Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Greed

"Greed is the root of all sin." - Isaac Aboab de Fonesca

"The will to power, as the modern age from Hobbes to Nietzsche understood it, far from being a characteristic of the strong, is, like envy and greed, among the vices of the weak, and possibly even their most dangerous one. Power corrupts indeed when the weak band together in order to ruin the strong, but not before." -

"The purpose of this discipline is to bring man into the habit of applying the insight that has come to him as the result of the preceding disciplines. When one is rising, standing, walking, doing something, stopping, one should constantly concentrate one’s mind on the act and the doing of it, not on one’s relation to the act, or its character or value. One should think: there is walking, there is stopping, there is realizing; not, I am walking, I am doing this, it is a good thing, it is disagreeable, I am gaining merit, it is I who am realizing how wonderful it is. Thence come vagrant thoughts, feelings of elation or of failure and unhappiness. Instead of all this, one should simply practice concentration of the mind on the act itself, understanding it to be an expedient means for attaining tranquillity of mind, realization, insight and Wisdom; and one should follow the practice in faith, willingness and gladness. After long practice the bondage of old habits become weakened and disappears, and in its place appear confidence, satisfaction, awareness and tranquillity. What is the Way of Wisdom designed to accomplish? There are three classes of conditions that hinder one from advancing along the path to Enlightenment. First, there are the allurements arising from the senses, from external conditions and from the discriminating mind. Second, there are the internal conditions of the mind, its thoughts, desires and mood. All these the earlier practices (ethical and mortificatory) are designed to eliminate. In the third class of impediments are placed the individual’s instinctive and fundamental (and therefore most insidious and persistent) urges - the will to live and to enjoy, the will to cherish one’s personality, the will to propagate, which give rise to greed and lust, fear and anger, infatuation, pride and egotism. The practice of the Wisdom Paramita is designed to control and eliminate these fundamental and instinctive hindrances." - Aśvaghoṣa NULL

"On life's journey faith is nourishment, virtuous deeds are a shelter, wisdom is the light by day and right mindfulness is the protection by night. If a man lives a pure life nothing can destroy him; if he has conquered greed nothing can limit his freedom." - Buddha, Gautama Buddha, or The Buddha, also Gotama Buddha, Siddhārtha Gautama Buddha and Buddha Śākyamuni NULL

"From its first day to this, sheer greed was the driving spirit of civilization; wealth and again wealth and once more wealth, wealth, not of society, but of the single scurvy individual - here was its one and final aim." - Friedrich Engels

"Greed is a bottomless pit which exhausts the person in an endless effort to satisfy the need without ever reaching satisfaction." -

"As wealth grows, care and greed for greater wealth follows after." - Horace, full name Quintus Horatius Flaccus NULL

"To know and to serve God, of course, is why we’re here, a clear truth that like the nose on your face, is near at hand and easily discernible but can make you dizzy if you try to focus on it hard... Even in time of elephantine vanity and greed, one never has to look far to see the campfires of gentle people. If we had no other purpose in life, it would be good enough to simply take care of them and goose them once in a while." - Garrison Keillor, fully Gary Edward "Garrison" Keillor

"Freedom means mastery of your world. Fear and greed are common sources of bondage. We are afraid, beset by anxiety. We do not know what tomorrow will bring. We seem so helpless over against the forces that move now without apparent thought for men. And our inner freedom is destroyed by greed. We think that if we only had enough goods we should be free, happy, without care. And so there comes the lust for money, and slavery to the world of things. The world can enslave; it can never make us free." - H. F. Rall, fully Harris Franklin

"Greed's worst point is its ingratitude." -

"Show me a man who is not a slave. One is a slave to lust, another to greed, another to ambition, and all men are slaves to fear...no servitude is more disgraceful than that which is self-imposed." -

"Love gives beauty to everything it touches. Not greed and utility; they produce offices, but not dwelling houses. To be able to love material things, to clothe them with tender grace, and yet not be attached to them, this is a great service." -

"Your mission is proving that a love for the earth, and for the things of the earth, is possible without materialism, a love without greed" -

"Happy the man who has learned the cause of things and has put under his feet all fear, inexorable fate, and the noisy strife of the hell of greed." - Virgil, also Vergil, fully Publius Vergilius Maro NULL

"The enemy is single selfishness and compulsive greed... I think the enemy comes to us with the face of innocence and says to us: “I am your friend.”" - Thomas Wolfe, fully Thomas Clayton Wolfe

"I think the enemy is here before us... I think the enemy is simple selfishness and compulsive greed... I think he stole our earth from us, destroyed our wealth, and ravaged and despoiled our home land." - Thomas Wolfe, fully Thomas Clayton Wolfe

"Money never can be well managed if sought solely through the greed of money for its own sake. In all meanness there is a defect of intellect as well as of heart. And event he cleverness of avarice is but the cunning of imbecility." - Edward Bulwer-Lytton, 1st Baron Lytton, fully Edward George Earle Lytton Bulwer-Lytton, Lord Lytton

"What kind of society isn't structured on greed? The problem of social organization is how to set up an arrangement under which greed will do the least harm; capitalism is that kind of a system." - Milton Friedman, fully John Milton Friedman

"Politicians... rise predominantly from... the "lower middle class"; most are self-made men... ; most depend on their political jobs for their livelihood and most have little time, inclination, or opportunity for adult education; hence the dominating qualities of so many are greed, vulgarity, attention to special interest, avarice, and selfishness." - John Gunther

"If a child who wanted to be a teacher I would bid him Godspeed as if he were going to war. For indeed the war against prejudice, greed and ignorance is eternal, and those who dedicate themselves to it give their lives not less because they may live to see some faction of the battle won." - James Hilton

"Some men make money not for the sake of living, but ache in blindness of greed and live for their fortune's sake." - Juvenal, fully Decimus Junius Juvenalis NULL

"The mark of genius is an incessant activity of mind. Genius is a spiritual greed." - V. S. Pritchett, fully Sir Victor Sawdon Pritchett

"The greed of gain has no time or limit to its capaciousness. Its one object is to produce and consume. It has pity neither for beautiful nature nor for living human beings. It is ruthlessly ready without a moment's hesitation to crush beauty and life out of them, molding them into money." -

"Eventually we'll have to confront the fact that world suffering is the result of ill-conceived thoughts taking form through misdirected action. If we're going to survive as a species, we must relinquish - to unprecedented levels, - qualities such as greed, hatred, and delusion. In other words, our very survival depends on accelerated levels of psychological and spiritual maturation." - Roger N. Walsh

"To act without rapacity, to use knowledge with wisdom, to respect interdependence, to operate without hubris and greed are not simply moral operatives. They are an accurate scientific description of the means of survival." - Barbara Mary Ward, Baroness Jackson of Lodsworth, Lady Robert Jackson

"We live in a biochemical, neurophysiological, resonant quantum soup. If this is true, the responsibility for what we have for our inner life is enormous, and extends far beyond one’s own personal and spiritual development. Whatever our inner experience might be in terms of love and passion, hate and greed, abundance and longing, or any other human qualities may well not be ours alone." - Jeanne Achterberg

"In the past, traditional art was based on making manifest what is enduring in man, like love, jealously, hatred, envy and greed… Today art has to look again at these unchanging qualities, because society is no longer unchanging. It is up to art today to show us what has become of these unchanging qualities in the world which is moving and changing." - Tawfiq al-Hakim or Tawfik el-Hakim

"The will to power . . . far from being a characteristic of the strong, is, like envy and greed, among the vices of the weak, and possibly their most dangerous one. Power corrupts indeed when the weak band together in order to ruin the strong, but not before." -

"From love comes grief, from greed comes fear; he who is free from greed knows neither grief nor fear." - Dhammapada NULL

"There is no fire like passion, no shark like hatred, no snare like folly, and no torrent like greed." - Dhammapada NULL

"We are at ease with a moral judgment made against someone’s private sin - lust or greed. We are much less comfortable judging someone’s public ethic - those decisions that can lead to such outcomes as aggression, the abuse of the environment, the neglect of the needy." - Ellen Goodman

"Every day we shall see about us evidence of human pettiness, greed, self-centeredness. But if we observe carefully we also see human nobility, generosity, self-surrender and genuine religious conviction and action. The cynic remembers only man’s faults – that is why he remains a cynic. The wise man remembers his brother’s virtues. Which shall we choose to remember?" - Sidney Greenberg

"It is precisely the greed of the businessman, or, more appropriately, his profit-seeking, which is the unexcelled protector of the consumer." - Alan Greenspan

"Our society has progressed largely because of our creativity and inquisitiveness – and because we’re competitive. We’re driven by the desire to develop products and services which are more ingenious than what others have put forth. Competition is inherently good, but when it is tainted with excess greed or negative motives, there can be harmful results. How we compete is very important to our Souls." - Tom Gregory

"If practically everything in one’s life depends on the evolution of the level of one’s consciousness, it would seem that, aside from the mere survival needs, developing the level of consciousness would eclipse all other endeavors in importance. That would seem to be so, but that has to be integrated into the overall context of one’s life. Endeavors and activities can remain the same but need to be recontextualized and repositioned within a spiritual framework. To spiritualize one’s life, it is necessary only to shift one’s motive. To constantly be aware of one’s actual motive tends to bring up positionality and the pairs of opposites, such as gain versus service or love versus greed." - David R. Hawkins, fully David Ramon Hawkins

"The human world represents a purgatorial-like range of opportunities and choices, from the most grim to the exalted, from criminality to nobility, from fear to courage, from despair to hope, and from greed to charity. This if the purpose of the human experience is to evolve, then this world is perfect just as it is." - David R. Hawkins, fully David Ramon Hawkins

"Immense hidden powers seem to lurk in the unconscious depths of even the most common man - indeed, of all people without exception. It is these powers, when put under pressure, that are responsible for all great creative efforts. The men who make history are those who - consciously or unconsciously - turn the switch on the inner switchboards of human character. Pour out all your fears and anxieties, malicious joy and greed and hatred, and you will be astonished at the terrific amount of power which is pent up in your unconscious mind. We can release this power and transform it from negative into positive power, only by bringing into the open, into the light of consciousness, and by accepting ourselves as we are, even though the mountains of debts seem to crush us. This is the principle of honesty. And it is clear that it can be applied only if connected with the principle of faith." - Fritz Künkel

"The source of peace is within us; so also the source of war. And the real enemy is within us, and not outside. The source of war is not the existence of nuclear weapons or other arms. It is the minds of human beings who decide to push the button and to use those arms out of hatred, anger or greed." - Dalai Lama, born Tenzin Gyatso NULL

"Greed for enlightenment and immortality is no different than greed for material wealth." - Lao Tzu, ne Li Urh, also Laotse, Lao Tse, Lao Tse, Lao Zi, Laozi, Lao Zi, La-tsze

"The essence of [the “con game”] consists of an approach to a formally respectable person with an offer of great gain to be made by engaging in an operation that is safe but frankly shady. In the end the person being “conned” is tricked through is own illicit greed." - Ferdinand Lundberg

"Greed for ownership has taken such a hold of us that we seem to be possessed by wealth rather than to possess it." -

"Money is the standard now. It’s the new religion. We have two religions in this country, fundamentalism and money, and I don’t know which is worse. I don’t see the death of greed. I see people worried that they may have come along a couple of years too late." - Felix Rohatyn, fully Felix George Rohatyn

"Greed makes man blind and foolish, and makes him an easy prey for death." - Rumi, fully Jalāl ad-Dīn Muḥammad Rumi NULL

"It always seemed strange to me that the things we admire in men, kindness and generosity, openness, honesty, understanding and feeling are the concomitants of failure in our system. And those traits we detest, sharpness, greed, acquisitiveness, meanness, egotism and self-interest are the traits of success. And while men admire the quality of the first, they love the produce of the second." -

"Nothing destroys one’s respect in the hearts of others more than greed." - Muhammed al-Taqī or Muhammad al-Jawād, given name Muhammad ibn ‘Alī ibn Mūsā

"Self is the one invincible foe when acting with the four cardinal passions: anger, pride, deceitfulness, and greed." - Uttaradhyayana Sutra

"How could sufferings be relieved through purification? To know the Path is to get lost at the ford. Indeed, sickness comes from worldly love and poverty begins with the pursuit of greed." - Wang Wei, aka Wang Youcheng

"Greed, like the love of comfort, is a kind of fear." -

"It is possible, even probable, that hopelessness among a people can be a far more potent cause of war than greed." -