There is no master more ruthless, no jungle more wild, and no fire more fierce and consuming than the reactive mind. Therefore the battlefield of the mind is the only one we have to conquer, the only prison we have to walk out of, and then we can realize we have always been free. Freedom is the true nature of our being.
This definition was from the Merriam-Webster dictionary online
Main Entry: cov·et
Etymology: Middle English coveiten, from Anglo-French coveiter, from Vulgar Latin *cupidietare,from Latin cupiditat-, cupiditas desire, fromcupidus desirous, from cupere to desire
Date: 14th century
transitive verb1 : to wish for
earnestly <covet an award>
2 : to desire (what belongs to another) inordinately or culpablyintransitive verb: to feel inordinate desire for what belongs to another
synonyms see desire
— cov·et·able \-və-tə-bəl\ adjective
— cov·et·er \-tər\ noun
— cov·et·ing·ly \-tiŋ-lē\ adverb
Why do we covet? The earliest example of covetousness I have been exposed to is with Abel and Cain, in the Bible. And then there was King David who coveted Bathsheba.
One of the possible answers is because we were programmed into it. I will not go into the details of this. I can only give you the examples from experience as I had them.
As a child I knew the fine things in life. There was something different, a memory of some distant past so my preferences have always been different. I knew what real lace was, what a goblet was, what heavenly music from the classical masters were even before I knew their names.
This is entirely out of context into the setting I was born to. I grew up on a farm but having had comfortable relatives on my mother’s side of the family allowed me to witness and be part of a different side of life. Affluence in the city in stark contrast to the simple life on a farm. Somehow I felt at ease on both settings, without much effort.
As a child,there were times that I did covet those fine things that my cousins had. It felt bad. Luckily, I was very fortunate that there were no people that I loved the most other than my parents and I listened to them when I was a child. Not out of fear but out of deep love. I learned much, and early on.
I know what it is to want something so badly my thoughts could almost be carved in stone. I have experienced it in all areas of my life: love, family, career, the outside world.
We all buy into this one way or another one time or another and every once in a while, it will pop up. We are bombarded with these messages every day of our lives. The message is “To be rich and famous is to be happy therefore pursue everything that will make you rich and famous, then you will be happy.” In my case, I simply wanted to win the Nobel Prize in Chemistry or Medicine and Physiology. So my carrot was fame, in Science. Most of us would like to be wealthy. I never dismissed it, but it was not what motivated me.
The sages have long known that this world is no more than an illusion, but it is so real to us. As he meditates,he sits like a rock, untouched by the whirling of the winds of the mind and knows that the whole world is contained within him. What is there to covet?
I will insert here a story that makes me laugh each and every time. For the record, it took me ten years of work to appreciate the humour in this story, or for that matter to solve one koan. I was simply living life as I knew it, bound by the shackles of my own mind.
So the story goes:
A scholar went to see a reknowned sage. He was in competition with one other scholar and wishes to beat him as to which one would have the better, deeper knowledge. They each went their separate ways and decided to meet after a certain time.
But the sage knew what he was up to so he kept mostly silent while the scholar was learning from him, writing every word that the sage uttered and analyzing them. All this time, this scholar who was to a Brahmin family served as a servant to the sage. His desire to beat his competition was fierce.
As the sage was aware of his motives, he now told the scholar that when he comes back he would have to pay for the teaching.
After a few years...yes, a few years, when the time to meet his competitor came he was armed with volumes and volumes of journal. The competitor thought he was beaten, so on their way back to the University, he managed to get rid of the volumes of material that the scholar wrote. The scholar cried in anguish and decided he will go back to the sage.
He worked for a few years to save for enough money to pay the sage. When he came back to the sage, he gave him only part of his savings in the form of gold dust so that he could still have some money left. But the sage demanded more and more or he would not begin the teaching. The scholar was furious and frustrated at the same time but he wanted the teaching so much, he gave the sage the whole pouch.
When the sage knew that there was nothing left from the scholar, he could not even pay for his way home, the sage danced in joy while throwing away the gold dust in the river. The scholar almost went insane. Almost.
The sage then turned to him and said "You fool. What do I need the gold dust for? The whole world is gold to me. Do you really think you can buy my teachings for a pouch filled with gold? You will now have to serve me for ten years as a servant for me to teach you anything."
Needless to say, those ten years tested everything that the scholar was hanging on to. It became thirty years later before he went back to his hometown. At any time, he was free to leave the sage and go back, he was told. He would be provided for transport and food.
And he did find what he was looking for.
To rediscover what we have forgotten is a lifetime quest. Sometimes it will involve many lifetimes. We have to look into our minds but not while we are in it! Otherwise we will be like the worm that makes silk. We spin and spin and spin silk until we are so enclosed in it that we suffocate.
This is what meditation/prayer/contemplation teaches us, to be able to see that we are willing prisoners of our minds.
Unfortunately there is no one who can do this for us. We have to do it on our own in our own time. There are no right or wrong decisions per se. There are only pathways, if we care to look.
Covetousness is a result of fundamental belief in lack. This is what we debunk when we go into meditation.
I end this with the normal disclaimer. There is nothing wrong with desire or with being rich and famous if that is your passion . Desire in and by itself is how we manifest things into this physical reality.
You honor it until the time when you are ready to look for something else. You honor yourself and your path. But every once in a while, ask yourself : Are those really your goals or are they programmed into you?
“You are what your deep driving desire is. As your deep driving desire, so is your will, as your will so is your deed, as your deed, so is your destiny”-The Upanishads.
What is your deep driving desire?
© 2010 by Melinda M. Sorensson