Friday, September 21, 2012

What Makes You Consider (You, Me or They) As the Most Fortunate ?

Long ago, a friend of mine took me to one of his uncles living in a palatial house in the midst of the largest metro city of India.

The man was in his Seventies and was living with his old wife and a host of servants.

His house was a three storeyed one having many rooms and facilities like a star hotel. Guessing by the size of this modern house, I guessed that there would be some swimming pool too some where behind !

He was very courteous and welcomed his not so wealthy nephew and his friend warmly and took us to one of his posh guest entertaining rooms which had a mini bar at one side displaying exotic brands of liquors in various designs of  glass bottles in varying shapes and colours.

While entering the house through the security gate, I had observed a few imported cars in the compound, kept shining by regular care !

He made us sat on the luxurious sofas comfortably and sat by our side. He was making extra efforts to make me feel at ease with his magnanimous gestures.

Yet there was that unmistakable guise of artificiality in all his gestures, which had become part of his personality as a successful business man over the last few decades.

Within minutes an young lady, brought in to a few sparkling glasses in a tray. Obviously tea or coffee were for those lesser mortals. And he was not one of that kind !

I commented and appreciated him for his fortunes and worldly achievements of wealth !

But he seemed not content with his achievements.

He told me that he was a very unlucky man and a dejected father.

Unlucky because another business man of his city of his age, who had nothing a couple of years ago when he had millions, was now marching forward to become one of the richest in the world !

Dejected father because his only daughter who had become a doctor of eminence had rejected to accept the wealth he had amassed in his life and refused to look after his business empire in India. She had migrated to a foreign country !

For nearly two hours he kept telling us many things. Obviously he wanted some one to share his mind which was nearly absent in his palatial mansion like home !

In between he told me that the chair I was sitting was occasionally occupied by the first citizen of the state who was a close soul mate of him.

When I said he was a very fortunate bureaucrat he denied that and told us some real stories to prove the misfortunes of his soul mate.

Obviously this enormous wealth this old man and the enormous political power of his old friend were not making them fortunate in their own assessments during those years when they got the time to do the self assessments !

I was in doubt now. Should I benchmark my self with these so-called fortunate individuals who evaluated themselves as not fortunate !

If I do not, then how can I work out a standard for measuring my 'fortunes' or any one else 'fortunes' ?

I want to ask those who read this, about their views on this.

What makes you feel fortunate in life ?

[I no longer consider benchmarking wealth or power with any one. Nor do I consider possession of these by any one to be regarded as some thing fortunate in life. Instead, wealth and power, in the hands of any one as a great responsibility. A great responsibility to do greater service to others. If this responsibility cannot be taken up, wealth and power is a burden. If wealth and power are used for personal enhancement of pleasures, they would eventually become agents of destruction causing much distress and pains some time later. 

At this point I am compelled to quote a few things from my favorite book- the Urantia Book- which narrates the incident when a rich Roman citizen approached Jesus for his counselling regarding the use of his wealth. For brevity, I am reproducing only some select portions from the original narration:

After many intimate conferences this wealthy citizen asked Jesus what he would do with wealth if he had it, and Jesus answered him:

“I would bestow material wealth for the enhancement of material life, even as I would minister knowledge, wisdom, and spiritual service for the enrichment of the intellectual life, the ennoblement of the social life, and the advancement of the spiritual life. I would administer material wealth as a wise and effective trustee of the resources of one generation for the benefit and ennoblement of the next and succeeding generations.” 

But the rich man was not fully satisfied with Jesus’ answer.

He made bold to ask again:

“But what do you think a man in my position should do with his wealth? Should I keep it, or should I give it away?”

Jesus then decided to advise him some more as the rich man was willing to listen to his advice.

"As steward of inherited wealth you should consider its sources. You are under moral obligation to represent the past generation in the honest transmittal of legitimate wealth to succeeding generations after subtracting a fair toll for the benefit of the present generation. But you are not obligated to perpetuate any dishonesty or injustice involved in the unfair accumulation of wealth by your ancestors. Any portion of your inherited wealth which turns out to have been derived through fraud or unfairness, you may disburse in accordance with your convictions of justice, generosity, and restitution. The remainder of your legitimate inherited wealth you may use in equity and transmit in security as the trustee of one generation for another. Wise discrimination and sound judgment should dictate your decisions regarding the bequest of riches to your successors.

Everyone who enjoys wealth as a result of discovery should remember that one individual can live on earth but a short season and should, therefore, make adequate provision for the sharing of these discoveries in helpful ways by the largest possible number of his fellow men. While the discoverer should not be denied all reward for efforts of discovery, neither should he selfishly presume to lay claim to all of the advantages and blessings to be derived from the uncovering of nature’s hoarded resources.

As long as men choose to conduct the world’s business by trade and barter, they are entitled to a fair and legitimate profit. Every tradesman deserves wages for his services; the merchant is entitled to his hire. The fairness of trade and the honest treatment accorded one’s fellows in the organized business of the world create many different sorts of profit wealth, and all these sources of wealth must be judged by the highest principles of justice, honesty, and fairness. The honest trader should not hesitate to take the same profit which he would gladly accord his fellow trader in a similar transaction. While this sort of wealth is not identical with individually earned income when business dealings are conducted on a large scale, at the same time, such honestly accumulated wealth endows its possessor with a considerable equity as regards a voice in its subsequent distribution.

No mortal who knows God and seeks to do the divine will can stoop to engage in the oppressions of wealth. No noble man will strive to accumulate riches and amass wealth-power by the enslavement or unfair exploitation of his brothers in the flesh. Riches are a moral curse and a spiritual stigma when they are derived from the sweat of oppressed mortal man. All such wealth should be restored to those who have thus been robbed or to their children and their children’s children. An enduring civilization cannot be built upon the practice of defrauding the laborer of his hire.

Honest wealth is entitled to interest. As long as men borrow and lend, that which is fair interest may be collected provided the capital lent was legitimate wealth. First cleanse your capital before you lay claim to the interest. Do not become so small and grasping that you would stoop to the practice of usury. Never permit yourself to be so selfish as to employ money-power to gain unfair advantage over your struggling fellows. Yield not to the temptation to take usury from your brother in financial distress.

If you chance to secure wealth by flights of genius, if your riches are derived from the rewards of inventive endowment, do not lay claim to an unfair portion of such rewards. The genius owes something to both his ancestors and his progeny; likewise is he under obligation to the race, nation, and circumstances of his inventive discoveries; he should also remember that it was as man among men that he labored and wrought out his inventions. It would be equally unjust to deprive the genius of all his increment of wealth. And it will ever be impossible for men to establish rules and regulations applicable equally to all these problems of the equitable distribution of wealth. You must first recognize man as your brother, and if you honestly desire to do by him as you would have him do by you, the commonplace dictates of justice, honesty, and fairness will guide you in the just and impartial settlement of every recurring problem of economic rewards and social justice.

Except for the just and legitimate fees earned in administration, no man should lay personal claim to that wealth which time and chance may cause to fall into his hands. Accidental riches should be regarded somewhat in the light of a trust to be expended for the benefit of one’s social or economic group. The possessors of such wealth should be accorded the major voice in the determination of the wise and effective distribution of such unearned resources. Civilized man will not always look upon all that he controls as his personal and private possession.

 If any portion of your fortune has been knowingly derived from fraud; if aught of your wealth has been accumulated by dishonest practices or unfair methods; if your riches are the product of unjust dealings with your fellows, make haste to restore all these ill-gotten gains to the rightful owners. Make full amends and thus cleanse your fortune of all dishonest riches.

The trusteeship of the wealth of one person for the benefit of others is a solemn and sacred responsibility. Do not hazard or jeopardize such a trust. Take for yourself of any trust only that which all honest men would allow.

That part of your fortune which represents the earnings of your own mental and physical efforts — if your work has been done in fairness and equity — is truly your own. No man can gainsay your right to hold and use such wealth as you may see fit provided your exercise of this right does not work harm upon your fellows.”

If you have read this much, you possibly have understood what I concluded earlier!

Would you consider writing your own feelings here using the comments tool?

By any means did it occur to you to consider knowing more about the Urantia Book and reading it ?

If so click this Urantia-India website link.



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