JOY: The Journal of Yoga
Summer 2004, Volume 3, Number 5

Yoga: The Practice of Non-Greed
John C. Kimbrough

When we learn and practice Yoga, not only do we perform actions that seem to be primarily physical, such as postures, breathing techniques and meditation, but we also attempt to cultivate certain mental and behavioral actions and activities.

The reason for this is that Yoga states that these mental and behavioral actions and activities are ones that make us more balanced as individuals and make our interactions with others more harmonious.

The idea of greed as being something that can lead to a multitude or problems is a major one in both the Yoga and Buddhist systems.

Practitioners of Yoga, Buddhism and any other religious or spiritual disciplines will see the wisdom in Gandhi’s statement that “the earth provides enough for everybody’s need but not enough for everybody’s greed”.

Maybe the concept and manifestation of greed is a reflection of how we see ourselves and relate to others in the country, culture and world in which we live.

Maybe we need to have something to talk about or show others that we are a success or worthy of their love and respect.

Maybe we think that we can not get the love that we desire if we do not possess a lot of things.

Maybe many times our greed is not greed at all but just the desire to have something because in the past we had nothing at all or suffered from some kind of extreme deprivation.

Only us ourselves can see where the difference is between ambition, honest need, and greed.

Maybe greed is when we only think about what we want, in terms of money, material wealth, status and such and we see no one else and their needs or feelings in our pursuit of it.

And in fact, we may engage in actions that abuse, exploit or manipulate others.

This seems to be quite common in the world, in both the past and the present.

In fact, it seems that much of what is happening in the developed and undeveloped world is based on greed.

We can see it in Cambodia or Canada, Singapore or Sweden, Ethiopia or England.

Perhaps for many, in business and their personal life, the bottom line is profits.

And the world as a whole certainly seems to admire such behavior and qualify it as being a success.

And our environment is continuously telling us to buy, to consume, to have this, and that if you have or do this, you will be hip, modern, cool, fashionable and accepted, respected and admired by others.

Perhaps we mistake respect as being something that we give and have if we have status, power and influence, instead of just seeing the fact that others are similar to us and that alone is enough for us to give them our respect.

It can be a hard, challenging and difficult road to walk when we live a life that is based on non-greed.

We may be made fun of or ridiculed or at least not well understood if we choose a different way.

Things from the past and fears about the future may also make us greedy.

If we are going to practice non-greed in our dailylife as Yoga suggests that we do, we may need to start with small things.

All people do not have to love us or accept us the way we are and we do not have to strive for such a thing in them.

We can try to get by on less food or comfort each day.

We can be less upset or resentful if others do not agree with our social, political and other views and opinions of others, the world and life.

Greed manifests itself in different ways, not just in wanting to have more financial and material wealth.

We engage in greed when we want or insist that another accept or have the same point of view as we do.

We engage in greed when we insist that things happen and go in the way that we want them to.

We engage in greed when we consciously manipulate others to suit our desires and ends.

And when we do any of these things we demean others, not looking at them as people, but as things that we use to suit our desires.

This demeans them and also demeans ourselves.

This is why the practice of non–greed is so important.

John teaches Yoga, Buddhism and English and lives in Bangkok, Thailand. He can be reached at [email protected]

Copyright © 2004 JOY: The Journal of Yoga