Much like last month’s vice, Lust has got a long, long history. Whether named as the Greek ἐπιθυμέω (variously translatable as “to set one’s heart upon, long for, covet, desire”); the Latin Luxuria; a part of the Hebrew Yetzer Hara; a gate to Hinduism’s Naraka; or the root of suffering in the 2nd Noble Truth of Buddhism, everybody agrees Lust’s chief characterization is desire beyond bounds and that it’s bad. The big problem, of course, is the details. Specifically, the desire for what? Is it sex? Power? Wealth? Anything? And what’s “beyond bounds” exactly? Different cultures draws that line differently, though there’s a pretty common sense that desiring something to the point of self-destruction or causing harm to others is probably crossing that line.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, legal professionals…rarely get accused of this vice. As I’ve mentioned at least twice in the past before, lawyers tend not to emphasize emotions like love, and relationships can be very difficult to manage in the face of the all-encompassing “legal practice.” This can wildly cut down on the number of people saying they’re lustful.
Yet that doesn’t mean it’s unheard of. As this recent Yahoo! Finance article shows there are ethical rules that restrict and prevent lawyers from starting sexual relationships with clients, as well as encourage them to consider whether any preexisting relationships (like, the client is their spouse) would limit their ability to represent them. These rules didn’t come out of nowhere, of course. They’re here because people put their trust in professionals, and you don’t want them abused as a result of that. But these rules focus on the sex side of lust: you’ll notice there’s no explicit limitation on wanting power or status too much. That’s just being ambitious—which can get self-destructive, but which the model rules don’t have much to say about explicitly.
So how do you avoid this vice? Across the board, the answer seems to be to SLOW DOWN and THINK about how the desire aligns with your ethics/morals (and yes, for the religious, with faith practices), since being mindful of the repercussions of your acts can help you to avoid making bad ones. Put another way, the best antidote to being unreasonable apparently is just to be reasonable and say “NO”- to put boundaries on an unbounded desire.
It’s hard to do, but for such a deeply-seated root cause, it’s the best we’ve got.