When it comes to greed, most people think that it runs counter to self-cultivation, because practice advocates letting go and not being greedy. However, Grandmaster JinBodhi believes that enlightenment doesn’t require the elimination of greed and attachments, and it is not necessarily wrong for people to have greed; people who have no attachments may be enlightened or confused.

What is the reason for this? Is greed necessarily wrong? What is the boundary between enlightenment and confusion? Find out in this video!

【You willearn】

  • What is greed
  • State of serene peace
  • The consequences of being negatively driven by greed

【Featured aphorism】

  • The more compassionate one is, the less greed, anger, ignorance, arrogance and suspicion they have.
  • The ancients regarded the state of serene peace as “an unstained and unattached state”; it is a state that makes people feeliberated and content.
  • Negative greed and attachment lead people to pay more for their mistakes.
  • People who have no attachments at almay be enlightened or just confused.


As our heart of compassion grows bigger, other hearts diminish. What are the other hearts? They are the five mental poisons: greed, hatred, ignorance, arrogance and doubt. Greed is the foremost of all evils. Anyone who are greedy for money, lust and selfish gains will not achieve. Let’s test your understanding. Say, one has neither greed, likes nor dislikes. But, as a cultivator, he has only greed for a mala in his hand. Is this greed to you? (Yes.) Any kind of clinging is greed. Is loving your mala greed? First, answer this question. (Yes.) Yes. Is loving your mala a sin? (Yes.) Not necessarily. It may not be a sin, but it may be greed, just a matter of proportion.

Imagine helping 100,000 people to gain happiness and benefits without hoping for something in return. However, one is still attached. To what? His mala. Let’s play judge. Does his soul drift? Does he go to Paradise or hell? Hands up if you think he is going to Paradise or Pure Land. If he will drift, raise your hand. You are so cruel. Or go to hell? No one. That is better. I just want you to know what greed is.

What is greed? Some would say that with attachments, there would be worries, which may trigger sins. With attachment, your body will not be like those in the Lapis Lazuli world that are transparent. Those are what they call “untainted” bodies. If you are attached to something, say, to the color red, you are tainted with red, right? You will turn to red glass; that is visible. If you are not attached, then there is no color. There is no attachment, no defilement. Thus you can abide on the lotus throne, upon which a life can sit. Our ancestors called it “light ease.” Very light. Light, peaceful and free. Such a person has neither attachment nor greed, nor even desire. Desire is a type of greed. Only by being unattached can one reach that state.

Greed may lead to mistakes. With greed, you may pay a heavy price. A couple wanting to divorce came to me for advice. The young man said he couldn’t stand his wife anymore. His wife was unfazed by her husband’s decision. The guy

claimed how good he treated her. She was a vegetable stall owner at a market. The guy saw her at the market, and they fell in love. He kept visiting her, buying veggies he did not need. After a year, he had paid an extra ¥10,000 for veggies. He also spent lots of money to make her happy, buying her clothes, etc. After they got married, she fell for another man. The guy reluctantly wanted a divorce. He actually asked her to return all the money he had spent on her. She argued that it was spent willingly, he was not forced or cheated.

So I asked the guy why he spent money on her, even buying all the unnecessary veggies. The guy said, “I liked her looks.” He deserved it, his liking was going to cost him. He was not doing it out of kindness. His wife said, “That’s right.” One is willing to receive, the other to give. The guy was not seduced to buy her veggies. Buying and selling, it was purely business. Affection comes with sacrifices, same goes for a mala. Greed comes with a price. That is called attachment.

The best practitioner is like a piece of perfectly transparent glass. His attachment to that mala bead causes the glass to be tainted with dust shaped like the mala bead. He is not pure, not light or peaceful. At most, he is half peaceful. He is not purely light or peaceful. His state is considered somewhat attached or defiled. Without attachment, there is no defilement.

Let’s talk about something deeper. Is longing for enlightenment a different type of attachment? Or is it a thing we shouldn’t be attached to? If so, then many people would behave differently. Monks would return to secular life, get married and stop meditation practicing. Why would they be so attached since they are going to die anyway? In the end, they would stop practicing. I have been to many Buddhist countries in which the monks do not practice meditation.

I asked a master to teach me some meditation practices. He told me to eat and sleep when the need arises. If you have no greed, that is your practice. That is not wrong. That is spiritual nonattachment. I wanted to find out, since we are Buddhists, do we have meditation practice? He told me to follow Natural Laws, for that is our dharma practice. But wouldn’t that separate mortals from the Buddhas? He said all are Buddha without differentiation. I still felt something was not quite right. If we are not attached, it could be “enlightenment” or “confusion”. The distinction between enlightenment and confusion is blurry. Why did Sakyamuni Buddha sit under a tree for so many years? Was he just being foolish? Is Sakyamuni Buddha’s sitting under a tree attachment or not? (Attachment.) Was he wrong then?

He is attached to his and all sentient beings’ enlightenment, freedom from suffering and attaining happiness. He has witnessed birth, aging, illness and death as well as greed, hatred, ignorance, arrogance and doubt. He made a vow or even had a desire: To do this and get to the bottom of it. His attachment was not wrong.

Attachment depends on its purpose. It can be good, bad or neutral. It is like a knife. For a killer, it is for killing; for a mother, it is for cooking. Depending on the purpose and motive, you will know whether it is good or evil. The bead-loving practitioner I mentioned has saved many people. The beads are used to aid his practices. Is he enlightened finally? Yes. Are we clear? Will he continue to practice without his beads? If yes, then he has no greed for the beads. No sin from it. But what if nobody is allowed to go near it because it is made of precious gemstone? Or he is attached to it because it is expensive? That is a deviation from the right path. If we are to tell right or wrong, that is wrong.

But if he is able to break away from his bead attachment, then he will achieve great liberation. When Buddha sought alms, he would use a stick or a cane to walk on a slippery road. He held a bowl when begging for alms, but putting it down, he was just as enlightened. Holding it at that moment was normal. It did not bother him. Thus, it was not attachment or defilement, but purity and true liberation. Attachments should be judged case by case. Its purpose, good or bad, determines whether there is sin.