In ‘Wild City’ is a scene of two brothers on the run from life-threatening gangsters. Fuelled by greed and hatred, they were after a case of ill-gotten money and gold that the brothers chanced upon. While arguing on how to handle the case on a getaway boat, it fell into the sea. The first brother was swift to dive after it. However, after grabbing it, it proved too heavy. Yet, he was reluctant to let it go. Seeing how there was no sign of him emerging after some time, the second brother dove in too. Realising how heavy it was despite their collective efforts, he forced his brother to release it, as he tugged him to the surface.
The brothers almost died with greed as their last thoughts (while the gangster’s leader did die in a scuffle for the money). But the second brother had enough wisdom to save them both in the nick of time. Is this not in a way the terrifying story of our lives? Well, if we are not Bodhisattvas back in in this life to rescue drowning beings from this Saha World’s sea of suffering, we must have returned with the Three Poisons of greed, hatred and delusion. Greed and hatred co-arise from delusion, while the duo is often summarised as craving, which is expressed as ‘wanting more’ and ‘wanting less’ respectively.
The usual objects of craving are the Five Desires for wealth, sexual (or sensual) pleasures, status (fame), food and sleep. The case of money represents all the above, as it can ‘buy’ these objects. While the allure of these desires is understandable, the potential danger of clinging to them leading to death and rebirth is often missed. While greed can pull us deeper into the sea of suffering to anchor us there, it is by releasing it that we release ourselves. The dead weight of unlimited greed is more terrifying that any case of gold! Money, which is empty of fixed characteristics, is really no root of evil; it is unchecked greed for it that is.