A Yogi’s Lessons on Greed

Jul 25, 2011 1:15 PM ET

The Economy of Trust

Greed. Envy. Arrogance. These are the three enemies of humanity according to world-renowned spiritual leader Radhanath Swami at Jivamukti Yoga studio on a recent summer evening.

What kind of disease does greed inflict on the soul and what exactly is greed anyway?

A former investment banking securities salesman whose business was obliterated in the mortgage market meltdown lamented that the greed of others destroys many economic lives. Greed is simply the desire to want more than you have, he explained. “It’s a natural state.” He is right of course. But for some, so is murder and rape. The evolution of our species necessitates we don’t give into every natural desire.

The continuing economic struggle of millions of unemployed, the unending tragedy of massive foreclosures, the vicious battle in Congress over the debt ceiling reveal that greed continues to be a complex force in our society. Much of our current economic hardship can be directly tied to the excessive acts of greed by a few thousand mortgage bankers. Their natural state of wanting and pursuing more has deeply damaged the financial future of the modern world. Yet greed is an old story that has virtually shaped every period in human history. How we can transform its power into a constructive rather than destructive force is the dilemma for 21st century finance.

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