Possessions and Your Karma

If we judge our self-worth in terms of our material possessions, just as if we eat to fill a spiritual hunger, we’ll never consume enough. Some of that hunger, of course, comes from the modern capitalist consumerist society that is both a cause and an effect of our need to satiate ourselves. But in the end, does your attitude towards money generate good karma or bad?

This society is based on two principles: First, that we’re all consumers and we must never feel we have enough goods because then we’ll not buy more; secondly, that the products we buy must be obsolete or out-of-date as soon as possible so we’re obligated in some way to buy the newer version.

We can never escape the dissatisfactions of the consumerist society; it depends on us feeling inadequate and unfulfilled.

Buddhism has no intrinsic problem with the getting or spending of money. What is important in Buddhism is our attachment to things and not the things themselves. This is a function of the awareness that everything is interconnected, and that all matter is codependent and co-arising (in other words, there is nothing that pre-originated everything else). Thus money possesses a neutral energy that, depending on the intention of the person who has it, can be used to generate good karma or bad.

If there’s one thing we can be sure of, it’s this. Throughout the course of our life, we’ll have appetites we’ll never satisfy, desires that will never be sated and needs that will never be met. Even when we’re satisfied, it’s in our natures to desire more.

Accumulating wealth may protect you from the day when there are no fish to provide you with food, or the river becomes polluted, or you’re too old to fish, for example. In that regard, the fisherman would be making a sound economic decision to protect himself against the future if he accumulated the boats. But the fisherman values his life differently. For him, the experience of the moment is more valuable than the inevitabilities of the future. He recognizes that life’s limits also mean that if we spend our lives always planning ahead and buying more stuff, we’ll forget to actually live our lives and take pleasure in what we have.

Adapted from Authenticity; Clearing Junk, a Buddhist Perspective by Venerable Yifa (Lantern Books, 2007). Copyright (c) 2007 by Venerable Yifa. Reprinted by permission of Lantern Books.
Adapted from Authenticity; Clearing Junk, a Buddhist Perspective by Venerable Yifa (Lantern Books, 2007).

21 comments

David M.
David M.6 years ago

thanks

Sioux D.
Animae C6 years ago

"If there’s one thing we can be sure of, it’s this. Throughout the course of our life, we’ll have appetites we’ll never satisfy, desires that will never be sated and needs that will never be met. Even when we’re satisfied, it’s in our natures to desire more."

this is one persons reality, their perspective, experience,
no assumptions... Annie B.
contemplate & meditate, slow down the chattering thought
the answer isn't there, if it was everyone would 'have it'!

the only sure thing is death!
so have fun while you can : )
with Metta

Marlene Clark
Marlene Clark9 years ago

Right on. Good summation of Capitolism.

Subramaniam Shankar

There is no bar against possessions,but it will be a tragedy to be obsessed with and possessed by material objects.The world cannot go on if we do not consume but when we tend to waste and promote false values for excesses and vulgarity then we are breeding jealousy and greed that cannot be sated. what is important is the wisdom to strike a balance at the right time. It is not wrong to make an exclusive place favorite and spend but judging others by standards of their choices is what causes problems. You cannot judge and vary the degree of your closeness among friends who might be owning from a beat up Chevy to flashy BMW. It means you are trapped in extrinsic and superfluousness in judgement.Possess and desire to possess but let not the desire be the only driving force in life.

Janet Moody
Janet Moody9 years ago

After Katrina, I fixed my home & eventually sold it. While moving EVERYTHING I had left was stolen. The things I miss the most are the photographs. In a way, it was freeing to lose it all.

Joe Paretta
Joe Paretta9 years ago

I know that any time when I obsess about money or a lack thereof, I attract lack. However, when I detach from money, it flows to me easily, It's a paradox, but a grand one at that.

Violette Ruffley
Violette Ruffley9 years ago

Michele, a natural disaster or fire can wipe out your possessions in an instant. Whereas nothing can take the memories you hold in your heart.
A friend of mine countered that statement with, "What if I get Alzheimers?" Soooooooooo what, you won't care anyway!!!!!!!! Bless us all, and happy downsizing.

Violette Ruffley
Violette Ruffley9 years ago

I have just gone through selling some 95% of my possessions, which in actuallity, possessed me. I have spent my adult life packing, shipping, storing, having moved over 70 times. Since I am now 80 I finally got the message! Slow learner! However, the whole downsizing was so freeing I am now getting ready to downsize as much of the remaining 5% as possible. Feel like someone opened the door to my prison. KEEP IT SIMPLE SWEET SPIRITS!!!!

michele v.
michele v9 years ago

i totally get what sue crow said about living simply and collecting friends and family, making memeories to me is what it is all about. my thing is i am extremely sentimental and hang onto everything, any advice out there?

Therese Sevilla
Therese Sevilla9 years ago

I guess, we should all just be contented with what we have to have peace of mind and happy life. Never let material things rule our life. In short, let money work for you and not the other way around.