Is Your Faith the Greediest?

Find out what these major religions have to say about greed.

 

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Both Catholicism and the Church of Latter-day Saints have strong positions against greed. Catholicism defines greed, or avarice, as excessive love for riches. Greed can become so overwhelming that the pursuit of money becomes a primary purpose of life. Basic desires, such as wanting food when hungry or clothing when cold are not in themselves sinful; it is when these desires become the overwhelming force of a person's life, or when they cause a person to want what is not rightfully theirs, that they are considered sins. The Catholic Catechism states, "The tenth commandment forbids avarice arising from a passion for riches and their attendant power," and "Detachment from riches is necessary for entering the Kingdom of heaven. 'Blessed are the poor in spirit.'"

Mormon texts also describe true riches as being immaterial: "Seek not for riches but for wisdom; and, behold, the mysteries of God shall be unfolded unto you, and then shall you be made rich," the Doctrine & Covenant states. "Behold, he that hath eternal life is rich."

Hinduism

Hindu teachings about greed are similar to those of Buddhism. As in Buddhism, Hindus regard greed as dangerous and believe that it results in a cycle of rebirth. The law of karma, furthermore, says that greed is one of the primary causes of suffering in the world. Avoiding greed, therefore, is one of Hinduism's

yamas

, the restraints that Hindus observe in following Hindu dharma.

"A person is what his deep desire is. It is the deepest desire in this life that shapes the life to come," the Chandogya Upanishad says, warning that greed influences future rebirths. The Bhagavad Gita also warns against greed: "For the man who forsakes all desires and abandons all pride of possession and of self reaches the goal of peace supreme."

Avoiding greed helps a person lead a virtuous life in this lifetime. The Holy Kural, a first-century Hindu text, teaches that the virtuous shun greed, among other qualities. " Virtue is living in such a way that one does not fall into these four: Envy, anger, greed and unsavory speech (4:35)." The Kural also says, " Do not seek the fortune that greed gathers, for its fruit is bitter in the day of enjoyment. To protect his own prosperity from decline, one must not crave the property held by others (18:177-178)."

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