Friday, December 12, 2008

Philosophical Musings – Part XXII

The Roots of Wisdom

A contaminated mind cannot achieve serenity, no matter where it is. When the mind is possessed by the afflictions of greed, hatred and delusion, there is no safe haven on Earth. The verse below may illuminate you on the folly of a contaminated mind:

Contaminated Mind

Mountains and Forests
Are abodes of sages
Yet, once you place designs on them
They become no better than the marketplace

Books and Paintings
Are elegance personified
Yet, once they are coveted unreasonably
They become no better than pawned goods

If the mind is pure
Even the vulgar world
Is the Realm
Of Sages

If the mind is infatuated
Even places of pleasure
May become
Seas of Regret


Damien Tan

Minds learn to attach value to things that otherwise have no value in nature.

It figures that if you create artificial scarcity, you can make a lot of money. So now you can trademark sound bites (like a common dog barking) or turn common words into registered taglines and make a lot of money. Even Buddhist suttas are copyrighted by sites like Access To Insight.

Perhaps the author of the poem has another poem on how to decontaminate the mind?

Damien Tan

Btw here's a question - do you think money is the creation of a contaminated mind?

Assuming that the mind has 2 flavors, the pure and the contaminated.


Dear Damien,

No, I do not think money is the creation of a contaminated mind.

However, the fact that money (as an idea) can be used to obtain almost all desirable things in life leads to an attachment/craving for it. It's so tempting that it tends to corrupt us. We just want more and more of it.

Money allows us to function better as a society. The current monetary system however, is apparently subject to abuse and is not working as well as it should. In fact, money is the topic of my post next Monday.

As to the Access to Insight site, I think the copyright is fair. It avoids people from trying to make a profit from the Dhamma as well as amending the original text.


Damien Tan

Yes it makes sense to protect suttas against unauthorized amendments but for free distribution, why don't they just copyleft it. Anyway from the prices of books by the Dalai Lama and Thich Nhat Hanh at the bookshop, it does appear that people are making profit from the dhamma.

I do understand there are costs involved in producing printed dhamma books. Yet the thought of Understanding being only accessible to people with money somehow leaves a funny taste in my mouth. That's why I sometimes buy them and give them away.


Dear Damien,

Yes, sometimes I feel these books are too pricey as well. It's difficult to judge whether it's reflects the costs involved though.

I don't think it's easy to be a publisher since they need to recoup a certain % of profits. It's not excessively pricey for the middle class but it certainly is, for the lower class. That's why Internet access is important, since a lot of useful stuff are shared for free.


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I personally do not think money is the creation of a contaminated mind. Anyways thanks for sharing your valuable thoughts with us.

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