Saturday, November 17, 2012

Billionaires and Millionaires need not be Envied

King Midas of the Golden Touch

Money is what gets humans their essential needs as well as luxuries. Therefore when we hear of a person who is a billionaire or even a millionaire we tend to be jealous or envious. However, if you go into the depth of matters many millionaires and billionaires need our prayers and sympathy rather than our envy or Jealousy.

My mind went to this subject yesterday when news channels announced that a famous billionaire of North India – Ponty Chaddah – and his brother had killed each other ( at least as initially reported in some of the media although it is being investigated ) in a shoot out in which their respective armed guards were also involved. It seems that there was a property dispute. The matter is still under investigation but the newspapers today reported that their unfortunate bodies were riddled with bullets. Yesterday the TV also showed glimpses of Ponty while he was alive. This is the first time I cared to look at him carefully.

My spiritual views have been elaborated in many earlier posts of this blog. Faith has been expressed in reincarnation, karma (that incidentally has nothing to do with reincarnation as explained in the posts on karma) and most of all in the Supreme Universal Consciousness or God. It is a firm belief that He controls the universe and nothing happens in it unless he either wills it or he permits it. Both good and evil take place in the Universe with His permission. I tried to analyze the Ponty incident in the light of these spiritual beliefs. The question that came to mind is - why the Universal consciousness chose Ponty to become a billionaire. He literally rose to his riches from rags, beginning as a road side vendor of snacks in the sixties. Often times I believe that it is karma or the reward for some immensely good deeds of this or a previous life times that leads persons to become immensely rich. The present life of Ponty was perhaps not a good one. He hob knobbed with many poorly reputed characters, dealt in sale of liquor, moved around with armed guards and lived in a home that had high walls, iron gates and armed guards much like a prison compound. He was often involved in legal or political controversies and his life was full of stress. He had lost one arm completely and a partial use of the other in two separate accidents all the while continuing with his business deals and increasing his fortunes from pennies, to millions and then billions. His present life did not sound like one that could have contributed to a karmic reward of riches. It could be past Karma but then good deeds of the past often leave a mark on the personality and appearance of a human that can be seen by discerning eyes. There was nothing in his looks to indicate that. Therefore I pondered further on the spiritual mystery until  the answer was found.

The great financial wealth of Ponty was after all not his reward but perhaps his curse. Wealth is useful when it brings peace and joy to a person but when it deprives a person of peace and therefore also happiness then it is a curse. It has been said in an ancient text (the old testament by Solomon the wise) that the Lord grants wealth to many but the knowledge to use it to add joy into their own lives as well as others only to a few. It is only the latter kind who are blessed. They should be envied for sure, persons like Warren Buffet, but the former kind, need our prayers and sympathy so that they too may find peace while they live and their souls after they have gone, and left their bank accounts behind, subsequent to a struggle of a few decades amongst us.

The second question that arose is that why does the Lord use wealth as a punishment for some. There are so many other ways to punish while the wealth is best distributed to others who are in need. The answer to this may be found in the fact that everything after all belongs to the Lord. He gives it to people for their needs according to His wisdom and holds the rest under the control or guardianship of others as His appointees. Some of the millionaires and billionaires are thus simply the guards of the dark treasure dungeon. We should pity them for the role assigned to them by nature. There are others who have to be granted a concentration of wealth for grinding their butts and/or hair out for setting up large capitalistic ventures that must be undertaken for the activities of our world and providing employment to others (the justification that many Republicans use when they plead for low tax rates).

Consider the life of a person who is not wealthy but has sufficient money to live in clean surroundings, acquire nutritious food, open and green surroundings to live in, rooms that are comfortable and full of fresh air and sunlight, and who can live peacefully without fear or armed guards even in a home where the doors are frequently left open, whose heart is gladdened by sunlight, greenery and the song of birds whose peaceful minds is free to enjoy as he himself adds to the song. A greedy and consequentially stressed mind can neither enjoy the beauty of the flowers nor the magic of a bird song. Compare this life to that of a billionaire like Ponty and decide which one you would choose.

Let us pray for the soul of Ponty and numerous other billionaires of this world, including the drug lords of Latin America or the political rulers of corrupt and dictatorial countries whose lives are rolling in millions and billions lined with fear, trauma and anguish ( Pity Gaddafi and Bashar Al Assad). There is certainly no need to be envious or Jealous of them.

Now do read the sentiment expressed in this note in a light hearted poem about a billionaire in another post of this blog here:


ashok said...

I changed the layout so that the side bar is to the left but then the cover picture on top did not quite fit. It took a lot of fiddling until I re-sized the picture and used the option of shrink to fit while loading it. Finally, Hurrah, it was the same width as the rest of the blog. It seems one can do a lot on the computer but sometimes it is a headache to find out exactly how.

हरि चंद said...

Ashok Sir! Since I do not have any spiritual experience, so i can not say much about the concept of Karma. My particular disagreement for this blog was to linking of material gain or to spirituality. In my view spirituality is far broader and far higher up and Divine to be measured in terms of loss or gain of material wealth. In Nature's scheme of things, nothing (not even what we consider as abhorrent and abysmal dirt) are useless. For Nature to maintain the processes of Universe, even the smallest entity like photon is as important as Galaxies. Similarly, even the lowest of creatures like virus and bacteria are as valuable as we human's in nature's scheme of things. Being scientist you know these things better. Here, in context of present blog, I only wish to say that Gain or loss of material wealth is a human concept and it is inherently linked to survival. Similarly, good or bad deeds are also basically linked to survival (physical survival). And these may not be taken as a measure of Divine Will (Reward or Punishment). Since we Humans consider ourselves supreme on this Earth, so we try to frame concepts which suits us ( more succinctly our Ego) best. In present context also, I feel, the linkage of material wealth to past, present or future life or Divinity is meant to sooth the Ego of wealthy ones and to divest the Deprived one's of the quest for survival. It basically comes down to struggle for survival. Especially, in Indian Culture, the deprived humanity is kept as such by making them believe that they are in their present state because of their karma. they are even divested of the choice of Karma in their present life using this Karma Concept. Though these few words can not explain the fundamental malaise of human survival, but I being no authority on spiritual concepts can not say much on the subject.

ashok said...

Dear Hari Chand ji. it is nice to see you in the blog and there is much wisdom in your comments. I shall jump to just one aspect of your comment first so as to take things one at a time _Karma.

In stating it appears that you have used the concept of Karma as it is presented in heresy in society, as you rightly say as a weapon of exploitation by corrupted sections of society which must be fought by those being exploited in every possible way and I am all for it as my previous post on inflation would prove. If you click the blog title on top of the blog you shall reach the full blog quickly

When I refer to karma, it is with a more enlightened understanding of it. There are four old posts on Karma in this blog explaining my views on it summarised after reflection and studying diverse sources from diverse religions, philosophy etc. All four have been compiled into a single article here

I have not yet learned how to make links active in comments but you might just copy and paste it in your browser to reach the article quickly. Perhaps you may wish to read it slowly to understand the points there and then return to respond in the comments here.

Hope to see you back to continue the discussion. Do not hesitate to disagree where you feel something is incorrect because without that it is not possible to clarify.

ashok said...

Bacteria is in fact the foundation of life and I have a whole blog devoted to that at

Everything, bacteria, protons, humans, good, bad, wealth, poverty, everything is a part of the Universe with a different yet equally essential role

HP said...

I heard in some news channel that the (late) mother of Ponty and Hardeep had wanted them to live together. They did. She'd also wanted them to leave this world together. They did that too.

ashok said...

Yes surprising how wishes of mothers often come true. The love of a mother for her off springs is a channel of divine love and will.

हरि चंद said...

First, I will abide by the advice of Gautam Buddha: 'Believe NOT what I say, believe what you experience.' So I shall limit myself to my experience and won't try to speculate even if told by any enlightened person.
In your article you have covered almost every aspect of Karma as per my limited knowledge. I have some little bit of deviance from your line of explanation and a question or two have also arisen.
I have done a course in Vipashyana as taught by Satya Narain Goenka. Its main Centre is at Igatpuri. I am also practicing the technique for an hour or two daily. On the basis of what was told during the course and what I have experienced so far, my views are as follows:
Karma or Sanskar are fundamentally rooted in thought. The moment a thought arises in mind (may be spontaneous or may be due to some external cause), it generates a disturbance(vikar) in mind. The mind either likes(craving) or dislikes(aversion) the disturbance. Outward action (physical, Mental, Oral) follows this craving or aversion accordingly. Every action (outwardly good or bad) which is rooted in this craving or aversion generates Karma or Sanskar. Every moment we interact with our environment and every moment we generate Karma of craving or of aversion. It can be understood like this: When we get pricked by a thorn, we feel pain and hence generate Karma of aversion towards thorn. Similarly when we see a beautiful flower, we like it and generate Karma of craving for the flower. And in this way we go on piling up Karma or Sanskara and have been evolving on these accumulated sanskaras. As per this concept, nature doesn’t defer its reward or punishment even for a moment.
As for goodness or evilness of our outward actions, in my view this categorization of actions arises because of our evolutionary and social conditioning. It is like this: we do not think twice before trampling on grass or cutting leaves or branches (even though we know that plants are also living being), but a question would cross our mind while uprooting a well developed plant. Similarly, we don’t think much while killing mosquitoes or other insects. But as the size of living being increases our hesitation to harm it also increases. In my view, this hesitation is inherently linked to our physical survival. Similarly, obeying the established social norms is also linked to our physical survival. Anything which ensures our physical survival is treated as good and positive and anything which negates our physical survival is considered as bad and negative. Further, any action may be considered as bad in a particular social environment while the same action may be considered as good in some other social environment.
But it doesn’t imply that good or bad actions do not generate Karma/Sanskara. They do because they create feelings/emotions of safety, security or of fear and anxiety. And these emotions generate Karma/Sanskara.
That is why good conduct is the foundation of our pursuit towards liberation, without which we shall not move even an inch towards our goal.
As I have said earlier, Nature (or God) doesn’t defer its reward or punishment even for a moment let alone for next life. Further , punishment or rewards are also categorized by us as those things which we consider bad or good for us (for our survival). But in nature’s scheme of things nothing is bad. Everything nature does is in accordance with its scheme of things and hence Good.
There is also a shloka in Sanskrit the meaning of which is as follows: When Gods want to punish someone they defile his mind and when Gods want to reward someone they bless him good mind.
So, linkage of Karma/Sanskara with reward or punishment in the form of birth in any particular condition seems meaningless. And this concept has been exploited in India to the hilt since ages, which has turned this land in heaven for the invaders in all times.

ashok said...

I agree with much that you have written but not this

"As per this concept, nature doesn’t defer its reward or punishment even for a moment."

My belief it that it does accumalate, not really my belief but that of a lot of other saints and philosophers through the ages that I have accepted and firmly believe in through my own experience.

The accumalated karma of past at the time is the cause of birth with different bodies, different homes if a person is born blind or with eyes bright etc. as per these beliefs and not by chance. There is no place for chance in our universe that works according to causes that are just.

The result of causes can rarely be immediate. Some bacteria and viruses that we get infected with manifest after years, although the initiation of that effect takes place immediately. If you meant that an initiation of a karma begins immediately I will agree with you but they can manifest after years.

However, each person must hold on to their beliefs and not because someone else tells them as you rightly put, until it their own experience, reflection and conscience makes them believe it ( as so clearly put by Buddha). I respect the belief of others even when I do not agree with them.

ashok said...

Having written what I did, I do agree with you Hari Ji, that these sort of things such as karma etc. that the saints have talked of for ages find little resonance or conviction in the modern world moved by the modern wonders of science and technology and modern voices that talk of the same things now are like voices in the wilderness.

yet, in spite of all the technology the modern human has not freed himself from stress and suffering and perhaps got deeper into it. My own belief is that it is worth re-exploring the voice of the saints albeit in the modern way tempered by modern scientific logic.

हरि चंद said...

I am drawing a crude parallel between spirituality and science. The Good/bad deeds are perceptible and comprehensible like Newtonian Mechanics and hence more acceptable. But the mechanics at the level of consciousness are like quantum mechanics for which we can only have some sort of working model but not the complete picture. So, there is always likely to be difference of opinion in that realm. And that has to be there, else the concept of Being will be Deterministic and the process of Universe/Multiverse would come to an end. It is nice Nature (or God) reveals only as much as we can comprehend. My only request in this discussion is: Only comprehensible experience may be shared else the Concept may be vulnerable to misuse.

ashok said...

Thanks for your very wise and thoughtful contribution Hari ji. It is appreciated and I agree with you of the misuse. As it is there is much exploitation in human societies and you are absolutely right that unscruplous humans will jump at misuse of concepts if they are given the leverage for it.

I shall revise my explanations in this light and also make a new blog post in the near future that shall include your view point. Thanks for the great contribution.

As a professor of technology some of my greatest learning of the subject came from analogous contributions as now with yours in this more difficult area.

हरि चंद said...

The beauty of Gautam Buddha's Teachings lies in their simplicity and comprehensibility. Buddha is silent on the concept of God and Soul as these phenomena can only be experienced but can not be explained by logic or reasoning. And layman listener is bound to misinterpret the concept put forward by someone else as the experience of each individual is unique.

ashok said...

Simplicity is a virtue and a facet of the universal consciousness, the other two being Love and Truth, and that was the beauty of Buddha. Wherever he has been honored - Tibet, Japan etc. and in India in the golden ages it has produced beauty just as love and truth does.

He was an evolution and essence of eastern philosophy but somehow his message has all but disappeared from India perhaps in part due to a combined onslaught of vested interests and devastation by foreign sources.

The universal consciousness is bliss and formless infinity therefore Buddha asked people to reject their concept of finite God. Regarding gods he talked of them as higher beings of the universe transient like us( although more evolved) but asked people to move away from them too because most tended to confuse them with God whom he defined as Nirvana or pure bliss.

This is my understanding of the views of Buddha

ashok said...

Hari Ji, The Great Buddha restricted himself to what could be simply understood by the general masses. Though others could infer things like soul. it was implied since he did talk of repeated rebirths for souls that do not attain Nirvana.

हरि चंद said...

As the presence of all encompassing Consciousness can not be explained by reasoning or logic so also its presence can not be negated. The simplest example of consciousness is that we are conscious. And presence of higher consciousness can be analogously viewed as we ourselves are a composite of millions of conscious cells most of which are capable of independent existence as scientists have successfully multiplied cells in labs. similarly, our planet Earth itself is a conscious entity as it maintains all life forms in harmony.
The only hurdle is the comprehensibility of this consciousness as we are always burdened with the fear of survival.
And perhaps, that why Guatam Buddha, first talks of misery (dukha) to the common man. Without liberation from misery one can not focus on something other than misery itself.
But the tragic part is that this misery is also mystified in all cultures and a finite form of God is created, finite rules created and humanity is forced to believe in those finite (well defined) Gods.
For now, this much only.

ashok said...

Well said Hari ji.

ashok said...

A fellow blogger, Vincnet recently started his post with the following quotation regarding consciousness:-

imited by space, a frog in the well has no idea what is the ocean.
Limited by time, an insect in summer has no idea what is ice.
Limited by intellect, a man in life has no idea what is Consciousness.
— Chuang Tzu (369 BC-286 BC), tr Herbert A. Giles

ashok said...

That should read Vincent not Vincnet