Greed may be defined as an excessive desire to acquire or possess more than what one needs or deserves.
It is one of the most destructive characteristics that one can nurture as it tends to ultimately destroy the one who possesses it.
The five sense organs send in the stimuli of the respective sense objects perceived by them to the brain where the different information is processed and integrated.
Based on our inherent likes and dislikes, we segregate this information into two categories – those stimuli that we would like to experience repeatedly as it gives us pleasure and those that we would like to shun as it is either not pleasurable to experience or painful.
This is the foundation on which the mind, which is the seat of our day to day experiences and the storehouse of memory, reminds and demands of one the need to experience the stimulus provided by the particular sense organ ( for eg. the need to feel good through reliving the experience of tasting our favorite sweet dish by the tongue).
Thus are born various desires in the mind.
When there is an abnormal or intense desire to repeatedly experience a particular stimuli, added with the sense of fear of not being able to fulfill it due to a mentality of scarcity (belief that there is not enough for everyone), then one develops an attitude to possess more and more of the sense object to ensure a long term uninterrupted experience of the sense object by that particular sense organ and the mind.
In this manner one gives birth to greed.
Greed harms oneself physically due to overindulgence with the sense object and also destroys relationship with others as one stops becoming considerate to the needs of others.
Greed may make one prosperous as in the case of a person greedy for money strives to acquire more of it to become wealthy, but the downside is that the fear of losing it all makes him a miser and so despite possessing immense wealth, he continues to live like a pauper, denying himself all the good things and comforts that money can buy.
We can overcome greed.
There is nothing wrong or sinful in having desires as long as the realization of that desire will make us happy, while at the same time will not cause harm to self or others.
However, developing an obsession for repeated fulfillment of the desire is abnormal and is prone to cause harm to self and others.
One way to overcome this obsession with our desires that leads to greed is to develop our faculty of becoming consciously aware of our needs or desires and as to why their fulfillment becomes necessary to create a state of happiness in us.
At the same time, it is prudent to watch our reactions that arise as a result of non fulfillment of our desires.
In this manner we come to understand that the thing we desire most are the things we believe we “lack” or are “afraid of losing”.
We also begin to understand that the sense of contentment or happiness we feel on the successful accomplishment of our desire is the result of the disappearance of the stress of the “lack” we feel as well as the “fear of losing” or “not having enough”.
If we do not become aware of these subconscious drives that translate themselves into actions of repeated and compulsive fulfillment of desires, we end up becoming greedy.
Let us contemplate on this quote on greed before signing off
“Greed is a bottomless pit which exhausts the person in an endless effort to satisfy the need without ever reaching satisfaction”. - Erich Fromm