Compensatory Strategies

The individual never sees life in the radiant glow of its greatness, its dignity and its privilege until he realizes it as trusteeship. Life itself is but the individual trusteeship of time. Man does not truly own even his own life; he has merely a life-interest in it, and sometime he must surrender it.

In the truest sense, man owns nothing absolutely, to do with precisely as he pleases; over all his possessions ever breathes the spirit of trusteeship. His time, his money, his health, his mind, his character, his business, his worldly goods, his opportunities, his influence— all that he is, and has, he holds but as trustee for his higher self, the world around him, and humanity itself. These possessions are all covered by a first mortgage of the rights of others.” ~ William George Jordan

Although the notion of ownership has been around for a very long time, I feel it unscientific to dismiss the notion that there may have been or may yet still be another more effective pattern of relationship between man and the world he inhabits. Could it be, for instance, that the view held on the matter held by adherents of the the Brahmanist theology called Vedanta – namely, that ownership is a strategy employed by mankind to compensate for the sense of separation from the universe – is correct? Might the entire edifice of ownership exist simply to placate our desire to reconnect with the oneness of the universe? It is, after all, a “uni”-verse.

The idea of ownership and property lies at the very core of capitalism, which is presently the dominant economic system. While it would be difficult to argue against the fruits of this approach (the impressive technological advancements and increases in the standard of living), the jury is still out as to whether our efforts within the confines of this framework will result in a greater sense of life, liberty and happiness in the long run.

Capitalism is in its infancy compared to other economic systems which have come and gone and it is constantly evolving as it meshes with the political realities of the nations which adopt it as an economic model. The evidence so far points to the fact that capitalism encourages economic growth, but whether or not it helps to deepen man’s relationship with the world for which he serves as trustee, I cannot be sure.

In all our wisdom, all our so-called progress, I cannot help but feel that we have so much yet to learn. We like to call the ancients primitive, savage and inferior to us as we now stand, but every once in a while I have to wonder if we are missing the point at some level, a point that they well understood.

8 thoughts on “Compensatory Strategies

  1. Colin

    I think trusteeship presents a truer notion of our relationship with the world around us. Ultimately, it gives a sense of responsibility to the things in the world in relationship to those that are yet to be born. With ownership as it is, there is a tendency to see the lifetime of the things you own as yours as well, and it is alright if you use them up because they were yours, etc. I think this has resulted in many cases in a shorter useful life of many things, which then trickles down to a higher impact on the environment along with many other somewhat unforseen (or at least hidden, buried, or forgotten) consequences. The idea of trusteeship would help shape a new paradigm for things like that, without the self-righteousness that usually accompanies what is called “environmentalism” with trusteeship, it is ok to use things, but you would think about how much you use something in a wholly new light.


  2. Joshua

    So dropping the compensatory strategies, would help one be one step closer in re-establishing that connecting link… Once again you’ve obviated the need to release our childish, selfish, self-centered approach that says the world revolves around us individually….hmmmm……makes sense then that one could move mountains in this regard if free of compensatory strategies designed somewhere along the way to make someone or many feel better about a tremendous loss!!!!!
    I’m thinking that our ancestors were on to something.


  3. Vincent

    If, as you imply, the substance of the world is not possessable, cannot be ‘owned’ by human beings, then an absolutely fundamental piece of the foundation of human assumption and thought is an illusion – a lie spawning massive imagination and misconception.

    So…what if…? Here is the venturesome beginning of some vitally creative consideration!


  4. Coco

    The axiom “You can’t take it with you” would testify to the thought of trusteeship. I think there is a portion you are able to take with you. It may relate to our higher self to our intrinsic impact as beings. I’m not sure. The quality of our character, the vibration that echoes from our individual existence, I think may have a lasting impact on the “uni” verse. Food for thought, thank you.


  5. Ricardo B.

    It never hurts to maintain an attitude of learning, I’ve certainly found that to be right. Interesting notion that of the Brahmanist philosophy – it does make sense, for when you feel disconnected, your sense of security is challenged and people tend to do irrational things on this basis like taking advantage of each other. War and conquest could certainly have started this way. Now, we’ve come to merely accept these things as a normal natural part of life. Hmmmm, makes me think….


  6. Capitalism and ownership work on the principle that humans more often work harder to accomplish a task when in their own minds they can see something as “belonging to themselves only”. Not shared. Not belonging to someone else. But truly nothing ever belongs to us, we hold possesion of it for only a short time. If you have ever been to an estate sale, you will understand of what I am speaking. All of the energy misplaced in accumulating what we can never keep. Our journey through Life could be so much more, as I belive that it was meant to be. Am I my brothers keeper? Do I lift myself up when I lift others? How much do I need? Where am I going? Can I change the world? How can I help the Earth to survive? Open my eyes that I might see.


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