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Saturday, February 11, 2006

Greedy pigs?...Really?

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Greed is No More than a Feeling of Emptiness
Discourse: Osho

Just to understand the nature of greed is enough. You need not do anything else to get rid of it; the very understanding will clarify the whole mess.

Man is full if he is in tune with the universe; if he not, he is empty, utterly empty. And out of that emptiness comes greed. Greed is to fill it: by money, houses, furniture, friends, lovers - by anything, because one cannot live as emptiness. It is horrifying, it is a ghost life. If you are empty and there is nothing inside you, it is impossible to live.

To have the feeling that you have much inside you, there are only two ways; either you get in tune with the universe... Then you are filled with the whole, with all the flowers and with all the stars. They are within you just as they are without you. That is real fulfillment. But if you don't do that, and millions of people are not doing that, then the easiest way is to fill it with any junk.

Greed simply means you are feeling a deep emptiness and you want to fill it with anything possible - it doesn't matter what it is. And once you understand it, then you have nothing to do with greed. You have something to do with your coming into communion with the whole, so the inner emptiness disappears. And with it, all greed disappears. That does not mean that you start living naked; that simply means you do not live just to collect things. Whenever you need something you can have it.

Somebody is collecting money although he never uses it. A thing has to be a utility; if it is not a utility then there is no need for it. But this thing can take any direction: people are eating; they are not feeling hungry and still they go on swallowing. They know that they will be sick, but they cannot prevent themselves. This eating is also a filling-up process.

So there can be many directions and many ways to fill emptiness, although it is never full - it remains empty, and you remain miserable because it is never enough. I don't take greed as a desire - it is some existential sickness. You are not in tune with the whole, and only that tuning with the whole can make you healthy. That tuning with the whole can make you holy.


Religions have misunderstood greed as a desire, so they try to repress it: "Don't be greedy". Then one moves to the other extreme, to renounce. The person who wants to get rid of greed starts renouncing.

To me, greed is not a deisre at all. So you need not do anything about greed. You have to understand the emptiness that you are trying to fill, and ask the question, "Why am I empty? The whole existence is so full, why am I empty? Perhaps I have lost track, I am no longer existential. That is the cause of my emptiness".

So be existential. Let go, and move closer to existence in silence and peace, in meditation. And one day you will see you are so full of joy, of blissfulness, of benediction. You have so much of it that you can give it to the whole world and yet it will not be exhausted. That day, for the first time you will not feel any greed - for money, for food, for things, for anything. You will live naturally, and whatever is needed you will find it. And you will live, not with a constant greed that cannot be fulfilled, a wound that cannot be healed.
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Before I make any kind of comment about this particular piece, I'd just like to say that there are some things here that may appear to be either controversial, or seem to go against more generally accepted truths. And there are some things that I happened to not agree with when I first read it. But that makes for a better discussion eh? Anyway, I do admire the fact that he makes a distinction between a 'sin' like greed being nothing more than a mechanism by which we cope with emptiness, as opposed to one of the "seven deadly sins".

Personally, I liked the fact that Osho talked about greed as something that comes of the effort people make to deal with a lack of something in their lives. It all comes down to experience is what he seems to be saying, and that my friends, is like an ultimate truth in itself.

However, I don't necessarily agree with the fact that renunciation is not in some way the answer to emptiness. Now, I will say that before one gives a particular thing or a habit up, one must be aware of the fact that doing so for any reason other than a conscious decision made by oneself is not going to work. Take smoking, for example...or giving it up, as the case may be. People have tried. Patches have been invented. And nicotine gum has been chewed. In fact, New Year resolutions have been made, and people have also attempted to quit because their 'partner' or the 'mother' asked them not to. For those of you who fall into any one of these types of 'attempted-quits', and are still puffing away whether or not it's in public or in the toilet because you don't want anyone else to know that you still do, you know what I'm talking about. If it makes you feel any better, I've been what I'd like to call an on-again-off-again smoker too. But I do realize that at some point I'm going to have to decide to either quit 'for good' or to stop worrying about trying to quit in the first place...my preferred answer being the former, of course. And although it stands to reason that one cannot renounce something that one does not have, it also stands to reason that renunciation isn't really a 'giving up' of something that has to be rued till the day one finally kicks the proverbial bucket. You have to understand why you're doing what you're doing, and once you do then you have to 'run with it'. I'm guessing that's what the Buddha had in mind when he came up with the idea of renunciation as a means of attaining enlightenment. And this is the underlying idea that I didn't agree with in Osho's discourse. But I did like the fact that he asked 'why'...he he he.

The "emptiness" that Osho speaks of seems to be the kind that we all experience from time to time. And that's fine. But I feel that there's nothing wrong with emptiness, and I'm sure he doesn't either, it's just the way that it's dealt with that forms the message of the article above. Well, an additional dimension to this emptiness is the fact that emptiness, or one's ability to accept it as quite possibly the only thing that we truly own as human beings in this great rat race called life, will ultimately lead us to our own salvation/enlightenment.

Well, and you may think that none of this was directly addressed in the discourse, it was another one of those 'things' which got the mental juices flowing. Has anyone come face-to-face with emptiness? I mean like real and true-to-God emptiness. Have you ever wondered why it exists? Also, have you ever questioned if it's better to do something about it or to leave it alone for a while and see what else fills the void? Or if it ends up creating another void...and another...until pretty soon your life looks like a slice of swiss cheese. Anyone? Is there really something wrong in feeling 'empty'? Or is it one of those things that you should embrace, like the first rays of sunlight on a brand new day?
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