“All that we are is the result of what we have thought; it is founded on our thoughts; it is made up of our thoughts. If a man speaks and acts with pure thought, happiness follow him, like a shadow that never leaves him. Fools of little understanding have themselves for their greatest enemies, for they do evil deeds which must bear bitter fruits.”
So much of human behavior seems to settle around the aspects of greed or hatred or both. In terms of greed is the desire to get and hold onto what one wants, while hatred is the desire to ignore or destroy what one does not want.
We don’t even have to give either of these aspects of our behavior any thought, they are just there as though we were born with these traits. When you stop to think about it, probably we were. When we humans first came into existence we had instincts to cause us to seek out and chase down what could be something which would provide food for us, and also the instinct to know how to kill the prey. This force in us, these instincts, came under the heading of desire. This was a part of us from the very start of our existence.
Along the way of our development we began to learn things about non-greed and non-hatred. We seemed to pick up the understanding that we could switch off the selfishness of thinking only about ourselves and see some benefit in cooperation, communication and concern for the others in our tribe. We started to care for our young and the elderly. We discovered by doing so we were able to thrive much more effectively than before.
Here’s the catch, though. These new ways of thinking about compassion and cooperation didn’t replace the older instinctive ones, they were just added on. Sometimes we act out of our selfishness and sometimes we act out of compassion and wisdom. If you truly stop and think about it, we don’t have a lot of control as to which way we go. We do need to do what’s necessary to take care of ourselves. We also will find times when being generous and unselfish come just as naturally.
Buddha knew about these aspects of human nature. He recognized these opposites as wholesome or unwholesome. He saw that these were more than just actions, they were also based in our human emotions. The more we humans choose to act on the emotion of being kind and generous, the more likely we are to feel that same emotion again and again. The more we choose to act on the emotions of hatred or strong dislike, the more likely we are to act more often on that emotion.
Once we learn this wisdom, we realize we need to become more skillful in our ethics. If we react to our surroundings based only on our old instincts rather than our wisdom, we tend to create more suffering, not only for ourselves, but also for others. If we draw on our knowledge that compassion leads to less suffering, we tend to follow those impulses. It makes more sense to develop the skills to choose the path which leads to less suffering. If you look at where we are in the world today, we can gain an understanding of the futility of setting out to win all the battles using our old instincts. What happens is we end up losing the wars.
At the same time, we can also see how some of the things we do which are of benefit to our well-being can not seem to be as gratifying as we thought they would. Often, in the short run, these things can seem to be harmful, while, if we hold out for the long run, the good for ourselves and others becomes more obvious.
As always, it comes down to our choices. Do we go with our basic instincts or do we choose the path of compassion and love. Buddha was clear on this – the path to greater awareness calls upon our intelligence, our wisdom, to care for one another.
It seems we have reached the time where using our intelligence and wisdom has arrived.
Metta ….May I be well and happy. My I live in safety. May I be healthy and strong. May I live with ease. May all beings be well and happy. May all beings live in safety. May all beings be healthy and strong. May all beings live with ease.
Namaste — Be in Peace.
Stephanie Kaza — Hooked!: Buddhist Writings on Greed, Desire, and the Urge to Consume
Stephanie Kaza, an amazing writer and Buddhist teacher I knew from my 36 years living in Vermont, gathers key Buddhist thinkers to reflect upon aspects of consumerism, greed and economics. Certainly, many other authors have examined consumerism from the lens of their religious traditions, but this book’s Buddhist perspective is unusual, and its pairing of consumerist critiques with core Buddhist concepts is generally fruitful. Check this one out! Hooked!
Stephanie Kaza — Mindfully Green: A Personal and Spiritual Guide to Whole Earth Thinking
Another one from my Vermont friend — Stephanie Kaza, a biologist and professor of Environmental Studies at University of Vermont, combines Zen Buddhist practices and teachings with her 40 years as an environmentalist for this guide to enlightened environmentalism, proposing a belief in the interdependence of people and nature as the genuine way to “go green”: “When we come to see ourselves as part of the green web of life… we are naturally drawn to respond with compassion.” A good read for Buddhists or anyone from any religion. Mindfully Green
Anam Thubten — No Self – No Problem
No Self – No Problem
shows how to realize the ultimate meaning of life in each moment by dissolving all notions of ego-identity. It asks that spiritual seekers wake up to their true nature, which is already enlightened. Based on Buddhist wisdom traditions, this easy-to-read book discusses in simple, but profound and inspiring language, how we can live a life full of love, satisfaction, and happiness. No Self – No Problem
Sharon Salzberg — The Kindness Handbook
“It takes boldness, even audacity, to step out of our habitual patterns and experiment with a quality like kindness–to work with it and see just how it might shift and open up our lives. This book is an invitation to do just that. — From The Kindness Handbook
Eckhart Tolle’s amazing best seller, A New Earth
Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor’s wonderful book, My Stroke of Insight: Nirvana is just a breath away!
And this one by Sharon Salzberg and is entitled: A Heart as Wide as the World: Living with Mindfulness, Wisdom and Compassion“.
This is a new one for you by Pema Chodron entitled: When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times
Always remember this wonderful quote from Buddha ….
“You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.”
Shanti everyone, … (A sanscrit word meaning, “Let there be Peace. Peace, beautiful Peace. Peace within, Peace without. Peace in this world. Peace for all beings.”)
“Peace comes from within. Do not seek it without.”
Have a peaceful day!! —
P.S. If you’d like to read my memoir/novel, you can access it here: