Wherever man sets his feet he labels it with his “I.” Nature does not accept his labels, but other human beings have to, otherwise there will be confrontation. Others have to accept the labels because they want to put their own labels on things. So the house becomes somebody’s and the piece of land becomes somebody else’s. Why are we so impatiently eager to stick this label of “I” somewhere? The eagerness is because the more places and things on which we stick this label, or make our signatures, the bigger the circle of “mine” grows and the bigger the “I” is developed within us.
“I” is as big as the number of things that carry its label. If someone says that he has one acre of land, how can his “I” be as big as that of another person who says, “I have one thousand acres of land”?
With the expansion of the “mine,” the “I” feels as if it is growing bigger. If the expanse of “mine” decreases, the “I” also shrinks. So every brick of “I” is made up of “mine.” Thus the more ways I can say “mine,” the higher rises the palace of “I.” Hence our whole life we remain in only one race: how many things we can stick our labels on and say, “It is mine.” While doing so, while we continue to label things, one day we die, and wherever we had put our labels, someone else begins to stick his labels on the things we had called “mine.”
Things belong to themselves, not to any person. They can be used, but there can be no ownership. Ownership is an illusion, and while we are using them we should have a sense of gratitude because we are using something that does not belong to us. But when we say “mine,” all sense of gratitude disappears and a new world of “mine” is created. That includes money, position, prestige, education and everything. For these things it may be okay, but what is more surprising is that things which have nothing to do with “I” also get included. We say: my religion, my god, my deity, my temple – with whom “I” can have no relationship whatsoever. And if it can, then there is no possibility of freeing oneself from the world. If religion can also be mine and thine, if God can also be mine and thine, then there is no hope. Where shall we then find a way out of “mine”? If God also falls within its jurisdiction, then there remains no space left anywhere for the “I” to go away to. But we put the label of “mine” on temples and mosques and on God as well.
Wherever man goes he reaches there with his “mine.” Try to understand the implications. “I” actually becomes bigger through “mine,” but the greater the expanse of “mine,” the greater the unhappiness. The increase in “I” is the increase of unhappiness, because “I” is a wound. And the greater the “I,” the bigger the area vulnerable to hurt, so that more hurt can be inflicted upon it. It is like someone having a large physical wound which tends to get hurt every now and then; any move the person makes and it gets hurt. The wound is big, its area large, and any little touch becomes a hurt. The bigger the “I,” the bigger the hurt and the greater the pain.