Lessons from Life: Wealth Consists of Contentedness

Guan Ming

PureInsight | July 18, 2005

[PureInsight.org] Since I became a cultivator, I have chosen to live in simplicity. I can afford a car, but I prefer to live the simple life of commuting via subway and bus. If I have to get somewhere in a hurry, I just call a taxi. I find a simple lifestyle a more relaxing way to lead my life. The pleasure from a materialistic life is transient. It is the wealth of a spiritual life and a contented mind that will bless us with long-lasting joy. A truly rich life comes from a contented mind. Many of my colleagues have worked hard to purchase luxurious apartments. Once that wish came true, the next goal was to get a luxury car. Even though they all end up having an enormous mortgage that will take them 30 years to pay off, they still have many, many unsatisfied materialistic desires. As the result of their endless pursuits, they constantly complain about not having enough money to spend. They are leading a very tiring life. They may have the trapping of a "rich" person, but they are not leading a rich life at all.

When we sleep at night, we need no more than a space equal to the size of a mattress. At each meal, each of us is capable of consuming a limited amount at a time, not much more than an adult serving size. How could we possibly need more room or money? Owning more does not make us rich. Ralph Waldo Emerson, a famous American writer, once said, "[...] the poor are only they who feel poor, and poverty consists in feeling poor." (From "Domestic Life" in Society and Solitude.) Only when we learn to be contented and cherish what we own will we be able to discover the joys of the heart and will we be able to depart from frustration and complaints for good.

Here is an ancient Chinese fable. Once upon a time in ancient China, an elderly woodsman was drinking from a mountain brook when he discovered shiny gold sands gathering at the bottom of the pool of water . He was pleasantly surprised by his discovery. He began to go up to the brook and collect the gold sand that accumulated at the bottom of the pool every two weeks. His life became more and more comfortable. At first, he kept the secret to himself. But one day he shared the secret with his son. His son immediately urged his father to widen the opening between rocks to bring in more spring water from the source. He thought more water would mean more gold sand. When they actually widened the opening, the brook became bigger but the water stopped carrying gold sand.

The moral of the story is: when a man is overcome with greed, his good fortune will be lost forever. If a man refuses to be contented and cherish what he owns, he will exhaust his entire life in his worldly pursuits but will never become a truly rich man.

Translated from: http://www.zhengjian.org/zj/articles/2005/7/7/33001.html

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