48 On Material versus Materialism


Your suffering is itself evidence that what you have been taught is wrong.
You were taught that to be rich, to have things, will make you spiritually poor; and that poverty is a sign of spiritual richness.
On the other hand, you were taught that you must try to get rich, you must have "success"; you were told that you should become a doctor, or a lawyer, and earn a great deal of money, or marry someone who's "successful"!

So it is simple; I will teach you the opposite.
Having things is not the problem.
Being materially rich is not good or bad; it has no spiritual consequence at all.
Poor people are no better, spiritually, then rich people.
They are just as good or just as bad.
There are just as many poor people who are petty, who are wicked, who are vengeful or deceitful, as there are rich.

It is not material which causes you trouble, it is materialism.
And materialism is not about what you have, but about what you don't have.
There are a few cases where people express materialism toward something they already have, a "prized possession", but this is the minority.
In most cases, what people really express attachment to as materialism is in what they do not have.
It is in wanting to make a lot of money.
It is in wanting to own a big house, or own a car, or own a wide- screen TV.
Or worse: in wanting to own a husband, a wife, wanting to own a girlfriend, wanting to own someone who will love you.
You want to own something that will make you happy.

So just as I say that being rich is not spiritually inferior to being poor, I am also saying that you should not try to be rich!
That it is that trying that causes problems.
Do not try to get things.
Instead do what will make you happy in the first place.
Do not think that something you own will make you happy; do not make it about possessions.
It is about what you do, about who you are, not about what you have.