Greed Makes Us Unhappy ~ 17th Karmapa

We all want to be happy, but generally we lack a clear idea of where real happiness comes from. The commercials communicate certain ideas about what we need in order to feel happy. When we are repeatedly exposed to these images and ideas, they begin to form a kind of mental habit. We start feeling that what was advertised could be the key to our happiness, and so of course we want to own it. We end up telling ourselves, “I should have one of those motorcycles! I should go around in style! I want to be successful and happy, too!”

Over time, we develop a habit of longing for what we do not have. Without our noticing where it came from, this habitual desire creeps up on us and evolves into greed. Like other habits, greed develops gradually. We do not stop to check this growing habit in its early stages, because for the most part our cultures encourage us to give ourselves over to greed. The more deeply ingrained our habit of greed, the more deeply we fall under its sway – and the more “natural” it seems. Once entrenched, the habit of greed keeps us feeling needy, and forever on the lookout for things we lack. In short, greed makes us unhappy.


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