August 30, 2018

Happiness vs. greed: “Money won’t change you but…”

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jane Stillwater @ 5:51 pm

Good grief, there certainly seems to be a whole lot of important Tibetan Buddhist lamas coming to visit NorCal these days. Perhaps they are here to show their compassion for us after all these horrible wildfires. In any case, Tenzin Lungtok, the seventh Ling Rinpoche, just gave a talk to the U.C. Berkeley community on the importance of happiness and compassion — and here’s my full report on the event (including my excellent commentary of course). Sorry that it’s so long but Ling Rinpoche had a lot of important stuff to say.

BTW, the seventh Ling Rinpoche is a direct reincarnation of the Dalai Lama’s senior tutor who died in 1983 — so this Ling Rinpoche is rather young, only 33 years old.

The very first thing he talked about was Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. Shocker! “They live in conditions that are very poor, very wretched over there.” Yeah, they do — thanks to the USA, which caused all that misery in the first place. And even now, American war profiteers seem to be desperate to start even more new “wars” and to also keep the same old tired ones going.

“And in the United States itself there is no war,” Ling Rinpoche continued, “but there are many problems in the mind here, even among the wealthy.” Especially among the wealthy. Some of those guys are bat-dookie cray-cray!

“Is all this happening because of karma, and is thus unavoidable?” Apparently not. “In fact there are things we can do to change all this for the better — we can become patient, tolerant and satisfied with what we have. But here in America there is the problem of greed.” No shite, Sherlock.

“Attitudes like greed create problems, and because of these problems we simply don’t have minds that are capable of contentment.” Apparently kindness is the key to contentment. “And if we can’t find what we want by kindness, we may turn to lies and violence — and also to trying to keep others from getting what they want as well, in order to feel more superior to them.” Rinpoche may be on to something here. That does seem to be America’s main attitude right now. Our neighbors are homeless and dying of hunger? Hurray! Now we’re better than them.

“And because of greed, then we lie, we steal, we kill.” This is starting to sound very familiar as well. What’s mine is mine and what’s yours is mine too — that seems to be Washington’s main approach to governance in the last five decades. Or is it six? Or seven? I myself have devoted my life to protecting justice against greed. Greed is the main predator on justice? Why am I not surprised.

Then Rinpoche goes on to say that this all-about-me attitude basically sucks eggs. “It is a narrow way of thinking.” For sure. No future there.

“Fighting and arguing with others is a major part of this type of thinking. Naturally we all want happiness — there’s nothing wrong with that. But we don’t know what we need to do to be happy.” Yeah, well. Americans could begin by not financing the slaughter of babies in Syria, Gaza and Yemen. That would be a good start.

“We need to make our minds more open and expansive.” Snap! “Not just thinking about ourselves. We need to be more concerned with the world in general.” This is good stuff. But then, oops, my pen ran out of ink. New pen please! Hope I am getting this all down correctly.

“If our attitude is more open and expansive, we can stop problems and achieve far-reaching goals.” World peace would be a good goal, right? This is where you are spozed to nod your head up and down, America. But apparently not.

“If you have an expansive attitude, things go better.” Narrow thinking? Not good. “The results are always problems.” Just look at the swamp that America has created in Afghanistan — and Flint.

“A lack of contentment and blaming others is a large cause of our problems.” The immigrants did it! The Russians did it! Not. “If we learn to take responsibility for our own blame, problems can be solved. Otherwise our minds become distracted away from seeing what is actually good — distracted by greed and desire.”

Then he talked about work. “People here do it for salaries, housing, cars, etc. They don’t even think about if they are actually enjoying their work.” How many Americans are stuck in yucky boring dead-end jobs? But I myself have a job that I like right now — I’m working on becoming a better person. And also trying to be more patient with jerks.

“Morality is good,” he continued. “Morality, concentration and wisdom.” Hmmm. Perhaps it is time for Americans to start choosing their leaders because they are wise. Nah. Never happen. But maybe it could….

“Technological development is not enough to enjoy a good life. Look at all the people in more developed countries who are not happy.” And also look at all those happy people in that technological desert Bhutan for instance, far happier than us. “Of course technology does help — but in a limited way. To obtain far-reaching advances, we really need to develop the qualities of the mind.” Xfinity and Apple won’t make us happy. Not really. Let’s place our bets on kindness instead.

“For example the kindness of our parents, our teachers and our friends have done more for us than technology.” We would never have even reached adulthood without their kindness. That type of kindness is even more better than gold-plated toilets and really fast cars. “Loving kindness is priceless.” And it’s harder to come by as well.

“There is too much violence, crime and war in the world. Whether you accept religion or not, loving kindness and compassion are important. Affection for others. With these tools, all the problems in our world could be solved. And we could all receive real, genuine happiness. No more problems in the world.” Boom. Done and dusted. Works for me.

“If you see something, if you see an injustice, do something. Of course we should protest if someone does something wrong — but not hate them. And we should feel even more compassion for people who lack kindness.” Because they are losers, duh!

“And if you have made mistakes in your life before? Then take that occasion to learn from them. And treat others as you would treat yourself.” Unlike what Christian hypocrites in Washington do today. “And be kind to yourself as well — but avoid self-cherishing because that only leads to anger.” Bottom line? “We depend on all others for our happiness.”

Then someone asked about what to do when comparing oneself unfavorably to all those beautiful people on TV? “Then just turn off the TV,” he said with a smile.

And during the Q&A that followed, I too couldn’t resist standing up. “I always make all my decisions based on whether or not what I was planning to do might benefit the most sentient beings. So thank you for coming here today because hearing your talk definitely benefited more sentient beings than if I had just sat home and watched TV.” He smiled at this too. “But my question is, what do you see happening in the future — say five or ten years from now?”

Ling Rinpoche answered that he was not a soothsayer or fortune teller but that the way to a better future is, “Don’t be attached to the results. Just do what you can, try to keep benefiting all — and then act!”

I was so impressed with this young guy who speaks like a wise old man that I grabbed up one of those traditional white offering scarves that you are supposed to give to lamas and ran after him to the elevator like some desperate Beatles fan from the ’60s. “Wait! Wait!” I cried. But the elevator closed in my face — but then me and my friend went off to buy tacos on Telegraph Avenue and got all greedy for guacamole.

PS: We also ran into a Palestinian friend of mine on the Avenue who told us that Israeli colonialists were now offering money to Palestinian Israelis in Jerusalem if they would move off to that hell-hole the “settlers” have now created on the West Bank. Hey, that’s way better than just straight-up murdering them, right? Although I do gotta admit that Palestinian Israelis living in the West Bank are a hecka lot vulnerable to getting murdered. Money won’t change that fact either. James Brown nailed it.

Perhaps Israeli colonialists are doing all this killing because they are not very happy? Too greedy? Perhaps they should switch to loving kindness instead!


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