Compassion Toward Your Things

by Bob Schwartz

Much is said and written, in many traditions, about awareness, mindfulness and realization. But this one thought, said just this way, is new to me.

Speaking for the Baal Shem Tov, the first ancestor of Hasidic Judaism, Martin Buber writes about our relationship not just with creatures but with our things. The idea of being compassionate toward your possessions may seem eccentric. Nothing could be more central. If everybody—and everything—is not free, who is?

From The Legend of the Baal-Shem:

Around each man—enclosed within the wide sphere of his activity—is laid a natural circle of things which, before all, he is called to set free. These are the creatures and objects that are spoken of as the possessions of this individual: his animals and his walls, his garden and his meadow, his tools and his food. In so far as he cultivates and enjoys them in holiness, he frees their souls. “For this reason a man must always be compassionate toward his tools and all his possessions.”

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