On greed and natural needs

Essays > Psychology Featured

Bhagawati writes on the importance of recognizing one’s true needs and to clearly see how society creates smokescreens and fuels false material needs to continue to enslave the people.

While leading a service in St Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican for the traditional Christmas Eve Mass, Pope Francis called upon people in developed countries to live a simpler and less materialistic life.

He condemned the huge gap between the world’s rich and poor people and envisioned a new way to live, “not by devouring and hoarding, but by sharing and giving.”

Notably, since being elected Pope more than five years ago, he lives modestly in the modern Vatican’s guest house rather than in the luxurious regal papal apartment. He also chooses simpler and more practical robes than his predecessors.

He said, “Let us ask ourselves: Do I really need all these material objects and complicated recipes for living? Can I manage without all these unnecessary extras and live a life of greater simplicity?

“For many people, life’s meaning is found in possessing, in having an excess of material objects. An insatiable greed marks all human history, even today, when, paradoxically, a few dine luxuriantly while all too many go without the daily bread needed to survive.”

Sales
Illustration Credit R. Kikuo Johnson

Seeing the madness that starts every year with Black Friday and culminates at Christmas, with people queuing up in the front of stores all night long to be first at the sales counters, people buying items and presents in bulk, even getting into fistfights with other shoppers when some item gets snatched away from them, the sheer lunacy of greedily buying ’stuff’, electronic gadgets and latest inventions is appalling. In particular also because we know most of the items will sooner or later end up on some landfill or in the oceans, while the latest developments will flood the ever-ready consumers’ markets.

Osho observes (more than 40 years ago) that “… we have lost contact with our instincts. Repressing the real is creating a barrier; then you will be losing contact more and more. A moment comes when one knows nothing about one’s natural needs. Then the society goes on teaching you, ‘This is your need.’ The advertisement in the newspaper or on the radio or on the TV creates the need.

“In the old days they used to say, ‘Whenever there is a demand there is a supply.’ Now the law has completely changed: you create supply and there is demand. You simply bring anything into the world, manufacture it first – don’t be bothered whether people need it or not – then advertise it. If rightly advertised you will find people as if waiting for it, hungry for it – anything whatsoever! Any foolish thing will do and people will always be ready to purchase it, because people have lost track of their natural instincts.”

Now is a good time to reflect on those false outer desires and have a deep look within at one’s real needs, drop the chains of society’s ruthless conditioning and embark on our individual journey supported by authentic requirements.

Quote by Osho from
The Shadow of the Whip, Ch 14 (excerpt)

BhagawatiBhagawati is a regular contributor

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