Expecting the Unexpectable

But they that are minded to be rich fall into a temptation and a snare and many foolish and hurtful lusts, such as drown men in destruction and perdition.
1 Timothy 6:9

AvariceEach institution exists on the backs of the negotiators who gathered its power, so one ironically finds the Teaching to balance negotiation interspersed with promises of measurable rewards for negotiators who join the cause (e.g. with wealth, longevity, etc.). It seems like a “bait and switch” to recruit negotiators, then thrust them into a paradox, unless one counts humility as a gift. The Teaching to balance negotiators humbles them by causing them to expect the pursuit of measurable reward to backfire. This forces them to entertain other forms of evaluation.

The first version of this Teaching is the scientifically confirmed theory of hedonic adaptation. As the seventh Imam, Musa ibn Ja’far [a], explained it: “The likeness of this world is as the water of the sea. However much (water) a thirsty person drinks from it, his thirst increases so much so that the water kills him,'” (Bihar-uI-Anwar, vol. 78, p. 311) or, from the Gita, “”If one ponders on objects of the sense, there springs attraction; from attraction grows desire, desire flames to fierce passion, passion breeds recklessness; then the memory — all betrayed — lets noble purpose go, and saps the mind, till purpose, mind and man are all undone,” (Bhagavad Gita 2.62-63), and, “Surrendered to desires insatiable, full of deceitfulness, folly, and pride, in blindness cleaving to their errors, caught into the sinful course, they trust this lie as it were true — this lie which leads to death: Finding in Pleasure all the good which is, and crying ‘Here it finishes!'” (Bhagavad Gita 16.11)

The second version of the Teaching situates it in a social context where escalating desire manifests as escalating competition: “If your Majesty say, ‘What is to be done to profit my kingdom?’ the great officers will say, ‘What is to be done to profit our families?’ and the inferior officers and the common people will say, ‘What is to be done to profit our persons?’ Superiors and inferiors will try to snatch this profit the one from the other, and the kingdom will be endangered.” (Mengzi 1A:1). Laozi instructed, “Not to quest for wealth will keep the people from rivalry.” (Tao Te Ching 3), and Confucius taught the same to social leaders:”‘If you could just get rid of your own excessive desires, the people would not steal even if you rewarded them for it.” (Analects 12:18). Buddha described it, “Victory breeds hatred, for the conquered is unhappy. He who has given up both victory and defeat, he, the contented, is happy.” (Dhammapada 201)

The preceding is an excerpt from Chapter 13 of GRIN Free – GRIN Together: How to let people be themselves (and why you should) by Christopher Santos-Lang.