By Nhat Quan
Defining the word stingy is very easy, but showing an individual what it is to be stingy is very difficult, because:
- What people think personally of Mr. A as a stingy person, for Ms. B personally, it is considered thrifty and even said to be wasteful for Mr. C and vice versa.
It is difficult to distinguish the two cases between thrift and miserliness, because there is no clear boundary, and moreover, it depends on the person, the situation, the personality, and the point of view of each person. So those who are stingy but never consider themselves miserly. Also, there are people who go to casinos, for example, they spend their money squandering but they never accept that they are squanderers.
So when it comes to being stingy, you immediately think of thrifty spending but saving too much. Contrary to common sense, even for yourself and your family, your wife, and your children, when you don't want to spend, you find a good reason to avoid it. Try to distinguish between thrifty and stingy people, for example:
- For the same item, the saver will care about the value of the item, and the stingy person will care about the price of the item.
Miserable people always try to buy all goods at the cheapest price. So do savers, but they are also always willing to spend on the things they need.
- The miserliness of miserly people affects those around them. The frugality of savers affects only them.
- Miserable people are often ignorant. For example, going out to eat with other people, everyone contributes 12 dollars while they only spend 10 dollars
- Savers know how to choose when to spend money. For example, with only $5.00 dollars, they will choose to order iced tea instead of coffee. Miserable people make others uncomfortable because of the way they treat people around them.
The basic needs are obviously you must have, but the usage is not exactly the same. For example, in eating, if you are a thrifty person who uses the money to buy reasonable and nutritious food, sometimes you have to pay a higher price to buy quality food. While miserly people often ignore the factor of providing adequate nutrients and only buy cheaper food, that will lead them to incalculable harm. Because eating miserly for a long time makes you lack nutrients or eat foods of unknown origin, buying at a cheap price will easily lead to making the body weak and sick. The end result is that you have to pay a lot of money for medical examinations and medicine to restore health.
Thus, thrift and stinginess are two very different ways of looking at money. If you know how to use money rationally, and scientifically and can sometimes reward yourself with a small gift. Because of your righteous way of spending and saving, you have become a smart saver. Anyway, saving is also your use of money scientifically. But it's also not too harsh, making you uncomfortable when still using your own money for legitimate things within a permissible limit. But if you keep starving yourself from legitimate needs, even though you have money and material conditions, you can meet the urgent needs of life, but you do not use them just because you are afraid it's gone, afraid it's lost and can't be regained. Like a rich man who regrets a few hundred dollars, he refuses to pay for people to save his life. Just like having money but refusing to treat a disease, refusing to repair a dilapidated house, refusing to give her children a proper education... But only takes care of how the savings fund is getting thicker and thicker, and always tells herself I am saving and only know how to save. That truth is a false view of miserly, miserly people who always consider themselves thrifty and gradually become slaves of money. By the way, let me tell you the story of the stingy millionaire:
The millionaire returned from the palace to the king and saw the villagers eating a type of fried cake with sourdough. He was so hungry, he was about to reach into his pocket to take out a few coins to buy, but then he thought to himself:
- Buying food like this is too wasteful, I should try to starve until I get home.
When he got home, the urge made his stomach growl with hunger and drooling. However, as soon as he stepped on the threshold, another thought occurred to him:
- If I say I want to eat fried cake, then many people want to eat it, and that will waste a lot of rice, milk, and sugar.
So Mr. millionaire did not dare to tell anyone. Although he tried to suppress his craving, the fried cake in the pan kept haunting him. So the millionaire kept going back and forth, the color of his skin turned yellow every time, the blood vessels on his forehead popped up with a rainbow, his heart beat fast, and sweat broke out all over. Finally, unable to bear it, he entered the room, curled up on the bed. The fried cake appeared before his eyes again, now dancing with a golden shimmer of fat.
The millionaire's wife saw her husband's skin color from dark pink to yellow, then from yellow to pale green, sweat pouring out drop by drop, drooling in streams. She then went over to rub his back, held a fan for him, and asked kindly:
- Traveling long distances under the sun, you must have caught a cold.
The millionaire shook his head.
- Sunstroke can't do anything to me, you know!
The wife felt reassured, and continued to ask. She asked a lot of things but he also shook his head. But in the end, he confessed that he craved fried bread. Because he was afraid that someone would see him and beg for food, he said:
- But, ma'am, you can't work here. Monks, Taoists, children, slaves, and workers watched. They will wait to beg, so you have to do it in a secluded place.
The wife nodded and walked away, the millionaire also called back and advised:
- Go to the place where the rice is left over, leave out the whole grains, take only the broken rice grains and grind them. Done, don't stir, take the oven and pan, some milk, butter, sugar .. remember to get the sugar for the horses to eat, then we'll go up to the seventh floor together, fry there. After frying, that's all your work. Leave the rest to me! The wife did as he was told.
The millionaire went up to the first floor and locked the door with a solid iron bolt; Climb up to the second floor, and lock the door with a solid iron latch. Seven floors are locked seven times like that.
The wife lit a fire in the oven and put the pan on. With enough flour, milk, butter, sugar, and honey... started to make fried cakes... After frying, he chased his wife down and just ate alone.
Saving is a good habit, however, if you keep this saving in mind all the time, it is no longer thrifty but stinginess, like the millionaire I just mentioned. For savers, money is freedom, but for miserly people, money is always first. And although thrift and stinginess are two concepts that have the same form, the way of behavior has completely different meanings. Once you've crossed the line of thrift, it's easy to become mean and stingy. As psychologists suggest to us, there are 6 signs that help you recognize who is a miser by the way they spend:
1- Excessive savings
In fact, there's no shame in haggling over a purchase, be it the rich or the poor. However, when excessive savings become an obsession, it's time to take a look at yourself. So be a smart shopper but don't let money rule your life.
2- Over-calculation
Signs to identify mean and miserly people can also show up in the fun when people cooperate with each other. Sometimes they only contribute a small amount of money but always ask everyone to be like this and that. Even these people rarely accept invitations from friends to eat out, because they are afraid of having to invite them back… And if you are one of those people, who always want to avoid events and make money as an excuse, then it's time to take a look at yourself. Saving money is good, but relationships are worth more than keeping little money in the account.
3- Likes to use other people's things
It won't hurt anyone if you use the neighbor's wifi for a few days while your internet has problems. However, if you're always looking for ways to spend without paying, or doing dishonest things, this kind of thing to save money is unacceptable.
4- Often criticizes others
It's okay to set a goal for you to always save as much as possible, but when that becomes an excuse to judge other people's spending habits, it's a bad thing. Since miserly people tend to scoff at other people's spending habits, they always tell people that they themselves would never spend a lot of money on something you just bought because they consider it a waste of money. They often comment on teaching others how to save this and that… as they are doing.
5- Do not dare to do good deeds
In order to keep the savings account bigger and bigger, many people do not dare to do charity work, give alms, or make donations. In order to save a few hundred dollars a month, they have to give up time to study at the temple or go out. They even look up every penny
6- Try to cut back on shopping
It's fine to try to cut down on your everyday shopping expenses, but if you're driving long distances just to save a few tens of dollars on the difference in shopping, it's really not worth it. Obviously, this can help you buy a few items at a low price, but putting in the time and effort, even fuel to go that far won't save you much. Even the money that you can save is sometimes less than the fuel money and the time and effort you spend doing this.
Sometimes you think you are saving a large amount of money, but it is not worth the effort and time and in the end not saving any money also makes you a stingy person, and miserly.
The ancients used to teach:
- Small wealth is due to savings, and great wealth is given by God.
Indeed, knowing how to save money can accumulate wealth. However, when you have abundant wealth but save too much, do not consume, do not know how to take care of your parents, do not provide for your wife and children, or relatives, do not think about servants, and help people you know. . Do not know how to give alms, make offerings to plant in the field of merit, to aim for a noble place, enjoy a long life of peace and happiness, so that the next life can be reborn in heaven. Having acquired wealth without knowing how to widely use it for great benefit in the future, these people are like the Buddha who said:
- Just as water is stored in a pond in the middle of the moor, but no one comes to drink, eat, bathe, and for a long time, the water in the lagoon is dried and consumed. In the same way, those who have innumerable wealth, etc., but refuse to use it widely for great gain, are eventually dissipated, just like that lake.
Meanwhile, when a person has more blessings, wealth, and benefits than others, he is happy and has a long life. Know how to take care of their parents, provide for their wives and children, and relatives, think about servants, and help people they know. Regularly doing charity work, giving alms, knowing how to plant in the field of great merit, to aim for a noble place, so that the next life will be reborn in heaven. Get rich and full of money, and know how to use it wisely to reap great profits. To these people the Buddha taught:
- Just like next to the hamlet, the village has a pond with clear and clean water, cool, shade trees, making everyone love it, many people will use it, even animals. In the same way, a person who is rich in wealth makes offerings as he likes, takes care of his parents, etc., until he sows a field of great merit and reaps great profits.
So the Buddha taught:
- In life, you should not be stingy and then suffer retribution. But you must live to know how to do good, give alms, and be compassionate to help people… Don't forget!
Regarding the karma of stinginess, according to the Pali Canon, when the two top disciples of the Buddha, Sariputra, and Moggallana, usually before eating, also Use the miraculous power of compassion to observe sentient beings suffering in the three evil paths of hell, hungry ghosts and animals, see if there is any chance to save them, and then eat rice.
Once, the venerable Moggallana observed the world of hungry ghosts and saw a very pitiful ghost. Its body is like a burning pillar, its belly is as big as a mountain. Whenever it brought anything to its mouth, it immediately turned into iron needles. Moreover, he often spits out smoke and burns his face. Another ghost, whose hair was as hard as a sword, cried and cried all day long, hungry and thirsty, wanting to die but couldn't. Thirsty, but not even a drop of water to swallow. Because when he brings water to his mouth, the water turns into blood, and he can't drink
After leaving the samadhi and finishing eating, the two Sariputra and Moggallama returned to Jetavana Vihara and reported to the Buddha what they had seen and heard about the situation of the hungry ghost, the Buddha taught:
- A long time ago in the city of Sràvasti, there lived a very rich man who sold sugarcane juice. Business is prosperous, the house is crowded with workers. At that time, there was a Pratyekabuddha, because he wanted to save all sentient beings, so he displayed an illness of frequent thirst for water. Someone advised him to drink sugarcane juice. So he went to the rich man's house to ask for sugarcane juice to drink to cure his illness.
This rich man saw Pratyekabuddha coming, reverently, joyfully offered him sugarcane juice. But he had urgent business to go out, unable to make offerings by himself. He then assigned this to his wife and instructed:
- Please help me bring sugarcane juice to offer Pratyekabuddha.
The wife replied:
Yes, I'll bring it up right away.
The rich man left, and his wife thought:
- Sugarcane juice is very precious, so far our family has never given it to anyone to drink. If I give him a drink today, many more people will come to ask for it in the future.
So the stingy mind arose, and she secretly executed a poison plan, by taking an iron bowl, pouring unclean water in, and then pouring a little sugarcane juice on top. Then she picked it up and gave it to Pratyekabuddha to drink. The Pratyekabuddha took the bowl, knowing immediately the woman's sinful act. The Pratyekabuddha poured the dirty water into the bowl on the ground, took the clean water to wash the dishes, and left.
Not long after, the stingy woman's human life ended, falling to the hungry ghost, often hungry and thirsty, and burned by the fire of karma. This karmic suffering still has to last for another 90,000 years to come to an end.
In addition, those who, because of stinginess, do not know how to do charity work, do not know how to give and make offerings. On the contrary, they also oppose and denigrate others to give alms. This karma will reincarnate a hungry ghost. These Hungry Ghosts are tormented by three kinds of hindrances:
- External obstacles (external obstacles),
- Internal obstacles (internal obstacles),
- Or special obstacle (no obstacle).
- Pretas are tormented by external obstacles
These Hungry Ghosts are tormented by extreme hunger and thirst. Centuries have passed without even the word water being mentioned. Constantly obsessed with food and water, they search endlessly for food and water but fail to find even the slightest trace. Occasionally they see in the distance a stream of clear, pure water. But their joints were so weak that they couldn't support their heavy stomachs. They had a hard time getting there, and when they got there they were completely exhausted, and even more miserable when they saw that the water had dried up, and there was nothing left but the rocky bottom of the river.
Sometimes they see an orchard in the distance. As before, they approached, but when they got there they found that the large trees had completely withered. Sometimes they saw plenty of food and water guarded by countless armed men who hunted and beat them with weapons that caused them great pain. In the summer, even the moonlight seemed to be hot and scorching them. In winter, they have the impression that the sun is also cold. These feelings torment them terribly.
- Pretas are tormented by inner obstacles
These Pretas have a mouth no larger than the eye of a needle. Even if they drank all the water in the oceans, by the time the water was down their throats as small as a horse's hair, the heat of their breath would have evaporated it. Even if they somehow managed to swallow a little bit, it would never be able to fill a stomach the size of an entire country. Even if the water entered their stomachs enough to satisfy them, at night it turned into fire and burned their hearts, lungs, and internal organs. When they wanted to walk, with limbs like grass, they couldn't lift their huge bellies. And then, also make them suffer infinitely
- Pretas are tormented by special obstacles
These Pretas are subjected to all different kinds of suffering and to varying degrees. For example, some Pretas have many living beings in their bodies and eat them. Storytelling:
A brahmin woman in a certain village. One day, she cooked some delicious food because it was a good day. Incidentally, the World-Honored One was revered by the world as a great and sublime man who went for alms there. She began to believe in him and offered him food. Then she thought to herself that maybe her husband wanted to share in the merit, so she said to him:
- Rejoice with me because I have made offerings to the great and sublime World-Honored One.
Immediately, the husband went into a rage:
- She never offered food to the Brahmins, and you give the first food to this bald monk! Why can't he put the husk in his mouth?
She told the same story to her son, but he also got angry and shouted:
- Why didn't the mother's bald teacher eat the iron bars?
That night, her parents sent her some delicious food, but her daughter-in-law ate it and left her with only the worst pieces. When she asked:
"Did you eat the good ones and leave me only the worst?"
Then the daughter-in-law lied:
- I'd rather eat my own meat than touch my mother's plate of food!
Likewise, when the servant had eaten the food she had to bring to the Brahmin woman's family, she said to the mistress:
- I would rather drink blood and pus than steal your food.
Because of being stingy and greedy in the past, they suffered tragic retribution. So:
- When giving some food to a hungry ghost, the piece of food turns into a husk;
- There is a kind of hungry ghost when giving food turns into iron lumps;
- There are hungry ghosts, when given food, start eating their own flesh,
- There are hungry ghosts when giving food, it turns into blood and pus.
In short, the karma of stingy miserliness is said to be endless. Contemplate that the main causes of rebirth as a hungry ghost are miserliness and the opposition to the generosity of others. You too have committed such deeds countless times, so you must do whatever you can to avoid being reborn there. Think like this from the bottom of your heart and work hard to create blessings.
With that in mind, you don't have to endure the various sufferings that the Preta ghosts have to go through due to karmic inspiration, especially the torture of hunger and thirst. Think how miserable you would be if you didn't eat or drink for just one morning, how would you feel if you were reborn in a place where for years not even the word drinking water was mentioned?
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