Recommended Reading: Hooked: Buddhist Writings on Greed, Desire, and the Urge to Consume Stephanie Kaza, ed. (Boston: Shambhala Publications, 2005)

Buddhism contains some wonderfully apt messages that concern “affluenza” and “luxury fever,” our modern day plagues of materialism and overconsump-tion, and reading this extraordinary and diverse collection is a very inviting way to access those messages. Compiled by Stephanie Kaza at the Univer-sity of Vermont, these essays sharply challenge today’s ingrained cultural assumption that what’s most important is to look out for yourself, as op-posed to caring for others. Kaza and her contributors view consumerism as a political and economic ideology that’s been foisted on us by greedy corpo-rate interests and their sophisticated marketing arms. But buying, the essays in Hooked demonstrate, is not the path either to self- or social improvement. Instead, consumerism strips individuals of both money and contentment, even as it strips the earth of resources.

As a group, these essays clarify the Buddhist concept of attachment and de-sire, and explore how desire is related to addiction and suffering The essays also offer satisfying suggestions about the cultivation of wisdom as well as tools to work with the modern challenges of consumerism. No careful reader of Hooked can toss it aside and return unthinking to material acquisition. Once you’ve read, for example, Pema Chodron’s “How We Get Hooked, How We Get Unhooked” and Diana Winston’s “You Are What You Download,” you see the issue of acquisition from a broader perspective, with wider, wiser eyes.

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