Need and greed

I’ve been keeping an eye on my greed recently, my attachment to the material world that pulls me in and makes me desire something.

We live in a world where one is considered just a little insane if one doesn’t value the material, the necessity for money that we call practicality. There are degrees of practicality, though. There’s survival. We do need to ensure we have what we need, and if we love our family and friends, we want to see their needs met as well. We value responsibility, honesty, the abililty to take on debt responsibly and pay what we owe.

But there’s a point beyond survival, making ends meet, and responsibility — even beyond having a pleasant, reasonably comfortable existence. There’s a point at which what one person desires and thinks he’s entitled to is more important to him than what others need. That’s the greed zone. It’s alarmingly easy to slide into.

I’ve always been one of those impractical types, an artsy, dreamy, non-money-oriented kind of person. Adult necessity forced me to seek money. It was simply a gross requirement forced on me by growing up. I never saw myself as greedy. Thrifty, perhaps, because my mom tended to consider waste of food or things or money a near-capital offense.

But I have other forms of greed besides a desire for money. I still want the things money can buy. A larger house, nicer clothes, a new car, a vacation, a new sofa, and so on and so forth. It’s just that the business world never appealed to me that much, even when I was part of it, so I tended to reject the notion of money. But things, oh how I love my things, and those things I don’t have that I’d like to have. This easily becomes an obsession, wanting things I don’t have and, once I have them, a kind of ennui or boredom sets in that leads to wanting the next things on my list. It’s a kind of hunger, never satisfied, and the more I feed it the more it grows.

But I’ve been recently working on distancing myself a little so I can look at this more objectively. I’m attempting to be more aware of my greed quotient these days, to find a balance between need and greed, and to turn those more lustful greedy desires into self-love, compassion, and creative action.

In this I feel like an infant. I have a long ways to go.

But think about it. Where do you draw the line between your need and your greed? And when you think you must have some thing, what is it you really long for? Will that thing really provide it? Do you need it, or do you want it, or is your desire for it a sign of a deeper hunger, maybe even a deeper boredom? Once you have it, will you grow tired of it and set it aside, or wish you hadn’t wasted hard-earned money or effort on obtaining it? Will it disappoint you with its unfulfilled promise? This applies to food, too, I’ve found. Will I wish I hadn’t eaten it?

My new, yet ancient, watch words: Be careful what you wish for.

2 comments on “Need and greed

  1. Helen McGill says:

    Barbara, this is so strange you writing about greed! Well maybe not, we have a bit of a connection huh? My newsletter from the yoga studio is coming out in a few days and our feature article is about greed and getting through the holidays in a “non-hoarding” manner. I will mail you a copy or send you the .PDF. May we all get only what we really need for the holidays! Namaste, Helen

  2. Marion says:

    I enjoyed this post. I look forward to reading more, but this one was very timely.

    Thank you!