Miscellaneous Articles - Sense of Possession and Proprietorship: Methods and Techniques of its Elimination

Sense of Possession and Proprietorship: Methods and Techniques of its Elimination

Sense of Possession and Proprietorship: Methods and Techniques of its Elimination

April 19, 1996


The following words will need to be defined : (a) Possession; (b) Proprietorship; (c) Ego; (d) Egoism; (e) Ego and the Individual; (f) Freedom.

The following definitions are suggested:


Possession is a sense or fact of holding an object as one's own and deriving there from personal enjoyment or satisfaction as also consequential sorrow because of an attack on the sense and fact of possession or loss thereof.


Proprietorship is the sense or fact of one's exclusive right of owning, possessing and handling an object or property as also the exclusive right to deal with that object or to dispose it off in any way that one desires in respect of it.


Ego is a sense of finite individual that it is self-existent and that it is fundamentally free to think, feel and act without constraint from anywhere else. It is a self-contradictory sense which constantly wants to remain what it is while, at the same time, desiring to be other than itself by means of aggrandisement or by multiplying its relationships with the not-self.


Egoism is the sense that one is different from others and superior to others in one respect or the other; it is riddled with the sense of rivalry, jealousy and pride.


Whereas the Ego is a sense of the finite as self-existent, Jiva or the true individual is a self-conscious portion of the Infinite, fully aware that one is entirely dependent on the Infinite and lives in joy by mutuality of relationship with the Infinite and with the creatures of the Universe.


Egoistic consciousness has a false sense of freedom to do whatever it decides to do, while in fact it is entirely bound by chains of various qualities and threads of activities issuing from universal energies. True freedom is enjoyed by the true individual, in his experience, of his being above all qualities and threads of activities of the universe, and in action, united with the will of the Supreme Master of the Universe who is entirely free to initiate, execute and accomplish any possible activity.

Sense of Possession and Proprietorship: Methods and Techniques of its Elimination

Sense of Possession and Proprietorship: Methods and Techniques of its Elimination



I. Indivisibility of Reality:

In this whole world there is indivisible reality which appears to be divided.
अविभक्तं च भूतेषु विभक्तमिव च स्थितम् |
भूतभर्तृ च तज्ज्ञेयं ग्रसिष्णु प्रभविष्णु च  ||13.17|| (Bhagavad Gita)

He is undivided and yet He seems to be divided in beings. He is to be known as supporting creatures, destroying them and creating them afresh.

This indivisibility can be seen at three levels:-

1. In the universe as a whole where there is law of reciprocity;

अन्नाद्भवन्ति भूतानि पर्जन्यादन्नसम्भव: |
यज्ञाद्भवति पर्जन्यो यज्ञ: कर्मसमुद्भव: || 3. 14||

From food creatures come forth; the production of food is from rain; from sacrifice rain comes into being and sacrifice is born of action (karma).

कर्म ब्रह्मोद्भवं विद्धि ब्रह्माक्षरसमुद्भवम् |
तस्मात्सर्वगतं ब्रह्म नित्यं यज्ञे प्रतिष्ठितम् ||3.15||

Know the origin of Karma (of the nature of sacrifices ) comes from Brahman (the Veda) and the brahman comes from the Imperishable. Therefore, the all-pervading brahman ever centres round the sacrifice.

2. In the operation of universal Prakriti which is like a huge machine mounted in motion;

ईश्वर: सर्वभूतानां हृद्देशेऽर्जुन तिष्ठति |
भ्रामयन्सर्वभूतानि यन्त्रारूढानि मायया ||18. 61||

The Lord dwells in the heart of all beings; O Arjuna, and by His Power (Maya) causes all beings to revolve as though mounted on a machine.

3. Prakriti carries out the will of the Supreme.

मयाध्यक्षेण प्रकृति: सूयते सचराचरम् |
हेतुनानेन कौन्तेय जगद्विपरिवर्तते || 9. 10||

Under my guidance the prakriti gives birth to all things, moving and unmoving because of this O, son of Kunti (Arjuna), the world revolves.

Sense of Possession and Proprietorship: Methods and Techniques of its Elimination

Sense of Possession and Proprietorship: Methods and Techniques of its Elimination

II. Our Ignorance:

These great truths are not seen because of our ignorant psychology. This is particularly manifest in our sense-experience, in our experiences of the mental intelligence, in the operations of intellectual intelligence, and in the operations of egoistic intelligence. The nodal point of ignorance is egoism which obliges every individual to maintain a false account. To the large vision of universality, all things are equally important, to the egoistic consciousness the egoistic individual is all-important, and therefore, enters into its account book only what seems to be profitable to the egoistic individual.

Hence, every egoistic individual is in pursuit of amassing within oneself the maximum of the universal wealth which is available and sustains oneself by possession of whatever booty one can draw out from his environment and all-pervading universe.

प्रकृते: क्रियमाणानि गुणै: कर्माणि सर्वश: |
अहङ्कारविमूढात्मा कर्ताहमिति मन्यते ||3. 27||

Actions are done by modes of nature (gunas of prakriti). He, whose mind is deluded by the ego, thinks "I am the doer".

This gives rise to the psychology of "mine" and "thine".

III. Consequences of Egoistic Psychology:

The egoistic psychology is constantly besieged by the following: (i) dualities and bewildering multiplicity; (ii) doubts; (iii) helplessness under the pressure of desires; (iv) anger when desires are thwarted; (v) loss of memory under the pressure of anger; and (vi) consequential ruin of intellectual discrimination.

व्यवसायात्मिका बुद्धिरेकेह कुरुनन्दन |
बहुशाखा ह्यनन्ताश्च बुद्धयोऽव्यवसायिनाम् || 2. 41||

In this, o joy of the Kurus (Arjuna), the resolute (decided) understanding is single; but the thoughts of the irresolute (undecided) are many ‒ branched and endless.

ध्यायतो विषयान्पुंस: सङ्गस्तेषूपजायते |
सङ्गात्सञ्जायते काम: कामात्क्रोधोऽभिजायते ||2. 62||

When a man thinks of objects in his mind attachment to them arises. From attachment arises desire and from desire arises anger.

क्रोधाद्भवति सम्मोह: सम्मोहात्स्मृतिविभ्रम: |
स्मृतिभ्रंशाद् बुद्धिनाशो बुद्धिनाशात्प्रणश्यति ||2. 63||

From anger arises delusion; from delusion loss of memory; from loss of memory, the destruction of discrimination and from the destruction of discrimination he perishes.

The egoistic psychology tends often to get exaggerated in demonic qualities which impel one to think as follows: "I have gained this today. I will get the rest tomorrow."

आशापाशशतैर्बद्धा: कामक्रोधपरायणा: |
ईहन्ते कामभोगार्थमन्यायेनार्थसञ्जयान् ||16. 12||

Bound by hundreds of ties of desire given over to lust and anger, they strive to secure by unjust means hoards of wealth for the gratification of desires.

इदमद्य मया लब्धमिमं प्राप्स्ये मनोरथम् |
इदमस्तीदमपि मे भविष्यति पुनर्धनम् ||16. 13||

This today has been gained by me; this desire I shall attain; this is mine, and this wealth also shall be mine in future.

These demonic qualities lead individuals to deeper abyss of ignorance from where they can be only rescued with great difficulty. There is also increasing deviation from one's own truth, one's own welfare and one's own true fulfillment. Ultimately, partial successes end up in series of great failures.

Sense of Possession and Proprietorship: Methods and Techniques of its Elimination

Sense of Possession and Proprietorship: Methods and Techniques of its Elimination



1.Realise that the self is the friend of the Self and the self is the enemy of the Self. By means of the higher self, control the lower self.

उद्धरेदात्मनात्मानं नात्मानमवसादयेत् |
आत्मैव ह्यात्मनो बन्धुरात्मैव रिपुरात्मन: || 6. 5||

Let a man lift himself by himself; let him not lower himself for the self alone is the friend of the self and the self alone is the enemy of the self.

2. Go back to the perception of the universal principle of indivisibility and realise that no individual can really escape from the indivisible movement of Prakriti and nobody can escape the decree of the Divine's Will.

सर्वभूतस्थमात्मानं सर्वभूतानि चात्मनि |
ईक्षते योगयुक्तात्मा सर्वत्र समदर्शन: || 6. 29||

He whose self is harmonised by yoga, sees the Self abiding in all beings and all beings in the Self, everywhere he sees the same.

3. Realise that an individual is a part of a scheme of the Whole and one should fall in line with the law of reciprocity.

अक्षरं ब्रह्म परमं स्वभावोऽध्यात्ममुच्यते |
भूतभावोद्भवकरो विसर्ग: कर्मसञ्ज्ञित: || 8. 3||

Brahman (or the Absolute) is the Imperishable (Akshara) Supreme (higher than all else). The essential nature is called to be the Individual Self (Adhyatma, He who dwells in the body). Karma is the name given to the creative force that brings beings into existence.

4. The best way of applying the law of reciprocity is by adopting the law of sacrifice, Yajna.

नियतं कुरु कर्म त्वं कर्म ज्यायो ह्यकर्मण: |
शरीरयात्रापि च ते न प्रसिद्ध्येदकर्मण: || 3. 8||

Do then perform your bounden duty; for action is superior to inaction.
Even by inaction the maintenance of the physical body would not be possible for you.
यज्ञार्थात्कर्मणोऽन्यत्र लोकोऽयं कर्मबन्धन: |
तदर्थं कर्म कौन्तेय मुक्तसङ्ग: समाचर || 3. 9||

Except in the case of action for the sake of sacrifice this world is bound to work. Therefore, O son of Kunti (Arjuna) perform your action as a sacrifice, free from all attachment.

गतसङ्गस्य मुक्तस्य ज्ञानावस्थितचेतस: |
यज्ञायाचरत: कर्म समग्रं प्रविलीयते || 4. 23||
Of a person who is unattached, who is liberated whose mind is firmly established in wisdom who acts for the sake of sacrifice his whole action melts away.

5. Discover that behind the Ego, there is Swabhava. Behind Swabhava is the Jiva and behind Jiva is the Supreme Lord.

6. This knowledge will enable the individual to know one's own Swadharma on the lines of his Swabhava and Swadharma will give him the knowledge of Swakarma.

श्रेयान्स्वधर्मो विगुण: परधर्मात्स्वनुष्ठितात् |
स्वधर्मे निधनं श्रेय: परधर्मो भयावह: || 3. 35||
One's own duty, though devoid of merit is better than the duty of another even if well performed. Better is death in the performance of one's own duty. The duty of another is full of fear.

Sense of Possession and Proprietorship: Methods and Techniques of its Elimination

Sense of Possession and Proprietorship: Methods and Techniques of its Elimination

7. Then he will realise a progressive way of coming out of the psychology of division and emerging into the psychology of indivisibility.

8. In doing so, he will move away from Tamas into Rajas and from Rajas to Sattwa.

9. Greater wisdom begins to dawn at a still higher level. He begins to learn the operations of the Divine's Will in the world and comes to realise how to discover the Divine's Will. This method and technique of the discovery of the Divine's Will has three steps:

a. To do actions and to offer the results of actions to the Divine.

कर्मण्येवाधिकारस्ते मा फलेषु कदाचन |
मा कर्मफलहेतुर्भूर्मा ते सङ्गोऽस्त्वकर्मणि || 2. 47 ||

Your endeavour is in action and not in its fruits. Let not the fruit of action be your concern, nor let there be in you any attachment to inaction.

b. To offer the actions also to the Divine.

यत्करोषि यदश्नासि यज्जुहोषि ददासि यत् |
यत्तपस्यसि कौन्तेय तत्कुरुष्व मदर्पणम् || 9. 27||

Whatever you do, whatever you eat, whatever you offer in sacrifice, whatever you give away as gift; whatever austerity you practise, do that as an offering to Me, O son of Kunti (Arjuna).

चेतसा सर्वकर्माणि मयि सन्न्यस्य मत्पर: |
बुद्धियोगमुपाश्रित्य मच्चित्त: सततं भव ||18. 57||

Mentally resigning all deeds to Me, regarding Me as the highest goal, resorting to steadfastness in understanding, do you ever fix your mind on Me.

c. To offer oneself entirely to the Divine.

मन्मना भव मद्भक्तो मद्याजी मां नमस्कुरु |
मामेवैष्यसि युक्त्वैवमात्मानं मत्परायण: || 9. 34||

Fix your mind on Me; be devoted to Me; worship Me bow down to Me thus having made yourself steadfast in Me, taking Me as the Supreme Goal, you shall come to Me, the Self.

10. One becomes free from the sense of possession and proprietorship.

In the final analysis, one comes to realise that by complete surrender to the Divine's Will, one becomes liberated even while all actions are performed through one's instrumentality by the Divine Himself.

आपूर्यमाणमचलप्रतिष्ठं समुद्रमाप: प्रविशन्ति यद्वत् |
तद्वत्कामा यं प्रविशन्ति सर्वे स शान्तिमाप्नोति न कामकामी || 2.70||

He attains peace, into whom all desires enter as waters enter the ocean, which though ever being filled is ever motionless; but not he who hugs his desires.

विहाय कामान्य: सर्वान्पुमांश्चरति नि:स्पृह: |
निर्ममो निरहङ्कार: स शान्तिमधिगच्छति ||2.71||

That man attains peace who has abandoned all his desires and moves about without longing, without selfishness and without vanity.

Sense of Possession and Proprietorship: Methods and Techniques of its Elimination

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