Forever Under Construction

The Greedy Soul

Posted in Worldview by homeyra on June 4, 2008

Inspired by the excuse for eight belles, here is another excerpt from Bill Moyers talks with poet Robert Bly

[…] BILL MOYERS: You’ve been talking and writing a lot lately about the greedy soul.

ROBERT BLY: I’m glad you caught that. Read this.

“More and more I’ve learned to respect the power of the phrase, the greedy soul. We all understand what is hinted after that phrase. It’s the purpose of the United Nations is to check the greedy soul in nations. It’s the purpose of police to check the greedy soul in people. We know our soul has enormous abilities in worship, in intuition, coming to us from a very ancient past. But the greedy part of the soul, what the Muslims call the “nafs,” also receives its energy from a very ancient past. The “nafs” is the covetous, desirous, shameless energy that steals food from neighboring tribes, wants what it wants and is willing to destroy to anyone who receives more good things than itself. In the writer, it wants praise.”

I wrote these three lines. “I love very close to my greedy soul. When I see a book published 2000 years ago, I check to see if my name is mentioned.” This is really true. I’ve really done that. Yes, I’ve said that. So, in writers, the “nafs” often enter in the issue of how much– do people love me? How much people are reading my books? Do people write about me? Do you understand that? It probably affects you too in that way.

BILL MOYERS: Us journalists? Never.

ROBERT BLY: Never. Okay. “If the covetous soul feels that its national sphere of influence is being threatened by another country, it will kill recklessly and brutally, impoverish millions, order thousands of young men in its own country to be killed only to find out 30 years later that the whole thing was a mistake. In politics the fog of war could be called the fog of the greedy soul.”

You know, the reason that one says things like the greedy soul psychologically there’s no point in this war at all. It’s not achieving thing, never would achieve anything. Only something as mad as the greedy soul could want it to begin and continue. […]

Previous posts:
Robert Bly (in Iran)
Not all that great


4 Responses

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  1. Pedestrian said, on June 4, 2008 at 8:52 pm

    ( I know this was not the point Fly is trying to make but: )

    You know Homeyra, especially as a female, I feel such a gargantuan need for change in our societies.

    But I sometimes wonder … after all is said and done, and our attempts at modernity have been successful … we may one day dryly realize that the ancients had it right all along.

    They understood the world better than many/most of us ever will, and despite all our efforts to break away … in them lay the answer.

    And we never saw it.

  2. homeyra said, on June 5, 2008 at 7:53 am

    Maybe because what we “hear from the ancients” is what we hear from the best (and sometimes worst!) of them – and human nature doesn’t seem to evolve much.
    Everything has been thought of before, but the problem is to think of it again.” but “A person hears only what they understand.

  3. Pedestrian said, on June 5, 2008 at 4:17 pm

    I hate calling them “the ancients” … As if they are archaeological artifacts … Yet, I don’t know a better term!

  4. homeyra said, on June 5, 2008 at 6:07 pm

    🙂 Need something meaning timeless. I don’t know what we would say in Persian. Something like “bozoragan-e gozashteh?

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