Wealth and Pride
Among the things which often make men proud and conceited is affluence. Those who fall prey to egotism in this way, due to their utter ignorance, view the poor with contempt and consider their existence as something superfluous and worthless, being oblivious of the fact that wealth is not limited to money and material assets. There are many people who live in conditions of material poverty but who must be counted among the richest of men by virtue of their genuine spiritual assets and merits. Often these individuals are held in honour and high esteem by rich people due to their spiritual plenitude. This is also entirely true of nations. A nation is richer which has a greater number of great and wise men than other nations.
Material wealth is incapable of procuring felicity and comfort. Most of the anxieties and miseries of people are a result of greed. There are many persons who lack peace and comfort despite possessing enormous wealth. Moreover, property can even be a source of evil and affliction, darkening the heart of the rich with pride and landing them in vice, corruption, and sin, thus obliterating the foundations of their happiness like a devastating flood.
Material possessions make one of the prerequisites of comfort, not comfort itself. It may be said that the quest of wealth is like an endless chain; the wise person employs it by subjecting it to his control, but the foolish man binds his neck with it.
Some people think that they can obtain peace and security through affluence, but they do not know that the further one advances in the quest of wealth, the farther does he recede from his own self, losing his genuine human feelings in its mazes. It often happens that as soon as a person outstrips his friends in respect of financial welfare, pride and conceit lead him to sever the ties of friendship and attachment with his comrades.
Epictetus says in this regard:
"Get them [i.e. riches] then," says he, "that we may have them." If I can get them and keep my self-respect, honour, magnanimity, show me the way and I will get them. But if you call on me to lose the good things that are mine, in order that you may win things that are not good, look how unfair and thoughtless you are. And which do you really prefer? Money, or a faithful, modest friend? Therefore help me rather to keep these qualities, and do not expect from me actions which will make me lose them.
Adapted from: "Ethics and Spiritual Growth" by: "Sayyid Mujtaba Musawi Lari"
Share this article