Need or Greed?

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.

Mahavira could never recognize Gautam Buddha as enlightened for the simple reason that he still carries three sets of clothes – just three sets of clothes, which are absolutely necessary. One you are using, one has to be washed, and one for emergency reasons… someday the clothes may not come from being washed or they are not dry, or it is raining the whole day. So, three seems to be very essential.

Mahavira is absolutely against greed. Now, that has taken to an extreme form – he is naked. Buddha carries a begging bowl. Mahavira cannot accept it because even a begging bowl is a possession, and an enlightened man, according to him, should not possess anything. A begging bowl… it is made of coconut. You cut the coconut in the middle… and there are special coconuts which are very big. You cut from the middle, you take all of the fruit out, and then two bowls are left, hard shells. That is the cheapest thing, because they are thrown away; you cannot eat them. To have a begging bowl and to call it being possessive is not right.

But when you take greed as a desire and you become stubborn, going against it, then everything is a possession. Mahavira lived naked, and instead of a begging bowl he used to make a bowl of his two hands. Now it was a very difficult thing: his two hands are full of the food and he has to eat just like the animals, because he cannot use his hands – so he has to use his mouth directly to take the food from the hands.

Everybody in the world eats sitting. But Mahavira’s idea is that when you eat sitting, you eat more. Now this is going to the opposite extreme. So, he was teaching to eat food standing, with the food in your hands; it is such a strenuous thing. You can take food only one time, so whatever can fit in your two hands at one time is one meal. You have to eat it standing, and everything has to be taken together, sweet, salty, and they all get mixed. That is Mahavira’s idea of making it tasteless, because to enjoy taste is to enjoy the body, is to enjoy matter.

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 1986.

Discourse series:

Beyond Psychology

Chapter #26
Chapter title: The circle can be broken
25 April 1986 am


Osho has spoken on the phenomena of ‘greed, emptiness, desire, health, wholeness, holy’ in His discourses. Some of these can be referred to in the following books/discourses:

  1. A Bird on the Wing
  2. Ah This!
  3. Be Still and Know
  4. The Beloved Vol.1-2
  5. Bodhidharma: The Greatest Zen Master
  6. The Zen Manifesto: Freedom from Oneself
  7. Yakusan: Straight to the point of Enlightenment
  8. Yoga: The Alpha and The Omega Vol.1-10
  9. Zen: The Mystery and the Poetry of the Beyond
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