We all must ask these questions to ourselves. Recently I’ve encountered these questions at a number of online portals. People were found quite inquisitive to understand this aspect of life. A number of them realised that they have achieved everything in life, yet they are not happy or satisfied.
Consider this very common scenario, where a person travelling in a 4-wheeler, after seeing another 4-wheeler of a renowned brand expresses his desire to buy that car. Presently they do own one or even two, but after seeing another better one, out of desire they wish to buy that one. In fact, once I even received a question from a lady who asked whether it is wrong to achieve good or to neglect that what is good and whether it is wrong to neglect material totally.
Amidst all these mind boggling questions, we must realise one very basic thing.
What do you really need and what do you want or rather desire?
There’s a very thin line of difference between the two. We all have learnt that food, clothing, and shelter are the basic necessities of life. So we must strive constantly to achieve them. We have certain responsibilities in life towards our close ones and hence we must make every possible effort to provide them that basic need and the basic resources for a convenient lifestyle. So this is what need is, in true sense.
Using the available resources in order to achieve more than what we require is our desire and wants.
It isn’t wrong to desire to achieve more. But the problem arises when these desires turn into greed; greed to achieve more and more to satisfy our ego and false pride. To manipulate with government taxes, to indulge into fraudulent activities, bringing harm to someone for our selfish motives and materialistic wealth, or any such action that causes the slightest loss to the rich or the poor is out of our greed. This is our inner enemy whom we many a time fail to recognize. Like a parasite it spreads into our brain and we surrender to it completely, knowingly or unknowingly.
Coming back to the above example of a person wanting to buy a new car! There’s nothing wrong in it. It is completely fine to think about the convenience of our close ones as well as our own. But the main problem is that somewhere at the back of our mind, we are unnecessarily giving heed to and increasing our needs in life, our desires, to be precise.
The greater our desires, the greater is the fear of not achieving them or if achieved, then the fear of losing them. Thus, greater would be the insecurities and unhappiness in life. What’s the use of such luxuries when they can’t give you satisfaction and permanent happiness, for, at the end of the story, we are all striving to stay happy? Even if we are earning money, the root motive is to stay happy.
Truly speaking there is no limit to these desires which slowly and silently turn into greed. When one desire is fulfilled, we start struggling for something more. After that, again something more and in this manner, we keep running behind these desires that would supposedly make us “happy”. The fewer the desires, the greater is the internal peace. This is something that each of us must give a thought to.
Haven’t we moulded our lifestyle in a manner where we fail to compromise with something lesser or below our expectations? Let’s take up a small example from our day to day life itself. Every parent wishes to give all the luxuries to his child and there’s nothing wrong in it. We would want our children to travel from one place to another conveniently in a car or a cab. No one likes unnecessary hardships and we would hence prefer the same for our children. But in providing them all the luxuries of the world and fulfilling each and every wish of theirs, we forget that somewhere we are shaping their lifestyle such that tomorrow if a difficult situation arises, they might find it difficult to incorporate it in their life and adapt to it. They could find it difficult to travel in local transports like buses and train. In buying things, they might start differentiating the daily needs like clothing and accessories based on their price value and not the real need or the applicability of that stuff in their lives.
I do not say that we must avoid buying good stuff and we must give up everything in life. That notion is wrong. What is needed is a balance; a balance between desires and needs. We must take care that we are not spoiling one’s habit in the name of “providing convenience to them.”
Whether rich or poor, one must realise the true value of the available resources, instead of getting overwhelmed by the self desires and misusing the resources in order to satisfy one’s unnecessary wants.
Of course, no one can questions one’s spending or define one’s utilisation as necessary or unnecessary. It’s their personal possession and they do have the right to use it in the way they find it befitting.
But it’s a matter of one’s own understanding and realisation of right and wrong for his own betterment and upliftment of his own personality. No third person would benefit from this.
What’s advisable is that we must practice and teach the quality of self-content. To stay content with and be at peace with what we have and even what we do not have. One who is content is the happiest.
I understand that there would be a number of doubts arising in the minds of many readers here. Many might not completely correlate with what I’m trying to say. But then, do add your views here. Whether right or wrong, it would definitely add to our perspective.
I’d end it here with this beautiful quote by the Mahatma
The Earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s need, but not every man’s greed.