When we think of wealth and poverty so much seems to hinge on whether we live in a mentality of scarcity; or a consciousness of abundance, that there is enough in the world for everyone.
Gandhi once said that the world has enough for everyone’s need, but not enough for everyone’s greed. It seems so true… But why is that? Why does that seem to resonate as true?
Is there some kind of Super Consciousness out there that is (or perhaps, Who is…) keeping track? Or calculating whether I’m consuming too much energy, taking up too much space, hoarding possessions or property, or perhaps even eating too much ice cream?
Does it really matter? If I come by what I have honestly, if I’m not stealing the possessions I’ve acquired, if I’m not harming anyone by enjoying the things I have, does it really matter if I live in a bigger house than someone else, or drive a more expensive car, or take lavish holidays, or eat what I please?
There’s another saying that’s often attributed to Gandhi, but was actually spoken by an American woman saint named St. Elizabeth Seton. She said that we should live simply, so that others may simply live.
There seems to be a resonance between those who try to face inward both from the East and the West.
Those who try to live a more conscious life, feel an interconnectivity, and connection between our individual lives and the lives of others in the world.
Is it possible to create more universal harmony by our conscious proactive efforts to take less, and give more? Can we even gain some innate satisfaction by just trying to live more simply in gratitude, and endeavoring to live with less greed and accumulation?
We read so much about the earth’s ecological imbalance due to too much drilling of oil, irresponsible water use and over-production by various industries. We’ve seen during this Covid pandemic that when factories shut down for some time, the air quality in polluted cities became clear for awhile, and previously unseen wildlife and plant life began to roam freely and grow lavishly once again just by a slight reduction of our human footprint.
“Everything animate or inanimate that is within the universe is controlled and owned by the Lord. One should therefore accept only those things necessary for oneself, which are set aside as one’s quota, and one should not accept other things, knowing well to whom they belong.”
Who is the real owner and controller of all things? If I come here empty-handed and leave empty-handed, is there someone or something greater than me who possessed all things before I arrived on the scene and for all eternity?
During the height of the pandemic, I read a story written by a Portuguese woman who had tragically lost her father to Covid. She wrote about how her father had been a billionaire and had immense wealth in the bank. But as he was dying, and gasping for air, which is free to everyone everywhere. His billions in the bank could not save him… Can any of us purchase a few more moments of life, or a few more breaths of oxygen with the money we have in the bank?
Sri Isopanisad asks us to redirect our consciousness and our energy toward a life of simplicity and gratitude.
In fact, if I take more than I need, without recognizing the true owner of a thing, is it really mine to use or misuse as I please? Who is the true owner of the earth, the water, and all things of this world before I arrived here, and after I’m gone?
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May 15, 2022
Sunanda Das, Temple of the Vedic Planetarium