Can There Be Much Yet Nothing To Buy?

Knowing exactly
what one needs
requires wisdom.

– Shilashanti

In an overheard conversation, participants in a tour group lamented to their guide that there is nothing to buy in the area. Surprised, the guide replied that the hotel they were staying in has many big shopping malls around. He then asked what they were looking for, saying that he might be able to help locate those items. There was then what seemed to be awkward silence… Perhaps what uniquely local was looked for, with what they are unknown and thus unnameable?

There are at least two shopping ‘curses’, that even shoppers are unaware of… First, is the ‘paradox of choice’, when there is so wide a variety of the single item one needs to buy, that one becomes unsure of which is the best buy. This is confounding because while we usually welcome more choices, having too many is simply overwhelming, leading to much doubt, often even after making a choice. In this way, greed for many choices becomes disadvantageous.

Second, is somewhat the converse, which can be called the ‘paradox of desire’, when there is much desire to buy something, yet with nothing desired. There is wanting to buy what one obviously should need and like, while there is no such thing in mind or encountered despite much window-shopping. This is not so much ‘wanting to buy something’, but more of ‘wanting to buy’. This empty desire to fulfil an absent desire is a gaping hole that cannot be filled, because it is imaginary.

Due to the above, shopping is not ‘retail therapy’, which is surely a marketing term (and excuse) used by shopping enthusiasts and malls. In fact, shopping can become a disease if it leads to dissatisfaction from the twin paradoxes. It is only therapeutic if we manage to get exactly what is needed, which is not necessarily what is liked, in quality or price. Once we are mindful of how our desires contort our choices of what and whether to buy, these paradoxes will be instantly resolved!

Getting exactly
what one needs
requires blessings.

– Shilashanti

Related Article:
Do You Desire For More Or Less Desires?

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