Lust, hatred and ignorance
One of my colleagues recently asked everyone in the office to support her son’s school by buying gift cards from them. I didn’t have any pressing need, but knew that with birthdays, the upcoming holidays and the like, I’d probably be able to put some bookstore and department store cards to good use as gifts. So I plunked down $150 and got 3 cards.
Then the holidays arrived, and I was trying to find the cards, and couldn’t. Not in my briefcase. Not in my car. Not in my office drawer. I had been rather frantic during this time period, working extra hours, driving myself hard towards some future, better destination. I was frustrated that my desire to help a colleague’s cause had backfired and cost me $150, and the school wouldn’t even get the benefit of that amount. I wished I’d never bought the cards.
A few days ago I was reading a new book by the Dalai Lama. He recommended that we really check in several times a day to see which of our actions were being motivated by lust, hatred or ignorance.
Now these words seemed a little strong to me. My first reaction was “I don’t feel lust or hatred very often.” Then I remembered that one of Buddhism’s many lists categorizes personality types into the greedy type, the aversive type, and the confused type. These mapped quite well onto lustful, hateful, and ignorant. But by being a bit softer in their admonitions, they sort of excused me from doing the kind of detailed introspection that the Dalai Lama was calling for.
So this past Monday, I decided to try it. I watched many of my behaviors throughout the day to see what was motivating them. The book had also talked about the desire to serve others as being the cornerstone of enlightenment. Just the act of looking at my motivations caused me to seek out ways to serve.
The client call that I wished weren’t scheduled so early became an inquiry: “How can I be of most service while I’m on the phone.” And the day built from there. I was able to see how each action and meeting was an opportunity to ease suffering in another human being. And it became easier and easier to serve throughout the day.
As I arrived home at the end of the day, I realized just how much lighter my whole being had been than the previous few hard-driving days. I was gathering my briefcase from the trunk of my car, and I look down, and there in plain sight is one of the three long-lost gift cards. I couldn’t believe it. I had searched the entire trunk for them twice before. I put my briefcase down and looked for the other two. They were there, just a little deeper in the trunk.
On the days on which my actions had been so unconsciously motivated by lust (greed), hatred (aversion) or ignorance (confusion), I had lost some of my wealth. On this day, when I inquired into my motivations, and sought out ways to serve, my wealth had been magically restored or increased.
It’s on days like this when I feel that money is such a precise and unforgiving teacher. May you too find unique and fresh new ways to serve within your everyday life, and in so doing, be enriched yourself.