by Ven. Dr. K. Sri Dhammananda
Happiness and Materialism
Many people believe they can solve all their problems if only they have money; but they fail to realise that money itself has its attendant problems. Money alone cannot solve all problems.
Many people never learn this and all their lives they rush about using all their energy trying to collect may more “gadgets”, and when they have them they find that these do not satisfy them, but they must have other “things and more gadgets”. In fact, the more they have the more they desire to have; so they can never be happy or content.
The following advice gives us tremendous consolation to make up our mind when we lose something:-
“Say not that this is yours and that is mine,
Just say, this came to you and that to me,
So we may not regret the fading shine,
Of all the glorious things which ceased to be.”
Wealth is not something for you to dump somewhere and to crave for. It is for you to make use of for your welfare as well as others. If you spend your time by only clinging to your property without even fulfilling your obligations towards your country, your people and your religion you may find that when the time comes for you to leave, this world will still be plagued with worries. You will not be benefited with that property which you have so painstakingly collected.
To hope for wealth and gain through gambling is like hoping for shelter from the sun through the clouds, whereas to hope for progress and prosperity through diligence in work is like building a permanent house as a shelter from the sun and rain.
“Your property will remain when you die. Your friends and relatives will follow you up to your grave. But only good or bad actions you have done during your life-time will follow you beyond the grave.”
Many things that we hope will give us pleasure are disappointing when we get them, like the three wishes in the fairy tale, it sounds nice to have a lot of money but if we get it we may find that it brings us worry in deciding how to use it or how to protect it, or we may be led to act foolishly. The rich man begins to wonder if his friends value him for himself or for his money, and this is another form of mental sorrow. And there is always the fear of losing what we have, whether it be possessions or some beloved person. So when we are honest and look closely at what we call “happiness” we find that it is a kind of mirage in the mind, never fully grasped, never complete, or at the best, accompanied by fear of loss.
Your wealth can decorate only your house but not you. Only your own virtue can decorate you. Your dress can decorate your body but not you. Only your good conduct can decorate you.
The method that people should adopt to gain happiness must be a harmless one. There is no meaning in enjoying happiness by causing suffering to another person or any other living being. Buddha says: “Blessed are they who earn their living without harming others.”
“Happiness is a perfume you cannot pour on others without getting a few drops on yourself.”
You may not be able to change the world according to your wishes but you may be able to change your heart to find happiness.
It is only when you have suffered through doing good that you can achieve a greater happiness than others.
“If we want to find happiness, let us stop thinking about gratitude or ingratitude and give for the inner joy of giving. Ingratitude is natural-like weeds. Gratitude is like a rose. It has to be fed, watered and cultivated and loved and protected.” (D. Carnegie).