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Volume 5 No 2

Voice of Bliss

Being Rich
By Venerable Shen-Kai

The recent political events and natural disasters around the world can probably attest to the vulnerability of human lives, much less of wealth, even more so of fortunes. It is certainly a blessing to be rich, but it is not a birthright. We need to understand what makes us rich. More importantly, we need to understand how to handle our wealth because being rich is not quite the same as being happy.

Many people think being poor is worrisome. However, being rich can create more worries than being poor. There are eight kinds of worry regarding wealth:

1. Fortunes may be confiscated by the government.

In a free country, officials are elected by the people to serve the people. Their properties, lives and fortunes are protected by the laws of the country. In countries where corrupt governments rule, the freedom and rights of the people are curtailed, and corrupt officials may seize the people's properties or even take their lives at will. The rich people who live in such countries are always anxious and worried. Not only their wealth, but their lives are also perpetually in danger.

2. Fortunes may be stolen by bandits and thieves.

In a civilized and secure society, there are laws to maintain security, and to protect the lives and properties of the citizens. In countries where there is lawlessness or when law and order has broken down, or where there is no fear of punishment, looting and crimes prevail. Lives may be lost in the process. This makes the rich uneasy and scared.

3. Fortunes may be consumed by fire.

In a civilized and secure country where there exists good fire safety measures, the citizens' properties are generally safe. However, fire may still break out, and properties and possessions can be reduced to ashes. This is a worry for the wealthy.

4. Fortunes may be washed away by natural disasters.

Like adversities and blessings coming and going in one day, fortunes can be washed away by a disastrous flood. No matter how many high-rise buildings or acres of farmland one owns, they may be washed away by disastrous floods. Therefore, natural disasters worry the rich.

5. Fortunes may be taken away by foes.

Although the rich possess great fortunes, they may not have cultivated good deeds in the past. They contracted enmity with others, planted negative causes, and may have stolen from others in their past. In the present, when the rich encounter people whom they dislike or whom were hurt by them in the past, these people will demand the return of their lives or fortunes. The rich dare not refuse the demands of their foes. This make them worry.

6. Fortunes are not tended to.

If a rich farmer owns thousands of acres of farmland and does not cultivate the land nor seek farming techniques to improve production, his fortune will be neglected, as is his farmland. This can lead to the loss of great wealth.

7. Fortunes are not well invested.

A wealthy person who has a large amount of assets and wishes to invest for good returns, but because he does not know how to invest and he does not possess a good business acumen, he risks losing his fortunes. This causes him anxiety and unrest.

8. Fortunes may be squandered by heirs.

If the rich have heirs who make no effort to live righteously, but indulge in illicit vices, their money will be squandered in no time. This is a worry for the rich.

There are eight kinds of worry that make the rich anxious about the gains and losses of their fortunes. If the rich were able to understand the truth of impermanence, and causes and conditions, they would not have these worries. There are reasons that rich people are rich. If their fortunes do not come from evil causes, it is either the result of their acts of giving and performing good deeds in the past, the inheritance from their ancestors, their intelligence and hard work, or profit from their good business decisions.

The Buddha taught that wealth should be divided into four portions:
1) One portion is to provide for the family. Any remainder should be wisely invested for their benefit.
2) One portion is reserved for the children's education.
3) One portion is reserved for emergency purposes such as disasters or illnesses.
4) One portion is for charity to benefit the public or the needy.

If the Buddha's teachings are followed and wealth is managed as Buddha instructed, one will live a harmonious and peaceful life, and need not worry about the jealousy or hatred of others. If wealth is used for good causes, to benefit the needy, or as offerings to the Three Treasures, the benefactor will obtain great blessings in the future. The blessings of giving can only be received by the benefactor. It is not affected by any adverse conditions.

We need wisdom to manage our wealth. It is important to cultivate good deeds, to benefit others, and to understand that worldly fortunes are not brought into the world at birth, nor can we take them with us when we die.

The most precious thing to cultivate is our merits. Our merits follow us wherever we go.


Copyright 2002.Jen Chen Buddhism Centre