The Grasping, Greedy Ego – Commentary by Sally Jo Gilbert de Vargas

“Those who are saved from the covetousness of their own souls, they are the ones who achieve prosperity.” (Qur’an 64:16)

“If the son of Adam were to possess two valleys of riches, he would long for a third one.” ~The Prophet Muhammad

Humankind has created so much havoc with our grasping, greedy ego.  We have ravaged our home, planet Earth, and have created unjust societies where the “haves” and the “have nots” live in complete contrast and alienation from each other.  Instead of valuing the Divine Spark within every aspect of creation, including ourselves, we have invented “the Almighty Dollar” and have chosen to worship that.  We are trapped in our own avarice and greed and have become addicted to the pleasures that they provide, even though they never truly satisfy us.

This is not a recent phenomenon.  It seems it has been going on since time immemorial.  Back in the 6-7th century CE, when the Prophet Mohammad was alive, and even before he became a prophet, he despaired of the over-emphasis placed by many on acquisition of money and power.  In the Qur’an are numerous warnings about how far astray we have gone in the direction of greed as opposed to generosity.  “Competition in hoarding distracts you until you journey to the graves.  But you shall soon know the reality!  Again, you will soon know!” (102:1-4) and “Grief to all those who spread scandal, speaking ill of others; those who amass wealth and hoard it, thinking that wealth could make them immortal!  By no means!”  (104:1-2) We are warned again and again that we cannot take wealth to the grave, and that the only thing that brings lasting happiness and contentment – now and beyond the grave – is the doing of righteous deeds of generosity and kindness towards our fellow beings.  Using our wealth to that end purifies us from the natural covetousness of our souls.

Somewhere deep within, we know that we have lost our way and that true prosperity is not about riches or possessions. We know as soon as we lose someone close to us, or are in danger of losing our own lives, that the riches we have accumulated will be of no use to us. But the temptations of our culture are pervasive and intense.  Everything is assigned monetary value – even a human life! Yet, if we take time each day to examine what is really important to us, I believe we will find, without much effort, that most of it is not something that can be bought or sold.  Try making a list of what you value most in life; that which you cannot live without.  What appears on this list?  Examine it carefully, and make your own decision. 

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