In 1923, eight of the wealthiest people in the world met. Their combined wealth, it is estimated, exceeded the wealth of the government of the United States at that time. These men certainly knew how to make a living and accumulate wealth.
But let’s examine what happened to them 25 years later.
1) President of the largest steel company, Charles Schwab, lived on borrowed capital for five years before he died bankrupt.
2) President of the largest gas company, Howard Hubson, went insane.
3) One of the greatest commodity traders, Arthur Cutton, died insolvent.
4) President of the New York Stock Exchange, Richard Whitney, was sent to jail.
5) A member of the President’s Cabinet, Albert Fall, was pardoned from jail to go home and die in peace.
6) The greatest “bear” on Wall Street, Jessie Livermore, committed suicide.
7) President of the world’s greatest monopoly, Ivar Krueger, committed suicide.
8) President of the Bank of International Settlement, Leon Fraser, committed suicide.
What they forgot was how to make a life and how to spend wisely the accumulated wealth! Flowing river doesn’t stink, but when there is no outlet for the water to flow it starts stinking.
Money in itself is not evil nor earning it! That is what artha purushaartha (creating wealth — one of the four accomplishments in a householder’s life) is all about. Scriptures do not restrict or limit us in our earnings. There is no limit put on how much we can earn. Money provides food for the hungry, medicine for the sick, clothes for the needy. Money is only a medium of exchange. There is nothing wrong in possessing wealth, but it is disastrous to be possessed by wealth, because money may be a good slave, but a really bad master. Moreover, when we are obsessed with wealth and are attached to it, any decrease, loss or destruction of it will be painful and will be the cause of our biggest sorrow and misery. Wealth also causes various conflicts within the family.
We need two kinds of education. One that teaches us how to make a living and
one that teaches us how to live.
Schools, institutes and universities may teach us how to make a living,
but they don’t teach us how to live.
There are people who are so engrossed in their professional life that they neglect their family, health and social responsibilities. If asked why they do this they would reply that they are doing it for their family. Our kids are sleeping when we leave home. They are sleeping when we come home. We see them grow horizontally not vertically. Twenty years later, we’ll turn back, and they’ll all be gone.
First we neglect our health in pursuit of wealth and then spend the accumulated wealth in regaining health. Can we fully regain our former health? There has to be a healthy balance among our personal, family, social and professional life.
Without water, a ship cannot move. The ship needs water, but if the water gets into the ship, it will be disastrous. What was once a means of living for the ship will now become a means of destruction.
Similarly, earning is necessary for living and to sustain our homes, but let not the material wealth enter our hearts, for what is a means of living will be become a means of destruction.
When water enters the ship and wealth our minds, both need to be discarded with both hands quickly to avert disaster.