Saturday, August 14, 2010

Getting Rid of Greed, Anger and Foolishness

In Korea, Buddhists are the largest religious group with 15 million members; Protestants are second with 8.6 million and  Catholics next with about 5.1 million. In all three groups, you have  different degrees of  adherence to practice.

In the opinion page of a recent Catholic Times, a writer mentions that Buddhists believe that the troubles that poison our life are greed. anger and foolishness. He describes what we have to do when confronted with these distractions, and begins with the addiction to gambling.
He notes that at the subway stop for the horse race stadium, the car empties as the hopeful gamblers make their way to the race track. Although  Korean law attempts to discourage gambling, it does not seem to deter very many. The writer, disagreeing with those who say that gambling is fun, sees it as an addiction to greed--a desire for quick money. Another greed can be seen by anyone walking the streets in the evening: merry making and the attraction of sexual pleasure--all coming from  the greed of the body. "Avoid greed in all its forms...."(Lk 12:15).

Peace of mind and heart are lost with the second poison, anger. Some get angry over the slightest provocation. Some like to inflict pain on others. But there are those who, even when deeply hurt, never lose their composure; fortunately, there are many of them. "Get rid of all bitterness, all passion and anger, harsh words, slander, and malice of every kind."  (Ephesians 4:30,31).

Prejudice comes from superficial knowledge. Attempting to hide our ignorance, we become stubborn, and can fall into great error: "Adulterous conduct, greed, maliciousness, deceit, sensuality, envy, blasphemy, arrogance, and obtuse spirit" (Mk 7:22).  We have to get rid of this foolishness. As Christians we have the virtue of humility and  gratitude that should keep us well grounded. In Buddhism, the writer tells us there are three ascetic practices: do good and avoid evil, keep a peaceful mind, and seek the truth. This is also valid for  Catholics. Let us get rid of our greed, control our anger, and rid ourselves of foolishness.

With over half the population interested in a better moral life, the efforts should show in the way the country becomes more receptive to the things of the spirit.  At present, the Four River Project has united Catholics and Buddhists in opposition to the project. The relationship between the two groups has been cordial and this latest cooperation will make it more so. If Christians and Buddhists were determined to get rid of greed, anger and foolishness, it would make quite a difference in Korean life. Determining  what are greed, anger and foolishness, however,  would require a miracle of grace.

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