What are you doing with your money?
We have the unfortunate karma to have been reborn as consumers. A tiny privileged minority, often in the entertainment and sports world, have daily three very bad karmas to deal with – namely to be rich, famous and desirable.
Money is the key to the doorway into the kingdom of heaven for the consumer although it is a short lived heaven, often leaving in its wake disappointment, frustration and disillusionment.
So what are we doing with our money? Exploration of our relationship to money is an ethical practice (Pali: Sila), an act of virtue, a precept for training and is as significant as any of the Five Precepts (not killing, not stealing, not engaging in sexual abuse, not lying, nor abusing alcohol or drugs) or we could see money as an integral aspect of Right Livelihood, and/or the second precept?]
Here are a few areas for inquiry about money. In these and other areas we can all make the effort to take conscious steps, as part of our Dharma practice, to use our power power as consumers to make a difference to our world. We must also be willing to challenge the corrupt system of government and corporate power that casts its dark, controlling shadow over our lives.
BUY ORGANIC FOOD. You will pay more for organic food than food grown with chemicals or genetically modified food but the gap is getting smaller and smaller. Sometimes the difference is negligible. Support small shops as much as possible. At the same time, notice: where is your food coming from? Aren’t organic vegetables flown half-way round the world also damaging to the environment? Visit www.soilassociation.org.uk
MARKETS: Shop in local markets as much as possible. Enjoy the friendly atmosphere, locally made or locally grown food, great bargains, largely free from unnecessary packaging, and numerous items for sale recycled from previous owners.
SHOPPING: Be well informed about ethical companies. Make a list of multi-national companies to avoid – Nike, Coca-Cola, McDonalds, Nestles are among the world’s largest and least conscious multi-nationals. That’s the tip of the iceberg. www.foe.co.uk
FAIRTRADE: More and more consumers buy Fairtrade products to support the poor in other parts of the world, as well as to purchase fine food. www.fairtrade.org.uk
CHARITY SHOPS: Support good causes, your purchases contribute to making things last. Explore also used book shops, second hand furniture shops, local recycling centres, car boot sales and classified advertisements in local issues for a bargain.
CLEAN ELECTRICITY: Choose a supplier who supports renewable energy and only use lights and heating in occupied rooms and offices. Examples are: and www.ecotricity.co.uk
TRAVEL: Use a bus, train or bicycle as much as possible. Avoid driving your car to the shops. Take a backpack, shopping bags or suitcase bag on wheels to collect your groceries and other items instead of adding to the demand for plastic bags. Walk and stay fit. Regard carrying of groceries as exercise.Car pool. For example: www.caresharedevon.com