Sunday, September 16, 2007

Happiness - Materialism Vs. Spirituality

Happiness - Materialism Vs. Spirituality

There is no question that I am very materialistic, I am the first person to admit that I love nice things and spend fortunes purchasing them, be it a Brioni suits, Rolex Watches, Jewelry, Fast Cars, Nice Houses, Big Screen TV’s with separate speakers and amplifiers etc etc (By the way, a Level 3 Monster Power Cleaner is the best TV investment you will ever make, you cant believe the difference it will make to the picture quality) I am the first person in line to spend the money and boy did that paragraph just sound like it, don't let that put you off though.

The conflict that has always raged in me between the lavish and the utilitarian in me has entered a new phase. Living in the center of the materialistic and “Look at me and what I have and please be jealous and suck up too me” universe, (Did I mention the Beckhams just moved to town) the nirvana of “selfishness,” “Beverly Hills” has been an eye opening experience. Whilst, as I previously mentioned, I “like” my material possessions as much as, if not more than anyone else (especially since loosing so much “paper wealth” in 2000-2001 (Tech stock crash) I became orientated towards bricks and mortar, tangible, physical assets one can see and hold and touch!!! Something to show for all the work) The denizens of Beverly Hills seem to “need” material possessions, buying them seems to give them a sense of self and worth, justifying and validating their existence. There is an entitlement which is quite unique, haughtiness to the women who have never personally achieved anything of any significance or benefit to the world other than marrying someone rich and spending their money! You have to love the nouveaux riche.

And the scariest part of the whole is place is that very few actually seem to have any “real” money, the house is on a 10 year interest only loan (in essence they rent) the car (for car, read Bentley or Porsche) is leased for $2000 a month or more, the credit cards are always maxed out and they have to keep working as they cant afford to retire!!! Many of the husbands work from 6am till 10pm and often spend Saturday in the office (I think they are hiding from their wives personally) just to pay the bills and try and keep ahead of the tide of debt and expenses of their lavish lifestyles. Not to mention the plastic surgery money to try and look young and be something your not! But no one seems happy, they want talk to another human being in the elevator, they don’t smile, they complain bitterly about anything and everything any time they can get anyone to listen! So many people says “money buys happiness” come and shadow one of these people for a week and see that it doesn’t.

So why is it I ask myself that all my happiest and most fulfilling moments come from those breathtaking moments on top of a mountain with my wife and dogs, walking on a beach with a beautiful sunset. How come these spiritual moments awaken my senses and fulfill me in a fashion that no material possessions can. Meanwhile when I walk on the beach with these same “Beverly Hills Wives” in the same time and circumstance, are they complaining about the sand damaging their Manolo Blahnik and their pedicure getting ruined and wondering if the can catch “something” (read disease) from walking on the beach.

So why do I still live here, I am in the process of leaving and heading back to the east coast where old money, class and sophistication rule the day. I will probably make land fall in Denver on route for some skiing and relaxation enroute and to try and reset my balance and sense of self. Leave my repulsion for materialism at 13,000 feet and then head back to Greenwich, CT, Manhattan, NY or even Boston, Ma.

Copyright Jonathan Rose 2007 - Creative Commons License

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bhattathiri said...

Working only with an eye to the anticipated benefits, means that the quality
of performance of the current job or duty suffers - through mental agitation
of anxiety for the future. In fact, the way the world works means that
events do not always respond positively to our calculations and hence
expected fruits may not always be forthcoming. So, the Gita tells us not to
mortgage present commitment to an uncertain future.

Some people might argue that not seeking the business result of work and
actions, makes one unaccountable. In fact, the Bhagavad Gita is full of
advice on the theory of cause and effect, making the doer responsible for
the consequences of his deeds. While advising detachment from the avarice of
selfish gains in discharging one's accepted duty, the Gita does not absolve
anybody of the consequences arising from discharge of his or her
responsibilities.Attachment to perishable gives birth to fear, anger, greed,
desire, feeling of "mine" and many other negative qualities. Renounce
attachment by regarding objects for others and for serving others. Depend
only on God (not body, nor intellect), and the dependency on the world will
end. Renouncing attachment is the penance of knowledge, which leads to His
Being - Truth, Consciousness and Bliss. ( Bhagavad Gita-4.10)

bhattathiri said...

Everywhere in this universe, in one respect man’s condition is the same. No matter how vastly different he may be in the outer appearance of his life, different countries, different races, different cultures, different languages, different ways of living, eating, dressing, etc., he may be completely different in all of these aspects, but there is one thing that is the same to all human individuals. And it is this factor that binds them into a global unity. If analyzed, it will be discovered that all humanity is engaged ceaselessly, day after day, from the cradle to the grave, only in trying to avoid painful experiences and in trying to attain that which gives them happiness.
Yet, beloved seeker, let me ask you this one very important question. Since the time of creation, is there one single individual who has been born onto this earth who can stand up boldly and declare, "In my life I have never experienced any sorrow or pain or suffering whatsoever. My whole life has been a life full of joy, full of happiness, full of bliss". You will find that there is not even one single individual on earth who has not had at some time or another some type of pain or suffering or grief or sorrow.
This is a world of pain and sorrow. With a few minutes thoughtful reflection you will see that this is so. Many painful experiences are brought about by natural forces beyond our control—floods, earthquakes, tidal waves, cyclones, fires, famines. Then there is suffering brought about by other forms of life—germs, microbes, bacteria, viruses, insects, reptiles, animals. But by far the greatest source of suffering is caused by man himself. It is suffering that is self-created, that arises within our own psychological self due to desire and attachment for worldly objects—love and hate, anger and passion, fear, worry, tension, anxiety, jealousy, envy, greed, frustration, disappointment, disillusionment, the sorrow of separation, bereavement, and all other varieties of restlessness of mind due to our multitude of desires.
Everyone thinks happiness is to be found in objects and experiences. Everyone thinks, "If I could only attain certain objects, if I could only possess them, if I could experience them, I will get happiness." In spite of countless disappointments and disillusionments, man never learns.
There is not an iota of happiness in earthly objects. No object is perfect. They do not have in them the power or ability to give you lasting happiness or joy because they are finite and they are imperfect. Otherwise, they must be able to give a homogeneous state of happiness to all beings at all times under all conditions. But what do you actually see?
If you like milk and you take a glass full of sweetened milk flavoured with spices, the first glass may give you satisfaction. And if you are pressed upon to take another glass, the second glass may give satisfaction, but it is not the same degree of happiness or pleasure as was the first glass. And if your stomach is already full with two glasses of milk, if you try to take a third glass of milk, it becomes unpleasant & undesirable. And if a fourth glass of milk is fordfed on you, it produces nausea and you will have to throw it up. Where then is real happiness? If milk had in it the power of giving happiness, it must be able to grant you this happiness at all times, under all conditions. It cannot change its nature. Such examples show that all experiences derived from the contact of senses with their respective sense-objects ultimately are experiences that end in disappointment.
Does happiness really rest in the World tour that seems impossible? Or can you find happiness in a little walk down the lane, hand in hand with the love of your life? Yes, just as unbelievable it sounds, it is true that most people in this world WAIT for happiness like they wait to catch the next train. We wait for big things to happen in life and forget the small little packages of joy that come our way. We seem to forget all those wonderful things that we possess and continually crib about what is beyond reach.
It is appropriate to look at the advice of the Great Teacher Lord Krishna when he said: "O Arjuna, all these experiences, brought about by the contact of one or other of the five senses with their respective sense objects, are ultimately the source of sorrow. There is no real happiness in these sense contacts and sense experiences. They are but mere momentary sensations producing pain."
Even the most mundane things in life can become the most beautiful experiences if viewed in a different perspective, if tackled differently. In simple words, it is the ATTITUDE that brings you happiness in most cases than the actual object of joy. Making best of life's situations, being content with what you have are sure ways to everlasting happiness. One does not need to chase happiness then, it will come and perch itself in your life like a beautiful butterfly.