The Greed Feature
BY PHILLIP WITTMEYER
A person with the chief feature of Greed thinks of himself first.
One of the first things that comes to his mind in every situation is, "How
am I going to profit from this?", or "Is this to my advantage or
not?", or "Look out for number one". Such a person is a consumer
rather than a producer. He may be a leach on society, a freeloader. In many
cases he is opportunistic, always on the lookout for a way to enrich or gratify
himself. He tends to receive without returning equal value. He may borrow things
and not return them. He can be wasteful of the resources of others that he has
charge of. He is not one to give gifts, but he sure likes to receive them. He
thinks the world owes him a living, and is surprised when he falls on hard
times. He really feels uncomfortable with poverty.
In abstract terms, the "motion" here is that the
not-self moves inward toward the self. The Selfish person believes that he is
attractive. He thinks of himself as the center of the universe, with a strong
"gravitational" pull to bring everything to him. Himself is what he is
interested in, and he expects others to be interested in him. He likes being the
center of attention. He thinks things should naturally come to him. Since he
believes he deserves every good thing anyway, this makes him unthankful for the
things he does receive.
In the Positive Pole of +Egotism, the person is self-centered.
At best this means that his attention is focused on himself, inward rather than
outward. Consequently, he may be somewhat oblivious of and insensitive to what
is going on around him. He may be unaware of and unconcerned with the thoughts
and feelings of others. He imagines that he is likable — he is in love with
himself. He is very aware of his own internal workings: he knows what he thinks
and feels. His internal universe is much more interesting to himself than the
external world. If he does show interest in others, it is that they fulfill a
need of his own. He is very aware of his own needs, and has no trouble with the
idea of fulfilling them. Thus he can be self-indulgent, seeking gratification of
his desires. He asks for what he wants, or takes it.
In the Negative Pole of -Voracity, the person is a glutton for
something. His appetite is insatiable. It could be money or the things money can
buy. It could even be something as abstract as knowledge or truth. Whatever it
is, the person cannot get enough of it. He devours the object of his desires
like a glutton at a feast. The whole world could not fill the bottomless pit of
his desire. A person in -Voracity often uses other people. He exploits them,
takes advantage of them to fulfill his own needs. In his love for himself and
his lack of love for others, he can be ruthless in getting what he wants. He
cannot say no to himself. The extreme case could be compared to a bloodsucking
The Counterpart of Greed is the Sage Role. Greedy, selfish
people have the self-image of the Sage, but without the substance. That is, they
believe they are wise and attractive and entertaining — and they can be, but
only in a shallow and superficial way.
Greed is the complementary opposite of Renunciation. People in
Greed hate to give up anything. It is very difficult for them to sacrifice for
others. They are not at all self-critical. They believe they have few faults.
Often Greed fixates on a few things, or even just one thing.
It might be food, money, shelter, clothes, affection, or anything else. If the
desire is strong, the person will do almost anything, or pay a great price to
obtain the object of his fixation. This irrationality can make him difficult to
deal with. For instance, most people in Greed have a strong "need" for
attention. If they do not get constant attention to their every desire, they
believe they are not loved. They may do unusual or dangerous things in order to
get the attention they crave. "Spoiled" children often have this
Feature. The way to really hurt a person in Greed is to ignore him.
The underlying fear that drives Greed is the fear of loss or
lack. The person in Greed thinks he "needs" things when he really just
wants them. He tries to work things so that there is no possibility he will ever
run out of whatever it is his greed is fixated on: he hoards it. He does not
like to throw things away, thinking that someday he may need that very item and
not be able to find it. The cure for this fear is to contemplate the Positive
Pole of Renunciation, which is +Sacrifice, the willingness to forego one's own
desires for the sake of others.
People with this Feature are often distrusted by others. The
reason for this is that one can count on people in Greed to think of themselves
first. They are always asking, "What's in this for me". They will do
what is best for themselves, even if it means that others will suffer. They are
not generous with their time, possessions, or energy. They exploit other people
without thinking about it, but if others make requests of them, they resent it
because they think they are being used unless they can find some advantage in it
for them. They are touchy about giving up anything they have because they want
to keep it for themselves.
This Feature distorts love in that it promotes narcissism. It
is good, narcissists say, to love yourself, and to an extent this is true. But
it is not good to love yourself first, as Greed leads a person to believe, nor
to love yourself last, as Renunciation leads a person to believe. It is best
that both parties benefit from any transaction, rather than that one should gain
and the other lose. This is the lesson of Renunciation and Selfishness.
page | Martyrdom
Phil Wittmeyer is a longtime Michael student and scholar of the teachings.
He can be reached at:
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