On Being Lazen

This morning, I read in my book on Meister Eckhart his teachings on detachment. Over the years I have read many books on simplicity and detachment from material things is one of the ideas behind living simply.

When Bernie and I designed our house, we put in a vaulted ceiling in our living room, dining area and kitchen. Vaulted ceilings were popular at the time but no one warned us about the effect vaulted ceilings have on sound. When Bernie is talking on the phone in the kitchen, I have to turn up the volume on the television in the den. The noise of children at play is magnified and adults end up yelling at each other. If you try to take a nap behind the closed door of our bedroom when there are guests in the house you have to wear earplugs.

Aside from fashion, the other reason we vaulted the ceiling is so that we would have a place to put the stuff we have accumulated over the years. The space above our kitchen cabinets and on the beams hold stuff that we have received as gifts, stuff we purchased in our travels, and stuff we still hold onto that were handed down to us from our ancestors. In addition, we had bookcases installed to hold my antique book collection but some of the books are up on the beams also. I learned early on that one does not put live plants on beams, so I invested in fake vines that wind around the stuff. It looks great – at a distance. The problem is that dusting the stuff is a pain in the neck. Dusting was never a priority for me to begin with, so getting up there to dust the stuff has been few enough times in the thirteen years we have been in the house that I won’t admit it here. Another problem is that, if I ever desired to be free of this stuff and started giving it away, what would the place look like without the stuff? I am thinking a gymnasium. We could install a hoop on the beam, I suppose.

Meister Eckhart’s idea of detachment isn’t about giving stuff up.  He advocates an attitude he called Lazen, German for “to let be”. It means a release from being emotionally attached to things so that things can come and go without our getting all bend out of shape. I think we can appreciate a thing and enjoy it while it is in our possession, but if we were Eckhart, we could be just as appreciative and enjoy life without it. That helps me a lot. I don’t have to feel spiritually poor because of all the stuff on my beams.

Here is another way to look at Lazen. “To let be” is exactly what I can do about the accumulation of dust on the stuff. The Meister would be proud of me.

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