May 25 : Long-Term and Short-Term Benefit
When we are deciding what action to take in different situations, there are always a short-term and a long-term benefits, or a short-term and a long-term disadvantages. There are four permutations for this. If something is of a shortterm benefit or long-term benefit, do it. If something is of a short-term or longterm disadvantage, do not do it. The tricky ones are: if it is of a short-term benefit, but long-term disadvantage; or short-term disadvantage but long-term benefit, then what do you do?
In the first case, you attain some happiness and pleasure in the short term, but in the long term, it is not really going to bring something good for you or others. Our rational mind says, “You go for the long-term benefit.” However, when we are under the influence of attachment what do we do? We go for the shortterm benefit. Then, we wind up with a long-term disadvantage. Similarly, in the other situation, if it is of short-term discomfort, but long-term benefit, clearly, we should work for the long-term benefit. But when our mind is under the influence of attachment or anger, what do we do? Sometimes we will do what is harmful in the long term.
Let us say you are mad at somebody. Somebody hurt you. Your mind says, “I just want to get my revenge!” You know this is not going to do you any good. It is going to create a whole lot of problems, like getting arrested. But when you are under the influence of anger and your mind is not thinking clearly, you may do short-term harm and lose out on the long-term benefit.
Attachment and anger confuse the mind, and this is a good example of how they work. They make us do things that will bring us long-term problems for the sake of a little short-term happiness. They make us do things to avoid a little bit of short-term unhappiness while we miss out on the long-term benefit. That is why anger and attachment are things we really have to take note of in our lives and then learn the antidotes to them. In many situations, thinking about the disadvantages is a very good antidote.
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