Why do people feel anxious about gains and losses? This is because their body and mind are filled with endless “hunger and thirst”. Such "hunger and thirst" is like the constant feeling of discontentment no matter how much food we have eaten. If a person is unable to curb his endless desire to pursue external pleasures, he will suffer miserably when his desires are not fulfilled.
To maintain our physiological well-being, we must take care of our health and have a balanced nutritional intake. We should practise moderation in our diet and not be tempted to eat more just to satisfy our palates and gastronomical desires.
The ancients had a saying: “There will be a day when the lands and rivers are filled up; however, the mouth of a human being can never be filled (satisfied).” Think about it: We have been filling our mouth with food for decades, but why has it never really been filled up? After having breakfast in the morning, we will start to feel hungry at noon. And after having our lunch, we still have to eat in the evening. Some people even have the habit of snacking in between meals—they would eat a variety of sweet or savory finger food. Hence, we never really allow our mouth to rest.
Another saying goes: “A man whose heart is not content is like a snake that tries to swallow an elephant.” An elephant is such a huge animal; it is impossible for a small snake to swallow it. However, despite its limitations, the snake insists on swallowing the big elephant due to insatiable greed. Likewise, human beings experience suffering due to similar conditions.
Living in this world, there really isn’t much to fuss about, for life is as fleeting as the footprints left in the snow. Why is there a need to have a sumptuous feast when a simple bowl of white rice is enough to fill our stomach? A six-feet long and three-feet wide bed is all we need to get a good sleep at night. Why is there a need to live in a luxurious residence?
When we have less desire for material gratification, we will naturally be able to grow in wisdom while living a simple and peaceful life. Then, we will not have mental afflictions due to gains or losses.
Extracted from “Huan Xi Zi Zai” 《欢喜自在》
Translated by the Tzu Chi Singapore translation team