Children, everyone knows about the widespread corruption and injustice prevalent in today’s society. We are updated almost daily regarding this never-ending story via the news. Sadly, many of us are enslaved to the illusion that wealth and position are the greatest things in life and that, through them, we will have happiness and peace.
Never forget that wealth and position are transient by nature. Moreover, nothing gained through adharma can possibly last long. Some say knowledge and wealth can never coexist. While this may or may not be true, it is certainly true that peace and wealth gained through adharma can never exist side by side.
Of course, many things can be accomplished through wealth, but we should never forget that certain things cannot. Wealth can help us to build a beautiful house, but it can never create an atmosphere of unity, love and happiness.
Wealth may draw us friends, but it cannot make them sincere. Wealth can provide us with posh air-conditioned bedrooms, but it cannot give us peaceful sleep. Wealth can buy us rich and tasty meals, but it cannot buy us health.
Wealth can equip us with armed bodyguards, but it can neither extend our lifespan nor free us from fear and insecurity. Tragically, under the false impression that wealth will make them happier, many people, in their haste to earn, lose their peace, happiness and loving family atmosphere.
Once, there lived an umbrella-maker. He did his work with joy, chanting divine names and discussing spiritual topics with his costumers. He was very content with what he earned, and everyone who came in contact with him liked him immensely. He earned enough to live a modest life.
One day, the local landlord bought an umbrella from him. Pleased with the umbrella-maker’s demeanour, his reasonable prices and the quality of his product, the landlord rewarded him with 99 gold coins. Immediately, the umbrella-maker’s behaviour began to change. His mind no longer remained on his work, but on “How can I keep my coins safe? Will thieves break in to my home and steal them?” He became distrustful of his own wife and children.
Furthermore, he began striving with all his might, pinching every paisa, to earn enough money to make his 99 gold coins become an even 100. As his desire and selfishness grew, so did his unhappiness and restlessness. He vented his impatience and anger on his costumers. Soon his customers dwindled and his profits fell. One by one, he had to sell his gold coins to make ends meet.
Eventually, when they were all gone, he had no means to sustain himself and his family. In the end—the umbrella-maker who was originally living a peaceful and content life—had nothing but discontentment. This point of this story is not that wealth is a sin or that one should not strive to earn wealth. There is nothing wrong in fulfilling our needs or enjoying basic entertainments with the money we earn through dharmic means.
However, we need to learn to discriminate between what is a need and what is a luxury. Children, earn to live; don’t live to earn.
Sri Mata Amritanandamayi Devi