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Thread: Greed, Attachment, and Work

  1. #1

    Greed, Attachment, and Work

    I've been thinking through the concepts of greed and attachment over the last few weeks in light of two events in my "life" (or the illusion of what is commonly referred to as "real life"... ). First, my wife and I have been fixing up our house, getting it ready to sell. We are "empty nesters" now (interesting term in itself, I guess!), and are looking to downsize our house and get more land, so that my wife can better pursue her job of training dogs (actually, training people to better interact with their dog companions). It has been really interesting to look through some of the "stuff" that we have accumulated over the years and throw away or donate to charity the things that we don't use....and have been holding on to for "selfish" reasons. It has been very liberating to let so much go: to realize that we don't need the *things* that we were keeping for the sake of remembering, since we had the memories already....no need for tangible things!

    The second event is a bit more vexing. I'm close to my annual review at work, and I will be getting a raise. I don't see this as problematic, necessarily, as I tend to raise my donations to charity when I get a raise anyway; I am also not a big materialist. I live pretty simply, and try to avoid accumulating "things" -- my wife and I have agreed that the less stuff we have, the happier we are generally. My question comes in when it comes to promotions: is it considered "anti-Zen", or not in keeping with the precepts to actually seek out a promotion? Is wanting a more senior position considered "greed" or "attachment", since it obviously has the connection of more material wealth/material "well being"?

    I should qualify this by saying that I work with a company that manages benefits for other companies: my current job is as a team manager, where I work directly with client companies to ensure that their employees have no issues with their medical/dental/vision/welfare benefits. A promotion means that I would get more difficult clients (i.e., clients who have more issues that need to be resolved/corrected), which is something that I am currently doing. I have been looking forward to such a promotion for a while, but as I have returned more to Zen, I see where it can be problematic. I wouldn't refuse it if is is offered to me, but would it be wrong to ask for a promotion if one is not offered?

    Similarly, my current position has over the years brought me to a point where I have developed some anxiety/slight panic disorder (due to the near constant stress). Would it be similarly "wrong" by the precepts to look for a different (and higher paying) position in the company, if it helped to reduce that stress and make me healthier overall? I'm looking at applying for a position that would allow me to work from home more: working from home, I have more sunlight, can be nearer my wife and dogs (all excellent Zen teachers, by the way!), and tend to live more in the moment (i work from home two days week currently).

    I gladly welcome all insights!

    Gassho--

    JimH
    SatToday!

  2. #2
    Quote Originally Posted by JimH View Post
    My question comes in when it comes to promotions: is it considered "anti-Zen", or not in keeping with the precepts to actually seek out a promotion? Is wanting a more senior position considered "greed" or "attachment", since it obviously has the connection of more material wealth/material "well being"?
    Hi Jim,

    If you were a monk in a monastery, you would be encouraged to do your work ... be it as a cook, a gardener ... as well as you can. I see nothing wrong with looking for a promotion itself. Moderate wanting is fine in life, so long as kept in balance (Mahayana Buddhism, unlike early Buddhism, had a more balanced view of human goals and desire).

    If it is, however, a real hunger, excess craving and greed for more and more, that aspect should be avoided. Be content with what you have.

    In other words, okay to seek goals ... best not to be a prisoner of goals.

    If there is a little more money involved in the promotion, and you put that to good use (such as charity or really doing something positive in your life), then money itself is not the root of all evil. However, if you just want the money to buy more "stuff" that you don't really need, but simply crave ... or to fill some hole in your self worth ... then that is not so good.

    The Buddha lectured lots of lay people and, as opposed to monks, he said there is nothing wrong with being industrious in your business and enterprises, so long as one uses the proceeds for good (including good in your own family), and are not a prisoner of greed.

    I wouldn't refuse it if is is offered to me, but would it be wrong to ask for a promotion if one is not offered?
    If you believe you merit it, nothing wrong at all.

    Would it be similarly "wrong" by the precepts to look for a different (and higher paying) position in the company, if it helped to reduce that stress and make me healthier overall? I'm looking at applying for a position that would allow me to work from home more: working from home, I have more sunlight, can be nearer my wife and dogs (all excellent Zen teachers, by the way!), and tend to live more in the moment (i work from home two days week currently).
    I am not even sure why you think it would be wrong to start with. Doesn't sound like anything to do with the Precepts (such as "taking what is not yours"), especially if you are seeking the promotion for the reasons you describe.

    So- Bottom line:

    Ask for the promotion, if you get it ... be content, do not be its prisoner.

    If you don't get it ... be content, do not be its prisoner.

    Gassho, J

    SatToday
    Last edited by Jundo; 09-01-2015 at 01:33 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  3. #3
    Mp
    Guest
    Hello Jim,

    Jundo speaks some wises words and I am thinking along the same lines. For me I don' see anything wrong with what you have described. If you feel a promotion is warranted, then go for it. If your bosses feel a promotion is warranted, accept it with gratitude. Either way just be happy and grateful with whatever the outcome is, whether in your favour or not; life just as it is. =)

    Gassho
    Shingen

    #sattoday

  4. #4
    Thank you, Jundo. That makes a lot of sense. And thank you as well, Shingen!

    In general, I am content...I'm actually doing the work *now* that is typical of the next level up, so my seeking a promotion is more or less just to get the benefits that should come with what I'm currently doing. And yes, any raise does go to doing good...I do live pretty simply, and have no need for "stuff". I don't want to be a prisoner of either the want OR the things.

    Gassho--

    JimH
    SatToday!

  5. #5
    Imo do what reduces stress and allows you to enjoy peace and silence more.

    SAT today
    _/_
    Rich
    MUHYO
    無 (MU, Emptiness) and 氷 (HYO, Ice) ... Emptiness Ice ...

    https://instagram.com/notmovingmind

  6. #6
    Rich -- very valuable advice! I've been doing that over the last couple of months. For the last couple of decades, I've believed that if I worked harder and harder, put in more hours, and endured the stress, it would pay off. Well, it did...it paid off in more stress, more work, and now health issues as I work through stress-induced anxiety/panic disorder. Now I've moved my home office from the basement to the main floor in a nice sunlit room with good energy, quit working at the end of my 8-hour day, and don't stress about what I can't control anymore. It's been tough, but being a part of Treeleaf has made it much easier!

    I would highly recommend sunlight, zazen, and acceptance as a solution to all others out there in a similar work situation. Better peace and enjoyment than stress and frustration (or, as I've heard it said, "better to be laid back than laid out").

    Gassho--

    JimH
    SatToday!

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by JimH View Post
    Rich -- very valuable advice! I've been doing that over the last couple of months. For the last couple of decades, I've believed that if I worked harder and harder, put in more hours, and endured the stress, it would pay off. Well, it did...it paid off in more stress, more work, and now health issues as I work through stress-induced anxiety/panic disorder. Now I've moved my home office from the basement to the main floor in a nice sunlit room with good energy, quit working at the end of my 8-hour day, and don't stress about what I can't control anymore. It's been tough, but being a part of Treeleaf has made it much easier!

    I would highly recommend sunlight, zazen, and acceptance as a solution to all others out there in a similar work situation. Better peace and enjoyment than stress and frustration (or, as I've heard it said, "better to be laid back than laid out").

    Gassho--

    JimH
    SatToday!

    Sounds like you are going in a right direction. Don't forget to exercise.
    The Buddha used to walk a lot.

    It's probably going to take most of the rest of my life to unlearn all the crap society taught me.

    SAT today
    SAT today
    _/_
    Rich
    MUHYO
    無 (MU, Emptiness) and 氷 (HYO, Ice) ... Emptiness Ice ...

    https://instagram.com/notmovingmind

  8. #8
    Mp
    Guest
    Quote Originally Posted by Rich View Post
    It's probably going to take most of the rest of my life to unlearn all the crap society taught me.
    Oh so true Rich, so true. =)

    Gassho
    Shingen

    #sattoday

  9. #9
    Sounds like you've already got some great advice! Best of luck to you. One of my favorite quotes related to this topic:
    Quote Originally Posted by Robert Burton 1600s
    If men would attempt no more than what they can bear, they should lead contented lives and, learning to know themselves, would limit their ambition; they would perceive then that nature hath enough without seeking such superfluities and unprofitable things, which bring nothing with them but grief and molestation. As a fat body is more subject to diseases, so are rich men to absurdities and fooleries, to many casualties and cross inconveniences
    -satToday
    Thanks,
    Kaishin (開心, Open Heart)
    Please take this layman's words with a grain of salt.

  10. #10
    Thanks Shingen, I have deep respect for your opinions -) 😊😁

    SAT today
    _/_
    Rich
    MUHYO
    無 (MU, Emptiness) and 氷 (HYO, Ice) ... Emptiness Ice ...

    https://instagram.com/notmovingmind

  11. #11
    Mp
    Guest
    Quote Originally Posted by Rich View Post
    Thanks Shingen, I have deep respect for your opinions -) 😊😁

    SAT today
    Thanks Rich ... great minds think alike. =)

    Gassho
    Shingen

    #sattoday

  12. #12
    Joyo
    Guest
    Shingen, Rich, I have deep respect for both of your opinions. This advice couldn't have come at a better time. Thank you both!

    Gassho,
    Joyo
    sat today

  13. #13
    Hi Jim,

    Your question reminded me of the book "10 Percent Happier" by Dan Harris, the journalist. I would not call it an educational Zen read, (you can tell that by the title!) it's more of one of those "Western woo-woo introduction to mindfulness" kind of books.... but it is interesting and often funny. It tells the story of his journey into Buddhism and his concern about "losing his edge" in his career. In the end, he concludes that he can still be competitive in his job while holding true to his newfound ideology. Of course, that is a fine line that each of us has to walk depending on our profession/occupation ("Right Livelihood" and all that )

    Gassho,
    Sierra
    SatToday

  14. #14
    Hi Jim,

    Look at it this way. People go out of their way to feel good with drugs, alcohol, things, etc etc. You can feel good for free! You know what to do.

    Gasho, Jishin, _/st\_

  15. #15
    This may be a good time to repost some of the Buddha's advice to householders on wealth. The Buddha did teach one path for homeleavers ... having nothing much besides a robe on their back and a begging bowl. But he also taught another path for lay folks on whom Buddha & the Band depended to supply the robes, offer land for the monasteries, put food in those bowls.

    Buddha's basic point comes down to ... if one has wealth, use it for good purposes ... don't live to excess ... and don't be attached. Zen traditionally values also the simple, intangible treasures of life ... the things which money cannot buy.

    Gassho, J

    ===========

    In the Dighajanu Sutta, when the lay man Dighajanu asked the Buddha on how to have “happiness & well-being” in this life, the Buddha offered the following advice;

    [The Blessed One said:] "There are these four qualities ... that lead to a lay person's happiness and well-being in this life. Which four? Being consummate in initiative, being consummate in vigilance, admirable friendship, and maintaining one's livelihood in tune.

    "And what does it mean to be consummate in initiative? There is the case where a lay person, by whatever occupation he makes his living — whether by farming or trading or cattle tending or archery or as a king's man or by any other craft — is clever and untiring at it, endowed with discrimination in its techniques, enough to arrange and carry it out. This is called being consummate in initiative.

    "And what does it mean to be consummate in vigilance? There is the case when a lay person has righteous wealth — righteously gained, coming from his initiative, his striving, his making an effort, gathered by the strength of his arm, earned by his sweat — he manages to protect it through vigilance [with the thought], 'How shall neither kings nor thieves make off with this property of mine, nor fire burn it, nor water sweep it away, nor hateful heirs make off with it?' This is called being consummate in vigilance.

    "And what is meant by admirable friendship? There is the case where a lay person, in whatever town or village he may dwell, spends time with householders or householders' sons, young or old, who are advanced in virtue. He talks with them, engages them in discussions. He emulates consummate conviction in those who are consummate in conviction, consummate virtue in those who are consummate in virtue, consummate generosity in those who are consummate in generosity, and consummate discernment in those who are consummate in discernment. This is called admirable friendship.

    "And what does it mean to maintain one's livelihood in tune? There is the case where a lay person, knowing the income and outflow of his wealth, maintains a livelihood in tune, neither a spendthrift nor a penny-pincher, [thinking], 'Thus will my income exceed my outflow, and my outflow will not exceed my income.' Just as when a weigher or his apprentice, when holding the scales, knows, 'It has tipped down so much or has tipped up so much,' in the same way, the lay person, knowing the income and outflow of his wealth, maintains a livelihood in tune, neither a spendthrift nor a penny-pincher, [thinking], 'Thus will my income exceed my outflow, and my outflow will not exceed my income.' If a lay person has a small income but maintains a grand livelihood, it will be rumored of him, 'This clansman devours his wealth like a fruit-tree eater.' If a lay person has a large income but maintains a miserable livelihood, it will be rumored of him, 'This clansman will die of starvation.' But when a lay person, knowing the income and outflow of his wealth, maintains a livelihood in tune, neither a spendthrift nor a penny-pincher, [thinking], 'Thus will my income exceed my outflow, and my outflow will not exceed my income,' this is called maintaining one's livelihood in tune.

    "These are the four drains on one's store of wealth: debauchery in sex; debauchery in drink; debauchery in gambling; and evil friendship, evil companionship, evil camaraderie. Just as if there were a great reservoir with four inlets and four drains, and a man were to close the inlets and open the drains, and the sky were not to pour down proper showers, the depletion of that great reservoir could be expected, not its increase. In the same way, these are the four drains on one's store of wealth: debauchery in sex; debauchery in drink; debauchery in gambling; and evil friendship, evil companionship, evil camaraderie.

    ...

    "There are these four qualities that lead to a lay person's happiness and well-being in lives to come. Which four? Being consummate in conviction, being consummate in virtue, being consummate in generosity, being consummate in discernment.

    "And what does it mean to be consummate in conviction? There is the case where a disciple of the noble ones has conviction, is convinced of the Tathagata's Awakening: 'Indeed, the Blessed One is worthy and rightly self-awakened, consummate in knowledge and conduct, well-gone, an expert with regard to the world, unexcelled as a trainer for those people fit to be tamed, the Teacher of divine and human beings, awakened, blessed.' This is called being consummate in conviction.

    "And what does it mean to be consummate in virtue? There is the case where a disciple of the noble ones abstains from taking life, abstains from stealing, abstains from illicit sexual conduct, abstains from lying, abstains from taking intoxicants that cause heedlessness. This is called being consummate in virtue.

    "And what does it mean to be consummate in generosity? There is the case of a disciple of the noble ones, his awareness cleansed of the stain of miserliness, living at home, freely generous, openhanded, delighting in being magnanimous, responsive to requests, delighting in the distribution of alms. This is called being consummate in generosity.

    "And what does it mean to be consummate in discernment? There is the case where a disciple of the noble ones is discerning, endowed with discernment of arising and passing away — noble, penetrating, leading to the right ending of [Dukkha suffering]. This is called being consummate in discernment


    http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipit....054.than.html
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  16. #16
    Hi Jim,

    Go for the promotion. A little extra money will be fine and it will make your life easier and will give you room to breathe

    I think owning things and having money in this life is fine. They are tools to live comfortably, which give us energy for our relationships and our practice.

    Just keep it all simple and help all sentient beings you can help.

    Gassho,

    Kyonin
    #SatToday
    Hondō Kyōnin
    奔道 協忍

  17. #17
    Thank you to everyone for all the responses!

    Kaishin, I love that quote. I'm saving that as a reminder.

    I do not consider myself "wealthy". I make a good living, and work in an industry and a job where I can help people with their health and well-being. I know that my actions are helping people, which is very satisfying. Unfortunately, there is always far too much work, and if I have one addiction, it would be to working....trying to get too much done, and not balancing work and play. Sadly, it's a habit I learned from my dad.

    Although I'm not wealthy, I do consider myself *rich*. I married my highschool sweetheart, and we have had a wonderful marriage (16+ years now!). My kids are grown and are successful in their own rights, not making the same mistakes my wife and I made. I do live simply -- my wife and I both dislike flashy things -- and find my greatest "wealth" in being surrounded by my current family: my wife and six corgis. (Can anyone really have a life with a pet and NOT know Zen at some level?)

    Thank you all again.....very much to think about, and I do appreciate the feedback. Infinite thanks again to you as well, Jundo, for Treeleaf....Treeleaf and Zen are probably my *second* greatest wealth!

    Gassho--

    JimH
    SatToday!

  18. #18
    Sitting with relatives.. Zen can be part of daily life with family so long as it's not part of conversation. Love for family.
    Kind Ubasoku, calm, I seek to support; not supportive. 或者嘘

  19. #19
    say today
    Elgwyn
    Gassho
    Kind Ubasoku, calm, I seek to support; not supportive. 或者嘘

  20. #20
    I am so happy to have the opportunity for Jukai and I am 3 day's behind. Can someone please tell or ask about catching up? I can see my own Rakasu, and Jundo asked me if I could do this or would I need help. If I can start now I can do it, and I have decided on a pale blue color and I will purchase the material this week; could someone please tell me how much material I will need? Are there any other things I want to keep in mind? What readings have I missed since Sunday and what books do I need? Is there a web page, or site I can view and do I participate with others. I have always enjoyed the Sunday afternoon Tea Party where I can ask questions and tell others about myself. I know this is a long entry; however I really want this to be my path. I already offer much volunteer time, so a life of compassion and formal commitment at at age 64 is very important for me. I'm in my golden years and my wonderful wife and I make a good team since I can no longer drive. My beloved and I have been together 35 years. Please inform me about my needs for my formal practice. Thank you for everything. I could never make this commitment without your help.

    Elgwyn
    Sat with one mind this morning.
    Gassho
    _/|\_


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    Kind Ubasoku, calm, I seek to support; not supportive. 或者嘘

  21. #21
    Quote Originally Posted by Elgwyn View Post
    Can someone please tell or ask about catching up?
    http://www.treeleaf.org/forums/forum...yoki-Too%21%29

    Gassho, Jishin, ST

  22. #22
    Treeleaf Unsui Shugen's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Redding California USA
    Hello Elgwyn,

    I will PM you and see if I can get you going.

    Gassho, Shugen

    #sattoday

    Quote Originally Posted by Elgwyn View Post
    I am so happy to have the opportunity for Jukai and I am 3 day's behind. Can someone please tell or ask about catching up? I can see my own Rakasu, and Jundo asked me if I could do this or would I need help. If I can start now I can do it, and I have decided on a pale blue color and I will purchase the material this week; could someone please tell me how much material I will need? Are there any other things I want to keep in mind? What readings have I missed since Sunday and what books do I need? Is there a web page, or site I can view and do I participate with others. I have always enjoyed the Sunday afternoon Tea Party where I can ask questions and tell others about myself. I know this is a long entry; however I really want this to be my path. I already offer much volunteer time, so a life of compassion and formal commitment at at age 64 is very important for me. I'm in my golden years and my wonderful wife and I make a good team since I can no longer drive. My beloved and I have been together 35 years. Please inform me about my needs for my formal practice. Thank you for everything. I could never make this commitment without your help.

    Elgwyn
    Sat with one mind this morning.
    Gassho
    _/|\_


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    Meido Shugen
    明道 修眼

  23. #23
    Mp
    Guest
    Quote Originally Posted by Shugen View Post
    Hello Elgwyn,

    I will PM you and see if I can get you going.

    Gassho, Shugen

    #sattoday
    Looks like Shugen is on the ball ... good man! =)

    Gassho
    Shingen

    #sattoday

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