Posts Tagged ‘greed’
A reply to
courage: from greed all the way to gratitude
Anthony, I realize that the article you replied to is quite long, so maybe you did not “get” all of it before replying. You seem to be speaking from the perspective of someone who is cautious about causing detriment for others.
Imagine trying to walk across a lawn with a perfectionist paranoia that you never kill any insects or any bacteria or damage any blades of grass. The compulsion to avoid any injury to others is crippling.
I am counting such a chronic tension as not just paranoid but “already tormented by guilt,” which are the required foundations that always lead to what I am calling greed. If you are complaining about the misuse of power by humans or other groups of humans, again I am calling that sinful in general, in particular arrogant, and another classic sign of a greedy person who actually desires to possess the power that they bother to claim that others are misusing.
So, this article offers some rather challenging concepts. Mainstream idealism and idolatry are the targets of my words of “caution,” once again. If you wish, take another read.
Which is more crippling: the idealistic compulsion to avoid any injury to others or the natural expression of self-interest, such as the insect who consumes a blade of grass… or the bird who consumes that insect? If two bulls bully each other over being the dominant bull who has sexual access to a bunch of fertile cows, and then one gores the other and it dies, if you then condemn that violence as based on the sin of greed, isn’t your condemnation foolish?
So, as for the issue of “never enough,” if there is a foundation of guilt, then no amount of wealth or power (etc) will bring relief from the chronic tension of the guilt. The only “salvation from guilt” is the relaxing of the learned condemnation of the past (and the admitting of past fears of punishment which led to a pretense of shaming the past or condeming the past- see the original article).
The withdrawing of condemnation is the actual principle of forgiveness (as distinct from the horribly confusing malarky promoted in so many churches that WORSHIP guilt rather than salvation). The teachings of the New Testament consistently emphasize the issue of the withdrawing of condemnation, but I am not aware of a single religious institution within Christianity that is “true” to that particular theme within the Bible.
the path of courage:
from greed all the way to gratitude
What if there is nothing wrong with greed?
First, for me, there is nothing “wrong” with greed, except that it consistently produces results that lead to disappointment. It is just a mode
of experience- or even a developmental stage in the process of maturing or learning.
Through courage, one may shift from the extreme of chronic greed to the opposite extreme, which is chronic gratitude. That will be the broader
outcome of this material: to challenge you to take “the path of courage” and shift from greed to gratitude.
Are you courageous enough to explore greed?
Why did I pick greed as the starting point of our exploration? Do I think that you personally are unusually greedy? Do I think that you lack
courage or gratitude?
Well, what if I do? If you are anxious enough to be concerned with whatever reason that someone might have for sharing this material with you,
then you are already on the edge of an opportunity to experience courage.
If you imagine that whatever I mean by greed is meant to slander you or to justify punishing you in some way in the future, then courage is
precisely what I invite you to explore as highly relevant to you today. I even started by saying that there is nothing wrong with greed. Did you
forget that already?
And are you courageous enough to explore gratitude?
If you think of greed as “something wrong,” then the first challenge for you on the path of courage will be to relax any of your old
presumptions about the limits of what the word “greed” COULD mean. Your opportunity will be to explore the subject of greed from a foundation of
courage and gratitude (including gratitude for the pattern of experience that I am calling “greed”).
If you are not willing to courageously explore the subject of greed with an openness to being grateful for all patterns of experience (including
greed), then I invite you to come back to this material at any later time that you are willing to be courageous and grateful in that regard.
However, if you are open to experiencing courage now, then I invite you to proceed.
So why did I really pick greed as the the starting point of our exploration?
For one thing, greed is a frequent subject of criticism in recent times. People may notice a lot of complaining about greed. People may even
actively complain or even argue about the greed of particular targets of criticism. In fact, you may even be criticized for being “too greedy”
or “too selfish.”
The pattern of selfishness is often confused with greed. They are similar. However, they are distinct.
How selfishness differs from greed
Selfishness is a label that can be applied to any child or even any newborn. For instance, when there is not yet a concern for the social
standards applied by others, the normal reflexive instincts may be labeled “selfish.” A concern for social standards is also known as
“conscience” or “guilt.” (We will adress that subject in more detail later.)
So, a child who is cold and then wraps itself in a blanket is not being “greedy,” even if it is labeled selfish. If there are several children
and several blankets, we could say that it would be greedy for a single child to keep all of the blankets away from the other children. However,
for a newborn to desire warmth and then get under a blanket is normal and functional.
In other words, acting out of self-interest is normal and functional. Selfishness includes acting out of self-interest, though selfishness may
be considered to have many subcategories and to include extreme forms like “greed.” Greed can involve the desire not only to prosper, but to do
so without regard for the methods used and the eventual long-term consequences of using each method.
*A more useful definition of greed
(Note that, for my own convenience, I use the term “God” below. You could insert the word “reality” or “the universe” and make the same point.)
An anxious rejection of reality in which one yearns for reality to conform to some ideal that is worshiped as “better” than God’s present
creation. Greed is both a form of fear (in that it is anxious) and also a form of grief. (It is a form of grief in that it rejects God’s
creation- and God- in favor of the “less disappointing” ideal that is worshiped instead. “Since God has disappointed me, which God obviously
should not have been so arrogant to do, then I will focus on some other ideal as “better” than God’s present creation. Further, to complete the
irony, I will claim that my fixating on some “superior” ideal as I reject God’s creation is being faithful to God, as if it is based on God’s
own rejection of God’s own creation.”)
*What is new about this definiton of greed
Note that the particular focus of the “greed” may be of no great importance. Various forms of wealth (or success”) may be considered just
convenient distractions: “I want a horse- and I want that one,” “I want to raise chickens in my backyard,” “I want to go on that vacation,” “I
want to attain enlightenment.” Greed is not about the desire itself or the focus of the desire, but the emotional framework around the desire.
As an example, we can think of “gluttony” as merely a form of greed in that there is an obsession in regard to diet or eating. An anxious
“greed” to reach a certain weight (whether for someone on a weight loss diet or for a body-builder) is distinct from a goal. The component of
anxiety is key.
*Greed as a way to avoid disappointment/grief
The one experiencing greed tends to be eager to place blame (in the event of additional disappointment). Note that I say additional
disappointment because I am referencing greed as a pattern used basically to avoid experiencing a past disappointment.
It is a form of anxiety or paranoia: “I do NOT want to be disappointed ever again. I know the one thing which will be my salvation and
permanently fix everything and protect me from ever experiencing disappointment. Hey, that reminds me: let’s talk about going on a vacation! Or,
we could argue about how we think the government should be. Then, finally, we can complain about how the corporate media is… gasp… serving
corporate interests, right?”
<<< *What produces greed? Keep in mind that the pattern of greed is typical when selfishness (desire) is publicly condemned. People tend to hide their selfishness when it is condemned amd shamed. If a child is disappointed and instinctively begins to express their disappointment, then one way to suppress their display of disappointment is to traumatize the child by punishing, shaming, condemning, or even just interrupting the display of disappointment: “you should be more grateful. You should be less disappointed. You should be quiet and less selfish. Do you want me to give you a REAL reason to cry? You are too greedy. You should be more like God wants you to be in the future (instead of how God created you to be as of now).” *How does greed manifest? When the repressive trauma is internalized, then the display of grief is chronically suppressed (including the behavior of crying or weeping). The fear of the display of grief (as in the expectation of punishment for the display of grief) is what I call “guilt.”(Guilt will be the focus of With the foundation of guilt (the fear of the display of grief), then targets of hope and enthusiasm may be “chronically” sought as a mechanism to avoid or distract from past grief. That addictive, “thrilling” pursuit of “success” (like wealth, fitness, ego gratification, spiritual arrogance, etc) is in the mode of action that I am calling greed. Again, note that the actual target of the desire is not the issue, but the emotional quality of the attention to that target. * We could also define greed as any “excessive” attention to wealth and physical security. However, if we cannot define “excessive,” then that definition is not very useful. Likewise, lust- when speaking of it as a cardinal sin- can be defined not just as “excessive” attention to sexuality, but more specfiically as the obsessive attention to sexuality to the detriment to one’s overall self-interest, such as to avoid the VALUE of grieving over some past disappointment. Gluttony also can be recognized as distinct from some amount of eating that any critic might label as “excessive.” So, gluttony would include spending so much money (or time) on the issue of food that other priorities are sacrificed. >>>>
*Simple fear and the 3 chronic fear “complexes”
When I am startled by an unexpected sensation, such as a noise, then my attention may suddenly focus on the surprising experience. If the shift
to alertness involves at least a noticable amount of the stress hormones (such as cortisol and adrenalin), then I may label that as being
frightened or alarmed or afraid. That is simple fear.
Chronic fear means a lasting experience of fear. The target of the fear may shift suddenly or even be unrecognized, but the background emotional
state of fear will be obvious.
One whose experience is dominated by fear may manifest 3 modes: paranoia, shame, guilt
paranoia/worry: fear of fear
shame: fear of rage
guilt: fear of grief
*On viewing greed as a natural product of guilt
If an ideal is held (in terror) of how reality should be, that can lead to a complex series of effects. With the background of the worship of
any particular ideal as the most sacred part of reality, then it is inevitable that there will be a noticing of a contrast between that
worshiped ideal and reality, which is experienced as the great threat to the fundamentalist idolatry.
Any noticing of a contrast between the ideal and reality can result in the rejecting of that aspecting of reality, condeming it, and even
finding some villain to blame for being responsible for producing some pattern that the critic is afraid of accepting as valid and present and
real. The idolater claims sincerely (desperately, defensively) how reality should be, then condemns reality (God’s Creation!) for not being how
it should be, then identifies some new power allegedly responsible for the crime of exposing the contrast between God’s Creation and the idolater’s worshiped ideal.
That CAN lead eventually to not just argumentativeness and antagonism, but to guilt. What if the idolater perceives themself as having a holy
duty to correct God’s Creation and bring it back in to alignment with the ideal? When the idolater’s rejects God’s Creation and goes against the
demonstrated Will of God in order to attempt to please God, that ironic attempt naturally leads to a sense of failure (disappointment).
If there is a panic to interfere with the experience of disappointment (to prevent or interrupt the display of grief), then that panic typically
takes the form of obsessing over some imagined “salvation.” That is what I mean by “greed.”
NOTE: the following text is just a summary. The video below details a demonstration of the conclusions or presuppositions referenced below.
Greed is a form of fear. When one fears losses, one hopes for gains. When the hope for gains extends beyond one’s awareness of risk, then one can be surprised at a sudden recognition of risk. When greedy, one neglects risk. When greedy, one is afraid of recognizing the actual risks and so one is vulnerable to pretense.
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