Springingtiger's Blog


One Blanket
July 14, 2013, 23:21
Filed under: disability, Justice, Politics, success | Tags: , , , , ,

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I may have mentioned before that when I was a student with ordination to the priesthood my goal, I decided to give away my possessions. I did give away most of them, but I retained a couple of changes of clothes and my books for study and a few other bits and pieces all, I realise now, not to offend excessively society’s norms. Were I in the same position today I would be rather less conservative.

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All anyone really needs is a blanket and that largely out of consideration for the sensitivities of others. In most enlightened cultures one may dispense of the blanket also. A blanket provides both clothing, and a bed no one really needs more. In some countries many people are content with less, although I suppose climate is a consideration.

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There is, however, no reason why anyone should dispose of possessions unless they are too attached to them. When Jesus said that, “it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven” he was not advocating poverty as a life choice. However the more one has the greater the potential for distraction and the greater the opportunities for attachment. It is perfectly possible for a rich man to enter heaven as long as he wears his wealth as lightly as a saddhu wears his nakedness.

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The greatest danger to personal growth is when material objects are used as a measure of success. This is not only a danger to the rich but to all who believe that what they have is more important than who they are. Desire for what one has not is a dangerous thing. Maimonides commenting on the tenth commandment says that “desire leads to coveting and covering leads to theft” . In a society based on greed, like ours, where disproportionate value is placed on possessions and uncontrolled desire is encouraged, theft and adultery will be endemic. The exploitative nature of relationships in a society based on greed must inevitably cause fractions and these lead to violence and death. Politicians are ill advised to ignore manifest discontent such as the Occupy movement, worse still to legislate against it or try to suppress it by force, history can show us a catalogue of bloodbaths caused by doing so.

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The happiest society is that whose citizens’ needs are met, where equality is not imposed, yet where there are no glaring inequalities to fuel envy and resentment. If people insist on building fortunes by exploiting others, even though they have drafted laws to allow it, they can hardly complain of people seeking to dispossess them. Indeed some may argue they have a duty to do so.

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The sign of a happy man is that he has all he wants, and all he wants he has. As long as his needs are met he neither desires more nor does he refuse it, should it comes his way. He enjoys the world and treats it as his own, wandering where he will, careless of the laws and greed of lesser men.

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