Greed: Inner Emptiness
WHEN YOU SPOKE OF GREED, I WAS TOTALLY HORRIFIED. I HAVE FINALLY REACHED A POINT WHERE I AM WILLING TO SEE HOW BIG A PART IT PLAYS IN MY LIFE, AND THE MISERY IT BRINGS WITH IT. COULD YOU PLEASE SHED MORE LIGHT ON WHAT THIS THING CALLED GREED IS, WHERE IT COMES FROM? — AND PERHAPS OFFER SOME TOOLS TO HELP ME?
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 is not in tune with the universe then he is empty, utterly empty. And out of that emptiness comes greed. Greed is to fill it: by money, by houses, by furniture, by friends, by 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.
I used to live with a man. He was a rich man and he had a beautiful house. And somehow he became interested in my ideas; he listened to a few of my lectures, and he invited me, saying, “Why live far away, out of the city? I have a beautiful house in the city and it is so big; you can have half of the house. And I am not going to charge you, I simply want your presence to be there in my house.”
I was living outside, in the mountains, but it was difficult to come from there to the university. From his house the university was very close. His house had a beautiful garden and was in the best locality of the city, so I accepted his invitation.
But when I went into his house I could not believe it; he had so much junk collected that there was no place to live. The house was big, but his collection was bigger — and a collection which was absolutely stupid. Anything that he could find in the market he would purchase. I asked him, “What are you going to do with all these things?”
And he said, “One never knows, some day one may need it.”
“But,” I said, “where is one going to live in this house?” So much furniture of all ages… because the Europeans had left the country so they had to sell all their things. He could not have enough; he managed to purchase anything, things which he did not need. A car was standing in the porch which always remained standing because it was too old, broken. And I asked him, “Why don’t you throw it away? At least to clean up the place…”
And he said, “It looks good in the porch.”
All the tires were punctured — it was of no use. Whenever you had to move it from here and there, you had to push it, pull it back. And it was there, rotting. He said, “I got it at a very reasonable price. It belonged to an old woman who used to be a nurse here and who has gone back to England.”
But I said, “If you were interested in purchasing a car then at least you should have purchased a car which moves.”
He said, “I am not interested in movement. My bicycle is perfectly good.” And his bicycle was also a marvel. You would know that he was coming from one mile away, the bicycle made so much noise; it had no mudguards, no chain cover — it must have been the oldest bicycle made. It had no horn.
He said, “There is no need for a horn. It makes so much noise that at least for one mile ahead people are already giving way. And it is a good thing, because it cannot be stolen.”
I said, “That is strange. Why can’t it be stolen?”
He said, “Nobody else can ride on it. It has been stolen twice, and the thief was caught immediately — because it makes so much noise, and everybody knows that it is my bicycle, so people caught the thief and asked him, `Where are you taking the bicycle?’
“I can leave it anywhere. I go to see a movie — I don’t put it on a bicycle stand, because then you have to pay money. I put it anywhere, and it is always there — when I come back it is always there. Everybody knows that it is a trouble. And even if you can get it to your home you cannot ride on it in the city — you will be caught. So it is better not to bother with it.”
He said, “It is a rare specimen.”
I said, “The way you describe it, it looks like it.”
And he had all kinds of things in his house… broken radios, because he could get them cheap. He was a Jaina and he had a broken statue of Jesus Christ on the cross.
I said, “What have you purchased it for?”
He said, “The woman gave it to me free when I purchased the car — she offered it to me as a present. I don’t believe in Jesus Christ or anything, but I could not refuse a piece of art.”
I said to him, “Half of the house from today you take to the other half — my part has to be empty.”
And he was very happy to take everything. Already his house was so full you could not walk — you could not find your way. He took everything. He had so many kinds of furniture that he had piled up on the sofa; it was not used, because you cannot sit on a sofa that is touching the roof. And I asked, “Why?”
“He said, “you don’t understand — the price! And someday I may get married” — he was not married — “and I may have children and they may need all these things. You don’t be worried, everything will be of some use sometime.”
Even on the road, if he could find anything lying there which had been thrown by somebody, he would pick it up. One day he was walking with me from the garden to the house and he found a bicycle handle, and he picked it up. But I said, “What will you do with a bicycle handle?”
He said, “You don’t understand. I will show you.” I went with him. In his bathroom he had almost a bicycle — just a few things were missing. And he said, “All these things I have picked up from the road. And I go on joining them and putting them together. Now a few things are missing. The chain is not there, the seat is not there, but I will get them. Somebody is going to throw them away someday. Life is long, and what is the harm? It looks perfectly good in the bathroom.”
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. But there are mad people all over the world, and they are collecting… Somebody is collecting money although he never uses it. That is strange. In the commune, we had made a sticker for cars: “Moses earns, Jesus saves, Osho spends.”
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 this is going to create suffering, 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. More is needed, and the more and the demand for more is unending.
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.
It is strange that the word health, and the word holy both come from `wholeness’. When you are feeling one with wholeness all greed disappears. Otherwise… what have religions been doing? They 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. One collects — the greedy person; and the person who wants to get rid of greed starts renouncing. There too there is no end…To me, greed is not a desire 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 moving in the same direction, 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 — overfull, overflowing — 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.
This is an excerpt from the transcript of a public discourse by Osho in Buddha Hall, Shree Rajneesh Ashram, Pune.
Chapter title: The circle can be broken
25 April 1986 am in
Osho has spoken on ‘greed, anger, frustration, emptiness’ in many of His discourses. More on the subject can be referred to in the following books/discourses:
- Bodhidharma: The Greatest Zen Master
- The Dhammapada: The Way of the Buddha, Vol 6, 9
- The Discipline of Transcendence, Vol 4
- The Hidden Splendor
- Tantra: The Supreme Understanding
- Vigyan Bhairav Tantra, Vol 1, 2
- And The Flowers Showered
- The Path of the Mystic
- The Ultimate Alchemy, Vol 1, 2
- Yoga: The Alpha and the Omega, Vol 1, 4, 5
- From Death to Deathlessness
- The New Dawn
- The Secret