For beginners to Buddhism or non Buddhist, the message of contentment and non craving seems backward and negative.
In our modern world, we are constantly being educated to think that more is better. One pair of shoe isn’t enough. You got to have different designs and different colours to achieve a coherent match in your style.
I have at least 6 pairs in the closet. I cannot remember because I don’t wear them. Only 1 pair makes me comfortable….
Reflecting upon the lifestyle of Buddha and great masters. They only have 1 colour of clothing. They are awfully happy.
Yet, I am not satisfied with 6 to 10 pairs of shoes and 2 closets stuffed with shirts and pants of different style. Advertisement continue to attract me. Oh, that is a brilliant design. How i wish to own it. The price tag is hefty. Got to earn more money to own it. Those people who can afford it must be happy. They are successful because they can afford it. Craving for things lead to stress of earning it. Must get promoted or find a job with better pay. The cycle continue. This is what Buddha call Samsara. The sea of suffering.
Instead of being controlled by the advertisement, Buddha taught us to control our mind.
The next time we see an attractive product display or commercial, we learn to say, No, thanks. I can still live if I don’t have it. Contented with what we have, we have no stress associates with trying to earn it. We have more time and a calm mind.
Not clouded with stress, we treat our family better.We start to notice a little flower happily swaying in the winds.
It is just a choice we make. Naturally, that choice will be a nightmare for businesses. They don’t want us to be contented. Not all of us can be happy with just one piece of garment to wear.
We have to decide our own level of contentment. When our wisdom grow, our contentment grow. We know that happiness is not based on how must we own but based on our level of contented satisfaction.
Beyond craving for material stuff, we also learn contentment over other stuff in life. For example, power or influence over others, approving praise of othees, being appreciated, food, taste, smell, touch etc
The Buddha’s message is opposite the world view of consumerism.
Give it a try and give yourselves a chance. Not saying we have to give up everything immediately to be happy.
We practice contentment and just let it happen. When we progress with our practice, our happiness is not about owning. It is internal happiness.
May all be well and happy.