Excessive Desire, Excessive Harm

Posted in Buddhism, Figuratively Speaking at 10:24 am by Marion

Figuratively Speaking Friday

In all the world, one human trait is to be feared above them all: Greed.

So today, let’s look at that simple word, and figure out why it covers such a tangle of lethal drives.

Greed is one of the Seven Deadly Sins, holding a place of dishonor with Envy, Lust, Gluttony, Anger, Sloth and Pride.

Mohandas Gandhi, also known as Mahatma or “great souled” spoke of the Seven Blunders of the World that Lead to Violence. Among them are “Wealth without Work” and “Commerce without Morality.” Aka, Greed.

Greed is also known as avarice, and is one of the Ten Things to be Avoided in Tibetan Buddhism.

The great-souled Milarepa, one of Tibetan Buddhism’s holy teachers (1052- 1135 c.e.) writes,

If ye do not obtain the Light of Inner Peace,
Mere external ease and pleasure will become a source of pain.

If ye do not suppress the Demon of Ambition,
Desire of fame will lead to ruin and to lawsuits.

The desire to please exciteth the Five Poisonous Passions,
The greed of gain separateth one from dearest friends,
The exaltation of the one is the humiliation of the others.

As often the case, this word Greed, so harsh and full of consonant sounds, has a Germanic origin. It is derived from the primary word greedy, from the Old English graedig, from the German.

Greed means and intense and selfish desire for something, especially wealth, power or food. Greedy means an intense and selfish desire for something.

The operative qualifier here seems to be “selfish.” We all like having things, making money, enjoying material pleasures. But, however, when a person places desire for material pleasure or gain, especially excessive gain, above other human welfare, it becomes greed. That’s where the danger lies — in causing harm to others. Not harming others (ahimsa) is a another basic principle valued throughout the world.

Avarice is extreme greed for wealth or gain. It comes from the Old French, from the Latin avaritia, from avarus “greedy.”

As if regular greed weren’t bad enough!!!

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