This week Mary will facilitate.
After meditation, we will recite the Five Mindfulness Trainings of Thich Nhat Hahn together. In our discussion period, we will focus on the the 4th training regarding mindful consumption. Reminder: these trainings were developed as supports to strengthen mindfulness, increase happiness and grow contentment in one's life. They are meant to be experimented with and evaluated as to the value they can add to one's life. (Go to the bottom of this newsletter for the full text of the trainings.)
In Buddhism, one practice is to employ an antidote as a way to undermine and uproot a negative habit energy or emotion. Greed is considered one of the three poisons. (Go to the bottom to read articule on Greed, Anger and Ignorance) that get in the way of our finding contentment and happiness. Greed is related to any destructive desire or lust, covetousness, materialism, stinginess, possessiveness, jealousy, or a hoarding instinct. The Dalai Lama says contentment is the true antidote to greed. Behind contentment often lies a sense of gratitude and a desire to be generous.
This week, I did an overdue cleaning of my meditation room. I got a lot of satisfaction perusing the stacks of dharma journals dating back 10+ years and dusting them off. Some I had read cover to cover when they arrived and others came at hectic times and had been barely opened. As I prepared to put them back into place, I got a little jolt. The voice said "why don't you select a few and pass the rest on to members of the sangha who might be interested and could benefit right now by reading them?" Someone said that when you give something precious to someone, that it tells that person you value them as precious.
I assembled a bag too heavy to lift of precious journals to pass along. By focusing on watering the seed of generosity in me, it loosened my grip a little on acquisition, stinginess and hoarding. I have a long, long way to go on acquiring less and letting go of more. It made me think about working more with antidotes to this and other habit energies I may have been born with and that have gotten too much watering and encouragement over the years. In Tai Chi, one redirects an opponent's energy and steps out of the way to bring a desired result. This indirect method of approaching greed by watering its antidotes of gratitude and generosity may end up being easier and more skillful to shift my paradigm. Maybe it could work with other deeply ingrained habit energies I have.
"...when you reflect upon the excesses of greed, you'll find that it leads an individual to a feeling of frustration, disappointment, a lot of confusion, and a lot of problems. When it comes to dealing with greed, one thing that is quite characteristic is that although it arrives by the desire to obtain something, it is not satisfied by obtaining. Therefore, it becomes sort of limitless, sort of bottomless, and that leads to trouble. One interesting thing about greed is that although the underlying motive is to seek satisfaction, the irony is that even after obtaining the object of your desire, you are still not satisfied. The true antidote of greed is contentment. If you have a strong sense of contentment, it doesn't matter whether you obtain the object or not; either way, you are still content." -- His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama (born 6 July 1935), from The Art of Happiness, The Right to Happiness; Inner Contentment
I look forward to hearing your experiences on working with consumption in its many cloaks and disguises.
What has been your experience with finally attaining something that you have been desiring?
What is the influence of our culture on watering the seeds of greed?