We want more. What we have is not enough. This restlessness of the dog chasing his own tail is the engine for our consumption economy. We are not a rich society. We are trained to be poor from early on in life. But we can learn to be rich.
*** Satisfaction Not Guaranteed***
I am writing about #LivingDeeply this month. Today is day 12.
When Alexander (already “the great”) came to visit Corinth, he expected to meet the famous philosopher Diogenes. But when he didn’t see Diogenes come by, he himself went to see this famous philosopher. Diogenes didn’t believe in the rules of society much, and lived happy in an unused aqueduct, a large water pipe. Alexander arrived with his attendants and walked over to where Diogenes was lying with eyes closed. Diogenes sees a shadow approaching, and opens one eye. Alexander introduce himself, and then asks “Is there something I can give you”? Diogenes closes his eye again and says yes, indeed there is. “Just move so you are not blocking my sun”. As Alexander walks away, he tells his followers, “If I were not Alexander, I would be Diogenes”.
He is rich whose wants are less than what they have.
संतोष Santosh- patience/acceptance/faith is one of the Niyamas of Patanjali, and it’s meaning goes beyond the simple English translation of “patience”. It’s a patient, prayer-ful waiting for something that’s inevitable, like the transformation of a seed into a giant tree. It’s more active than silently accepting today’s situation. It is a belief (borne from experience) that the inevitable will happen as the future unfolds. The Universe moves to it’s own internal logic and trajectory, and if in the future we will want something else, we shall have it then. At this moment, what we have is all we need.
Sri Krishna says, in the Bhagavad Gita,
यदृच्छालाभसन्तुष्टो द्वन्द्वातीतो विमत्सर: |
सम: सिद्धावसिद्धौ च कृत्वापि न निबध्यते
Content with whatever gain comes of its own accord, and free from envy, they are beyond the dualities of life. Being equal in success and failure, they are not bound by their actions, even while performing all kinds of activities.
Let’s talk about scratching an itch. We’re not always scratching any part of our skin at any time. We scratch only to make the itch go away. All we want is the itch to go away; the scratching is just a way to get there.
It’s the same with things that we want. We want that hankering to go away, and we believe that buying that thing will bring us satisfaction. But we have been trained to want more and more. So, when we buy the fancy car, we want something else next. The treadmill of want is merciless, and we can never have enough.
The way to truly be rich is not to have more. It’s to want less.