Monday, May 6, 2013

Greed

The Rain Forest in the Jungles of Ecuador

We had a break from the heat here in the desert. I sat in my meditation garden in the cool morning breeze,  and I remembered the trip we took to the Rain Forest in Ecuador a few years back. 

Our tiny little plane landed on a mud airstrip near a tributary of the Amazon River, and we stayed in a thatched roof hut in the middle of one of the most remote and exotic places I have ever seen. Every day we would hike in the jungle or canoe along the river.  It was beautiful beyond words. 

The trip was also an occasion when I was taught a bitter lesson about greed. The lesson was more bitter because I learned something about American greed.

As we hiked in the jungle our guide informed us that this awe-inspiring paradise was in danger of being destroyed.  It seems as if, apart from it's beauty, the rain forest had also been identified as a rich source of oil.  Shrewd representatives of various American oil companies were showing up in native villages and enticing them to sell their land. 

When I heard about this as I walked through the beautiful jungle, I entertained hellish images of it all being bulldozed under and replaced by industrial oil rigs. It made me sick - an object lesson in the destructive power of "greed." And the fact that this was all being perpetrated by corporate America made me even sicker. 

But my lesson in greed became even more intense. 

On our jungle hike, the guide told us about the vast beneficial medicinal properties of the many plants and trees growing in the forest. In fact, much of our common pharmaceutical products used to fight sickness and disease were discovered in the rain forest. 

I took the picture I posted today just after the guide pointed us to the rich unexplored foliage in front of us and said "You may be looking at a cure for cancer." 

Then it hit me. Yes that may be a cure for cancer, but not if greed has its way. One day an oil rig will replace that cancer curing plant.

The Buddha taught, "Inflamed by greed,  a person chooses his own affliction, for the affliction of others, for the affliction of both, and experiences nothing but pain and grief." 

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