One of the steps on the eight-fold path is “Right Effort.” Nothing can be achieved without effort. However, misguided effort distracts us from our right efforts. The energy put into misguided efforts, such as envy, aggression, greed, and violence, could be channeled to right efforts, such as self-discipline, generosity, love, and kindness.
Here is a story about Nasrudin. Nasrudin is a character in many tales and parables. He lived in the Middle East many hundreds of years ago.
The town's richest man had died. The next morning, another rich, and particularly miserly, old man said to Nasrudin, "I wonder how much he left."
Nasrudin said, "Every cent of it, sir."
There is nothing in Buddhism that opposes accumulating wealth. In fact, there are many passages in Buddhist writings that encourage people to seek and amass wealth in “rightful ways.” What is wrong is to accumulate wealth in unlawful ways or to allow wealth to enslave us with greed, possessiveness, and miserliness.
Here is a quote from
“In opposition to contemporary urban values, Buddhism does not measure a person's or nation's worth by material wealth. Nor does it go to the opposite extreme, as do Marxist thinkers, and condemn the accumulation of wealth as an evil in and of itself. Instead, Buddhism judges the ethical value of wealth by the ways in which it is obtained, and the uses to which it is put.”
None of us are likely to ever be considered wealthy, but being miserly means much more than money. Are you hoarding your time instead of giving it? Are you hoarding your love because of fear that it won’t be reciprocated?
Someday, every one of us will pass. It’s not something we like to think about, but it may be worthwhile to give it a little thought. Think about how you will be remembered. Will you be remembered as a kind, generous, loving person? Or will you be remembered as a miser?
© 2010 Eric Borreson