The Only Wealth We Take with Us
A mystic was invited to the luxurious mansion of a wealthy merchant. The merchant boasted to the mystic about his accumulation of wealth and possessions, saying that he desired to be the richest man ever!
Upon leaving the merchant’s home, the mystic gave him a copper coin with the following request, “Please keep this coin safe for me and return it to me in the next world when I ask for it.” After the sage’s departure, the rich merchant related the unusual request to his wife and showed her the copper coin. Perplexed with this mysterious gesture, the wealthy man’s wife exclaimed, “Are you mad? How can a coin go to the next world? How can we carry it with us there? Go back and return it to the holy man.”
Immediately the rich man took off in search of the mystic. When he found him, he returned the coin to him, “Sir, please take back your coin. We cannot take this to the next world. We cannot carry it there. That is not possible.”
The wise sage smiled and said, “This coin is small and light. You say that it cannot go with you to the next world. Then pray tell me, how can the wealth you have accumulated go there with you? What good will all this wealth do for you after you die?”
The story above reminds us to reflect on our priorities. Are we attached to worldly objects? Are we possessed by our desires and ambitions? Can we take them with us?
Maharaj Charan Singh explains that when our soul came into the world, it took on the mind as its companion. The mind, being a slave of the senses, continually runs after sensual pleasures and worldly objects.
The Masters explain that unless we attach ourselves to the Shabd, we will remain lost in the cycle of birth and death because our worldly attachments and desires keep bringing us back into this endless cycle of existence.
However, when we attach the mind to something higher than worldly pleasures, it then releases its hold on these desires.
Maharaj Charan Singh Ji explains the process:
By simran and dhyan, we are building a dam to keep the mind from running down to the senses again. But you cannot hold it permanently at the eye centre; when there is too much suppression, then the mind breaks all the rules and regulations…. But if after holding it here you attach it to the Shabd and Nam within and it starts tasting that nectar within, then the dam remains in place and the mind does not come down from the eye centre, because it has something better to hold on to than the senses now.
Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. II
While living in this world there is no doubt that we all have certain karmic obligations, duties and responsibilities towards certain people. We cannot completely cut ourselves off from this world. As the Great Master put it, quoting a shabd:
You may wander like a hermit, naked with matted hair,
Carrying three staffs knotted together.
You may read holy scriptures and visit holy places.
But if your mind seeks the pleasures of the senses,
All this is in vain.
With the Three Masters
It is a deception to think that achieving our spiritual goal is possible by leaving our spouse, our children and the comforts of our homes and retreating to the forests or mountains. Running away from our obligations would not bring about the balance that we are seeking, as our mind will still be attached to our family, wealth, properties and desires.
But if instead we strive to attune ourselves to the divine melody within us, then the mind would be released from the shackles of worldly desires, attachments and possessions because, as Maharaj Charan Singh has told us, it now has something better to hold on to than the senses.
Whether we are obsessed with our relationships or with material objects, we should strive to live according to only our basic needs rather than our never-ending list of desires, which turns us into mindless victims of modern-day consumerism.
Returning to the story of the rich merchant, we understand that the only true wealth that we can take with us is our effort in meditation. Hazur Maharaj Ji often quoted Saint Kabir: “After getting this wealth, we should keep it so close that even little fragments should not escape from you” because in the end, it is the only thing that we can take with us.