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There are many things that can make us unhappy.
Apart from the more “factual” and specific ones, such as illness, problems with a partner, loneliness, loss of a job, among many others, there are “deeper” ones that underlie them, which are often less evident, such as greed, aversion, ignorance (known in Buddhism as the “Three Poisons“), fear, and laziness.
Laziness (not to be confused with the important need to rest and relax) seems to be a little different from the others.
Most people would not consider greed, aversion, ignorance, and fear as positive feelings that may lead to happiness. However, laziness seems to me a little “borderline” in this respect. I’m under the impression that many would not normally consider laziness as something that can make us unhappy. We kind of perceive it as something negative, but it would not come first to our mind as one of the main causes of suffering. In a similar way to greed, aversion, ignorance, and fear, it is supported by our economic and political system.
Greed is nurtured and supported mostly by our consumeristic society and by our economic system, which thrive thanks to our unrestrained desires that make us compulsive buyers, purchasing things that most of the time we don’t really need and that don’t make us happy but perhaps for a few moments. Buying them, however, helps the economy to grow and our environment to deteriorate.
Aversion, on the other hand, is supported mostly by our political system that creates enemies for us to hate and fight, both internal enemies (for example, immigrants, or often those who oppose the Establishment) and external enemies (for example, countries that are believed to be against us) so that we may forget the world’s and our real problems.
Ignorance, fear, and laziness are subtly fed and supported by both our economic and political systems. Neither our politicians nor rich entrepreneurs really want us to know and understand what the implications are of conforming to the Establishment, of working too much, of buying too much, of polluting, of disregarding our physical and mental health (after all, medicines and medical treatment are another big revenue for the pharmaceutical industry).
In addition, they are very good at creating all kinds of fears which make us cling desperately to our jobs, however unsatisfying they may be, and to our economy—fear of poverty and destitution, fear of being invaded, either by immigrants or by out-and-out foreign nations.
In a similar way to greed, aversion, fear, and ignorance, laziness, too, is exploited by our economic system to sell all sort of goods and services. Actually, a good part of what people buy and consider normal or even indispensable is produced to make us work less, move less, think less. Think of cars, washing machines, ready-made food, televisions, computers, smartphones, and many more. Not that all these goods are not useful, but we have to remember that overusing them is bound to kill some of our skills (use it or lose it!), either mental or physical, and make us lazy.
In addition, laziness has also a dangerous side—how many people die or are injured every year in domestic accidents, for example, because somebody was too lazy to fetch a ladder to change a bulb and tried to do it by balancing unsteadily on a chair that subsequently fell, or did not unplug an electric devise that later caused a fire? Or think of the people with heart problems or diabetes who probably developed them because they were too lazy (and/or were not aware—ignorance again—of how important it is) to eat healthy food, to do a proper workout, or simply walk as often as possible even for short distances?
It is amazing how the Establishment, the political and economic powers, manage to control us. Most people just cannot see through the ideologies and sometimes even the lies they provide. We should really learn to doubt and question everything we are told. Even the Buddha 2,500 years ago explained to the Kalama clan that they should not believe anything just because it comes from a famous teacher, or because of tradition, or because everybody believes it, or because it just sounds logical; it should be fully investigated and only accepted if it can lead to one’s own and other people’s happiness (Kalama Sutta).
Laziness, just as greed, aversion, ignorance, and fear, is definitely part of human nature, but being supported by our economic and political system, it becomes a hazard for us and for our planet.
In my view, we should consciously reject anything that does not allow us to use our brain or our body to their full potential or that is detrimental to the environment. It is, of course, tempting to drive a car to avoid walking that kilometre or so to do some shopping, or to watch television instead of going for a long walk, or to get ready-made junk food instead of cooking something healthy that might take 30, 40, or 50 minutes of our time to prepare. However, once we develop the habit, it won’t be so difficult any longer, and we will feel stronger, more energetic, and probably happier!
And buying fewer gadgets, junk food, and so on, and using a car less will definitely reduce pollution as well!