Free U.S. Shipping on orders over $20.00


New World Library Unshelved

New World Library Unshelved

Positive news and inspiring views from the New World Library community

Thursday, March 28, 2019
“On Possessions”: An excerpt from SIMPLE TRUTHS by Kent Nerburn
Seldom does a book come along that speaks to the core issues of life with the clarity and wisdom of Kent Nerburn’s Simple Truths: Clear & Gentle Guidance on the Big Issues in Life. Now available in paperback, Simple Truths is deeply informed by the spiritual traditions of the West, the Far East, and the Native Americans, with whom the author has worked. It is a small treasure of wisdom about life’s deepest issues. We hope you’ll enjoy this excerpt from the book.

# # #

Most of our possessions arrive in our lives almost by accident. Gradually, like falling snow, they accumulate around us until they form the basis for our identity. 

We do not intend this to happen. Most things we acquire are meant to increase our happiness and sense of fulfillment. But their uniqueness is quickly subsumed into the ordinariness of daily affairs. 

We wake up one day and find ourselves surrounded by possessions that mean nothing to us. Our freedom is gone; our lightness of being is gone. In their place is a sense of responsibility and ownership. We have become curators of our own cluttered reality.

What has happened?

Unwittingly, we have allowed ourselves to be trapped by the thrill of the hunt. In our excitement we have forgotten that the pursuit of most possessions is nothing more than that — a pursuit — and have allowed ourselves to believe that our happiness will be increased by the next possession we acquire. But, in fact, our lives have slowly developed a sense of physical mass, and we are bound to the earth like stones.

We must remember that most possessions are really butterflies that turn into caterpillars. They start with the wings of fantasy. We see them as freedom, as happiness. We believe they have the power to change our lives. 

We pursue them with energy and excitement. When we finally get them, they give us a moment of elation; then, like an echo, a feeling of hollowness comes over us. The thrill of ownership begins to grow cold in our hands.

Still, swearing off possessions is not going to make us any clearer or wiser. 

Unless we want to dedicate ourselves to some higher ascetic ideal, it will only make us obsessed with our own poverty, and neither the self-absorbed poor nor the self-absorbed rich are doing themselves or anyone else any good.

We need to find a true measure for our possessions so we can free ourselves from their weight without denying them their potential for good.

We must always remember that possessions have no inherent value. They become what we make them. 

If they increase our capacity to give, they become something good. If they increase our focus on ourselves and become standards by which we measure other people, they become something bad. 

When we seek a possession, we should ask ourselves if it will make us better people, more able to share, more willing to give, more capable of doing good in our daily lives. Possessions that increase our own sense of self-importance are empty in comparison to those that help us contribute something of value to the world. 

Keep in mind that possessions are as likely to make you unhappy as they are to make you happy, because they define the limits of your life and keep you from the freedom of choice that comes with traveling light upon the earth.

They are chameleons that change from fantasies into responsibilities once you hold them in your hand, because they take your eye from the heavens and rivet it squarely on the earth.

If it is the thrill of pursuit you seek, recognize it. Embrace it and value it for the joy it gives you. But do not confuse the pursuit with the object being pursued.

And when the objects accumulate, do what you must to free yourself from their false importance. Give away what you don’t use. Go on a long trip and travel lightly. Find a possession you value highly and give it to someone who would value it more. Do something to remind yourself that most of your possessions are nothing more than unimportant decorations on who you really are.

Listen to the quiet wisdom that says you will value your possessions more if you have fewer of them, and that you will find deeper meaning in human sharing than in the accumulation of goods. 

If you build up possessions just as the logical outcome of pursuing your desires, you will lose your wings to fly.

# # #

A two-time winner of the Minnesota Book Award, Kent Nerburn is the author of many books on spirituality and Native American themes, including Letters to My Son, Small Graces, Neither Wolf nor Dog, The Wolf at Twilight, and The Girl Who Sang to the Buffalo. He lives near Portland, Oregon. Find out more about his work at

Excerpted from the book Simple Truths. Copyright © 1996 by Kent Nerburn.






August 2019 (3)
July 2019 (3)
June 2019 (4)
May 2019 (4)
April 2019 (4)
March 2019 (4)
February 2019 (4)
January 2019 (5)
December 2018 (3)
November 2018 (5)
October 2018 (4)
September 2018 (4)
August 2018 (4)
July 2018 (4)
June 2018 (5)
May 2018 (7)
April 2018 (5)
March 2018 (5)
February 2018 (5)
January 2018 (5)
December 2017 (3)
November 2017 (6)
October 2017 (6)
September 2017 (6)
August 2017 (6)
July 2017 (5)
June 2017 (7)
May 2017 (6)
April 2017 (6)
March 2017 (8)
February 2017 (5)
January 2017 (5)
December 2016 (6)
November 2016 (8)
October 2016 (6)
September 2016 (7)
August 2016 (6)
July 2016 (6)
June 2016 (7)
May 2016 (7)
April 2016 (6)
March 2016 (7)
February 2016 (6)
January 2016 (6)
December 2015 (4)
November 2015 (7)
October 2015 (7)
September 2015 (6)
August 2015 (7)
July 2015 (9)
June 2015 (9)
May 2015 (8)
April 2015 (9)
March 2015 (9)
February 2015 (8)
January 2015 (8)
December 2014 (7)
November 2014 (7)
October 2014 (9)
September 2014 (9)
August 2014 (8)
July 2014 (10)
June 2014 (8)
May 2014 (9)
April 2014 (8)
March 2014 (9)
February 2014 (9)
January 2014 (7)
December 2013 (7)
November 2013 (4)
October 2013 (5)
September 2013 (4)
August 2013 (4)
July 2013 (3)
June 2013 (3)
May 2013 (4)
April 2013 (4)
March 2013 (3)
February 2013 (3)
January 2013 (2)
December 2012 (4)
November 2012 (4)
October 2012 (5)
September 2012 (2)
August 2012 (3)
July 2012 (2)
June 2012 (3)
May 2012 (2)
April 2012 (3)
March 2012 (5)
February 2012 (3)
January 2012 (4)
December 2011 (4)
November 2011 (3)
October 2011 (4)
September 2011 (5)
August 2011 (4)
July 2011 (2)
June 2011 (3)
May 2011 (3)
April 2011 (4)
March 2011 (4)
February 2011 (3)
January 2011 (1)
December 2010 (3)
November 2010 (3)
October 2010 (4)
September 2010 (2)
August 2010 (4)
July 2010 (4)
June 2010 (2)
May 2010 (4)
April 2010 (5)
March 2010 (5)
February 2010 (1)