Saturday, 4 April 2009

Can You Be Enlightened and Wealthy?

I was having this discussion the other with a Chinese master, who seemed to think that enlightenment cannot be reconciled with great wealth.

I disagree. And I quote here Lama Zopa Rinpoche, that most precious of lamas, on living in Tahiti, an ultimately materialistic place by nature:

"It depends on with what motivation, with what attitude you live there. If you’re living there having entertainment, enjoyment with the motivation of non-ignorance, non-anger, non-attachment, and especially non-self-centered mind, of course there's no question - if you live there or if you have enjoyments with that attitude, non-anger, non-attachment, with a pure motivation, pure attitude, then there is no risk. There is no danger. With this motivation, if you’re having enjoyment, it all becomes Dharma. It all becomes meditation. You are living in Tahiti, a place which is described as the best tourist place, and it all becomes Dharma, it all becomes meditation. You only create the cause to achieve happiness, happiness in future lives. Especially of course if it is unstained by the self-cherishing thought, all the enjoyment of whatever you do there becomes not only pure Dharma, but it becomes the cause to achieve enlightenment for sentient beings. Without self-cherishing thought, if the attitude is cherishing others, benefiting others, then whatever activities you do, whatever enjoyments you have, all those enjoyments are enjoyments for others, for other sentient beings’ happiness. All those become the cause of the highest success in life, full enlightenment, the cessation of all mistakes of mind, gross and subtle defilements, and the completion of all qualities.

But if you go there and the motivation is just self-cherishing, enjoying with only the self-cherishing thought, nothing else, only 'my happiness', not even the happiness of future lives, not ultimate happiness, liberation from the whole entire suffering of samsara and its cause, instead just this life's happiness, nothing else, so with the attitude just seeking the happiness of this life, clinging only to the happiness of this life, just this very short term happiness, the attitude is just attachment, simply pure attachment. Then with that attitude all the activities that one does twenty-four hours a day, eating, walking, sitting, sleeping, riding over the waves, lying down on the beach, all the rest - I don’t need to go through all the rest! Everything becomes negative karma. Every single thing that is done with body, speech, and mind becomes negative karma which results only in suffering, no happiness, let aside finding satisfaction, finding fulfillment in life. There is no peace and happiness at all with
this attitude, this grasping mind, attachment. No way, it's impossible to find satisfaction with that, by following desire.

You achieve satisfaction in life only when the mind stops following desire. Whenever that happens, wherever, it doesn’t have to be on the meditation cushion, it can be anywhere, in the workplace or even in the bathroom, wherever. Wherever you are, the minute you split from desire, separate the mind from desire, stop following desire, the minute you let go, then at that time you find satisfaction. So that is the Dharma. That is meditation, that is the real Dharma, pure Dharma. Whenever and wherever it happens, outside, inside, even in prison, wherever that Dharma happens, then there’s peace and happiness in one’s heart, real inner peace, satisfaction in the heart."

Quote taken from How to Be A Real Professional - Why We Need Dharma.

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