Sunday, January 06, 2008

Greed and Generosity.

There are two books tucked into the sideboard of our bed, - two books about widely divergent subjects, and I am reading them in tandem. This serves to keep me in a constant state of flux, as I try to determine just where I lie in relation to each subject (well, I lie on the bed, but that's beside the point...)

Phyllis Tickle has written the book entitled 'Greed' as part of a series on the Seven Deadly Sins. The reviews state that it is an elegant little book, and I can't disagree with that. Its contents send me scrambling to a dictionary (and beyond) as I am woefully unfamiliar with some of the literary and historical references. But the facts of the matter are well understood, and I am familiar with greed and all its many disguises, - avarice, miserliness, covetousness, acquisitiveness, - and even, in its more noble aspect, thrift.....

The book refers to Greed as the Mother of all Sins - or to put it more elegantly 'Greed, by any name, is the mother and matrix, root and consort of all the other sins'. It is not only western civilization that recognizes this primacy of Greed, - it is equally abhorred by Buddhists, Judaism, Hinduism and hopefully, by Secularism in this day and age. In that it leads to all other 'Sins' (or activities that damage the moral fibre of civilization) should we not be aware of its presence in each of our lives?

Which, of course, leads me to poke around in every nook and cranny of my own life, looking for symptoms of unacknowledged Sin. I think I am not Lustful, - nor can I be accused of Gluttony. I am not Envious, being greatly contented with my life - but I do suspect there may be some Greed lurking. Not for material things, but I must admit to being greedy for approval. I think it is one of the pistons that drives my engine, and results in slavery to Ego! A vice I am desperately trying to bury deep. It keeps popping up, and I keep pushing it down, but there... (sigh) I still strive to achieve.

The other book I am reading is "Being Generous (The Art of Right Living) by Lucinda Vardey and John Dalla Costa. A simpler and more comforting book. It caught my eye in a book store while I was shopping for Christmas gifts, and I thought of any number of people I could give it to, but it is still with me. I will give it away, but in the meantime if it is the night I read about the Art of Right Living, that is the night that I am inspired.

I quote from Chapter Seven - 'Generosity embraced becomes the defining aspect of one's character, permeating and unifying all that we are, all that we do, think, speak and feel. Integrity lives within our generosity, a wholeness that is consistent, reliable and humble;...'

I hope that I strive to be generous. I try to be conscious and mindful, without the ego 'being the head of my ( personal) household...' I know that I am not always successful, but to be generous with time, with love, with grace, with patience and service, - that surely is the true achievement.

And to be humble...

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