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Contentment is the Real Wealth

The Gita taught that if you want to enter the kingdom of liberation there are 26 noble qualities that you should acquire. But, truly, it is enough if you have gained just one virtuous quality. That will be sufficient to qualify you for entry. Of all of the virtuous qualities given in the Gita chapter on devotion one of the most important is contentment. Only the one who has contentment can be considered great. Swami asks quite often, "Who is the greatest human being in this world?" The answer is, "The one who is always satisfied." Therefore, develop this contentment in yourself.

Do not get lost in the world aspiring for impermanent joys, impermanent wealth, impermanent position and luxuries. There is no objection to your enjoying the happiness which comes your way. But never forget that the world is made up only of the five elements. It has no eternal value. Your body also consists only of the five elements. As long as you consider this world real, you will tend to have attachments to the body and to a given place. It is best if you do not waste your time caught up with these attachments. Instead, always remember the goal. Here is a small example.

There was a wealthy man who had traveled the world over. He resolved to build a palatial mansion without equal anywhere. It was to be a house of such extraordinary grandeur that it would be beyond the imagination of anyone. He resolved to construct this unique structure even if it cost him tens of millions of rupees. A number of engineers and architects were called from various countries for this purpose. Ultimately he completed his beautiful mansion, and he now had a house which satisfied people from all points of view and different cultural backgrounds. Tens of thousands of people came to look at it. This wealthy man made all the arrangements for a grand inauguration of his unique place. Before the inauguration, he called a number of experts and asked them, "Do you find any defects, any faults in this building anywhere, even in the smallest detail?" They could find none. It seemed to be perfect.

He invited all kinds of people to the function, including many wealthy citizens and high officials. He also invited great sages to gain their blessings. Among the invited guests there were a number of truly wise men. All elaborate arrangements were made for their stay. After they were assembled, he prayed to them, "I humbly ask you to let me know if there are any defects, any shortcomings in this structure?" The engineers who had constructed the building echoed his sentiments and also asked the assembled crowd, "Who can come forward and just point out a single flaw in this beautiful building? We feel that it is absolutely flawless and magnificent. It is totally unique and modern, perfect in every detail."

At this point, a yogi who was standing in the corner, stepped out and addressed the wealthy man who was hosting the affair. The yogi said, "Esteemed sir, I see two major flaws in this building." All the people assembled there were greatly surprised. The engineers and architects were shocked. Everyone was most curious to know what these defects were. The wealthy man, whose house it was, folded his hands in supplication and said to the great sage, "Swami, please tell me what those defects are that you have spotted. Everyone is anxiously awaiting your answer."

The yogi said, "O rich man, these are faults for which you are not to blame, nor your engineers or architects or workmen. These defects are not within your reach or anyone else's to correct. One defect is that with the passage of time this building, and everything that is now standing here, will fall down and be reduced to rubble. This is a defect that cannot be changed. The second failing is that the person who built this structure will also perish and be forgotten. This too cannot be changed. Even though these conclusions may be delayed for a short period of time, they will both come to pass. Not realizing this truth you think that you have accomplished something flawless and great, that your achievement will be permanent. But it is not so. These defects that I have mentioned will always prevail in the end."

Such is the state of affairs for people who forget death and think that they, or their works or reputation, will be permanent. Only when you keep your focus on the atma will you be filled with contentment and feel unending joy and bliss. When you have such everlasting peace and contentment, you will be established in a mansion that can never perish, for then you are abiding in the atma, your unchanging permanent self. It alone has lasting value. There is nothing that can be compared with that dwelling place. Unlike the mansions you find in the world, it is perfect and permanent, free from all defects. Therefore, you have to recognize the truth that in this mundane world everything is impermanent. Keep your sight and concentration on the permanent atma. Constantly engage yourself in spiritual practice in order to achieve this inner vision and remain ever contented, undisturbed by worldly affairs.