One can achieve contentment not so much by acquiring lots of wealth but by progressively reducing some of our ‘wants’
As we transitioned in 2023, hundreds of messages on social media wished good health, happiness, and prosperity to each other. Some also included “peace,” presumably global peace in the context of our troubled world like the ongoing Ukraine-Russia conflict. Other likely hot spots include China-South Korea, China-India, India-Pakistan, and Israel-Iran, just to name a few.
I wonder why we don’t think of wishing each other CONTENTMENT which encompasses happiness, satisfaction, accomplishment, and a lot more. As I was crafting my own message for the New Year, I landed on a graphic stating “Contentment is Natural Wealth.”
It made me think about ‘natural wealth’ versus ‘accumulated wealth and physical assets.’ It is the latter that most people seek in life and the race for more never ends. Should one’s life goal only be rich, even billionaire, and famous but to what end? Does being content mean being complacent and/ or leaving things to their fate calling it God’s will? On the contrary, our Dharma teaches us to do Karma and not give up hopes, aspirations, and dreams for a better future. In the end, we must count God’s blessings for everything we have and seek more only through our efforts and good Karma.
We cannot deny that the world is full of unfortunate people, born in impoverished and/ or poorly educated families. They could never get out of the shackles of the state of being “poor,” in spite of their best efforts. The “Vanchit” (have nots), instead of poor, maybe a better choice of word to distinguish them from the “rich”. They are Vanchit because they lacked good education, skills, and opportunities due to many environmental factors, including limited financial means, beyond their control.
Having lived in the United States for over 40 years but visiting India frequently, I often meet Vanchit people in rural areas with fewer means yet they appear more content than those in the West racing to the top for accumulated wealth. The ignorance of what may be better beyond their village community may also be their misfortune. It is however changing for the better because of increased access to mobile phones and social media.
Another phrase in the graphic is, “Luxury is Artificial Powerty.” First, I wondered about the use of ‘Powerty’ instead of the familiar word ‘poverty,’ (limited resources to meet one’s basic needs). It baffled me and out of curiosity, I googled Powerty which, to my surprise, meant ‘to increase the use of renewable energies in vulnerable groups.’ In the present context, I surmise, Powerty is a construct associated with the rich and famous believing themselves powerful. It is not only artificial but a reflection of one’s state of mind believing that wealth can buy them luxury which in turn makes them powerful. In my view, such people are devoid of being contented in life.
India’s Prime Minister once used the phrase, Sanchit to Vanchit, asking his countrymen and women to share with others what they can. He clearly and wisely avoided differentiating between the rich and poor which is generally derogatory for the latter and associated with accumulated wealth. Sanchit (the Haves) is far more inclusive to counting people not only with wealth but a good education, skills, spiritual knowledge, status in society, etc. The idea is that everyone is Sanchit (with more of something) which s/he can and should share with a Vanchit (with less) for the overall betterment of society. That act of giving and sharing will bring more contentment in life than the race for accumulated wealth.
Let me share two other aspects of achieving contentment in life. As we grow older, our culture teaches us to greet parents, teachers, and all elders with phrases like Namaste, Pranam, Ram Ram, and/ or touching their feet. In return, we get blessings coming from their heart which cumulatively means significantly more than any amount of wealth one earns. These blessings are priceless and I have come to firmly believe that those blessings led my own path in thick and thin and I am who I am because of them. My own Karma contributed only partially.
Another belief on my part is that one can achieve contentment not so much by acquiring lots of wealth but by progressively reducing some of our ‘wants,’ and thus the need for more wealth. Further, if we decide to help Vanchit, this will automatically lead to more blessings as a bonus.
In conclusion, I am not suggesting that being wealthy is a sin or an undesirable act of life. However, attaining contentment should be a higher-order life objective. Achieving contentment and accumulating blessings in life mean more than just happiness, prosperity, satisfaction, achievements, and status.
1. Text in Blue points to additional data on the topic.
2. The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of PGurus.
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