2021-07-20-Greed (2 of 5) Understanding Greed
3:23PM Jul 20, 2021
This is going to be the second talk on greed. The hand. In this one, I'll just try to talk a little bit about what this word greed is it's very important concept in Buddhism Buddhist practice, not least, because freedom from greed is one of the definitions of one of the aspects of the spiritual liberation, that Buddhism points to them as a possibility for us. And so to understand what this is, so we can work through it and get to the other side, is important. But it's a little difficult maybe for me to talk about greed. And maybe because associations I have with the word and maybe other people have it, or that are saved more specifically that. In my history, with tera, vaada Buddhism, I sometimes felt that greed was disrespected, that greed was somehow just considered to be all bad. And therefore kind of the goal was just to get rid of that, or, or if it was there, it was kind of a, it was it was kind of like a negative. It was something wrong with us, it was like we were somehow there's almost like, the closest thing maybe to a sin or something I was really where so there's an impurity that we have, we have greed, in fact, that tradition talks about greed as being impure. And, then, but we I think we have to be very careful to, to consider that this thing that we try setting as greed is multifaceted, and it is, is kind of integrated or connected to so many different aspects of our lives. Some of them are very healthy and important. And some of them will return because our suffering, and that we don't want to throw away the baby with the bathwater, we don't want to kind of just kind of have a simple idea of greed as being bad. Therefore, let's get rid of it. It's important to kind of take a deeper look and really get to understand whatever it is we under whatever we associate with the word greed. We don't want to judge it negatively or disrespected, or condemn it, or condemn ourselves because of it. In mindfulness practice, we want to take a deep good look at it, and really find out what is it for us? And how does this work? And what is it connected to? And what is it trying to do when and? And is there anything valuable underneath or as part of what we call greed?
So there's two words that are sometimes translated as greed that belong in this triad of greed, hatred, and delusion. And so with those three, those three words, there's the set, sometimes there's the word raga, that's used for greed, and sometimes the word lobha, so raga or lobha. And raga has more to do with sensual desires. And so the desire for sensual pleasures and, and but it's a desire, that's not just like, you know, dime a dozen like oh, it'd be nice to have, you know, pleasant food, it would be nice to have, you know, a soft bed to sleep in, or it's nice to have all kinds of things be nice to have something. But there's a compulsion a compellingness to it. So some people will translate this word raga as lust, some people will translate it as passion. And maybe different people have different associations with these two words, that some of them don't work very well for a translation, business kind of a synonym of greed. And don't really work is something that is generally seen as being negative. So you know, there's some variability and choice you have about what words you use, but this word raga has to do with sensual pleasures. And we know that some people have tremendous intensity of desire runs, sensual pleasure. There's addictions, there's cravings. There's Take a strong compulsion to be involved in that world. And, and some people lose themselves and make huge cause tremendous amount of suffering in life because of it and,
and very quickly regret what they've done. Because there was pleasure in the moment, but it was pleasure that hurt other people, or hurt themselves in some deep way. So before drinking alcohol and drugs, sometimes it can be sometimes drive for pleasure. And, and but it doesn't really provide happiness, it provides a little bit of alienation. And, and so this strong, so for human beings, sensual pleasure plays a huge role in their lives. And so how to be involved with that in a wise way, in a liberated, super free in relationship to them, but not to dismiss sensual pleasures, not to feel like we're not allowed to experience them. But how do we experience them without the suffering and pain that comes with being compelled to search for sensual pleasure to really kind of hold on or cling, and then the other end, the other word is lobha. And lobha has more to do with acquiring things like getting things, obtaining things. And, and so there's a whole slew of things which are not necessarily involve a sensual pleasure. But you know, directly, but you know, just wanting money wanting material things, wanting fame, wanting praise. And the, and so this lobha a strong desire for things. And, and when with these intense desires are strong, we can get caught in the realm and the web of them. And, and this idea of the getting caught is one that the Buddha usually know, Buddha kind of emphasized, that knew, he talked about the metaphor of catching monkeys, that apparently hunters in his time had a kind of pitch or kind of maybe pine tar or something, SAP or something that they used, that was very, very sticky. And they'd put someone on a piece of wood, maybe a stick, maybe with food attached to the stick. So the monkey would come along and be grabbed onto the stick, maybe it's on a pole, and so as to kind of get up to the top of the pole to get the food. And he would put his hand on that pitch, and then it couldn't pull his hand really free. So it would take the other hand, and, and to push itself off the pole, but the other hand would get stuck in the pitch. So that would take a foot to try to get the two hands free, and that foot would get stuck on the pole, then take the second foot to the same thing and get stuck again. And then this metaphor that Buddha said, The monkey then takes its nose and pushes against the this stick to push away, but then the nose gets stuck. And with all five kind of body parts stuck to the pitch, the hunter can just walk right up and pick up the monkey. And the more monkeys now been caught, and, and so with so this greed this Lobo this raga. When it's strong, we get caught in the web in the pitch of what we want. And sometimes you know we're inflamed and desires. And we can't think of anything else but getting what we want. But there is one of the reasons to respect greed is that greed sometimes has deeper roots inside of us. That deep there's a reason for it. Sometimes the pursuit of very strong desire comes from deep conditionality, deep, sometimes hurt or suffering or fear distress, that is stroke find trying to find some way to be healed or cared for or be distracted from or compensated for. And if we simply let go or throw away greed too quickly and dismiss it, we don't understand that it's a symptom of some deeper desire. And a deep not all desires are wrong. Some desires, our attempts to move towards health and to care for ourselves. But sometimes they get Miss
directed and they get directed in ways that can be harmful or disconnecting or alienating. And so if we stop and take a look at greed, this intense desire to see what is what more is going on. Hear, let's stop and not dismiss it not disrespected. But think of it as something that really needs us to, needs to be seen to be heard, to be connected to. And so rather than having greed, be a source of disconnection. We're disconnected from ourselves. But network, we're trapped or connected to the pitch to the spider's web and can't get away. But rather to find a connection to the greed, that allows us to have a deepening experience of ourselves. So importantly, what that involves is turning the attention around 180 degrees, from the object of the greed, to what it's like to be greedy, to what's the feels like here in the body. So this movement from alienation that greed can cause when we're so focused on the object can be turned around, and to create the opposite of alienation, that connection, connectedness here. So, so one of the things to study in grades are really know for ourselves, is the way that greed, when we're involved in any continent, it doesn't really feel like it's for our own welfare, the way that it leads to alienation the way it may be, causes suffering, at least in the teachings of the Buddha, greed always involves suffering, some kind of distress, stress, some kind of Ouch, for ourselves in having the green. And part of the reason to discover how greed is stressful to have or, or the underlying suffering or problems with the experience of greed is so that we can discover a different kind of desire, a healthy desire, that has no suffering involved in it, that has no distress, that doesn't diminish us, limit us doesn't trap us, but it does the opposite. It nourishes us, frees us, opens us. There are such desires. So so just the fact that we're looking here at greed, and we see that greed is problematic, doesn't mean that we should just dismiss it, we should respect it, look at it deeply discover what's really happening under the surface of it. And, and, and search for other forms of desires, that can animate our life, that are freeing, that are healthy to have that are appropriate to have. This is the task with mindfulness practice, in relationship to greed. So then tomorrow, I'll talk more about this turning the attention around 180 degrees and really practicing with greed looking at it in a deeper way. And But for today, you might, for the next 24 hours, you might look and see maybe not use the word greed if that doesn't really resonate, or if that's you think of that is only as you know, intense desires. But see it in small ways and the small compulsions, the small ways you're compelled by desire. Study, what are you compelled by where do you lose your freedom, around desire, it could be as simple as going for seconds, are going for a cookie, or, you know, all kinds of things that you do, where you can't help yourself, but to go and, and be pushed by a desire and in that losing your freedom. So I hope you enjoy the exploration of greed and then hope that you're a better person because of it. Thank you.