by Ashin Janakabhivamsa | 66,666 words
English translation of "Abhidhamma in Daily Life" by Professor Ko Lay. Revised by Sayadaw U Silananda, International Theravada Buddhist Missionary University, Yangon, 1999...
Not wanting is alobha. It is non-attachment to things, and is the opposite of greed, or wanting something; lobha and alobha are just like fire and water. Whereas lobha wants things, alobha does not want anything at all because its nature is non-greed, generosity, charity. In daily life too we may notice the contrasting behaviour of a greedy man and a contented man.
A Greedy Bhikkhu
A greedy monk is always after alms and offerings. Therefore he preaches persuasive sermons for the sake of getting offerings. When he gets some, he is very much attached to them and does not think of giving them away in charity. He even becomes conceited and thinks highly of his gains. But he does not know that he is degrading himself by having to be nice and polite to potential donors.
A Greedy Man
A greedy man is not much different from a greedy monk. He seeks wealth by hook or by crook because his mind is overcome by greed. He is not satisfied with whatever he has gained. Being greedy, he is always after amassing more and more wealth. He would say: “This is mine, that is mine. I own this and I own that. This is my property.” When he dies, he will be reborn in the realm of miserable ghosts (petas). His greed will push him down to apayas, the woeful planes. Such are the evils of greed.
A Greedless Bhikkhu
A greedless bhikkhu will have no attachment to material gains. When he gets offerings he will not feel proud as he well understands that alms and offerings come from the goodwill of donors and well-wishers. Let alone a bhikkhu who is the disciple of the Buddha, even a lay person will be ashamed of clinging to alms and offerings. A virtuous person is never greedy; instead he is generous and charitable. Likewise, a greedless bhikkhu places no importance in material wealth.
A Greedless Man
Among the lay people a greedless one earns his living by fair and just means only. He practises right livelihood. He avoids sensual pleasures as much as possible. He has pity for the poor and is generous to them. In alms-giving he is never hesitant. Such goodwill is called muttacagi in Pali which means giving freely and without reluctance. Such virtuous persons can even renounce crown, wealth and power and become a religious recluse with a contented mind dwelling in a sylvan hut.
Therefore you will see the difference between the greedy and greedless like two men running back to back in opposite directions Those who believe themselves to be Bodhisattas or righteous persons with Paramis should first analyse their mind thus, “Am I greedy or greedless?” If they are greedy they should reform their minds right in the present existence. If one can assess oneself as greedless one should still do more good deeds because one now has excellent foundation. So all persons should cultivate sati (mindfulness) in order to become greedless generous people.