In the meditation group that I lead we will be pondering the concept of greed this week. I was initially inspired to explore this with the group as I was reading the Isha Upanishad, beautifully translated by Eknath Eswaren.
The Isha opens with this text:
All this is full. All that is full.
From fullness, fullness comes.
When fullness is taken from fullness,
Fullness still remains.
Om shanti – shanti – shanti
In the translation, Eswaren shares that Gandhi felt that the Isha Upanishad in many ways, holds the core truths of Hinduism. Interesting as this is the shortest of the known Upanishads, but it communicates a great truth – that our wealth lies not in what we amass, but in realizing spiritual abundance.
This time of year there is always a push in New Thought centers and churches to teach prosperity. While I agree that most of us can use regular reminders on thinking in a more abundant way; too often these prosperity classes focus on demonstrating dollars and cents, which according to many major sacred texts is a way to poverty – not abundance.
In the Christian Bible Jesus says to a crowd that is following him:
“…take care, and be on your guard against all greed, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” (Luke 12)
In the Hebrew scriptures, from Proverbs:
A greedy man stirs up strife, but the one who trusts in the Lord will be enriched. (Proverbs 28:25)
In the Tao te Ching:
There is no crime greater than greed
No disaster greater than discontentment
No fault greater than avarice
Thus the satisfaction of contentment
is the lasting satisfaction. (46.5-9)
And from the Isha Upanishad:
The Lord is enshrined in the hearts of all.
The Lord is the supreme Reality.
Rejoice in him through renunciation.
Covet nothing. All belongs to the Lord.
Avoiding greed is common guidance across cultures and ethnic peoples and the materialism that pervades Western society today makes it hard NOT to fall into a greed mindset.
Materialism reinforces a “paradigm of scarcity“. If we can count what we consider to be our wealth, and lock it away, or use our resources to buy more than someone else,… we can lose it.
If we count our wealth as dollars, when someone takes some or we spend it – we have less.
If we count our wealth as those gifts of Spirit, or “resources of consciousness” such as peace, love, meaning, respect – we can never run out. No one can take what is ours, and no matter how much we give away, we remain full.
From fullness, fullness comes. When fullness is taken from fullness, fullness still remains.
In my own pondering of the topic I found that it was easy to point out greed in others, but a little more challenging to look directly at the greed I express in my own life.
If we accept the unity consciousness theory that we’re all connected, and that we can really only control our own actions; we do have the ability to impact greed in the larger world. We simply must begin where we are right now.
As we ponder this topic, here are some areas to consider:
- food waste
- how often do we pick up carry out restaurant food on the way home when there are viable, if not as exciting, options at home?
- retail therapy
- how many times do we spend money on clothing, or other items to “feel better” instead of limiting our purchases to acquire something that we need?
- compliments and praise
- how often do we sit quietly when someone is criticizing another person at work, when we know that they, too, have value and contribute to the team efforts?
- power grabs
- how often do we insist on doing something in a certain way, citing the rules, the regulations, the guidelines – when in truth, what we want is for us and not the greater good of the group or organization?
- traffic etiquette
- how often do we act like that strip of asphalt in front of us belongs only to us, refusing to allow someone to merge, or blasting our horns at the person who pulls out in front of us in an untimely manner?
Gandhi is quoted as saying:
“There is enough in the world for everyone’s need;
there is not enough for everyone’s greed.”
As we enter the welcome 3-day weekend made possible by federal recognition of Dr. Martin Luther King’s birthday, I will be pondering the role of greed in my own life choices; in the larger society (racism is clearly rooted in a belief that there’s not enough) and looking inward for how I can make changes that will contribute to a leveling so that we can realize for every man, woman and child – enough for everyone’s need.
And so it is.
(C) 2018 Practitioner's Path