Purple Flower

“If you love a flower, don’t pick it up. Because if you pick it up, it dies and ceases to be what you love. So if you love a flower, let it be. Love is not about possession. Love is about appreciation.”

We’ve become a society that is obsessed with possession. If we see something out there that we like, we want to own it. This lends itself to a discussion on our rampant consumerism and our obsession with buying the newest and shiniest thing on the market, but the concept extends far beyond that.

When we travel to faraway lands, many of us feel compelled to return with a little piece of it. We might take a small stone from the Great Wall of China or the ruins of Machu Picchu, but we simply accelerate their decay if we all take a small piece. We are stealing them away from future generations.

A spiritual leader and guru from India, Osho was actually born Chandra Mohan Jain in 1931. He took on the name Acharya Rajneesh in the 1960s and then Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh in the 1970s and 80s before finally becoming Osho in 1989, one year before his death in 1990 at the age of 58. I don’t know a lot about Osho and his teachings, but I do understand that he became quite the controversial figure because of his outspoken opposition to socialism and Mahatma Gandhi. Whatever your opinion of him, we can all agree with the sentiment expressed in the quote above.

Yes, we feel compelled to own the things that we love. Maybe it has to do with wanting that sense of control, that desire to possess the objects of our affection so we can look upon and enjoy them as we desire. However, as Osho points out, the very act of “picking” that flower effectively kills it. Now, you can not only no longer enjoy the flower yourself, but you have prevented anyone else from also enjoying that flower. You have stolen away the very properties that made you love that flower in the first place. Its beauty fades and withers.

Of course, we can see how this concept also applies to our personal relationships. Dysfunctional relationships can easily arise when one partner feels compelled to “own” the other. A solid relationship is one that is built on trust and, indeed, mutual appreciation. You are both complete within yourselves, but your significant other makes you a better person (and vice versa). I know that’s true for me and I hope that it is true for you too.

The next time you are out and see something you truly love, remember the old adage of respectful travelers: take nothing but photos and leave nothing but footprints.