July 16, 2003Thinking about choices.
A yuppie businessman's car lost its balance and hit a pole by the side of a road. The man got out of the car and screamed: ``My Mercedes! My Mercedes is ruined!''
A bystander, an old man, tried to talk some sense him. ``Why worry about the car? Better worry about your arm. It was thrown over there.''
When the young man saw his arm, he cried out: ``Oh gosh, my Rolex!''
Sorry for the violent story. But forget the bloody scene for a moment, and think how the reactions of this yuppie man go against the Buddha's teaching _ ``Sacrifice money for organs, sacrifice organs for life, and sacrifice money, organs and life for the attainment of dhamma.''
Instead of being glad to survive the accident, the man in the story felt sorry about losing his car and his watch. He saw his assets as more important than his life.
Materialism distorts our values and confuses our priorities. For many of us, money and material possessions have become more important than life. More often than not, they're more important than our body. That's why so many people risk their lives or hurt themselves by having unnecessary cosmetic surgery for better looks.
Let us look within ourselves to see if we, too, value material possessions more than our life and dhamma. We may not be as stupid as the yuppie in the story, but are we the kind of person who would want to commit suicide if our business went bankrupt or our property was destroyed in a fire?
If a robber put a knife to our throat, would we think of resisting, in order to protect our money, even if it meant risking our life? Have we ever hit our children in anger when they lose or break things?
If so, we should ask ourselves what we love more, our children or the material stuff.
Have we ever thought about lying so we can make more money?
Here is an anecdote to end this story.
A very stingy millionaire was caught red-handed when he was trying to steal buns. He was sentenced to choose between paying a 1,000 baht fine or being caned 100 times or eating 100 buns at one go.
Of course, the greedy millionaire chose the bun-eating choice. After stuffing himself with 50 buns, he could not eat any more, so he asked for the caning instead. After 50 beatings, he could no longer stand the pain so he asked to pay the fine.
When back at his house, he smilingly told his wife: ``Those people are so stupid. They don't even know when they are being taken advantage of. Just by eating a number of buns, and putting up with a number of beatings, I was able to delay the time I had to pay the fine for hours.''
- This story is from a book in Thai entitled
Sa-Ra-Khan: Dhamma in Funny Stories published by Sathira Dhammastan.