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By Jordi Jiménez

Today we are going to talk about a very important super-topic to understand how our consciousness works and to understand the roots of our conflicts. Possession.

Tensions (which we have already talked about in previous articles) have to do, basically, with desires or expectations of something that we hope to obtain or with fears that we hope will not be fulfilled. For example, let’s say I want to obtain something that I don’t have yet, be it an object, a situation or a person. While I am trying to obtain that something, a normal tension of search is generated, proportional to that achievement. The moment that the sought-after object is achieved, the tension disappears. If the “object” achieved is of great value to me, at the moment of obtaining it, the fear of losing it appears, so another tension is generated, in this case of loss. In both cases the intensity of these tensions will be proportional to the value or importance that I attach to the object in question.

When we speak of an “object” we are referring to a mental-object.

A person is represented for the consciousness as a mental object, a place is also a mental object, a situation, a job, and even something as intangible as prestige, justice or silence are for our consciousness mental objects that can be desired, obtained, and also lost.

Let’s take as an example a loved one with whom I want to be, with whom I want to have a relationship, to share my whole life with, or even to form a family and grow old together in eternal harmony and love. Well, we can say it or feel it in many ways, each one more beautiful, but in the background, there is a tension to “get” the physical presence of that person and to get all those idyllic images of the future for me associated with him/her. I feel the tension to achieve all that, not only to the person, but to all that it may entail. If everything goes well, as I establish and consolidate that relationship, the tension to get it disappears, because obviously I feel that I already “have it”. In any case, the tension to obtain everything else that is associated with that relationship (family, life, future…) continues. However, a new tension appears that was not there before, and that is the fear of losing that relationship and all that it entails, the fear of losing that “object” with all its accessories, which now forms part of my internal and external world, so I feel that I “have it”. And if I have it, I can lose it, so the fear appears.

Relationships are full of possessive discourses.

“I am yours”, “you are mine”, “you belong to me”, “you are my life”, etc., etc. The narrative of possession in the supposed love for the other is endless. I say “supposed love” because deep down what is sought is to “have” the other, to possess him/her, and if true love has anything, it is that it is detached. But we will talk about that on another occasion.

It is the same with a job that I need to get to survive and that as soon as I have it, I am afraid of losing, with all that this implies for my survival. And what about prestige? How much energy, that is to say, how much tension is used daily to obtain social prestige, collective recognition, an exclamation or applause from those we care about that elevates our image, and how much tension there is in the fear of losing that prestige when we have it. As you can see it is an intangible object, something that is nowhere, in fact, something almost non-existent, but for the consciousness it is still a mental object and also an object of great desire for it.

Of course, each person is different and has his or her preferences, tastes, projects, objects of desire and images of the future. The object that for one person has a very high value (and, therefore, that person suffers a great tension for it, either out of desire to have it or out of fear of its loss) for another person may have no importance at all, so that he or she will feel hardly any tension for it. The intensity of some tensions is merely a reflection of the intensity of the desire behind certain objects. Ambitions for which some would give their lives are seen as ridiculous by others. Such is human diversity and misunderstanding, the source of so many battles.

We could go on with a multitude of examples of all kinds of objects of desire, many of them totally illusory. In all cases we would discover the same thing: desires and fears that generate tension. And when this tension is excessive, when it goes beyond certain limits, it can end up generating all kinds of violence. The mechanism of possession and the excessive tensions that are created not only produce physical violence against other people, but also psychological violence, sexual or gender violence (due to desires or fears that one wants to impose on the partner), economic violence against others (due to the excessive desire for wealth), racial violence (due to fear of the other) or moral violence (due to the imposition of beliefs, norms or ideas on others).

That is how simple the mechanism of possession is.

A very physical tension that is based on desire and fear, and that is always at work at the base of all our mechanisms of consciousness. Everything we do and everything we encounter in our lives falls into the realm of possession. Everything that passes under our noses is automatically appraised and measured to see if it fulfils our myriad desires or avoids our fears. It is a job that the conscience does all the time and automatically, without being asked to do so. And when this possessive impulse is excessive, it produces all kinds of conflicts and violence.

What can be done then, if it is an inevitable mechanism?

First of all, understand how the mechanism works in each of us. What are our greatest objects of desire, our greatest fears and also everything that is less important to us, less stressful. Desires cannot be overcome because without them there would be no projects, no search, no activity, no evolution, no dynamics… in short, no life. But we can do something: “elevate desire”. What does it mean to raise desires? It means that instead of confronting or fighting against something inevitable like the mechanism of desire (see The Principles of Valid Action) we can harness the power of that impulse and give it a new direction (as in the martial arts), that is, that desires aim at higher, more interesting objects and goals. Desiring a new direction, a new meaning in our life that points towards coherence and treating others as we want to be treated, for example; or desiring a fairer and more humane world for all, for example. We set the intention and desire in a direction that goes beyond ourselves, beyond our immediate world and radiates out to others proposing a positive change of direction. In desiring such things, we know that such objects may not be achieved, but we also know that going that way in itself is already coherent regardless of the outcome. In this way, instead of fighting desires (which is impossible) we elevate them and put them to work for the best causes.