Bodhinatha talks today on not coveting, an aspect of the yama asteya, nonstealing. Gurudeva described it as owning something mentally and emotionally without actually owning it physically. This easily leads to abusing credit as well as the lower instinctive emotions of envy and jealousy.
The third part of non-stealing, of course, is not coveting and that is even more subtle than inappropriate forms of debt because it is all in the mind. It is not in our actions, it is in what we do with our mind.
Webster tells us, "Covetousness is an excessive desire for wealth or possessions." Not a desire, but an excessive desire. We are really focused, we really want, we want possessions, we want money.
Gurudeva describes it as owning something mentally and emotionally but not actually owning it physically. We want something, it does not belong to us. We are treating it as if we have it but it is not ours.
How does coveting cause problems? As we were talking about, you get into abusive credit because you want something a great deal. You go out and you buy it and you abuse the credit to buy it. If you didn't want it, you wouldn't buy it. So the problem isn't the buying, it is the wanting. We wanted it so much that we were reckless in how we determined we could pay for it. We were not realistic. We were not following the principle of proper use of credit.
Of course, we have all experienced this. A new computer comes out, twice as fast as the one we all have. Of course, we all want it. We can get our work done twice as fast, this is good! The problem, of course, in this example we buy it and sell the one we have. We end up with a monthly payment we really can't afford to make. Our excessive desires caused us to buy something, we can't afford, then we have got a payment we can't make. That is not very good but if we do that a number of more times with other objects, obviously our coveting is going to get us in serious financial trouble.
Not only does coveting lead to abusive credit, it leads to other problems as well. It can lead to envy and even jealousy. What we want isn't owned by a company but happens to be owned by the person next to us at work, person next to us at home, person next to us at school. If they have something that is better than what we have and we want what they have, then our coveting is starting to bring up feelings of envy and possibly even jealousy. Like among brothers and sisters, one has something the other one doesn't, you want it. Pretty soon, a lot of jealousy.
The Tirukural, which is a South Indian scripture, gives us some good advise on avoiding covetousness, as well as, envy. The first one is on covetousness, there is a whole chapter on it. It is a common problem all mankind faces, nobody is exempt. "There is a thoughtless desire for others' things that is destructive. There is a mindful pride that, in refusing to covet, is triumphant."
Then, on envy. "There are no envious men who have risen to prosperity. There are no men free from envy who have fallen from it."