Chapter 15 — On Greed

Vasishta continued:—

The soul by following the unholy essence of the mind, which is the source of the world, is led to fall into the trap laid by the mind for all living beings. The soul then loses the brightness of its spiritual form and takes the gross shape of the senses. It waits upon the guidance of the mind and indulges in its impure imaginations. It falls into greed which, like a poisonous plant, makes it senseless and spreads a fearful anesthesia over it. Greed like a dark night hides the soul under the gloom of oblivion and produces endless pains to the soul.

The god Shiva withstood the flame of the kalpa conflagration, but nobody can withstand the fierce fire of greed. It bears a form as formidable as that of a long, sharp and black dagger, cold in appearance but very injurious in its effects.

Greed is an evergreen plant bearing bunches of plentiful fruit on high which, when obtained and tasted, prove to be bitter and gall. Greed is a hungry wolf prowling in the recess of the heart, feeding unseen on the flesh, blood and bones of its sheltering body. Greed is like a rainy stream full of foul and muddy water overflowing and breaking down its banks, then leaving its dirty bed empty. 10 The man stricken with greed remains stingy and broken hearted at all times. His spirits are dampened and his sordid soul is debased before mankind. He is dejected, weeps and lays himself down in despair.

11 He who does not have this black adder of greed burrowing in the recess of his heart has the free play of his vital breath, which is otherwise poisoned by the breath of the viper rankling in his breast. 12 The heart that is not darkened by the gloomy night of greed feels the rays of humanity sparkling in it, like the play of bright moonbeams. 13 The heart that is not eaten up by the corroding cares of greed is like a tree without cankers blooming with its blossoms of piety.

14 The current of greed is ever running amidst the wilderness of human desires with ceaseless torrents and waves, and hideous whirlpools and vortices around. 15 The thread of greed, like the long line of a flying kite, whirls and furls and pulls mankind as its toys and playthings. 16 Rude, rough and hard-hearted greed, like a remorseless axe, breaks and cuts down the tender roots of virtues. 17 Foolish men led by greed fall into the pit of hell, like ignorant deer enticed by grass scattered over its cover fall into the black hole of a trap.

18 Men are not so much blinded by their aged and decayed eyesight as they are blinded by the invisible greed seated in their hearts. 19 The heart which is nestled by the ominous owl of greed is as pitiful as the god Vishnu who became a dwarf because he begged for a bit of ground from Bali.

20 A divine power has implanted this greed which cannot be satisfied in the heart of man. This greed whirls him about as if tied by a rope, like the sun revolving around its center in the sky. 21 Fly from this greed which is as heinous as a venomous snake. It is the source of all evils, even of death in this mortal world.

22 Greed blows on men like the wind. Greed makes men sit still like stones. Greed makes some as calm as the earth, and greed ransacks the three worlds in its rapid course. 23 This entire parade of men is impelled back and forth by greed, as if pulled by ropes. It is easy to break ropes, but not the bond of greed.

24 Rama, get rid of greed by forsaking your desires. Because the wise have determined that the mind dies away from lack of its desires. 25 Never observe the distinctions of “my”, “yours” and “his” in any of your wishes, but wish for the good of all alike. Never foster any bad desire. 26 The thought of self in what is not the self is the parent of all our grief. When you cease to think the not-self as the self you are then reckoned among the wise.

27 Cut off your egoism, O gentle Rama, and dwell in your unearthly self by forgetting yourself, and by dispelling your fear from all created beings.