The addicted pursuit of wealth is a strange topic. To many people, greed has been bound up with the idea of societal evil. Other people consider it to just be the way things are, and still others are perversely proud of being greedy.
But greed is just disease. So is gluttony. The failure of mankind is pride.
He who lusts after money is pursuing a false idol, without a doubt. But the habitual over-eater lusts after food. The greedy person and the gluttonous person are both guilty of damaging the world: the greedy man discards all thoughts of humane treatment of animals, human rights, and the environment to sell cheap industrial output to the gluttonous man who consumes it without concern.
Obesity and material vanity are both widespread. Yet, for some reason many people find it easier to be compassionate toward an obese person than toward someone who is willing to sacrifice everything else for the almighty dollar. At the same time, the wealthy people are widely admired while those who practice restraint with food are held in higher social esteem than those who do not. It makes little sense.
The ground of greed and gluttony is the same sad inner state – terrible, deep feelings of insufficiency. Feeling that we are not enough, we spiritual paupers gather more and yet more into ourselves. Obsessively adding to your physical frame is the same as fanatically adding to your bank account, just a different identification – the first requires the misperception that you are a body, the second requires the misperception that you are your belongings. Since both are based on falsehood, neither can ever succeed. Since both come out of inner wastelands, people fully in obeisance to these false gods need compassion and love – or, in the very least, pity.
One’s belongings and one’s body must be discarded at the end of this day of play. Being mere aggregations – material collections bunched up around a particular facet of universal consciousness – they are nothing more than temporary dust devils twirling across the desert. Some last longer than others and some are larger than others, but all must cease.
But the eyes of these whirlwinds, the witnessing souls, do not cease. When the day of play is over, we go home to rest for a time – and perhaps we’ll come out and play again tomorrow, if we haven’t yet outgrown childhood. So, the felt goals of greed and gluttony are not their truth – their truth is a painful wrenching-away, an emotional and mental shearing as the child is parted from his or her desperately loved, but ruined and unhealthy, plaything. A terrible event awaits anyone who clings to body or belongings, but it’s terrible only because of that clinging.
Healing from the terrible feelings of insufficiency at the root of greed and gluttony is liberation. We must not despise or hate the wounded and trapped souls, although we must of course detest and work against the corruption and negativity inherent in their acts. Those acts are the essence of empire, and those who work against it are servants of the Kingdom. But it is not a war of hierarchy or a battle of virtue versus vice.
We have developed significant societal compassion for those sick of body and mind, but strangely consider the sick of heart as the “best” among us. Without excusing their acts, enabling their addiction, or allowing the thrashings of their fevered bodies to wound others – we can and must love those with diseased hearts as well.
The true and highest selves of the greedy and gluttonous are divine sparks of God no less than the healthy. They need compassion and love – but, in their illness, they must not lead us.