Wednesday, January 10, 2001

Why do you want to make money?

There's more to wealth than what it can buy, how it can grow, what it can give you.
Gautam Chikermane
WHY WOULD anyone want money if not to be wealthy? Why would anyone want to be wealthy if not to be happy? Why would anyone want to be happy if it were not an instinct? And yet, the common belief is that the wealthier you get the unhappier you end up. While I don’t think generalisations of this kind can be taken as the gospel truth, it would be equally unwise to let our motivations about money go unresearched, unanalysed, unthought-out, simply because we as part of the ‘instant’ civilisation believe it’s an esoteric and a complex subject, or that it’s better to make money than to think about and understand why we want to make it in the first place, better to create wealth than to think about creation. But unless we tackle, or even attempt to grapple with this so very typical moral-material problem, one of our primary motivations and guiding star, money, will become a thoughtless process.
Neither of these two quests is unique to our society; the pursuit of wealth and the reasons for that pursuit have existed eternally, across time and space. Since time immemorial, men have sought, and fought bitter battles for it, be it in the form of animals for prehistoric man; land, cowries, bronze, silver and gold during early civilisations across Egypt, Mesopotamia and India; coins and notes after that; and now, information. Philosophers have matched this quest with equal enthusiasm. Wealth was an important, if not the primary, chapter in the literature of the Vedic period in India where the canons of life in its entirety—body, mind and spirit - were carved out. The world’s greatest epic, the Mahabharata, has detailed discussions on wealth in many of its pravas (cantos). These discussions are not without apparent contradictions. At one point, the book extols the virtues of material wealth: "A person without wealth is more dead than alive." Or: "The loss of wealth is misery." And at another: "The dross of wealth consists in hoarding it." But read deeper, and the ambiguities disappear.
Opinion in Outlook Money

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