Greed and Spirituality

by Ted Cleaver

I detest the spiritual bitterness that comes with greed. I also detest fascists.

Man Eating Trees, AgfaPhoto GmbHGreed, as per definition, is not a matter of wanting nice things. We all want nice things, rightfully so, because they are nice. Greed however is wanting not because you want a thing, but because you want. Infinitely. The need to always have more, with a total disregard of what you have and how that is part of your self.

Spirituality is the journey into your self. Name it what you will, but with recent trends it is safe to say spirituality is about nourishing happiness within yourself. One might argue that happiness depends on recognizing that we are all connected, having realistic expectations, being optimistic and enjoying a sense of being useful in your community.

Now, how do these two intersect? They don’t. That’s the problem. Spiritual fulfillment, meaning the pursuit of internal happiness, does not require greed. It detests it.

I am not saying less is more all the time. Less may be more when we consider how much stuff we want in our living rooms, or how many words we use to say: “I love you, unconditionally.” These fundamentals are surprisingly simple. Equally simple is the fact that we all want to get ahead. In life, in our careers, our relationships, contributions to society, our social standing, and of course our bank accounts.

But here is the problem. Greed. Our bank accounts are a means to an end. As long as they are, we are good. If they become an end in themself, we become this: An entity that functions in order to accumulate more. Always. More. It is never enough. This is bad because reasons. The entity might become so obsessed with the more-aspect of things, that it forgets to enjoy things for what they have to offer.

I detest greed because it results in complete abdication of recognizing, that, at the end of the day:

  • We are all brothers and sisters,
  • Understanding that it won’t ever be possible to always have more than anyone else,
  • There is no optimism in a worldview that dictates ruthless competition,
  • The utility of greed is contingent upon a society where greed is kept in check (Adam Smith).

I detest greed because always wanting more makes you forget what you have. It is debilitating, deletes harmony and rejects appreciation of nature. Greed is spiritual bitterness. Spirituality is the antidote.