Greed and Universal Law
People whose greed is stronger than their conscience often refuse to consider the way Universal Law functions or to admit that it even exists. For the greedy person, it’s always about today, never tomorrow. The greedy person rarely considers the consequences of his actions and will often deny that any correlation exists between what he does now and what he draws to himself later. The greedy person is too engrossed in the overwhelming demand of his own need to see how his actions impact other people or to care that he has hurt them. Profit and self-advancement are more important to him than doing what is right and honorable. He considers the notion of the web of life irrelevant and immaterial. It is his focus on self, profit, and the present, to the neglect of other people’s well-being, and the future cost of that neglect upon the environment, that leads him to continually inflict suffering upon the world.
Greed, of course, is a form of self-involvement and heightened selfishness. All self-involvement is a sign of emotional immaturity and an expression of need. Greed then, is need’s instrument. The overwhelming sense of need that drives greed makes it blind to everything but what it desires in that particular moment. It is rarely interested in anyone else’s well-being because it is too preoccupied with its own distorted needs to see beyond its self-gratification. Greed is never very clear or far seeing. It has little sense of proportion and less conscience. It doesn’t care who it hurts or how it hurts them, as long as it gets what it wants.
The survival of the planet, however, is a long-term concern that involves all of us. The sustainability of the environment requires a group effort. Greed is the enemy of that effort. Greed’s focus on self-concern to the detriment of everyone else promotes polarization, conflict, and hostility. Greed is one of the major causes of imbalance in the world and one of the great enemies of the future.
Greed and Desire
“All people on the planet are children,” wrote the poet Rumi, “except for a very few. No one is grown up except those free of desire.” Desire is the ally of greed. They are like the right and left hand of the same person. When they combine in our nature they fan the flame of selfishness and extinguish common sense. If we lose our common sense we will often ignore our innate sense of right and wrong. Without a moral compass to guide us it is all too easy to abandon ourselves to the most destructive elements in our nature.
I once knew a man who had been a fine athlete in his youth. As an adult he became a high school teacher and a football coach. One fateful night he found someone else’s credit card. The temptation to use that card burned in his mind for days and in the end proved too much for him to overcome. He went on a buying spree, purchasing several luxury items he could not afford on his teacher’s salary. Needless to say, he was eventually caught, arrested, and punished. His actions destroyed his reputation and led to great personal humiliation. Desire and greed led an otherwise decent man down a frighteningly fast path to self-destruction.