I am blogging with a fairly hot potato of a topic today… Greed.
Well I still read Viz adult comic… I have been reading it since I was 14 years old, that was the earliest age my parents would allow me to read it… It makes me laugh out loud and I look forward to it landing on my doorstep every 6 weeks… it is not for the weak of heart or those who shy away from the profane and often shocking sense of humour… Why do i mention this today?
This latest edition, they ran a satirical and hilarious story entitled “Sir Fred Goodwin — The fat Cat” and the main character was an actual cat, with Fred Goodwins looks, searching high and low for pensions to consume in cartoon format… it made me giggle…
When I looked at this deeper, reflected on the fact that Panorama on BBC1 had a full story on Fred Goodwin, the media are talking about him retiring, leaving the Royal bank of Scotland near collapse, apparently he was partially instrumental in the utterly poor buy-out of other banks and for using up most of the banks cash reserves, then to top it all off, he leaves the bank with his hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of pension still in tact… He is being portrayed as greedy, isn’t he?
I want to talk about greed today, because I reckon everyone is greedy… Am I being provocative today? Let’s see…
In the US for example, the notion of greed being wrong is being helped along by the newly imprisoned investment broker Bernie Madoff’s fifty-billion-dollar Ponzi scheme, the Wall Street collapse, the AIG scandal, and the bursting of an overinflated housing bubble… There are similar parallels all over the globe.
Many believe that all this is built on the foundations of greed… Of so many people in various roles.
Of course, viewing greed as selfish, sinful, wrong or evil is not a new way of thinking, is it? Greed is cited as one of the Seven Deadly Sins by the Catholic Church… And Dante’s Inferno dedicates an entire circle of Hell to the painful punishment of the greedy, and you would not want to hang out in that circle, would you? In the brilliant film Se7en, the ‘greedy’ defense attorney is killed by Kevin Spacey’s character and is found with GREED written in his own blood on the floor.
It seems there are not many fans of greed. I mean, even the word is not a nice sounding one, it is?
Soooo… How do I ask this nicely… Without getting up to many backs… I’ll just ask it straight out… Is greed ever good?
Greed is traditionally considered a sin of excess. many believe that our current financial crisis is born out of an age of blind excess. Currently, as far as I can see… Greed is also being applied to the acquisition of material wealth…
Where does greed originate? Where does it start? How do we go about getting greedy? I mean, I must confess that I like having more money… Am I therefore just a fat cat? An A1 immoral? A wrongun?
In my earlier years, I used to go to a Buddhist meditation group and they would often see greed as closely linked with what Buddhists referred to as desire: an overattachment to the material world and its pleasures which is at the root of all human suffering.
I think the key here is that greed seems to be about never being satisfied with what one has, always wanting and expecting more. I mean what was going on with Mr Madoff? Was he not happy with his first illegally acquired $10 billion? He needed another $40 billion? He must have had some BIG pockets…
Perhaps it is an insatiable hunger… And this is where things start to interest me… The church may well suggest filling that hunger with spiritual sustinence, no? Someone like myself may suggest knowing, finding and exploring your mind to find how to find more comfortable levels of fulfilment… And that is where I am leading this blgo entry today… To attempt to show you that being greedy and selfish may actually be necessary to be free of the wrong kind of greed… The kind that the Emperor had in the Star Wars trilogy and that mr madoff seemed to have…
You know what I reckon then? And this may pickle your thought process a little bit…
Incredibly ironically maybe greed really arises from too little inner selfishness. How about that for a notion?
That’s right, I tend to think that greed grows from ignorance of one’s self. For example, some might view addiction as a form of greed. Addicts always want more of what gets them high, gives them pleasure, enables escape from anxiety, life, suffering or even from themselves.
They greedily crave that which their addiction provides for them. Whether that is drugs, sex, gambling, eating, pornography, internet, television, fame, power or money. That list could go on.
We all have our personal addictions of one kind or another and varying in severity: workaholism, rationalism, shopaholism (my wife needs to read this), perfectionism (Hmmm… I am taking note for myself) or whatever else it may be, we all tend to have things we do on a continual basis. Maybe, this is our sometimes futile attempt to fill a psychological and emotional gap within ourselves, to gratify some long-buried need… Maybe it is even to heal or numb an old psychological wound of some kind.
Psychologists might say that some of these self-defeating behaviours are rooted in formerly unmet needs in our very early years, or through childhood and adult trauma… I’d add to that list a failure to be appropriately sufficiently selfish.
Greed is a kind of selfishness. And most of us are taught from childhood that selfishness is sinful, bad or evil. I mentioned this idea a while ago on this blog and in my member area and was met with some major resistence…
So that brings me on nicely to some more provocation today… Is selfishness necessarily nasty? Is it totally negative? Is it non-spiritual? Is it really that antisocial? I am pretty selfish (in terms I’ll lay out later) and I think of myself as fairly agreeable socially! 😉
I want to ask as to whether selfishness sometimes be a good thing? “What? Being selfish? A good thing? Pah Adam, you’ve gone mad, I’m never reading your blog again…”
Hang on a minute… Can being selfish asctually be healthy? Necessary? Progressive? Even spiritual? Can we actually get too selfless for our own good? Is selflessness always what’s best for you? Your mind? Your life? Your very well-being? Hmmm, I just realised I am asking more questions than giving answers today… I class that as a good thing…
Can being more selfish in the right way restore rather than reduce our well-being? I think some people worry that selfishness can sometimes cross the line into egoism, over-self-indulgence, destructive greed and all kinds of other unattractive types of personality. I don’t think that has to be the case.
Many of my clients, students and friends struggle regularly with the issue of selfishness. Because often, they feel conflicted and even guilt-stricken about acknowledging and asserting their own selfish needs, feelings, wishes and wants.
Is nurturing one’s own sense of self being selfish? Looking to achieve some of our innermost needs? Actualising one’s innate and marvellous potential? What about beautifully expressing one’s self in the world, free of inhinition? Because I do think so… And if so, could this sort of selfishness enhance our well-being, could it be positive, beneficial or therapeutic? Again, I think so.
The right kind of selfishness, one that honours, enjoys and respects our true self — is surely essential to emotional and psychological healing… And to finding and fulfilling one’s own sense of purpose… Anyone wanting to boost their self-esteem, for example, needs to feel a slight sense of purpose in life, don’t they?
So what is the balance? To being selfish in the right way, at the right time, and in the right measure? When you know your self, it is easier to find that balance.
One of the most difficult tasks I face in my therapeutic work, is demonstrating to clients how to be selfish in a progressive way. Tough if you are working with someone whose life has been in seeming complete servitude to their family and friends….
I am a big believer that this consistent and persistent investment in one’s self can provide a powerful antidote to greed, gluttony and therefore to addiction.
It is easy and convenient to condemn the selfish greed we see all around us… Heck, I wrote about victim-hood earlier in the week and the easiness of blaming others… It is a prevalent notion in our news and media sources right now.
Greed is about being selfish, but in the wrong way. What is the right way of being selfish? How does one become more healthily — rather than greedily — selfish?
First we must seek out the self. Get to know who we really are. Listen to our thoughts, understand who we are buried beneath all this… This process begins by regularly observing and notcing our own inner thoughts, feelings, impulses, perceptions and needs. Yes, I’m talking about forming a relationship with your self.
Self-hypnosis can help in this process. So can meditation. Self-hypnosis is my own method of choice and my favourite subject in the world, you know that.
I tend to think that once you know and understand yourself at a holistic level… Man, that sounded a bit new age… It then becomes our responsibility to respond to the needs of the self.
Refusal to do so leads to innumerable issues and problems in my experience. Summoning the courage to be selfish in the sense of healthily attending to and following the self’s directions does lead, rather ironically again, not to greater greed, but to a more grounded, balanced, inspired and meaningful life. A life informed and guided by the self… Now that is some way to live, is it not?