”There is a sufficiency in the world for man’s need but not for man’s greed.”
Greed is an excessive love or desire for money or any possession. … The greedy person is too attached to his things and his money, or he desires more money and more things in an excessive way. Greed has unpleasant effects on our inner emotional lives.
Greed is neither good nor good for us:- This is why it is important to define exactly what we mean by “human nature.” Greed (or avarice, cupidity, or covetousness) is the excessive desire for more than is needed or deserved, not for the greater good but for one’s own selfish interest, and at the detriment of others and society at large. Greed can be for anything but is most commonly for food, money, possessions, power, fame, status, attention or admiration, and sex.
The origins of greed:– Greed often arises from early negative experiences such as parental inconsistency, neglect, or abuse. In later life, feelings of anxiety and vulnerability, often combined with low self-esteem, lead the person to fixate on a particular substitute for what she/he once needed but could not find. The pursuit and accumulation of the substitute not only seems to make up for his/her loss, but also provides comfort and reassurance, and distracts from frightening feelings of emptiness and meaninglessness. As far as he/she can see, life is a simple choice between greed and fear. Greed is much more developed in human beings than in other animals, no doubt because human beings have the unique capacity to project themselves into the future, and, in particular, to the time of their death and beyond. Throughout our short life, the idea of our mortality haunts us. Not only that, but it conflicts with our strong survival instincts, giving rise to anxiety about our purpose, meaning, and value. This so-called existential anxiety, though it may be mostly subconscious, yet manifests in the form of compensatory behaviours, and, of course, greed is one such compensatory behaviour.
To help cope with our existential anxiety, we inhabit a larger culture which elaborates a narrative of human life and death, and, through that narrative, furnishes us with the purpose, meaning, and value for which we yearn. Whenever existential anxiety threatens to surface into our conscious mind, we naturally turn to our culture for comfort and consolation, and, in doing so, embrace it ever more tightly. What other choice do we have, if we are not strong or educated enough to question our culture?
Now, it so happens that our culture—or lack of it, for our culture is in a state of flux and crisis—places a high value on materialism, and, by extension, greed. Our culture’s emphasis on greed is such that people have become immune to satisfaction. Having acquired one thing, they are immediately ready to desire the next thing that might suggest itself. Today, the object of desire is no longer satisfied, but desire itself.
Greed Causes You To Risk Everything:-
However, food is not the only thing you may over-consume. Greed causes you to risk everything for the sake of acquisition. This acquisitiveness destroys the health of society and culture as well as your own life.
Greed on a national scale ruins the health of smaller economies around the world. Cultures that consume more than their share of Earth’s resources doom themselves and other cultures to natural disasters and eco-destruction.
A small country that gives up its diversity, to provide a single cash crop to meet the needs of a developed nation, is courting disaster. Whose greed is this? The small countries or the developed nation’s? Perhaps both.
The Impact On Your Creativity:-
The greed dragon waylays your creativity by making your acquisition goals more desirable than your expression goals. In their times, the great masters might never have produced their great masterpieces had they been more concerned with greed.
Greed fixates you on acquiring substitutes rather than on releasing your true self-expression. If you are a greedy creative artist, you are going to go for the big-ticket items when it comes to your artistic expression. Hollywood has been fixated on creating sequels to known successes rather than striking out into the unknown territory where true creative expression lies. In the arts, the tried and true is the death knell of creativity.
The hallmark of greed is the substitute of artifice for something with true artistic value. If you are a greedy seascape artist, you may churn out variations on a theme, day after day, to lure the pocketbooks of tourists at the seashore. If you are a pulp fiction writer, you may pump out formula look-alike novels in lieu of real literature. Currently, greed is rampant in the creative arts, and satisfaction is at a low point.
Perhaps the most dismal of all results of greed in the arts is the inflation of masterpieces for their investment value. The world’s outstanding artistic masterpieces are often under extreme protection and hidden in vaults where no one can see them because they are worth too much to their owners.
Greed and Sexuality:-
Sexuality is intimately associated with creativity. If your greed fixates on sexuality, it tends to divorce it from its creative qualities and drive it toward obsession. Under these conditions, your sexual fantasy life fixates on a narrow focus, like body parts or related objects such as articles of clothing.
Sometimes your fantasies revolve around a specific scenario or series of steps — like a dominant mistress with black boots who methodically spanks you. You are then driven to acquire the object of your greed until you can experience it over and over again, like a pigeon at a feeding station.
If you are sexually obsessed, you may collect or hoard objects that are fantasy related, to the exclusion of real relationships. The problem is that your hunger for satisfaction is never satisfied and your obsession gets stronger and stronger until it drives you into a frenzy.
The Impact On Your Presence:-
If you are under the influence of greed, you may not be able to be truly present with others. Your attention is somewhere else rather than with those you are relating with. You are concerned with acquiring someone else’s attention because you have already acquired the attention of those with you.
Imagine trying to talk in a satisfying way to someone who has not eaten in a week or is extremely thirsty. His or her thoughts are on the next meal or oasis. Imagine trying to be intimate with someone who is already planning the strategy of the next sexual conquest, since he or she has obviously already conquered you.
The alcoholic is not present and neither is the drug taker. If you are not present, you have little presence either. Presence is the result of focusing your attention on what is immediate, not elsewhere.
The Impact On Relationships:-
If you are a greedy person, your demands in a relationship are great but your willingness to satisfy the needs of others is limited. You want everything from your partner, including affection, attention, understanding, and sympathy. You resent the slightest inattentiveness or insensitivity demonstrated by your partner or mate. You desperately need the love of your mate but are resentful and hostile toward her or him for not always delivering what you need. Your resentment undermines the relationship while your greed drives your partner away.
In more committed relationships, you may become unfaithful in order to punish your partner for failing to deliver, or you may be unfaithful out of your greed to find a more attentive partner. Your spouse may then become unfaithful just to get away from you.
Relationships cannot tolerate greed for long. Greed is designed by its very nature to ambush relationships and destroy them. The two are by nature incompatible.
The Impact On Your Spiritual Life:-
The paradox introduced by the greed dragon is at times most obvious in the spiritual realm. Greed and all of the other dragons infiltrate all areas of life, and spirituality is no exceptions.
Hunger for spiritual truth sometimes becomes a voracious consumption of religious teachings. If you are bitten by the dragon of greed, you may collect gurus and spiritual teachers like so many butterflies. Yet, no one teacher is ever the right one, and you may keep searching and searching but never finding. Every other week you convert to something else.
If you are in a spiritual community, you may be greedy to be in the presence of the guru at all times. You may compete fiercely to see if you can be closest to the guru or the favourite of the cardinal, bishop, or pope. I was once nearly trampled by people rushing to get the choicest seats to see a visiting guru. This did not appear to me to be enlightened behaviour.
There are historical examples aplenty of those who climbed the ladders of power and influence within their spiritual communities. Their greed was fixated on power, and these people made sure they sat at the right hand of the guru or in the seat of greatest influence.
Spiritual materialism has been around at least as long as religion. The idea that you can collect brownie points for heaven or by forgiveness through donations and contributions to a church or temple has greed at its source. If you are a greedy soul, you may believe that a more expensive ritual sacrifice ensures salvation. The notion that you get to heaven by demonstrating material success is another distortion based on greed.