Lesson
11

Living in an Interdependent World

3 of 5

The role of contentment
  

Why is cultivating contentment essential for maintaining peaceful coexistence? Imagine yourself in a situation where you are discontent; how would this affect your ability to generate compassion for others? Or for yourself?

Not being content spawns greed and sows envy.  It promotes aggressive competitiveness and excessive materialism.

Think of contentment in terms of satisfaction. If you are not satisfied with what you have, how does this affect how you are likely to act when faced with a decision regarding acting for your benefit or the benefit of others?

Reflect on this observation by the Dalai Lama:

In the case of the desire for wealth, even if a person were somehow able to take over the economy of an entire country, there is every chance they would begin to think in terms of acquiring that of other countries too. Desire for what is finite can never really be sated. On the other hand, when we develop contentment, we can never be disappointed or disillusioned. Ethics for the New Millennium

Where contentment is absent we find greed, the source of our culture of material consumption.

How might our natural environment be affected by our lack of contentment? Our economy? Peace?


How does the culture of perpetual economic growth foster chronic discontent? How is inequality among nations a source of trouble for everyone?

In an interdependent world the effects of individual greed is felt by others around the world. The excesses of those who live in wealthier economies' brings suffering to those who don't, both today and for future generations.

Eventually we ourselves will suffer. How?

We have to live in the world we are helping to create. If we choose not to modify our behavior out of respect for others' equal right to happiness and not to suffer, it will not be long before we begin to notice the negative consequences. Ethics for the New Millennium