What Can We Learn From The Possibility Of Losing Everything?


Wednesday, 6.05am

Sheffield, U.K

If it can be solved, there’s no need to worry, and if it can’t be solved, worry is of no use. – Dalai Lama

I managed to screw up my computer yesterday. Quite creatively, by deleting half the operating system while trying to make a program work.


In these days when everything we do is backed up on Dropbox and emails are on services in the cloud that’s not the end of the world.

It did get me thinking, however, about what matters.

An opportunity to start again doesn’t come around that often.

We usually spend our time accumulating things. In fact, we don’t do it consciously. Things just gradually build up over time.

Take emails, for example. Once upon a time we probably had a computer that held our email and if we lost that machine we lost all our stuff.

Then Gmail came out with what seemed like endless storage. But after ten years or so I was surprised to find that I’m getting close to the limits.

Years of personal emails, attachments, newsletters, solicitations and junk over the years have built up to a data mountain – invisible but present.

At the other extreme I watched an animated programme the other day which had a monk in it who casually mentioned to his disciple that their job was begging.

Religious begging has been practised by many faiths. Zen calls it Takuhatsu and it has many purposes.

The acts of having nothing, going out with just a begging bowl and being dependent on others to survive is meant to help the monk develop humility, modesty and escape from ego.

Most of us are never going to do that, experience the feeling of having nothing and being totally dependent on the kindness of strangers.

But, is there anything we can learn from the possibility of that experience?

Can poverty be a good thing?

I heard recently the phrase resources versus resourcefulness.

This is the power that comes from having less.

Stuff can be lost, taken from you or destroyed in an accident.

How long would it take for you to get back up and running if that happened?

Probably less time than you think.

There’s a story about a store in Sheffield that was bombed during the Second World War.

Its accounting records were destroyed and so it could no longer bill customers. But almost everyone paid what they were supposed to and the store is still standing now.

I suppose the point of all this is that bad things happen sometimes.

The more things you have that matter to you then the more you have to replace.

If you had nothing, it wouldn’t matter.

Somewhere between those two extremes is where you want to be.

But, the harder you try to have less, to do more with less, the easier it is to be free from worry.


Karthik Suresh

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