Mirror of Zen Blog

무소유, Time to Go, or Something Else?

When you own just one single pair of traditional Korean monks’ long underwear for the winter (and you use it a few many years too long), as the weather warms, it’s finally time to part ways with a prized friend. I even wore these leggings “backwards“ for the last two years so that the “hole-y” knees were in the backs of my legs, so that I could extend the life of it for another two winter Kyol Che’s! But — oh! — the feeling of the soft flannel texture of these $10 leggings warming the knees during sittings on a cold winter morning!

But was I holding on to these comfy pantaloons for so long past their due date as a kind of private “virtue-signaling“ to myself, to assuage the guilty conscience as someone who lives amidst a sort of casual plenty (iPhone, computer, unquestioned access to food, an Amazon account, noise-cancelling headphones for plane and train, even said use of airplane, whatever health supplements, I deem necessary to keep this cellular machine going a few more years)? Was holding these for so long, my little act of private penance for the natural abundance that I swim in, the privilege and automatic security that comes with my particular station in society?

No idea. It could be any of those things, or none of them. But I did feel quite comfortable, knowing that there was only one pair of warm leggings to reach for on a cold winter morning, rising for predawn practice in a freezing, deliberately unheated room. The simplicity of that rude singularity was a kind of comfort for the mind – – whether for my conscience, burdened with my own excesses, I can freely admit, or else, something for the aging mind to feel less complicated about, needing to differentiate among choices.

Anyway, it was an interesting feeling, letting go of these cheap flannel leggings today. It really felt like a kind of “parting“. They served me well, physically, and they were perhaps doing some assuaging thing for my selfish and possessive mind, as well. So be it.

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