought about the dharma aspect of collecting things? It seems something that feeds desire and attachment, and because of the effort invested it can be hard to let go of these things.

    My uncle (who passed away a few years ago) was another noted collector, we discovered on clearing out his personal effects. He lived in a small room, where he kept a collection of modern paintings, crockery from the Danish Royal works, books, and shirts. There weren’t many signs that it made him happy though.

    It can give a momentary pleasure, finding an item which fills a gap in your collection. But I was recently looking at the list of eight things that a Buddhist monk is allowed to own, and it’s a sharp contrast in approach to what you own. I’m beginning to feel perhaps a minimalist approach to furniture and items is best.

    Do you have experiences with collecting things and letting go?

    Yes. I tend to collect things because I'm very sentimental. I also have a lot of books that I hope to one day read and gain enjoyment or knowledge from. I also gave away almost all of my possessions when I thought about becoming a monk, which I ended up not doing; but I moved across country with a book and a duffel bag of clothes. Today, I have a closet full, and a bookcase overflowing with book. It would be hard for me to get rid of them, but I could if I had the right motivation.

    Generally speaking, though, I find it difficult to do so. When we collect these things one by one, we tend to think only of that thing and the use or joy we can get of of it, adding it to the pile. And each time we do so, we add a little more to our attachment to things. They become ours, and we naturally hold tightly to what's ours, whether it's a few items or many. And those things start to define us, become a part of our identity, making them even harder to part with. Attachment is like a tree, and each new thing waters it, helping it grow bigger and bigger.

    I'm currently know by my collection of books and concert t-shirts. I was once known for being an avid collector of comics. And there's nothing bad about that owning book or clothes or even comics. But there is the potential for suffering there, and I can see that. If we become unhealthily obsessed and spend more money than we really have, for example. Or if we lose them in some way and can't bear the loss. Or when we have to move (like I'm currently in the process of doing). But that's part of what the practice is for, seeing how the underlying attachment gives rise to suffering and helping us let go when we need to, seeing when the tree needs pruning.

    I actually like Marie Kondo's show Tidying Up because it gives people who aren't aware of or into Buddhism a practical way of doing this through a simple process that's perfect for regular people. It helps people let go without letting go of everything, and I find it inspiring in that sense. Even when things stop making us happy, it can be hard to let them go because of attachment and all of the excuses and reasons we come up with to justify keeping them, and sometimes we need a push to confront that.

    As puthujjana, run-of-the-mill people, confronting attachment is something we constantly have to do; and letting go is something constantly have to relearn.

    federica
  • KundoKundo Sydney, Australia Veteran

    Do you have experiences with collecting things and letting go?

    Crystals, Oods and sonic screwdrivers are my weakness.

    Seriously.

    person
  • @federica said:
    ... I am rather encouraged to find I survived both ordeals relatively unscathed.

    Encouragement and survival. My sort of ideal collection.

    I find ephemeral collections more satisfying eg.

    • food that get's eaten, adding to my health collection
    • laffs, adding to my health collection
    • Buddhas, adding to my inspiration
    • Incense, adding to my smoking practice
    • Plants, especially herbs
    Bunks
  • BunksBunks Australia Veteran

    @Kundo said:

    Do you have experiences with collecting things and letting go?

    Crystals, Oods and sonic screwdrivers are my weakness.

    Seriously.

    I had to google what an ood and a sonic screwdriver were.

    You need to get out more.

    Seriously.

    ??????

    KundoShoshin
  • BunksBunks Australia Veteran
    edited February 19

    I’ve collected many bad habits over the years.

    Booze, speed, LSD, marijuana, porn, junk food, lying, procrastinating, stealing, etc,

    I have thrown out most of them but a few are still a WIP! ????

    lobsterShoshin
  • KundoKundo Sydney, Australia Veteran

    @Bunks said:

    @Kundo said:

    Do you have experiences with collecting things and letting go?

    Crystals, Oods and sonic screwdrivers are my weakness.

    Seriously.

    I had to google what an ood and a sonic screwdriver were.

    You need to get out more.

    Seriously.

    ??????

    Yeah with the latest series I do. Not a fan of the newest Doctor :tongue:

    Bunks
  • KundoKundo Sydney, Australia Veteran

    @Bunks said:
    I’ve collected many bad habits over the years.

    You forgot Carlton..... runs away

    :tongue:

  • @Bunks WIP=Work In Progress

    Ain't we all.

    Whatever our idiot, ignorant past ... The Buddha had one, debauchery and escapest hedonism, payrolled by Papa Shakyamuni ... we can enhance our future by our present efforts.

    What are the good collections?
    For me:

    • Patience, kindness, understanding, empathy, stability, discipline, restraint, health enhancement, engagement.
    • In short, The Good Life.

    I knew there was a plan ...

    person
  • ShoshinShoshin No one in particular Nowhere Special Veteran
    edited February 20

    @Bunks said:
    I’ve collected many bad habits over the years.

    Booze, speed, LSD, marijuana, porn, junk food, lying, procrastinating, stealing, etc,

    I have thrown out most of them but a few are still a WIP! ????

    @Bunks..I collect bad habits too....I'll swap/trade you two good as new rebirths for your procrastination ;) ;)

    lobster
  • BunksBunks Australia Veteran

    @Kundo said:

    @Bunks said:
    I’ve collected many bad habits over the years.

    You forgot Carlton..... runs away

    :tongue:

    Ouch!!

    That was a poor decision made in 1982 when they'd just won two flags due to my beloved South Melbourne heading north to Sin City!!

    Kundo
  • BunksBunks Australia Veteran

    @Shoshin said:

    @Bunks said:
    I’ve collected many bad habits over the years.

    Booze, speed, LSD, marijuana, porn, junk food, lying, procrastinating, stealing, etc,

    I have thrown out most of them but a few are still a WIP! ????

    @Bunks..I collect bad habits too....I'll swap/trade you two good as new rebirths for your procrastination ;) ;)

    Wow! Swapping rebirths....there's a thought?

  • FoibleFullFoibleFull Canada Veteran
    edited February 20

    I have collected things. But they come and go.
    When I lived in the dorm during my university years, I used to get rid of extra things at the end of the school year .. there was always someone eager to take it for free.
    When my boyfriend and I moved 1300 miles away to join a collective in New Orleans we took only our backpacks.
    When he took me back to Canada with him, we took only our backpacks.
    When we moved to the Ozarks, we took some stuff with us but most we gave away.
    And when we moved back to Canada, it was short term, we thought .. and someone stole everything we had left back in our cabin in the Ozarks.
    And over the years, people have thought I was collecting something if I had 2 or 3 of the same things (like my great-granmother's fans from the 1880's) ... so guess what they proudly gave me at Christmas/birthdays? And then, to not appear ungrateful, you display it and then ... guess what happens at the next gift-giving occasion :(

    After a while you start to realize it is just stuff. It comes and goes.

  • KeromeKerome Love, love is mystery The Continent Veteran

    Inspirational @FoibleFull... I’m still decluttering in preparation for a house move, I’ve acquired loads of things over the past five years and I have found there are boxes from the move before that one which I still haven’t opened. I’ve discovered that I have drawer chests full of stuff which I never look in, so I obviously don’t need what is in there. I have a ton of old paperwork that I keep just in case I need it.

    On the plus side I’ve finished pruning my book collection, I’ve gotten rid of nearly half. I’ve decided to contact a house clearing firm to get rid of all the things I don’t want. I’ve made some headway identifying what I want to keep.

    FoibleFull
  • KundoKundo Sydney, Australia Veteran

    @Bunks said:
    That was a poor decision made in 1982 when they'd just won two flags due to my beloved South Melbourne heading north to Sin City!!

    My husband shares your pain and POV hugs

    Bunks
  • Booze, speed, LSD, marijuana, porn, junk food, lying, procrastinating, stealing, etc,

    Sounds like a fun weekend ... :p

    None of those things work. However ... a reasonably or realistically Middled Way, in other words balance (must try and cut down on the orgies) does work. Who knew?

  • KeromeKerome Love, love is mystery The Continent Veteran

    @FoibleFull said:
    After a while you start to realize it is just stuff. It comes and goes.

    This house move has turned out to be quite a confrontation with the realm of things... for the first time in my life I will be downsizing, moving from a more spacious living situation to a less spacious one, so I can no longer keep all my carelessly acquired Ikea furniture and things.

    Making a selection about what to keep and what to get rid of is an opportunity to loosen the ties with all the things you own, so something that should be approached with meditation and introspection, it’s a good process.

  • personperson Don't believe everything you think the void Veteran

    I don't really collect things in the way of specific items. I do tend to collect clutter though, lots of items that I don't want to get rid of because I may want to use them one day.

    Over the past few years I have let go of many things that were taking up space and making my home, and really my life, disorganized and harder to make use of. The best example was a spare bedroom that became the repository of unused items. A small sofa, an old style TV (in case my new one broke), an old desk chair, etc, etc. It eventually got to the point where it was difficult to move through and get to anything.

    I got around to clearing it out with the idea in mind that if it is a spare of something I already have or something I might use down the road but haven't touched in the past few years I likely got rid of it (I kept the old VCR and a few small knick knacks, like an old style telephone). I figure these days it is pretty easy to find many of these sorts of items online for cheap or free if it ever comes to that.

    Anyway, after I was done, I didn't miss any of the things I got rid of and found myself with a new space that I could put some shelves in and use as a much more organized storage space for both personal and work related items. And I can deduct the room as a business expense now also saving me some money every year.

  • VastmindVastmind Memphis, TN Veteran

    ^^^ love that!! I’ll be enclosing that note with gift giving from now on...

  • Lee82Lee82 Veteran

    Increasingly I find less enjoyment in things I used to find enjoyment in, and doing things that are a time sink don't give me any pleasure. It is my birthday in 4 weeks and instead of any presents or items to add to my collections I have asked for event tickets, firstly a classical music event at Manchester's Bridgewater Hall and then an intimate piano event with comedian turned pianist Alastair McGowan in Leeds.

    This has led me to thinking about collecting experiences rather than collecting objects. I searched for just that on Google and this link came up at the top, worth a read:

    https://medium.com/the-mission/collect-meaningful-experiences-not-stuff-794e762930f4

    I'm going to reflect on this for the next few days and see how it might change my outlook.

    lobsterVastmind
Sign In or Register to comment.