Ted Cleaver

Tag: soul

Greed and Spirituality

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.

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Ipatch

We live in an individualistic society. Surprisingly, an overwhelming amount of individual traits, from life trajectories to consumer preferences, can be predicted based on upbringing or your postal code, respectively. No matter how complex our lives are, the rules governing social reproduction are exasperatingly pervasive. Judges I, because I prefer eccentrics to uniforms. Here are some thoughts on individuality versus conformity.

Georg Simmel distinguishes subjective and objective culture. Everything subjective stem from your internal creative capacity. Whatever it is, whatever you call it, it is there, and it is what makes you a unique individual. Objective culture is just about everything else. Through the rise of cities people are in contact with each other much more frequently and much more superficially. Our senses are bombarded with an unmanageable volume of information every day, a situation which has been exasperated with the rise of multi-media. Fashion trends, memes, viral videos and must-have gadgets are all part of a continuum that suggests, if not dictates, how you should express your individuality. This is obviously entirely paradoxical. What’s more, at the point you create something as an individual, it immediately becomes part of the range of “objective” influences on other individuals. Simmel made a passionate plea for subjective creativity.

Moreover, he associated the individual’s needs for conformity and individuality with time vectors. Our biography is in charge of belonging. Memories of our histories and personal past grow every second. They negatively influence our ability to come up with something different and new. In contrast with history, there is teleology. We cannot know the future, but we know there is a future point in time that we are moving towards. Asserting how we want to stand out once we get there is an individual expression. To be honest, the time vector part of Simmel’s teachings is not one I spent a lot of time on. Nonetheless, combining it with the distinction between subjective and objective culture, and you can derive a beautiful proposition. What will you leave behind that is truly unique to you? Next question, how would you go about creating something unique? The proposition is thus, achieving self-realization in the future is a creative process of adding to objective culture, not consuming it.

 

Ipatch will be continued tomorrow.