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Sunday, May 08, 2005

Have Few Possessions

Knowing how to feel satisfied with few possessions destroys desire and greed. This means being content with material conditions that allow us to be healthy and strong enough to practice the way.

Knowing how to feel satisfied with few possessions helps us to avoid buying unecessarily and becoming part of an economic system that exploits others, and it enables us to decrease our involvement in the pollution of the environment.

-Thich Nhat Hanh Commentary
The Sutra of the Eight Realizations of the Great Beings

**James's Comment: This is a good teaching for "pack rats" like myself and my wife. We save the little's things that we NEVER end up using. We clutter up the house and I totally see how it how it unecessarily clutters up our spiritual paths. However, we do not throw a lot of it away (if we can). Rather we like to donate it to the local thrift stores in hopes that someone can benefit from the clothes/stuff.

As for being part of an economic system that avoids exploiting others, well, that is difficult but not impossible. I wear Nike shoes and want to get rid of them after watching the brilliant documentary, The Corporation. However, what shoe isn't made over seas in sweat shops? It seems like all the stores that Westerners have to shop from are owned by giant, exploitive corporations. Where do we all go to shop? Are there stores out there that are not expensive, exploitative shops? We want to shop from stores that avoid exploitation but the costs are so high and we are so poor. I guess it really comes back to saying, "Do I really need this? And if so, where can I go to buy products that are sensible yet affordable?

I'm just kind of sounding off for myself but I am also asking how all of you avoid buying "Nike" and "Wal-Mart," etc.

Where do you shop?

-Peace to us all-

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Amadeus said...

However, what shoe isn't made over seas in sweat shops?

Birkenstocks--not much after that. Maybe plastic bags. ;)

As for stores out there that don't have products from sweatshops, let me know when you find one. Wait! There is one store here in PDX that sells free trade products. Other than that..(shrug).

As for stores, we try to shop co-ops (true worker owned, not share holder owned)and those that have unionized employees ie Fred Meyer, Safeway, Albertsons.

For non-food items, Target is one of the places my partner and I patronize. Although, not worker owned or unionized, they treat their employees good. They don't make big bucks or anything, but they do have a heathcare program employees can buy in to and work schedules are made flexible for people that need them to be.


Gareth said...

Hi, here is a web site that I have found useful for mindful shopping

Amedeus - Free Trade? or Fair Trade?

These are quite different things.

Take a look here, for fair trade details:

Amadeus said...

Sorry Gareth, I meant "Fair Trade". Please understand, I wrote that at 4am with no sleep. Sorry about that.

There are several around Portland, however I think this one is the best:

Global Exchange, Portland
3508 SE Hawthorne Boulevard
Portland, OR 97214

Gareth said...

I was pretty sure that's what you meant, but I thought it was worth clarifying.

My local co-op is an excellent place to shop for fair trade goods, and always has clear ethical labelling.

I've noticed an increase of awareness of these issues in the general public as well recently, which can only be a good thing.

Danny Fisher said...

I love these commentaries. They're wonderful.

"James" said...

Thanks for all the comments and suggestions friends. I try and buy all organic foods when I can afford it. Especially organic milk after watching "The Corporation."

How often do you clutter up our lives with stuff only to find it relegated into a "junk drawer/closet." There is just something that feels so good about cleaning out the house of clutter.

Yeah, we shop Target too and a local unionized grocery store called "King Soopers." They also have gas pumps which we use in protest of the "Sam's Club" pumps.

isaiah said...

I keep coming back to the old saying, "What you own- owns you". I feel that Thich Nhat Hanh's quote here is right on the mark...and I am becoming more and more aware of what I buy and where I buy it in an effort to show my son how we can exercise compassion while meeting our needs simply.

This is a far cry from how I was at his age and later in my teens. We had to have the Nikes, Levis, and latest and greatest. I know my son needs to exercise his own being and individuality but I hope he will keep compassion and empathy in mind as much as he sees me and his mother exercising the same with what we choose to own.

Thanks for the post!

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