This subject is very interesting and important to me. Why are some, not so good people are very wealthy (although admittedly for most part they are still not happy) and then, some wonderful enlightened people are struggling to support their families (although admittedly, they actually are, for most part happy).
We know that money can not buy happiness, yet mostly we all want to be wealthy, where we have enough money to support our families without struggle.
On the other hand, some believe that wealth can stand in the way of spiritual practice, of awakening.
I just read this amazing “The Rich Man” chapter in Commentary part of The Gospel According to Jesus – by Stephen Mitchell. There is a story in The Gospel, where Jesus meets a rich man looking for eternal life, I will quote it later, but first I must say that using many different sources, Mitchell explains the rich man/poor man dilemma quite beautifully in my opinion.
The Rich Man chapter is full of great information for contemplation, therefore, I may not have enough time to go over it in one post. Thankfully, my 1-year-old is napping and I am free to write, read and reflect. I must take a second, to acknowledge how very thankful I am, for these couple of hours I get, few times a week, when I am all along (not counting Lapa, our family dog) and when I have opportunity to do this, between running loads of laundry and loading/unloading a dishwasher. So I also thank you, the reader, for sharing this experience with me.
The Rich Man….
And one day, as he was setting out, a man ran up and fell on his knees before him, and said, “Good Rabbi, what must I do to gain eternal life?” And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God along. You know the commandments: Do not murder, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother.” And the man said, “Rabbi, all these I have kept since I was a boy.” And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said, “There is one thing that you lack: go, sell everything you have and give it to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come and follow me.” But when he heard this, his face clouded over, and he went away sick at heart, for he was a man who had large estates. And Jesus looked around at his disciples and said, “Children, how hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God. It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for rich man to enter kingdom of God.”
And Mitchell goes on to break it all down for us:
We can’t know what quality in the man prompted Jesus to make this radical response. Perhaps, noticing his rich clothing, Jesus intuited that the man’s only attachment was to his wealth, and that if he could give it up he would step right into the kingdom of God. (In the Lucan story of Zacchaeus, by contrast, the repentant tax-gatherer has Jesus’ approval in giving the poor only half of his ill-gotten wealth.)
“Sell everything” was the teaching for this particular man at tis particular moment. If he had immediately said, “Yes, sir, I will,” we don’t know how Jesus would have responded. I remember a dialogue between Zen Master Seung Sahn and one of his early, hippie disciples, who was very attached to his long blond pony-tail. After a great deal of earnest persuasion, the student finally realized the extent of his attachment. “Okay,” he said, “you win, I’ll cut it off.” At which point Seung Sahn laughed and said, “Now that it’s okay to cut it off, you don’t need to.”
What a great explanation.
When we break our attachments, those issues/objects/persons are no longer inhibiting our spiritual growth.
…to be continued…