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The Greed Feature


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 vampire.

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.

 Next page | Martyrdom



Phil Wittmeyer is a longtime Michael student and scholar of the teachings.  He can be reached at: wittmeyer@hotmail.com


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