Possessing wealth is not the problem; being possessed by wealth is
Some people think that to be spiritual is to be anti-material, to give up everything material for attaining the spiritual.
However, the Bhagavad-gita doesn’t recommend such world-rejecting spirituality. It concludingly assures that Arjuna, on becoming spiritually conscious, will attain victory and prosperity (18.78).
The essence of spirituality is not the rejection of the material but the realization of the spiritual. We need to realize both our own indestructible spirituality as souls and the all-attractiveness of the supreme spiritual reality, Krishna, thereby becoming lovingly absorbed in him.
For gaining such realization, the Gita conclusively recommends bhakti-yoga (18.65-66). In this yoga of love, we lovingly connect our consciousness with Krishna and also connect with him all the things prominently present in our consciousness, such as wealth.
However, if wealth becomes the driving presence in our consciousness, the resulting greed makes us act immorally. Some greedy people start thinking of wealth as the sole way to power and pleasure. To gain wealth, they may even go to any extremes, including murdering rivals (16.14). Being thus possessed by wealth is a serious problem, even a spiritual catastrophe because it banishes thoughts of life’s spiritual side from our consciousness and makes us act inhumanly.
But such dangers associated with possessing wealth doesn’t mean wealth itself has to be demonized and rejected. In this world, someone has to possess wealth. Best that the virtuous and devoted possess it, for they will use it for good. In this mood, the Gita exhorts Arjuna to attain a flourishing kingdom (11.33). Arjuna is so devoted to Krishna that we could say he is possessed by Krishna. Being thus possessed, he could and would and did use wealth for society’s all-round wellbeing.
If we too strive to become devoted, we can possess wealth without being possessed by it.
Think it over:
- What is the essence of spirituality?
- What does being possessed by wealth mean?
- Why does the Gita exhort Arjuna to attain a flourishing kingdom?
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