Stepping out of the house I bumped into my neighbour walking his dog. Where are you off to, he asked. To the lawyer’s office, picking up the insurance cheque from last year’s traffic accident. How much are they giving you? Seven-thousand.* What, so little?
Without knowing the details, his instant reaction was “so little,” not enough, should be more. I’d gone through similar acrobatics when I first received the call. How interesting, I thought, how the mind immediately jumps to “gimme more,” instead of being content with what’s given.
Greed, according to Buddhist teachings, is a root cause of suffering — one of the Three Poisons along with anger and ignorance. Zen Master Bon Soeng (Jeff Kitzes), guiding teacher of the Empty Gate Zen Center in Berkeley, says this:
Our true self may indeed always be shining and free but most of the time we experience painful difficulties in our lives. We are constantly dissatisfied with the ways things are. The Buddha said that we suffer because either we don’t have what we want or we are afraid of losing what we do have. Moment to moment we struggle to control and force the world to fit into the mold of our desires.
*of which 2,200 goes to repay out-of-pocket medical expenses. image: momlogic.com