Let me ask you – Are you rich? Most of you will say No, not really. Very few will say Yes.
Then I ask you – Why did you say no?
You say – I don’t feel rich.
Ok, if you were really rich, let ‘s put a figure to this – say a few million dollars.
What would that rich life look like?
If you were rich, what would you be eating? I am assuming you would still have 2-4 meals a day. Whether ordering for home delivery or cooking yourself you could choose to have Thai, Chinese, Italian, North Indian, South Indian etc. Well, you are already doing that.
If you were rich what are the kind of clothes you would be wearing? Maybe a few more designer clothes. But definitely something that is pleasing and comfortable to you. Well, you are already doing that.
If you were rich, whom would you be relating to? Your family members, some friends and people from your network. Well, you are already doing that.
If you were rich, how would you be using the money? You would be spending some money on recurring monthly expenses, maybe buying some property, investing some money and increasing your savings for old age. Well, you are already doing that.
If you were rich, how would you be spending your time? Doing the things that you love. Spending time with your loved ones, travelling on holiday, doing things you enjoy. While the scale might be different, you are already doing that.
If you were rich, what kind of professional work would you be doing? Maybe having your own business or investing in other businesses. There would still be some strategizing, managing people, and administrative tasks. You are already doing that.
If you were rich, what kind of donations and contributions would you be making? If the causes are really important to you, be it preservation of the Vedic culture, animal rights, education for the underprivileged, access to facilities for the differently enabled you would already be involved with it.
If you were rich, where would you live? You would choose to live in a place which has amenities, where you have close access to your support system and which has more opportunities for whatever you choose to do. You would have your own house or you may be paying off the loan. Well, you are already living in such a place.
If you were rich, where would you sleep? On some bed whether in a large room or a small room, whether the soft mattress is supported by a bed studded with precious stones or it is a bare rug. Well, you are already living in such a place.
If you were rich where would you travel? Oh, the world would be your oyster. What you seek from travel – meeting new people, experiencing new cultures, getting away from the daily routine, eating different foods, listening to different music, seeing different places. Well, some of it you are already doing. All of this is still possible locally and nationally if not internationally.
Can you see that in many ways you are already rich?
If you look at your life, you are definitely richer than the you of 5 years or even 10 years ago. But do you feel rich?
If we are richer than earlier, why do we not feel rich?
Because we have set up the goalpost to be an ever moving one.
Will there ever be a time when we will finally feel that we have enough!
The insecurities of our childhood of not having enough money still continue into our adult world. The sense of lack continues as a hangover and makes us feel inadequate. One only has to see women wearing jewellery worth thousands haggling over the price of a few potatoes before the pandemic. Or some other families who did not want to pay their maids because they could not come to their homes because of the lockdown.
We play the game of what if I don’t have enough? In this ‘what if I don’t have enough’? game, there are no winners, only one loser and the loser is me, feeling even more insecure despite being more richer. I justify my insecurity by saying that the cost of living has increased, inflation is sky rocketing and so on. No one denies that.
We have to be honest about how we feed our insecurities and stop doing that. We have to objectively see that we are richer than earlier which should have made us feel more secure. If it has, great, you can continue to build your finances. But if we don’t feel financially secure, then we need to question our story, our complicated relationship with wealth
We have bought into the story that if and when I am rich one day, things will be different. It was a childhood fantasy unexamined and carried forward blindly. As an adult now we have to ask ourselves the question – What does my rich life look like and answer the question. As we have just seen our lifestyle is not going to be radically different. What we eat, where we sleep, how we spend our time, how we relate to our loved ones, what we would wear will be more or less the same!
That means you are already living a rich life.
I repeat – you are already living a rich life.
Sure, you would still want to be richer and so you are welcome to work for it but let us not deny that you already rich.
The teaching of Vedanta blesses you with this objectivity.
You see what money can do for you and what it cannot. We stop being like the animal that is already in a small oasis with access to some water. But he looks into the distance and spots a big lake. The animal feverishly runs towards it, only to find that it was a mirage. He looks around and spots some other water in the distance. He runs towards it desperately waiting to quench his thirst. Another mirage. Eventually he collapses out of exhaustion. More and more riches is a bit like a mirage for us. Once you get there you find it does not satisfy your thirst. One thing money cannot do for you, is to take away your insecurity. That only you can do for yourself.
As my beloved guru, Pujya Swami Dayananda ji brilliantly said,
Only the insecure need security and no security is secure enough.
Then, how should we evaluate if the wealth we have, is enough or not?
Let’s explore how Sanatana Dharma or Hinduism looks at wealth.
The Vedic tradition which is the foundation of Sanaatana Dharma sees wealth as valid and sacred. Only, the concept of wealth is an expanded one.
Lakshmi is the goddess of wealth and blesses us with eight forms of wealth through her eight manifestations, Ashtalakshmi
1.Adi Lakshmi – Adi means the first one or the source. She helps us nurture our spiritual wealth – the necessary qualities that help us discover that I , the Atma is limitless and has no lack at all. In the Bhagavad Gita, Ch 14, Bhagavan Krshna speaks about daivi sampattih, sacred wealth – some of which are abhayam, freedom from fear, sattva shuddhi, purity of mind, jnana yoga vyavasthitih, steadiness in contemplation, daanam, giving, yajna, performing fire ritual offerings, tapas, religious austerities, shantih, resolution of the mind, dhrtih, fortitude, na ati maanitaa, no exaggerated self opinion.
All these qualities are regarded as wealth because
one, they help you see your own abundance,
two, the qualities free you from insecurity and
three, they bless you with the abilities to handle all situations.
Some of these such as shama, resolution of the mind, dama – discipline in the use of external sense organs, titiksha, forbearance, shraddha, trust in the guru are referred to as shatka sampattih. Sampattih is wealth.
Blessed with these riches which we nurture through our attention and practice, we can see the truth of what I am, that reality which is satyam and has no lack. One will have to leave behind all the money when one dies, but if one has Adi Lakshmi then you have already found yourself as the basis of all security.
2.Dhana Lakshmi is the goddess of money and most desired and worshipped. Much after the barter system, money came to be seen as a collective agreement that society agreed upon. The game of money goes on where we exchange money for something of value and so on.
3.Dhaanya Lakshmi is the goddess of agricultural wealth, the wealth of good food, rich in nutrients who blesses with whatever is necessary for the nourishment of all beings. The birds get their fruits and worms. The predators prey on grazing animals in grasslands. The plants get their nutrients from the soil and their ability to make food due to sunlight and water. The human beings are spoilt for choice. Different beings require different kinds of food and all are provided for beautifully.
4.Santaana Lakshmi is the goddess who bestows all beings with fertility and hence children. The presence of children in our lives particularly our own fills us with a sense of abundance and completeness like very few things can. We can pass on our family traditions and values of Dharma to our children and they carry forward the richness of our learning
5.Dhairya Lakshmi – Dhairya is courage. So Dhairya Lakshmi is the goddess who bestows courage and valour to overcome difficulties. Imagine if a warrior has all the resources to fight something but lacks the courage, all the wealth and his army is of no use.
Vijayalakshmi – Vijaya is victory. So Vijayalakshmi is the goddess who bestows victory in our different pursuits. Imagine if you had a lot of money but any venture you began ended in a loss. You would feel poor despite your riches.
Vidyalakshmi – Vidyalakshmi is the goddess of knowledge – the only knowledge that grows when you share it. All other wealth is depleted when you give it away except for knowledge. She blesses you with whatever knowledge you have that helps you solve problems for the world, create innovation to improve the lives of others, how to sensibly use our resources.
If we had money but did not know how to use we would have an unhealthy lifestyle of drugs and other indulgences that would eventually take our lives.
Rajya Lakshmi – Rajyalakshmi is the goddess of power who bestows a person with kingly or queenly powers, meaning the position of authority which helps us create systemic change – the power that leaders hold. You could have a lot of money but no power to effect change which could be frustrating.