An on-line news magazine from Germany reports that a 50-year old baron (“I’m the black sheep in the family”), who inherited $100 million when he turned 25, is now suing for his “rightful share” of the family’s $6.6 billion. His step-brothers rank among the world’s richest people (#50 and 67) and lawyers are gearing up for an expensive battle.
The Buddhist view holds that greed is one of the Three Poisons (along with hatred and delusion). A dictionary defines greed as “an excessive desire to acquire or possess more than what one needs or deserves, especially with respect to material wealth.”
Christmas is a time when some of us buy things that we don’t actually need. Credit cards get maxed out and unhappiness arises when a desired item is sold out or the wrong one ends up under the tree. The boxing-day-week blow-out sales rev up the engines once more by telling us to buy things simply because they’re 50% off.
For most poisons there’s an antidote. To overcome greed, we can cultivate generosity, detachment, and contentment. We can give away things we would keep or practice acts of service and charity … without recognition or compensation. Through meditation we can see into the impermanence of the objects of our desire.
There is in fact nothing wrong with enjoying the pleasures of objects in a material world; greed only arises when we make ‘stuff’ the source of happiness.
source: on poisons and antidotes.