02.44 – Are riches cutting us off from the richness of life?
We all need money for living. But neither our culture externally nor our mind internally allows us to stay satisfied with earning for living. Both elevate money from a functional necessity to an identity definer: “You are what your income is.” They goad us into making the pursuit of riches as the primary, even the exclusive, purpose of our life.
To the extent money moves up on our priority list, to that extent devotion to Krishna tends to move down. After all, we have only so much time each day. And if we are to give the pursuit of riches more time, something has to make way. The thing that usually seems the least urgent, that seems the most easily expendable, is our devotion. Both the culture and the mind declare in unison: “You can always do that later.” Consequently, when the pursuit of riches rules our heart, we just can’t focus on the devotional remembrance of Krishna, as the Bhagavad-gita (02.44) indicates.
Nonetheless, if we somehow force ourselves into a setting where such remembrance is potently manifest – in the association of advanced devotees, in the serious study of scripture or in the intensity of prayerful mantra meditation, then we realize that the joy of remembering Krishna is the real richness of life. It alone lasts; worldly riches pass. It alone fulfills; worldly riches titillate at best. It alone lifts us to the spiritual level; worldly riches keep us away from that level, even drag us further away. It reveals our true identity as an eternal, enlightened, ecstatic spiritual being; as a beloved part of Krishna. In contrast, the identity based on worldly riches keeps us ever-anxious.
When empowered by these insights, we don’t let the pursuit of riches cut us off from the richness of life.