The images of prosperous people that make us burn with envy are just our mind’s illusions
Suppose we see someone driving a Porsche and looking prosperous. That sight may make us burn with envy and resentment: “Why do they get to drive such a car? Why can’t I have something similar? Why are they so happy?”
Such burning arises from the presumption that the trappings of wealth are the providers of happiness. But is that presumption true? That person driving the Porsche may well be so lonely and miserable that they may drive off the next sharp turn to end their lives.
Such tragedies are not all that improbable; the news periodically reports celebrity suicides. People often appear happier than what they are. Worse still, our mind makes us unhappier than what we need to be. How? By making us believe that others are happier because they have more things than we do.
No matter how our mind imagines other people’s lives to be, no one’s life is perfect. Someone who owns a mansion may have a broken family. Someone who has the picture-perfect family may have a terminal disease. Someone who is a comedian may suffer from depression after the laughter.
Rather than getting carried away by images that look good, we need to train our mind for good. Such training centers on looking at the things we have, not at the things we don’t have. Pertinently, the Bhagavad-gita (17.16) urges us to cultivate satisfaction as a mental discipline.
Cultivating satisfaction becomes easier once we understand spiritual knowledge: that we are parts of the all-attractive ultimate reality, Krishna, and that our ultimate satisfaction lies in our personal loving connection with him. When we practice bhakti-yoga to develop our inner connection with Krishna, our mind becomes purified. Thus, we start finding satisfaction in him and in using whatever we have, little or large, in a mood of service to him.
Think it over:
- Did you ever experience that someone whose life seemed perfect was not as happy as you thought?
- Why do we overestimate others’ happiness?
- How can we cultivate satisfaction?
17.16 And satisfaction, simplicity, gravity, self-control and purification of one’s existence are the austerities of the mind.
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