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Thread: Black Friday - Materialism

  1. #1

    Black Friday - Materialism

    Hello all,

    Just completed my first Zazenaki today! Being “Black Friday”, a major shopping day in the US, I took a cue from one of Jundo’s sit-along-videos http://treeleafzen.blogspot.com/2008...inners_11.html and, instead of shopping, gave the November Zazenaki a go. As Jundo says, “In Buddha’s Mall an empty shopping bag is always full!”

    I’m afraid that I am terribly materialistic and especially like new technology, but this holiday season I am vowing to be mindful of what I already have and focus on my practice. I would like to know if anyone has thoughts on how not to get caught up in the materialism that is so prevalent in today’s society?

    Gassho,
    BrianW

  2. #2

    Re: Black Friday - Materialism

    I know what you mean - it can be very easy (and pleasurable) to be caught up in the glamour of materialism. This prolly won't work for everyone, but try getting a part time at the mall. Not the best you can get, just a low level, part-time, 8 hours a week job. Suddenly, it doesn't feel so glamourous.

    I work as a stock room manager at a moderately upscale clothing store. When I first started, it was awesome. I got this fantastic discount and all of these great clothes. It wore off rather quickly though. You start to realize, "I don't need these at all. I'm just buying them because I can." Now, any purchase I make is tempered by how often I would wear it, will it go with everything else I own, will it last several years of repeated wear. I still enjoy the products without being so attached to the concept of them. I think...!

    Aside from that, you get a real understanding for what those kind of employees have to deal with. That can help stir up all kinds of compassion! Another post in another thread here, was talking about what it meant to be live Zen. I'll see if I can find it later. Basically, though, the poster said that cultivating calm and compassion in their life was really about just being a decent human being. I've still a lot to learn, but my not-so-glamourous retail job has really taught me about being a decent human being and the importance of treating each customer as a human person who is worth my time. It's always surprising how much that seems to matter.

    My two bits (...maybe four! >.> )

  3. #3

    Re: Black Friday - Materialism

    BrianW,

    I did go shopping today, but for me it was a chance to spend time with a good friend. I had never been on 'Black Friday', so after the horror stories I was pleasantly surprised to see people behaving courteously and politely. But maybe I am just programed to see the good in people, who knows.

    Another forum I belong to focuses on simple living. They have group buy nothing months. The rules are you can buy nothing other than food and other necessary items (food, shelter, etc). No eating out. No unnecessary clothing items. They can be hard at first, but after awhile they can be freeing and many find themselves buying and wanting less after participating in a few of them. The support of the forums helps people stay on track.

    Another trick is to wait. Wait one month on smaller purchases and 6 or more months on larger purchases. Very often, after waiting and not giving in to the impulse to buy right away, you find you no longer really want the item anyway.

    Gassha,
    Jenny

  4. #4

    Re: Black Friday - Materialism

    move around a lot and you'll quickly see how your things are just a burden!!

  5. #5

    Re: Black Friday - Materialism

    Yeah. A lot of stuff that's bought is just cr*p. How many of us have/had a room or closet full of stuff we just don't use.

    As the old saying goes "The best things in life are free." Most of it is just craving. Filling the void etc., just see the insignificance of it. There's nothing wrong with having stuff, but the attachment to it is what we have to look into. Things break, catch on fire, rust etc. Being happy exactly where you are, whether playing with a new toy or looking out the window is the point I think.

    Gassho
    Will

  6. #6

    Re: Black Friday - Materialism

    The shopping mall is one of my least favorite places this time of year. Too many people.

    I think because of that distaste and Suzuki Shosan's recommendation that zazen be performed in the midst of strife and confusion, the mall might be a part of my Rohatsu retreat...or would that be an advance?

    Anyhoo

    Folks say this is the "season of giving" (why it's limited to a season I have no clue). My suggestion is to use this holiday period as a time to practice Perfect Generosity. Sure being generous is something we should practice all year round, but it's especially important this time of year when our minds begin to cling to the poison of greed. Personal greed or greed "out there".

  7. #7
    Myoshin
    Guest

    Re: Black Friday - Materialism

    "Black Friday leaves three dead."

    I was greeted by this headline in the morning paper, and to honestly say, I was not surprised. With the ominous time of year coming where love and peace should reign; I am almost numb to the fact that many people rush for material possessions, and even go as far as killing others for a game system or the new hot toy. Since little on up I could see the madness in getting up early in the morning to stand in line (although I might now see it as a perfect opportunity to practice Zazen ). I am sure this is not the first time that this horrible event has taken place and I doubt it is the last, but I do hope that people will see that these acts are over trivial things. I doubt the sale on the new game system will be as joyful as the experience that those who died would have with their family this holiday season.
    If anything was learned from this event it was that material possessions should not control or dominate our actions.
    I personally believe that there, as with everything, is a balance to this problem. I do not believe one should just cut themselves off from material things nor do I think that they should buy until their accounts are empty. I try to find a center between the two. I do have days where I feel a compulsion to buy one object and almost do until I ask myself the all important question “Do I need this, will this make me happy?” For the most part this question takes care of that urge and I find it helps with the cognitive dissonance that arises from wanting/not wanting a certain object.

    Gassho
    -Kyle

  8. #8

    Re: Black Friday - Materialism

    Yes I think moderation is the key. I don’t think there is anything wrong in buying “things” as long as it is kept in perspective. I also think that many people caught up in the buying frenzy are purchasing gifts for others…thus their motivation may have some altruistic qualities….and I do feel sorry for all those people working in the stores. My wife did this for a time and they are sometimes treated with so little respect from customers.

    I drove by the mall today and saw that it was still quite busy, but a nature preserve near my home was empty. I took my dog out on a few of the trails and it was wonderful. My community is suffering from urban sprawl and really wish people had more appreciation for nature as opposed to products and services. My daughter’s high school biology teacher commented to me that most of his students do not have much of a connection with nature because they spend most of their free time in the mall.

    BrianW
    Quote Originally Posted by Jen
    Another forum I belong to focuses on simple living. They have group buy nothing months. The rules are you can buy nothing other than food and other necessary items (food, shelter, etc). No eating out. No unnecessary clothing items. They can be hard at first, but after awhile they can be freeing and many find themselves buying and wanting less after participating in a few of them. The support of the forums helps people stay on track.
    This sounds fascinating! I could see a modified form of this working on a local level to raise people's awareness of their priorities in life and showing what effect it has on local communities.

    Thanks for all the wonderful comments!
    Gassho,
    BrianW

  9. #9

    Re: Black Friday - Materialism

    We should be grateful for what we have. What an opportunity to be born in this life and have the opportunity to enjoy the things that we can. Even if your computer is an old commodore 64, it is like a gift that you even have the chance to use it. I think we see this more and more through practice. How this life is interesting and wide. Full of detail and worlds within worlds everywhere in every direction and in every thing that presents itself to us.

    Gassho

    Will

  10. #10

    Re: Black Friday - Materialism

    Quote Originally Posted by Myoshin
    "Black Friday leaves three dead."
    Yup. Imagine going out to your job at Wal-Mart and ending up dead.
    I sit hard and long at this time of the year, because I'm almost constantly angry between Thanksgiving and Christmas, and that's not my nature. Some of the best memories I have as a child are our little country churches at midnight on Christmas eve, lit by candles, my mother standing next to me, singing hymns and carols so beautifully, all gone now. Now, it's nothing but crowds fighting over rubbish. How long will it take to pay for all that junk? Any little errands one has to do become a nightmare: the supermarket, post office, a cup of coffee at Starbuck's, it all becomes an ordeal. At least I don't work in retail anymore, as I did for 15 years.
    Age and my practice brings some contentment, though. At my job, we're open on Christmas, so I go in and work for people who give a rat's ass about it (no disrespect intended to rats, or their asses). It's a form of samu, I guess. I'm happy that, for me, it's just another day.
    Quote Originally Posted by Rev R
    I think because of that distaste and Suzuki Shosan's recommendation that zazen be performed in the midst of strife and confusion, the mall might be a part of my Rohatsu retreat...or would that be an advance?
    Great idea! You might just have saved my tenous sanity for at least one more year, Rev!

  11. #11

    Re: Black Friday - Materialism

    I suspended my reading of Hooked! Buddhist Writings on Greed, Desire, and the Urge to Consume (edited by Stephanie Kaza) to start in on the readings for jukai. But in Paul Hawken's foreword to the book, he mentions a friend of his who only has 600 objects in his home - so that when he wants to buy something new (or gets a gift), he has to give up one of his existing possessions to keep the total at 600.
    This has kept me thinking quite a bit. It's made me think about how cluttered with "stuff" my life is, and that "things" come into my life with a greater frequency than they leave it. To be honest, I'm not sure that, right now, I could whittle down my possessions to 600 items, but I've been reflecting more and more when purchasing stuff about my needs and my desires.

  12. #12

    Re: Black Friday - Materialism

    Quote Originally Posted by Voton
    Great idea!
    Of course it is...that's why I borrowed it from Old Man Jundo.


    You might just have saved my tenous sanity for at least one more year, Rev!
    Nah, you're doing all the work.

  13. #13

    Re: Black Friday - Materialism

    Quote Originally Posted by Rev R
    Quote Originally Posted by Voton
    Great idea!
    Of course it is...that's why I borrowed it from Old Man Jundo.
    Ah, yes. It looks like my last Zazen sit in the middle of a busy shopping mall has faded into the ether ...

    http://treeleafzen.blogspot.com/search?q=shopping+mall

    I think I may do that again next week, appropriate for this time of year.

    Gassho, J

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