If The Cap Fits …

Nichiren DaishoninWith an increasing feeling of dismay, I see the gap between the have’s and have not’s of this world continually growing.

The very concept of fairness in our societies seems to have been completely forgotten.

With that in mind, I can think of a whole bunch of people who would do well to listen to the following advice …

If you wish to attain Buddhahood, you have only to lower the banner of your arrogance, cast aside the staff of your anger, and devote yourself exclusively to the one vehicle of the Lotus Sutra.

Worldly fame and profit are mere baubles of your present existence, and arrogance and prejudice are ties that will fetter you in a next one.

~ Nichiren Daishonin

Ironic Or What?

The Barn Of FollyIt’s a fairly well known fact that 90% of the wealth of the UK is in the hands of 10% of the population, which is a shocking state of affairs in my opinion.

Of course it’s fairly easy to be shocked when you aren’t one of the 10%, but it got me wondering whether I would be any more benevolent if I were.

You may remember the fable about the rich farmer who, having grown his crops, decided that he needed to store it somewhere safe, so that the peasants of the area couldn’t get their thieving hands on any of it. So he set about building a huge barn, and made it secure so it kept out the riff-raff.

It must have taken him quite a while to build it, but finally it was finished, and he was happy that his crops would now be safe. Of course, there was far more than he would ever need himself, but he locked it all away and hoarded it for his old age. Ironically, the night the barn was finished, he died in his sleep.

So the adage that ‘you can’t take it with you’ is anything but new. So I suppose the lesson from the story is, if you have enough of anything, money, food, whatever, you are fortunate. If you have more than enough, you are more than fortunate, and you might consider sharing some of it with others less fortunate, particularly in these austere times.

Less Is Surely More

Less Is Surely MoreSo many of the ills in modern society are driven, if not caused, by our insatiable desire to earn, to own, to use, more and more.

Companies spend millions creating adverts to reach our deepest psyche and flick on the basest of urges, often I suspect, without us even realising the manipulation we are undergoing.

Aside from our own mental suffering, our cravings are having disastrous consequences in third world countries, the collapse of the clothing factory in Bangladesh being an indirect result of our need to ever cheaper garments.

Nichiren spoke of earthly desires being used as fuel for the flame of Wisdom.

Buddhism teaches the converting of personal ambitions and desires, even base ones, into good traits like Wisdom, through altruistic living. A Buddhist doctrine that earthly desires are enlightenment, indicates that greed, anger through violence, and egocentricity can be transformed into altruistic traits such as compassion, trust and nonviolence.

The underlying delusions that drive our desires, including the desire for the development of science and civilisations, can be essentially transformed in a way that changes selfishness into altruism, violence into nonviolence and suspicion into trust.

The Western exploitation of emerging countries, for cheap labour and materials, simply to satisfy an ever growing market is totally unsustainable and must change. Until we can stop enriching certain groups at the expense of others, and concentrate on enriching all people by our actions, there will never be a sustainable peace, economy or even happiness in the world.

Are They Effin’ Serious?

Barclays BankThe UK banks, and Barclays in particular, seem to live on another planet. On the day they announce that between 10,000 and 12,000 jobs are to be cut, 7,000 of which are in the UK, they also trumpet the fact that they have increased their investment bank’s bonus pool by 10%.

Chief executive, Antony Jenkins, who to his credit has waived his own annual bonus, said that the bank “Had to be competitive on pay and had to pay for performance”. All this coming in the light of a 37% slump in pre-tax profits from the investment banking division. It begs the question, “What exactly are they paying bonuses for?”

Whilst we are all still holding our breath and hoping that the apparent ‘green shoots of recovery’ in the economy in general continue, it beggars belief to hear that the already obscenely overpaid investment bankers are going to get yet more in the way of undeserved bonuses. If they can’t ‘make do’ with the crazy amounts they get paid already, let them go, and get someone who will earn their bonus step in and take over the role.

Credit to Robert Peston, the BBC business editor, who seems to have summed up the gobsmacking incredulity felt by the general public, saying “There is blank incomprehension from those not in the industry that the going rate remains so high for people widely seen as being more than walk-ons in the epic near-destruction of global financial capitalism just a short while ago”

I think it is high time we as citizens, demanded a higher moral code from all the public bodies with whom we have to deal. Whether it is the banks, the utility companies, the government agencies, such as environment at this time, or the police and judiciary, we must demand to be treated fairly.

Those who have seen their salaries frozen or cut and those who have lost their jobs because of the cut-backs have made the greatest sacrifices. The government keeps telling us that we are all in this economic downturn together, but it most certainly doesn’t feel like it from where I stand.

Tax cuts for the rich, increased bonuses for the very people who got us into all this mess, coupled to further draconian cuts in social welfare for the poorest, weakest and most needy, where is the togetherness in all that?

When Less Is More

Flames Of WisdomSo many of the ills in modern society are driven, if not caused, by our insatiable desire to earn, to own, to use, more and more.

Companies spend millions creating adverts to reach our deepest psyche and flick on the basest of urges, often I suspect, without us even realising the manipulation we are undergoing.

Aside from our own mental suffering, our cravings are having disastrous consequences in third world countries, the collapse of the clothing factory in Bangladesh being an indirect result of our need to ever cheaper garments.

Nichiren spoke of earthly desires being used as fuel for the flame of Wisdom.

Buddhism teaches the converting of personal ambitions and desires, even base ones, into good traits like Wisdom, through altruistic living. A Buddhist doctrine that earthly desires are enlightenment, indicates that greed, anger through violence, and egocentricity can be transformed into altruistic traits such as compassion, trust and nonviolence.

The underlying delusions that drive our desires, including the desire for the development of science and civilisations, can be essentially transformed in a way that changes selfishness into altruism, violence into nonviolence and suspicion into trust.

The Western exploitation of emerging countries, for cheap labour and materials, simply to satisfy an ever growing market is totally unsustainable and must change. Until we can stop enriching certain groups at the expense of others, and concentrate on enriching all people by our actions, there will never be a sustainable peace, economy or even happiness in the world.

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