Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Where Materialism Leads

A good story that shows how attachment to material goods can lead one down a dark road.

Bear in mind that I'm not trying to pick on Wal-Mart vice chairman Tom Coughlin. I'm not saying I'm any better than he is - that I'm morally superior. I'm saying that I understand.

Some people might look at this case and say, "Why would a man who makes $1M a year steal from his company?" Search within your heart. Have you ever thought to yourself, "If only I made more money...if only I could afford what my neighbor/friend/managers seems to be able to afford..."

I can't tell you how many times I've told myself, "If we were making $X more every month, we'd be set!" Well, you know what? In this past year, my family has been gifted with an increase in income. My wife is ramping her career back up, and her income is inching up every month. I've also been making a little more on the side. And it STILL hasn't been "enough"! As our income rises, so do our "needs".

We've recognized this, and are ramping down our consumption and our dependence on material things as a result. But how many people don't realize this before it's too late? They make more and more. They spend more and more. The more they get , the more they convince themselves they need. Eventually, their needs outstrip their income, and they resort to stealing under the belief that they deserve whatever it is they're not getting.

Tom Coughlin is not to be pitied, but to be identified with. If there were a case of "there but for the grace of God go I", this is it. This tendency exists in every single one of us.

I pray fervently that all of us can identify with this thinking before it reaches such extremes, and use whatever financial circumstances we find ourselves in to liberate ourselves from the bondage of ego and commercialism. May I use whatever resources I have, both physical and spiritual, to bring enlightenment to all beings. May we all use whatever resources we have in a noble manner, that we may quickly gain the wisdom and insight of powerful Chenrezig.

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