A Western Buddhist's Travels

Sightseeing & detours on the path of enlightenment

Happiness is greater than Wealth Part III

Today I’ll look at one of the ways we attempt to create happiness through wealth. You may have heard of this approach, it’s called Retail Therapy. This term came into being December 24, 186 when an article appeared in the Chicago Tribune http://articles.chicagotribune.com/1986-12-24/features/8604060073_1_shopping-shaky-ground-festive-hat The line that I refer to is: “We`ve become a nation measuring out our lives in shopping bags and nursing our psychic ills through retail therapy.” Commercials will tout that use this product and you will look and feel better. Another term is Compulsive shopping which is a disorder, and some who suffer from this develop another mental affliction called hoarding. For a period of time I worked in the non-profit sector as a building manager. The buildings are meant for low income and marginalized individuals’ once had occasion to have to enter a suite to stop a flooding situation. The person who lived there was sleeping and unaware they had left their kitchen tap running. When another building manager and I arrived, we got a response and when the tenant opened the door, water flowed into the hallway. It took the two of us almost 15 minutes of moving items to open the door wide enough to get a 5 gallon wet and dry shop vacuum into the suite. The tenant was allowed to stay under condition of getting counseling. This was when I learned about Oniomania, or Compulsive Shopping Disorder. This is a mental affliction, of that can be looked at from different views. The person has the wrong thought, that buying something will improve their lives. The delusion is that happiness is gained from the object purchased. This is not a new thought, as in 1890 William James wrote “A man’s Self is the sum total of all that he can call his”. When we base our happiness on external objects, the loss of them, damage to them, or any loss of status, leaves us scrambling to replace it. This type of thinking is allowing the depletion of the worlds resources, we are leaving our children a world, where not only are they going to have less, but they will have to deal with the environmental costs of our disposable lifestyle. Imelda Marcos became a worldwide celebrity not for her compassion or any noble act. No she became famous for her collection of over 2700 pairs of shoes. These shoes were collected while she was First lady of the Philippines, and the majority of its people were in abject poverty. There are people who collect comic books, toy figures, almost anything. There is an old Jewish proverb that ascribes magical power to money: “When you have money in your pocket, you are wise, handsome and a good singer as well.” Certainly this does not only apply to them. Walk into a bar or pubs anywhere in the world, buy a round of drinks and see how many good friends you have. They will be there beside you, as long as the money lasts. This is a story that many alcoholics tell us about their drinking days, when they thought money could buy friendship if spent on alcohol. Buddha taught that happiness is from inside our mind, so is unhappiness. Once we realize theHappiness is greater than Wealth Part se truths, and apply ourselves to learning how to control our thoughts, then we can be liberated from unhappiness. Liberation from unhappiness also liberates us from the need to have ever increasing material things. The happier you are inside, the less wealth you need.


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