Sua multi amittunt, cupide dum aliena appetunt.

Many people lose their own things, while they eagerly try to lay hold of those
things belonging to others.

(pron = SU-ah MOOL-tee ah-MIT-toont, KOO-pih-day doom ah-lee-AY-nah

Comment: The accent of this proverb seems to fall on things—whether the lost
things or the eagerly sought after things of others. Western traditions often
get caught in a duality that creates some interesting monsters. One of those
dualities is that material things are inferior to spiritual things, and that
seeking after them marks one as greedy. It’s a very nice position to take if
one lacks for nothing. If one is poor, or lacking in some things that make
life more livable, however, seeking after those things makes one, well, greedy,
according to this way of thinking. The only solution is not to be born into a
poor family! In other words, the duality continues to manifest itself in
horrible gulfs between the rich and the poor.

Some wisdom traditions recognize that such dualities are themselves an illusion,
and offer that what seem to be opposites are really both ends of the pendulum of
life—swinging back and forth. Material is not opposed to spiritual. Both are
necessary elements of life.

The many who lose their things and eagerly try to lay hold of the things
belonging to others will likely lose those things, if they get them, too. They
make the mistake of thinking that if they have enough things or the right things
they will be content. Contentment is not one end of the pendulum’s swing or
another. Those who “give up” all material things to seek after spiritual
things are some of the most miserable people I’ve ever met. No. Contentment
is more like watching the pendulum swing, and observing that it is the moving
of the pendulum that makes the clock work. Freezing its swing on either end of
its journey would bring the clock, and its working, to a halt.

Bob Patrick
(Used with permission)
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