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Sunday, November 25, 2007

Greed, the cause of destruction

Greed, the cause of destruction

By Ven. Galagedera Rathanawansa Thera


Thoughts originating from a mind full of greed is the root cause of evil in all beings, other than in the case of enlightened ones who have annihilated greed by attaining Buddhahood, Passe Buddhahood or Arahanthship. Greed is a natural phenomenon of the mind. Greed binds beings attached to the cycle of samsara. Having realised this common phenomenon of the mind, the Buddha said that greed exceeding the limits of control begets harm and destruction to people. We realise this truth when we see the lives of many people in our day to day life.
“Thanhaya Jaayathi Soko - Thanhaya Jaajathi Bhayan
Thanhaya vippamutthassa -Natthi soko kutho Bhayan”.
Greed begets sorrow and fear. Once greed is annihilated there will be no sorrow or fear. This is the meaning of the above stanza. Greed is defined as a craving, lust, fascination or desire depending on various circumstances. When the phenomenon of greed is explained under the noble truth of Samudaya, the second of the four fold absolute noble truths, it is dealt with in three main categories:
1. Kaama Thanha - greed for the satisfaction of the five sensual desires.
2. Bhava Thanha - greed for recurrence of rebirth
3. Vibhava Thanha - greed to prevent rebirth.
Greed is the result of feeling. The cause of greed is ignorance. Therefore it is more convenient to discern greed as the immediate cause of suffering. Greed is the sustainer of the entire universe. Selfishness, the feeling of “I” or “mine”, or egotism are some of the terms by which we reckon the various aspects of the phenomenon of greed. The driving force behind an individual to commit acts with good or evil consequences is greed. Accordingly greed can be perceived as the cause of perpetuating the cycle of birth and rebirth, which is sorrowful.
The phenomenon of greed is inherent in every being but when it exceeds the limit of control it leads to the destruction of a being physically as well as spiritually, leaving the being bereft of solace. Count Thodeiya, Illeesa, and Ananda during the time of Buddha are some of the characters we can take as examples. Their lives were full of discontent and they are unhappy inspite of their enormous wealth, but later found solace only through the Buddha’s word. Life is absurd if it is bereft of mental satisfaction and happiness. Santhutti Paraman Dhanan - happiness is the supreme wealth, is the word of Buddha. In modern society discontent amidst enormous wealth is the general order of the day. It is sad in deed to witness certain individuals commanding immeasurable facilities including food, vehicles and property but live like paupers, making no use of their wealth because of their greed to amass more wealth. They neither satisfy their hunger nor quench their thirst but only strive to amass wealth as if they are destined never to die. We have seen such people who deposit all their financial reserves in banks and pass away without having benefited from their wealth at all, leaving it to unrelated individuals. Why are some people so avaricious? Because they are ignorant of the horrors of the hereafter and the rigours involved in the cycle of recurring rebirth. Sometimes people go to the extent of taking the lives of those who are near and dear to them, in pursuit of their excessive craving.
Only those who stop the pursuit of wealth and earn a righteous living while adopting a simple life style, at the same time striving to fulfill their duties and obligations, will enjoy the bliss of the four noble comforts, namely, a sound economy, a good harvest, a feeling of being free from debt and a sense of innocence.

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