Why Are We So Attached To Our Things?

Feelings, thoughts and actions race before the watcher in endless succession, leaving traces in the brain and creating an illusion of continuity. A reflection of the watcher in the mind creates the sense of ‘I am’ and the person acquires an apparently independent existence. In reality there is no person, only the watcher identifying himself with the ‘I’ and the ‘mine’. The teacher tells the watcher: you are not this, there is nothing of yours in this, except the little point of ‘I am’, which is the bridge between the watcher and his dream. ‘I am this, I am that’ is dream, while pure ‘I am’ has the stamp of reality on it. You have tasted so many things – all came to naught. Only the sense ‘I am’ persisted – unchanged. Stay with the changeless among the changeful, until you are able to go beyond.

~ Nisargadatta Maharaj

After witnessing the “violent rage” shown by babies whenever deprived of an item they considered their own, Jean Piaget – a founding father of child psychology – observed something profound about human nature: Our sense of ownership emerges incredibly early. But why do we become so attached to things? Christian Jarrett details the psychology of ownership.

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