or envying the gains of others
obstructs peace of mind.
But, being contented
even with modest gains
pure in livelihood and energetic,
you will be held in high esteem.
Dhammapada v. 365-6
This simple truth easily evades us. Sadly we are too quick to admire and emulate those who are not particularly wise. Here a very wise Teacher is holding up a mirror and asking, ‘Do you see what you are doing? Can you understand why you are unhappy?’ He is not criticising us, not condemning us, but neither is he letting us get away with our habits. Out of compassion, he urges us to see the consequences of our unawareness. At times it can appear there is always something more we need to do, more to gain, more to get rid of. Even the spiritual life can seem like a tedious treadmill. Always believing however in the way things seem, is not the way to peace. In place of self-pity, contentment could also appear if we were to stop heedlessly comparing ourselves with others.