Tao Te Ching

The Power of Goodness, the Wisdom Beyond Words
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Greed

Most might normally think about greed as an uncontrollable passion. Anther way of looking at it, however, could be a a believed deception. Like consumerism and materialism in general, the foundation is believing that some form of happiness will arise from getting more. Based on the false belief in “basic badness” and ignoring our true nature, it sets our sights on goals that never gain our true desires, gaining ideas that only lead us into more confusion, and suffering. When we experience the meaningless emptiness of continually chasing after fame, fortune, pleasure, and power; our materialistic attitudes dissolve by themselves and we begin to discover the profound brilliance, the sacredness of life. Believing the advertising and taking on the role of the donkey always chasing the unreachable carrot, we chase after material things, dedicate our lives to making money and only burden ourselves with anxiety and worry.

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Quotes (65)

“Hell has three gates: lust, anger and greed.”

Vyasa व्यास c. 3000 BCE
Hindu immortals, Vishnu avatar, 5th incarnation of Brahma
from Mahābhārata महाभारतम्

Themes: Greed Anger

68. Joining Heaven & Earth

“Hell has three gates: lust, anger and greed.”

Vyasa व्यास c. 3000 BCE
Hindu immortals, Vishnu avatar, 5th incarnation of Brahma
from Mahābhārata महाभारतम्

44. Fame and Fortune

“If men had all they wished, they would be often ruined.”

Aesop 620 – 546 BCE
Hero of the oppressed and downtrodden
from Aesop's Fables, the Aesopica

Themes: Greed

75. Greed

“Always wanting, we are blinded and only see what we want.”

Lao Tzu 老子 604 BCE - via Shan Dao, chapter #1
(Lǎozǐ)
from Tao Te Ching 道德经 Dàodéjīng

Themes: Greed Desire

“When the rich spend taxes on making themselves richer, the people starve.”

Lao Tzu 老子 604 BCE - via Shan Dao, chapter #75
(Lǎozǐ)
from Tao Te Ching 道德经 Dàodéjīng

Themes: Greed

75. Greed

“When the people don’t have enough, why should the rich have too much?”

Lao Tzu 老子 604 BCE - via Shan Dao, chapter #75
(Lǎozǐ)
from Tao Te Ching 道德经 Dàodéjīng

Themes: Greed

“The ignorant and simple-minded burn with the fires of greed, anger and folly. Obsessed with ideas of birth, growth and destruction, they fall into the habit of grasping becoming fixated and attached.”

Buddha गौतम बुद्ध 563 – 483 BCE via Shan Dao
(Siddhartha Shakyamuni Gautama)
Awakened Truth
from Laṅkāvatāra Sūtra

“The rich have become so unsocial, those who own property had rather throw their possessions into the sea than lend aid to the needy, while those who are in power circumstance would less gladly find a treasure than seize the possessions of the rich.”

Isocrates Ἰσοκράτης 436 – 338 BCE
from Works

“He who is not satisfied with a little, is satisfied with nothing.”

Epicurus ɛpɪˈkjɔːrəs 341 – 270 BCE
from On Nature

Themes: Wealth Greed

75. Greed

“Whoever loves money never has enough.”

Koheleth c. 330–180 BCE
from Ecclesiastes קֹהֶלֶת‎

Themes: Greed Wealth

44. Fame and Fortune

“Avarice of the old... how absurd to increase one's baggage as one nears their journey's end.”

Cicero 106 – 43 BCE
from De Re Publica, 54-51 BCE

Themes: Greed Old Age

“In the 1950s, a typical CEO made 20 times the salary of his or her average worker. Last year, CEO pay at an S&P 500 Index firm soared to an average of 361 times more than the average rank-and-file worker, or pay of $13,940,000 a year ($13,940,000 divided by 261 = $53,410 per day).”

Anonymous -800 to present
Freedom from the narrow boxes defined by personal history
from AFL-CIO's Executive Paywatch News (May, 2018)​

Themes: Greed

“He who is greedy is always in want.”

Horace 65 – 8 BCE

Themes: Greed

75. Greed

“How slight and insignificant is the thing which casts down or restores a mind greedy for praise.”

Horace 65 – 8 BCE

Themes: Greed

77. Stringing a Bow

“An imbalance between rich and poor is the oldest and most fatal ailment of all republics.”

Plutarch 46 – 120 CE
(Lucius Mestrius Plutarchus)

53. Shameless Thieves

“The ignorant mind, with its infinite afflictions, passions, and evils, is rooted in the three poisons. Greed, anger, and delusion.”

Bodhidharma 菩提達磨 5th-6th C. CE
(Daruma)

Themes: Greed Anger

68. Joining Heaven & Earth

“A greedy man who piles up wealth
is like an owl who loves her chicks
the chicks grow up and eat their mother.
Wealth eventually swallows its owner.
Spread it around and blessings grow.”

Han Shan c. 730-850 CE
(Cold Mountain)

Themes: Greed Wealth

75. Greed

“Many men hoard for the future husbands of their wives.”

Solomon ibn Gabirol שלמה בן יהודה אבן גבירול 1021 – 1070 CE via Ascher
(Avicebron)
from Choice of Pearls

Themes: Greed Marriage

“Losing something is the result of possessing something. How can people lose what they don't possess?”

Su Che 呂洞 1039 – 1112 CE via Red Pine
(Su Zhe)
Great writer of the Tang and Sung dynasties
from Tao-te-chen-ching-chu

Themes: Materialism Greed

2. The Wordless Teachings

“She who weds a rich man rather than a poor and desires more things in her husband than he does himself, deserves payment rather than love.”

Heloise 1090 – 1164 CE via Shan Dao

“Many winds full of anger, lust and greed move rubbish around. The solid mountain of true nature however, stays where it's always been.”

Rumi مولانا جلال‌الدین محمد بلخی 1207 – 1283 CE via Shan Dao
(Rumi Mawlānā Jalāl ad-Dīn Muḥammad Balkhī)
from Masnavi مثنوي معنوي‎‎) "Rhyming Couplets of Profound Spiritual Meaning”

68. Joining Heaven & Earth

“Pride, envy, avarice—these are the sparks that set on fire the hearts of a all men.”

Dante 1265 – 1321 CE via Inferno
(Durante degli Alighieri)
from Divine Comedy

“Always panting for riches and never giving our souls or our bodies a moment's peace, we are thrown into a continuous state of misery and anxiety.”

Poggio Bracciolini 1380 – 1459 CE via Sansoni
from Nel VI Centenario della Nascita

Themes: Greed Wealth Health

“Above all things, good policy is to prevent treasuries and monies in a state from being gathered into a few hands.”

Machiavelli 1469 – 1527 CE
(Niccolò Machiavelli)
from The Prince

“Personal prejudice and financial greed are the two great evils that threaten courts of law, and once they get the upper hand they immediately hamstring society, by destroying all justice.”

Thomas More 1478 – 1535 CE
from Utopia

Themes: Greed Justice

“Robbers and thieves arise from hunger and cold. If people are hungry and have no means to live, they have no choice but to steal. When people steal, it’s because those above force them..”

Deqing 1546 – 1623 CE
(Te-Ch’ing)

75. Greed

“The Way of Heaven is to give but not to take The Way of Humankind is to take but not to give.”

Deqing 1546 – 1623 CE
(Te-Ch’ing)

Themes: Compassion Greed

77. Stringing a Bow

“No one will gain all without having lost all.”

Madame Guyon Jeanne-Marie Bouvier de la Motte-Guyon 1648 – 1717 CE via Thomas Taylor Allen
from Autobiography of Madame Guyon

Themes: Greed Failure

“As Lao-tzu says: ‘Know your limits and you’ll suffer no disgrace, know when to stop and you’ll be in no danger.’ Let no man take too much.”

Kāngxī 康熙帝 1654 – 1722 CE via Jonathan D. Spence
from Emperor of China, Self-Portrait of K'ang-hsi

46. Enough

“Delusion and enlightenment produce one another… You get rid of this, then grab hold of that. Don’t you see how stupid it is!”

Ryokan 良寛大愚 1758 – 1758 CE
(Ryōkan Taigu,“The Great Fool”)

19. All Methods Become Obstacles

“Others will enjoy the wealth we as misers kept. Even our body we hold so dear will be left behind.”

Jamgon Kongtrul the Great འཇམ་མགོན་ཀོང་སྤྲུལ་བློ་གྲོས་མཐའ་ཡས། 1813 – 1899 CE
(Jamgön Kongtrül Lodrö Thayé)
from Torch of Certainty

57. Wu Wei

“… men labor under a mistake. The better part of the man is soon polished into the soil for compost… they are employed laying up treasures which moth and rust will corrupt and thieves break through and steal. It is a fool’s life, as they will find when they get to the end of it, if not before.”

Henry David Thoreau 1817 – 1862 CE
Father of environmentalism and America's first yogi
from Walden or Life in the Woods

Themes: Business Greed

29. Not Doing

“The most violent, mean and malignant passions of the human breast, the Furies of private interest”

Karl Marx 1818 – 1883 CE
from Das Kapital; Capital: Critique of Political Economy

Themes: Greed

“From the first day to this, sheer greed was the driving spirit of civilization.”

Friedrich Engels 1820 – 1895 CE
Businessman-philosopher, political theorist

“There are many things that we would throw away, if we were not afraid that others might pick them up.”

Oscar Wilde 1854 – 1900 CE
from Picture of Dorian Gray

Themes: Greed

“I could see that the Wasichus [white man] did not care for each other the way our people did before the nation's hoop was broken. They would take everything from each other if they could, and so there were some who had more of everything than they could use, while crowds of people had nothing at all and maybe were starving. This could not be better than the old ways of my people.”

Black Elk 1863 – 1950 CE
(Heȟáka Sápa)

Themes: Capitalism Greed

75. Greed

“Among the rich you will never find a really generous man even by accident… they are egotistic, secretive, dry as old bones. To be smart enough to get all that money you must be dull enough to want it.”

G. K. Chesterton 1874 – 1936 CE

46. Enough

“And all the greedy gushes out through their small souls. And all the lazy leaks down over their brash bodies. How small it's all!”

James Joyce 1882 – 1941 CE
from Finnegan's Wake

“insecurity is the mother of greed, as cruelty is the memory - if only in the blood - of a time when the test of survival (as now between states) was the ability to kill.”

Will (and Ariel) Durant 1885 – 1981 CE
from Lessons of History

Themes: Greed War

“This Power Elite directly employs several millions of the country´s working force in its factories, offices and stores, controls many millions more by lending them the money to buy its products, and, through its ownership of the media of mass communication, influences the thoughts, the feelings and the actions of virtually everybody. To parody the words of W. Churchill, never have so many been manipulated so much by few.”

Aldous Huxley 1894 – 1963 CE

Themes: Wealth Greed

13. Honor and Disgrace

“Deception arises when I want, when I am greedy, when I say, 'All experience is hollow, I want something mysterious'—then I am caught.”

Krishnamurti 1895 – 1986 CE
(Jiddu Krishnamurti)
from Awakening of Intelligence

Themes: Greed Deception

“Greed has no satiation point, since its consummation does not fill the inner emptiness, boredom, loneliness, and depression it is meant to overcome.”

Eric Fromm 1900 – 1980 CE

Themes: Greed

75. Greed

“Desire killed that man, as desire has killed many before and after him If this earth should ever be destroyed, it will be by desire, by the lust of pleasure and self-gratification, by greed.”

John Fire Lame Deer 1903 – 1976 CE via Richard Erdoes

31. Victory Funeral

“Earthly goods are given to be used, not to be collected. Hoarding is idolatry.”

Dietrich Bonhoeffer 1906 – 1945 CE

Themes: Greed

44. Fame and Fortune

“In this world laws are written for the lofty aim of ‘the common good’ and then acted out in life on the basis of the common greed.”

Saul Alinsky 1909 – 1972 CE

“How can we disarm greed and envy? Perhaps by being much less greedy and envious ourselves; perhaps by resisting the temptation of letting our luxuries become needs; and perhaps by even scrutinizing our needs to see if they cannot be simplified and reduced.”

E. F. Schumacher 1911 – 1977 CE
The “People's Economist”
from Small Is Beautiful: A Study of Economics As If People Mattered

Themes: Greed

75. Greed

“The cultivation and expansion of needs is the antithesis of wisdom. It is also the antithesis of freedom and peace. Every increase in needs tends to increase one's dependence on outside forces over which one cannot have control, and therefore increases existential fear. Only by a reduction of needs can one promote a genuine reduction in those tensions which are the ultimate causes of strife and war.”

E. F. Schumacher 1911 – 1977 CE
The “People's Economist”

44. Fame and Fortune

“Ignorance, hatred and greed are killing nature.”

Masanobu Fukuoka 福岡 正信 1913 – 2008 CE via Larry Korn
from One Straw Revolution

68. Joining Heaven & Earth

“To try to extinguish the drive for riches with money is like trying to quench a fire by pouring butter over it.”

Huston Smith 1919 – 2016 CE
from World's Religions

Themes: Money Greed

“You can never get enough of what you don't really want.”

Huston Smith 1919 – 2016 CE

Themes: Desire Greed

“All some folks want is their fair share… and yours.”

Warren Bennis 1925 – 2014 CE
Authentic Leadership pioneering thought leader

Themes: Greed

“Appeals to the base lusts that hide in everyone no matter how respectable on the surface. Yes, the novelist knows humanity, how worthless they are , ruled by their testicle, swayed by cowardice, selling out every cause because of their greed”

Philip K. Dick 1928 – 1982 CE
Legendary consciousness provocateur
from Man in the High Castle,

“To lose the sense of sacredness of the world is a mortal loss. To injure our world by excesses of greed and ingenuity is to endanger our own sacredness.”

Ursula Le Guin 1929 – 2018 CE

Themes: Greed

29. Not Doing

“downstream in this river of life, our children will pay for our selfishness, for our greed, and for our lack of vision.”

Oren Lyons 1930 CE –

68. Joining Heaven & Earth

“Orwell feared those who would deprive us of information. Huxley feared those who would give us so much that we would be reduced to passivity and egoism.”

Neil Postman 1931 – 2003 CE
from Amusing Ourselves to Death

“I understood why… their children, inevitably, took those things for granted… Hence the materialistic and often greedy and selfish lifestyle of so many young people in the Western world, especially in the United States. ”

Jane Goodall 1934 CE –

Themes: Materialism Greed

“We Americans are not usually thought to be a submissive people, but of course we are. Why else would we allow our country to be destroyed? Why else would we be rewarding its destroyers? Why else would we all — by proxies we have given to greedy corporations and corrupt politicians — be participating in its destruction?”

Wendell Berry 1934 CE –

Themes: Greed Consumerism

58. Goals Without Means

“When the focus of your practice becomes like the light of the sun penetrating a magnifying glass so sharply that it makes a fire, it dissolves greed, anger, and ignorance, the three great obstacles to our original heart/mind.”

Jakusho Kwong 1935 CE –
from No Beginning, No End: The Intimate Heart of Zen

68. Joining Heaven & Earth

“Imagine there's no countries
It isn't hard to do…
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world...”

John Lennon 1940 – 1980 CE

Themes: Greed

78. Water

“Let me ask you one question,
Is your money that good?
Will it buy you forgiveness?
Do you think that it could?
I think you will find
When your death takes its toll
All the money you made
Will never buy back your soul.”

Bob Dylan 1941 CE –

53. Shameless Thieves

“health, social life, job, house, partners, finances; leisure use, leisure amount; working time, education, income, children; food, water, shelter, clothing, sex, health care; mobility; physical safety, social safety, job security, savings account, insurance, disability protection, family leave, vacation; place tenure, a commons; access to wilderness, mountains, ocean; peace, political stability, political input, political satisfaction; air, water, esteem; status, recognition; home, community, neighbors, civil society, sports, the arts; longevity treatments, gender choice; the opportunity to become more what you are — that's all you need”

Kim Stanley Robinson 1952 CE –
from 2312

“Struck by the arrows of greed, we don’t see that it is our own desire for conveniences… that actually supports the wars that are devastating our world.”

Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche རྫོང་གསར་ འཇམ་དབྱངས་ མཁྱེན་བརྩེ་ རིན་པོ་ཆེ། 1961 CE –
(Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse Rinpoche)
"Activity" incarnation of Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo
from What Makes You Not a Buddhist

Themes: Greed War

68. Joining Heaven & Earth

“If it were not for certain people's greed for wealth, the highways would be filled with cars powered by the sun, and no one would be starving. Such advances are technologically and physically possible, but apparently not emotionally possible.”

Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche རྫོང་གསར་ འཇམ་དབྱངས་ མཁྱེན་བརྩེ་ རིན་པོ་ཆེ། 1961 CE –
(Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse Rinpoche)
"Activity" incarnation of Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo
from What Makes You Not a Buddhist

53. Shameless Thieves

“The capitalist and consumerist ethics are two sides of the same coin, a merger of two commandments. The supreme commandment of the rich is ‘Invest!’ The supreme commandment of the rest of us is ‘Buy!’”

Yuval Harari יובל נח הררי‎ 1976 CE –
Israeli historian, professor, and philosopher

from Sapiens

Themes: Consumerism Greed

“This is the dark side of the ‘American dream.’ We blame the poor, accusing them of being poor because they do not work hard enough. Yet for the most part, the poor have less because the rich have taken more.”

Karmapa XVII ཨོ་རྒྱན་འཕྲིན་ལས་རྡོ་རྗ 1985 CE –
(Orgyen Thrinlay Dorje)

75. Greed

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