rich

Will Being Rich Make You Happy?

“You can never get enough of what you don’t really need.”

Recently this photo and caption of Jim Carrey was spread across all the social media on the Internet.

jim carrey

The fact that Jim Carrey is wealthy enough to make this type of statement raised criticism from many and appraisal from some. Here are some comments from one of the websites.

  • Money isn’t a big deal when you have a lot of it, but when you don’t have any; it’s a very big deal.
  • Honestly, I’d rather have money and not knowing the answer than being broke and not knowing the answer.
  • Money isn’t an answer to life. It just makes it easier.
  • But money could buy me endless travel, which I believe would be more fulfilling than endless desk time.
  • Money might not buy me happiness, but I’d rather cry in a Ferrari.
  • Money can’t buy you happiness. But I’d rather be crying in a Porsche than on the bus.

It is obvious that the people making these statements are convinced that all they need in life is more money, or a Ferrari or a Porsche or endless travel. Having enough money to feed your family, pay the rent, educate your children is infinitely more comfortable than living in abject poverty, of that there is no doubt.

But we must also recognize that in history there are many wonderful examples of people who have experienced in their personal lives extreme wealth which they chose to walk away from and follow the poorer road.

St Francis of Assisi was born into a wealthy Italian family, his father was a silk and cloth merchant and Francis spent his youth living a comfortable life spending money like his friends of the time. At a certain point in his early life he had a vision that God wanted him to begin a new order and he went and lived with common beggars. After this experience he felt compelled to give up worldly things and he put aside all his material goods and became a wandering preacher, choosing poverty as a way of living, and starting religious orders that involved helping the most abject poor and down trodden persons of society at that time.   Francis is one of the most venerated religious figures in Christian history and in 1228, he was proclaimed a saint by Pope Gregory 1X.

saint

Lord Buddha also known as Gautama Buddha was the son of a king, a prince, and he was protected by his father from all the negative things in the world. The palace they lived in was surrounded by high walls and the grounds themselves were like a small country. As he was growing up, he never saw anyone sick or infirmed. He saw no suffering of any kind as his father had instructed the servants to always make sure he was kept within the walls of the gated palace and that no-one with any disease or any type of impairment was allowed to go there.

lord buddha

When he was just a young man he convinced his chariot driver to take him outside the palace grounds. When they were driving along the road to the city, he saw a man lying in the road, his limbs misshapen and bent from some affliction. He got the servant to stop and as he was looking at the man he was asking his servant what was wrong with this person. The servant told him that the man had been born deformed and that each day on this road, in all kinds of weather, the man begged for food to stay alive.

Lord Buddha continued on his way and soon they came to a woman who was holding the shoulder of her son and being helped along the road. Her face was lined and she was stooping as she walked. Again Lord Buddha asked his driver what was wrong with this woman and why she was unable to walk on her own. His driver told him she was blind, that she was unable to see and that wherever she went she needed someone to guide her. He also told him that she was old, that her body was wearing down in years and she moved with great difficulty.

They continued on and as they reached the gates of the city Lord Buddha saw a person lying motionless in the dust of the nearby roadside. He again asked his servant about this man and the reply was that this man was dead. That the body lying before them was now void of life. His servant explained to him that ultimately everyone would die all living things would eventually leave the form they were in and would, due to the laws of nature be forced out of their particular body.

Due to his protected upbringing Lord Buddha had never seen any sick or maimed people and he had definitely never seen a dead body. He resolved there and then to give up his princely position in order to solve the problem of life and death. He could see that the body lying before him was no longer animate, he could see the suffering conditions of the people they had passed and as he was standing thinking of these things a wandering mendicant passed by with a simple robe and a begging bowl. He learned that this monk had renounced the world to try and find an answer to the suffering condition of the world and Lord Buddha decided to do the same. His goal was to find happiness and he knew it was neither in the palatial life he had led up to this point, nor was it in the experiences of the people he had seen.

In ancient India there was a type of touch stone called a Chintamani. This stone was able to give the holder of it, anything they desired. If someone had a touch stone in their possession they could ask for gold, jewels, any type of fortune imaginable. Now, there was a man who had heard that a certain saintly person might actually own a touch stone. This man had been searching for a long time and when he happened upon the village that the saintly person was living in, he, after asking directions, hurried to his house. He saw the saintly man sitting outside his house praying on his prayer beads.

beads

He inquired from him as to the whereabouts of the touchstone and if he may be allowed to see it even if it was only for a short period. The saintly man thought for a moment and then he indicated with his hand to an area behind the house and under the trees. He told the seeker that he might find it there. The man rushed over to the area and began sifting around in a pile of old leaves and twigs and general garden refuse. Picking up the touch stone, he held it close to him and was praising his good fortune that he had found it. Then he realized that things were not quite as they should be. He started to wonder why the saintly person kept the touch stone in such an ordinary place. He carried the touch stone over to the saintly man and asked him why he had left such a precious and amazing thing in the garden waste. The saintly person told him that to him it was just the same as an ordinary stone. That the stone was able to give him any temporary item he desired but it could not bring him eternal happiness, that no matter what experience or possession came his way it was only a fleeting phase and soon he would be parted with it, either through loss or death. To him it was neither here nor there that it was a touch stone as there was no comparison to knowing the true nature of the world and all the beings in it and the real source of happiness. The man who had been so eager to have unimaginable wealth, fell at the feet of the saintly person and begged him to instruct him, which he did.

Some people believe Jim Carrey has the right to tell it like it is due to his past, as in these comments.

Jim Carrey grew up dirt poor. He lived in a van with his family. I think he would know if having money really is the answer.

Jim Carrey lived in his car for quite a while he was struggling to make it. The guy knows what it was like to have almost nothing.

If he said this, it seems like a way to tell people he’s unhappy, despite being rich and famous.

It is not only Jim Carrey who despite having a worth amount of $150 million, is feeling that something is missing from his life. Recently Minecraft billionaire, Markus “Notch” Persson, revealed his deep loneliness and sadness despite selling his company to Microsoft for $2.7 billion. He is reported as saying that his former co-workers now “hate” him, and he now has a lack of purpose in life. He is quoted as saying that his money has led to him feeling isolated and that once he had ‘everything’ there was no point in trying for anything else. A sort of hopelessness.

So, the statement that Jim Carrey has made, that wealth is not the answer is very true. It is not the answer. The answer lies in redirecting our misguided love and attention from the things of the world toward the Supreme Person. This is where happiness is to be found and it is the real shelter and refuge. If you want more insights on this topic, you can check this profound article on rest & refuge by Jagad Guru Chris Butler.

Another recent article in the general editorial magazine, ‘The Atlantic’, presents the results of a questionnaire initiated by the Gates foundation to find out how the wealthy cope with everyday things such as, knowing who was a genuine friend, and if you are expected to pay for the meal when out with several people in a restaurant. The people taking part in the poll turned out to be in general fairly dissatisfied with their situation in life. Their money had contributed to deep anxieties involving love, work, and family. They even felt dissatisfied with the money they had either inherited or created through business or other ventures. Many of them felt insecure as far as money was concerned and believed that they should make a quarter more wealth than they currently had and that somehow they would then be more comfortable.

To the utterly poor person what is being written here is incomprehensible. Even to those people who are ‘well-off’ the idea of being stupendously rich is the dream of a lifetime. But in modern history even the wealthiest people are miserable. A fine example of the misery that comes with being rich beyond your wildest dreams is Howard Hughes. He initially inherited wealth on the death of his father and went on to create money from inventions and investments in the airplane business. At the age of 40 however, he locked himself in a dark room for four months, and ate chocolate and drank milk and would not see anyone. After this he spent three years of frustratedly moving from one place to another only to go into total seclusion, purportedly substantiating a drug addiction, starving himself, becoming a germaphobe and never cutting his fingernails. He stayed like this for twenty odd years until he died. His wealth in today’s money at the time of his death was 3.8 billion dollars.

Then there is the even sadder case of John Paul Getty who was once described as the richest man in America. An oil magnate who made shrewd multi-million dollar deals with the Saudis, he was such a miser he had a pay phone installed in the lobby of his mansion. When his guests wanted to use the phone he would direct them to the pay phone downstairs and they would have to put in their quarters and dimes before they could make a call. When his grandson was kidnapped, initially he would not pay the ransom of $17 million. It was only after the kidnappers cut off his grandson’s ear and posted it to him, that he conceded to pay 2.2 million but this was only because this particular amount was tax deductible.

The list goes on and on, sports people, astronauts, bankers, movie stars, celebrities and politicians, all worth more than most people could create in several lifetimes and suffering from insecurity, worthlessness, loneliness, self doubt, depression and all the myriad of human inadequacies that lead to drug abuse and alcoholism, the inability to sustain marriages, estrangement from their children, families and friends and all manner of psychological problems that no amount of money can minimize or eradicate.

Author Matt Haig has written about this problem in his book, “Reasons to Stay Alive”. A memoir about his own battle with depression, he makes this statement, “Although we live in an age that equates financial success with a kind of salvation, extreme success in fact offers little immunity to depression.”

“We assume that, because poverty can exacerbate emotional and mental problems, its opposite, wealth, will lead to emotional and mental well-being, but this is not the case.”

He goes on to say that if we valued happiness more than we do wealth we would have a healthier society.

So the question to be asked here is; if neither poverty nor wealth can bring about satisfaction, what can? What is happiness and where is it to be found?

In his work, The Euthydemus, Socrates states –

1) happiness is what all people desire: since it is always the end (goal) of our activities,

2) happiness does not depend on external things, but rather on how those things are used...

CONSUMERISM

Since the 1950s, people everywhere on the globe have consumed more goods than they require. We keep on purchasing products that we do not need, we stockpile clothing that we may never wear and we pack our cupboards full of food of which 40% ends up in the garbage. This lifestyle has become the norm. We shop ’til we drop and we have somehow been lured into this collective consciousness that it is perfectly acceptable to spend our last dollar on some frivolous item rather than a necessary commodity. We are deep in debt and we struggle every day to get on top of our self indulged compulsions. We are constantly being bombarded by people who do not care about what happens to me when I spend my last dollar at their store. Banks have no compassion if I lose my job and I am unable to pay off my 5 or 6 credit cards which are all maxed out. The statistics for the USA show that people owe $890.9 billion in credit card debt.

The incentive to get me to buy and purchase goods is not matched by any understanding when I fall on hard times. Consumerism is cruel. It takes no prisoners but it en-cages us all. Previous to the late 1800’s and early 1900’s people did not have this same problem of over consumption leading to waste and surplus. People bought what they needed to live their lives and they maintained their lives according to what they earned, and in general they did not rack up huge debts that they then spent years and years paying off while accumulating more and more debt and thus being caught in a treadmill that had no end.

The situation we have now is one of extreme over consumption leading to extraordinary volumes of waste from packaging, from cheap products that do not last and from the short time span we own something from shop to garbage dump. While this material waste is a growing world phenomenon, another type of waste is increasingly attacking our well being, that is the mental waste of being harassed and pressured to consume and discard goods and gross material products that we really can’t afford, that we do not need and that will not give us any lasting pleasure. It is a type of insanity. We have found ourselves in an unenviable position and it is literally driving us crazy. Rich and poor alike suffer from this.

A wealthy woman living in an elite suburb in London, tore up her house, employing the most expensive interior designer in England. But after spending the better part of £2 million on refurbishment, she decided she was more a traditionalist than a minimalist, and tossed the contents into the garbage dumpster outside. This is madness.

some people are so poor

Because the problem of over consumption affects us both mentally and physically we now have a raft of treatments to alleviate our troubled lives. Some modern day therapists advocate mindfulness to bring about a state of calm. This entails paying attention to what is happening around you with kindness and a curious attentiveness. It is said that if we control our thoughts before judging and criticising we are practising mindfulness and it will help us become more compassionate and understanding toward others. There is the recommendation to connect with nature more, climb mountains, sit by waterfalls, ramble in leafy forests or just sit by the ocean and learn to breathe. We are advised to keep a diary or journal as a way to release the constant flow of thoughts and the simple act of putting thoughts into writing, can help eliminate the clutter in your mind. There is the ‘Escape’ resolution where it is advocated to turn off all devices and not be at the beck and call of the electronic world. No cell phone, television, DVDs, computer, Face Book, Twitter, nothing for at least 24 hours, longer if you can manage it. These practices might be helpful but they are only temporary measures. They can alleviate our high stress level to a certain degree but to actually bring about a change of heart and find deep inner happiness we must look for something more lasting and meaningful.

The drive we have to consume, to obtain even when we don’t need anything is due to an emptiness that is there even when we are surrounded by friends, family work colleagues and so on. We may have everything but we feel that there is still something missing. We spend our time and money pampering and indulging in those things that will satisfy our five senses namely the sense of taste, always trying to find another food sensation, the latest culinary product that one must have, the sense of sight, movies, magazines, anything that appeases our eyes and gives us a new flash, the sense of smell, perfume, aftershave, shampoo, soap, always trying to get a different more subtle, more beautiful scent to enhance our bodies and our surroundings, the sense of hearing, the very latest music, whether it’s rock or classical, the sounds of the birds in the trees or our favorite country band, we try to fill up our ears with something new, the sense of touch, this can be the way a piece of clothing feels next to your skin or it can be the persistent need to engage in sexual activity thinking that this will bring you closer to someone.

These senses are likened to five wild horses and in our modern lives there is nobody holding the reins. For the most part we are in the chariot of the body and the five wild horses are racing towards a cliff and there is no one to stop them. While we have been trying to satisfy these five wild senses, no-one has ever taken the time to tell us that we will not be satisfied by doing these things. We are devoid of the spiritual insight by Jagad Guru that all of these activities are to do with the body, the external aspect of my being; they do not touch me, the person dwelling within.

The example is given that you can get a beautiful bird and place it in a golden cage. We are the bird, and the body is the cage. The cage can be made of gold and encrusted with diamonds, we can put fairy lights all around it and make it look beautiful but if while we are doing all this we neglect to feed the bird, it will be of no use. If we do not give the bird seeds and grasses and water but instead only dress and pamper the cage, the bird will die.

The bird will be sitting in the cage longing for just a drop of water, for just a few seeds or a blade of grass but if all we do for the bird is showiness and decoration, the bird will become sad and unloved and will die from lack of care and a broken heart. We are the bird slowly dying of a broken heart, not knowing how to feel real love  and not being able to recognize what is good for us and what isn’t.

I, the self, who dwells within the body am a spiritual being, I will always be a spiritual being and I have always been a spiritual being. When I am covered by the desires of the senses, the five wild horses, I become lost, I consider myself to be something I am not and I act on that misinformation rather than remembering who I actually am. To know one’s spiritual identity means to see oneself in a different light, to know what one’s actual nature and activities are and to recognize when one is being accosted by something that has no relevance to oneself. When one knows who they are they also know what it is they need and as a counter measure to this they know what it is they don’t need. They are not fooled by the false promises of big corporations who continually tell them if they consume this product they will be happy. The horses are under control, the cliff is not looming and the reins are held by sure and certain hands that know which direction to travel in.

As spiritual beings our function is not to just endlessly consume as if it is our right to do so. This attitude is similar to overlords or despots who believe whatever exists, they are entitled to.

“One should therefore accept only those things necessary for himself, which are set aside as his quota, and one must not accept other things, knowing well to whom they belong.” …

Sri Isopanishad.

The wise person sees that everything they obtain in their lifetime is only on loan. It is impossible to take it with you when you leave the body. They see themselves as the caretakers of these goods and objects and as such they gather what is required for their particular role and function in this body and leave aside what is not. In the ancient scripture, Sri Isopanishad it states; One should therefore accept only those things necessary for himself, which are set aside as his quota, and one must not accept other things, knowing well to whom they belong.” …

In the Bible one can find this quote; … we entered this world with nothing, we shall leave the world again with nothing. …

There is actually enough in this world for everyone, no-one need go hungry or cold, there is enough material matter to satisfy everyone’s requirements but we are greedy. We take more than we need, we consume and consume trying to fill up the empty space within that can never be satisfied with the things of this world. While we are extending our consumption, someone, somewhere is going without. Through our lack of spiritual awareness we create an imbalance that is like the domino effect, it keeps rippling along through our lives causing us to feel bereft even though we are surrounded by all the pleasures of modern society.

So how do we change? How can we step aside from the incessant drive in our society to somehow create more and more wealth, to own more and more things and to pursue the relentless drive of shopping for objects we do not need and will not satisfy us when we get them? What can we do to make a difference not only in our own lives but toward the people around us?

The first step is to recognize who I am.  To step outside the false reality that is presented as real and start to live my life based on spiritual values. I, the self, am different from my external body. The body changes around me, this is evident. I can remember when my body was small and then somewhat older in teenage years, then older again as I got to middle age and so on. I have evidence of these changes from photos and from memory.

The face looking back in the mirror has changed each year for the time I have been in this body. But, I, the constant factor in these changes remain the same. I remember being small and I remember now even though the exterior body has been continually replaced. Once I come to know this clearly then I learn to exist and operate in this world according to my situation. I may be a builder or a hairdresser, a politician or a managing director. These positions in life are the means to live and work but the platform for my actions is an understanding of my real identity. In any role I find myself in, if my basis is spiritual understanding, then whatever happens and whatever presents itself I am able to manage through superior knowledge.

Socrates states, “If…man’s life is ever worth the living, it is when he has attained this vision of the soul of beauty. And once you have seen it, you will never be seduced again by the charm of gold, of dress, of comely people, you will care nothing for the beauties that used to take your breath away…and when one discerns this beauty one will perceive the true virtue,  not virtue’s semblance. And when a man has brought forth and reared this perfect virtue, he shall be called the friend of God, and if ever it is capable of man to enjoy immortality, it shall then be given to him.”

socrates

The outcome of living a life based on spiritual values is one of happiness. Inner happiness that does not dissipate according to the material circumstances one finds oneself in. The happiness that comes from knowing who you are, what the temporary nature of the world is, and how to disassociate oneself from it, is everlasting, deep and satisfying. It has no comparison to the flickering uncertain experiences we try and enjoy through matter that leave us impoverished in all ways. Whether we find ourselves in wealth or poverty, we are sustained by an inner experience that allows us to rise above the anxieties that come, when we are trying to immerse ourselves in transitory and ephemeral experiences.

However we must not think that we need to give up all our possessions and live like mendicants. The things of this world can be utilized for our daily needs and in fact it would be a complete imbalance if we all took to the streets with begging bowls. We must make a distinction between what has been made available for our daily lives according to our circumstances and what is superfluous to those needs. By superior authority, arrangements are made for each and every living entity to receive particular amounts of wealth, education and health according to their previous and present actions. If we require a position of simple living then that is what we should adhere to and if it requires a higher standard in order to fulfill our worldly and spiritual duties. So in this case the teachings of Science of Identity Foundation from Jagad Guru are proven very practical to be applied into our lives. We should seriously try to understand these teachings and gradually adopt into our lives.

Once a person is clear about their identity as a spiritual being then this will, in turn, lead to the recognition of all living beings as spiritual.  It means we begin to respect and care about others from a different view point.

As well as identity there is also the question of function. Now that I know who I am, the spiritual self, enduring and immortal, it naturally follows that I ask the question, “What should I be doing?”

We are the diminutive soul, tiny, a part of the Supreme Soul who is above all things. The same in essence but not in quantity. How can I serve this Supreme Being, what can I do here in this world that will bring me closer to Him and be more pleasing? It is stated in scripture that the wise person serves only the Lord. The next person serves the whole world, the next person serves just his country, the next his city, the next his family and if one cannot manage any of these types of service then he will serve himself.

If we look around us we see most of the people in the world are unhappy. There is a veneer of happiness but in general there is dissatisfaction within, a longing and a yearning for something, and people don’t even know what it is they are searching for. They just know they haven’t found it. They have tried so many things and each time they convince themselves that this time it will be different, this time it will last, this time I have found happiness. But we all know that these feelings and experiences come to an end all too soon and often with bitter after effects.

God is love. The Supreme Person loves us. We foolishly try and make lives that do not include Him. We have become influenced by the modern day philosophers who try and convince us that we are our own masters. That we are in control of our own lives. That we are the creators of our own fortunes and outcomes. But these notions are simply not true. We are adrift on the ocean of misadventure. We never know what will happen next, we are not in control, and we are often washed up on the shores of ambiguity and uncertainty. We find ourselves immersed in situations that we are unable to control or extricate ourselves from and we end up paying the consequences of our foolish actions.

Now, like any parent or loved one who feels sad and sorrowful when their child or beloved is lost and lonely, the Supreme Lord feels this way towards us. He is longing for us to turn to Him; He wants us to be dependent on Him. He waits for us while we turn away and try and create our own microscopic worlds without His guidance.

The Christian, Muslim and Vedic scriptures of the world tell us this clearly;

“I will give them a heart to know Me, for I am the Lord; and they will be My people, and I will be their God, for they will return to Me with their whole heart.” – Holy Bible

“We belong to God and to God we will return.” – Qur’an

“The wise, engaged in devotional service, take refuge in the Lord, and free themselves from the cycle of birth and death by renouncing the fruits of action in the material world. In this way they can attain that state beyond all miseries.” – – — Bhagavad Gita

Our function, once we know who we are, is to engage in loving service to God. This service is so potent that once we start to immerse ourselves in it, we quickly develop an attachment to this way of working and doing things.

In contrast to the entanglement that comes from working and serving ourselves and our senses, this action uplifts us, it makes us more compassionate toward our fellow man and it enables us to rest in our natural position as being dependent on the person who cares for us more than anyone else, the Supreme Person. This is our natural spiritual position and it is what we long for. Instead of simply turning to the Supreme Lord, we dive into temporary and ephemeral situations and come up empty hearted.

Don’t you want somebody to love?
Don’t you need somebody to love?
Wouldn’t you love somebody to love?
You better find somebody to love
Jefferson Airplane

What every single person in the world wants is someone to love. We look all around the world at different people, pets, countries, houses, situations, to find that place where we can find peace and happiness. We search all our lives hoping that we will find the perfect person to love who will love us in return. The person we are looking for is Supreme Lord. We are inextricably linked to Him by our spiritual essence. We do not belong here, we should not even be here, somehow or other we have found ourselves in this impermanent and makeshift world and we try, like the man in the children’s Sunday school song, to build a permanent house on the sand with the tide coming in.

Our help is in the name of the Lord,Who made heaven and earth.

The names of the Lord are infinite. Every scripture has names of God and each and every one of the millions of names has the spiritual potency of the Lord. We are also advised by the saintly people and by scripture itself to praise the Lord through His names. This is how we come close to God, singing and praising His name and His glories. Each day we can spend some time singing to the Supreme Person, saying any of His names, remembering Him and just taking that small amount of time to start the day on a spiritual note. Once this becomes a habit we are able to see things that are reminders that this world is temporary and that the real world is with the Supreme Lord.

Whether we are wealthy or poor, this world and all the things it has to offer will never give us the happiness we are searching for. It is just not attainable here. It is like looking for a diamond in a two dollar store. It is just simply not available there. If we are in a poverty stricken position we can try and make a detour and aim to become a billionaire. We can spend all our time and energy creating something that will give us a luxurious lifestyle with all the trappings of the ultra rich but in the end,   when we look into our hearts, we are still that same person, bereft of love, surrounded by hundreds of people but lonely, feeling that there is something more to be had but not sure what it is, feeling that ache that cannot be satiated no matter what I try or where I go.

We are spiritual beings, we need spiritual food and that food which will satisfy our restless hearts is only available when we reconnect with our Supreme friend and beloved. It is the love we are always longing for and it is our right to be in possession of such love. In fact, without this love we become lost and impoverished.

Thank You!