In this excerpt from When The Chocolate Runs Out, the newly published “Little Book of Wisdom” by the late Lama Yeshe, the pioneering Tibetan Buddhist teacher addresses the matter of “stuff” — and how it relates to our difficulties as people trying to live meaningful lives.
To overcome your suffering you don’t have to give up all your possessions. Keep your possessions; they’re not what’s making your life difficult. You’re restless because you are clinging to your possessions and pleasures with attachment.
But don’t go throwing all your furniture into the street: “Lama Yeshe said I have too much attachment! I’d better get rid of all my stuff!”
Contrary to what some people might believe, there is nothing wrong with having pleasures and enjoyments. What is wrong is the confused way we grasp on to these pleasures, turning them from a source of happiness into a source of pain and dissatisfaction.
Enjoy your material life as much as you can, but at the same time, understand the nature of your enjoyment — the hallucinatory, impermanent nature of both the object you are enjoying and the mind that is experiencing that enjoyment and how the two relate. This is the renunciation of becoming more reasonable through knowing the characteristic nature of pleasure and of the objects of pleasure.
The truly rich person is the one who has a satisfied mind. The affluence of satisfaction comes from wisdom, not from external things.
Excerpted, with permission, from When the Chocolate Runs Out by Lama Yeshe; Edited by Josh Bartok and Nicholas Ribush. Visit Wisdom Publications online for more information.