To be spiritual does not mean you must not live well. Spirituality in fact makes no demands on you. There is no need to abstain from anything, no need to propitiate any Gods, no need to observe any rituals and no need to give up anything compulsorily.
Spirituality is the flowering of inner awareness. An awakening that teaches you how to live in this world and yet be above it. This awakening helps youmake choices that work for you. You are the decision maker. You are in charge. And so, you can earn money, indulge in comforts, even have a few indulgences in moderation, and yet choose to serve __ touching lives, making a difference. A teacher who taught the world this simple way to live was Guru Nanak, the Sikh saint, who lived and taught between 1469 and 1539. A beautiful story highlights Nanak’s prescription for living intelligently.
Nanak once visited Lahore in present-day Pakistan. A very rich man, Dhuni Chand, invited Nanak to his house. It was a huge bungalow and had seven flags fluttering in the wind outside it. The saint asked Dhuni Chand why he had seven, and only seven, flags outside his house.
Dhuni Chand replied, “They show how much wealth I have. Each flag denotes ten million rupees that I have. So, in all, I have seventy million rupees.”
The Guru observed, “Then you are a very rich man. You must be very happy and contended with yourself?”
Dhuni Chand replied, “Holy Sir, I cannot lie to you. There are some people who are much richer than I am. This makes me sad and I desire to have more wealth. I would like to be the richest man in the city. I cannot feel completely happy and satisfied until my desire is fulfilled.”
The Guru said, “But aren’t the people who are richer than you also trying to become even more richer? It seems that there is a race between you and them to become the richest in this city. Perhaps, you may not be able to beat them in this race for the most wealth. In that case you may never be happy. Have you ever thought of that?”
Dhuni Chand said, “Holy Sir, I have no time to think such thoughts. I just work day and night to gather more and more wealth”
Guru Nanak smiled and said, “Will you have time to do a small thing for me?”
Dhuni Chand replied, “Most gladly, Holy Sir. What can I do for you?”
The Guru took out a needle, and said, “Please keep this safely with you. Give it to me, when I ask for it, in the next world.”
Dhuni Chand took the needle from the Guru. Later, he took this needle to his wife. He gave it to her and said, “The Holy man wants us to keep the needle for him. He will take it back from us in the next world.”
The wife was astonished. She said, “Are you mad? How can a needle go to the next world? How can we carry it with us to there? Go back, and return it to the Holy man.”
Dhuni Chand went back to the Guru and said, “Holy Sir, please take back your needle. We cannot take this to the next world. We cannot carry it there. That is not possible”
The Guru smiled and said, “Dhuni Chand, this needle is small and light. You say that it cannot go with you to the next world. How can the seventy million rupees go there with you? What good will this wealth do to you there?”
Dhuni Chand realized his vanity and fell at the Guru’s feet and said, “Please Guruji, tell me how my wealth may go with me to the next world.”
The Guru said, “Give it to the poor. Feed the hungry. Clothe the poor. Help the needy. When you spend your honestly earned wealth on righteous things, then it will go with you to the next world. Otherwise, it will be plundered here by others.”
Dhuni Chand was awakened in that moment. And he soon became one of biggest champions of giving and serving, setting up various institutions in and around Lahore for the welfare of the common folk.
To be sure, there is a Dhuni Chand in each of us – who is amassing, toiling hard without doubt, subconsciously perhaps, beyond our needs, to satiate our wants; who is clinging on to material wealth out of fear and anxiety of losing it. Every once in a while a teacher like Nanak will appear, in the form of a friend, an event, a casual conversation, or a book or story, that will enlighten us. So that the Buddha within us is aroused. So that we may be reminded that while making money is important, putting it to use beyond ourselves is what is more meaningful. This is what, living in this world, and yet being above it truly means. This is the way to live intelligently.