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Right Understanding of Personal Wealth
According to the Lord Buddha, the creation of personal wealth must go hand-in-hand with the removal of one’s defilements, which are at the root of self-ruination. Simply put, material wealth must go hand-in-hand with morality. Consequently, the Buddhist method for creating personal wealth means working hard to gain material wealth as well as working hard to cultivate morality by performing wholesome deeds. Right understanding of personal wealth comprises three main parts as follows:
1. The Buddhist method for creating personal wealth;
2. The harm of poverty and
3. Creating lasting personal wealth
According to the Lord Buddha, the Buddhist’s life-goal has three different levels, which are the basic level, the intermediate level and the ultimate level.
Since, according to the Lord Buddha, poverty is harmful, therefore the Buddhist must never give in to poverty.
The Lord Buddha forbids His followers to be poor because He knows what terrible hardship can be wrought by poverty and how it can hinder a person from achieving their true life-goal. He wants all of His followers to take heed, lest they be reckless, to fear poverty, to do everything possible to eliminate poverty properly from their lives and to do everything they can to protect themselves against poverty here and now as well as in future existences. Poverty can easily drive a person to commit misdeeds whereas material wealth can facilitate a person’s accumulation of merit.
Merit or Punna is a pure entity which arises in one’s mind each time one performs a wholesome deed, abstains from unwholesomeness and keeps one’s mind bright and clear. Punna has many special characteristics in that it can be accumulated. It has the power to purify one’s body, speech and mind. It can follow a person to future existences and it has the amazing power to remove Dukkha or suffering and bless a person with happiness here and now as well as in the hereafter.
According to the Lord Buddha, there is a correct way to create lasting personal wealth. The Lord Buddha gives His followers four criteria for simultaneously creating personal wealth and accumulating merit as follows:
1. Overcoming poverty, sickness and ignorance;
2. Creating personal wealth for the current existence as well as for future existences;
3. Building a team of like-minded people to develop an environment which is conducive to the accumulation of merit for everyone in the community and
4. Taking measures against the root causes of ruin.
The Lord Buddha teaches His followers to protect themselves against ruin. The Lord Buddha teaches that Ditthimana causes a person to be stubborn, arrogant and insulting. A Ditthimana person will meet with ruin in three ways, as follows:
1. Self-ruination: a Ditthimana person is a reckless person because they refuse to heed anyone’s advice. It is easy for a reckless person to commit Akusalakamma or the Tenfold Unwholesome Course of Action. Such transgression leads to unhappiness.
2. Loss of friends: since a Ditthimana person refuses to heed anyone’s advice, they are essentially cut off from current information. When a person is out of touch with current findings and technology, they are putting at risk their life and possessions.
3. Exclusion: since a Ditthimana person refuses to heed anyone’s advice, they make themselves unacceptable to others. Their behaviour causes them to lose their reputation, honour and respectability. The results can be the loss of business support, having to turn to immoral people for help, indulging in the different Causes of Ruin, and eventually, the loss of material wealth.
The Benefits of Creating Personal Wealth
According to the Lord Buddha, there are four different benefits which can be gained from having right understanding of creating personal wealth the Buddhist way, as follows:
1. It enables one to cultivate Gharavasadhamma;
2. It enables one to cultivate Ditthadhammikatthaparayojana and Samparayikatthaparayojana;
3. It enables one to cultivate Cakkadhamma and
4. It enables one to remove Ditthimana.
These benefits enable one to receive at least six kinds of wealth which can follow a person to future existences. These include 1) wisdom, 2) morality, 3) title and position, 4) true friends, 5) material wealth and 6) Punna or merit.
Our deeply-rooted defilements, namely, greed, anger and delusion, prevent us from having perfect knowledge about the creation of personal wealth. Consequently, it should not be surprising that the way most people go about creating personal wealth brings with it many problems and much trouble later on. Exploitation practices are widespread as represented by such sayings as “big fish eat the little fish” and “winners take all.” The Lord Buddha is the only personage who can teach us how to earn a living successfully without risking self-ruination. The reason is that the Lord Buddha’s knowledge has been gained by the complete extinguishment of defilements which are the root causes of self-ruination.
Such Supernormal Knowledge is pure and perfect and, therefore, whoever is putting such knowledge into practice can expect to meet with happiness. They can expect to meet with an increasing amount of happiness as they practice it further and further.
It can be said that a person works hard for a living with the hope that he will become wealthy one day. Generally, wealth is understood to mean material wealth. However, to the Lord Buddha, wealth has a completely different meaning altogether. According to the Lord Buddha, one not only works hard to earn a living but also to remove the root causes of ruin. In other words, the accumulation of material wealth must go hand-in-hand with an increasing level of morality. Therefore, the Buddhist method for creating wealth consists of two parts, namely, working hard to accumulate material wealth and working hard to accumulate merit. The Lord Buddha teaches people to create wealth by giving them the following instructions:
1. It is every Buddhist’s duty to create personal wealth by following the highest economic ideals;
2. Poverty must be shunned for the harm wrought by it and the Buddhist must never give in to poverty and
3. He gives the Buddhist the means to create lasting and morally right personal wealth.
During the Lord Buddha’s time, there were several individuals who had practiced the Lord Buddha’s Teachings and discovered the true benefits of their practice. It enabled them to purify their body, word and mind. It also enabled them successfully to create personal wealth the Buddhist way. Some individuals started out desperately poor but, because they believed in the Lord Buddha’s Teachings, they eventually met with great financial success. Not only did they become staunch supporters of Buddhism but they also attained the Dhammaand and became an Ariya personage. Such individuals included Mendaka, the millionaire, Ghosaka, the millionaire, Ekasadaka, the Brahmin and others. Some of the Lord Buddha’s followers met with financial crisis at a certain point in their lives. Still, as a result of the deep faith they had in the Lord Buddha’s Teachings, they persisted in working hard at accumulating material wealth as well as merit. In time, they were able to turn the situation around and became staunch supporters of Buddhism. The millionaire, Anatha, exemplified such followers.
Any Buddhist who is working hard to earn a living and accumulate material wealth must also learn about the Buddhist method for creating personal wealth so that they will know what brings about failure and what brings about growth in their work and life. They will then be well equipped to prevent failure from occurring as they work their way toward success and prosperity – and should they ever make a mistake, they will be ready to turn crisis into opportunity.
The Highest Economic Ideal
As part of His Supernormal Knowledge, the Lord Buddha discovers that living beings are not born just once but have been and will be undergoing the round of rebirth indefinitely as dictated by the Law of Kamma. For as long as living beings are driven by their deeply rooted defilements to perform different Kamma, they will have to continue to undergo the round of rebirth. The only way that a living being can escape from the round of rebirth, hence the Law of Kamma, is to extinguish completely all of the defilements entrenched in its mind. To accomplish this feat, it takes countless lifetimes of persistent and steadfast endeavour undertaking self-training, accumulating merit and pursuing Perfections to the fullest extent. It requires a person to plan their life by setting the correct life-goal lifetime after lifetime until they can overcome the Law of Kamma, extinguish all defilements and attain Nibbana.
There are three levels to a person’s life-goal as follows.
1. At the basic level: this requires that people establish themselves in terms of their personhood and finances. In terms of personhood, it means having the attributes of a good householder. In terms of finances, it means earning right living. The work being done must be honest work in that it must be lawful and not immoral. Whatever a person decides to take up as a career or occupation, whether as a businessperson, a physician, a teacher, a merchant or a farmer, they must endeavour to accomplish the basic level of their life-goals. Their endeavours must be based on the principle that financial success must go hand-in-hand with morality so that the way they live their life not only does no harm to anyone but also benefits less fortunate others.
2. At the intermediate level: this requires that people make provisions their future existences.
At the same time that people are working hard to establish themselves financially, they must also be diligent when it comes to merit or Punna accumulation. The reason is that death is not the end. For as long as one’s defilements cannot be completely extinguished, one must continue to undergo the round of rebirth indefinitely. The only provisions one can make for one’s future existences are in the form of merit. Unfortunately, some people have no understanding of the round of rebirth and are focused mainly on getting everything they can here and now. They endeavour to establish themselves financially but they do nothing about making provisions for their future existences. Their only concerns are about the here and now. However, the reality is that as a human being, one is best suited to accumulate as much merit as possible. The more merit one accumulates, the more quickly one will be able to break away from the round of rebirth.
3. At the ultimate level: this requires that a person endeavour to practice every form of wholesomeness for the purpose of extinguishing defilements and attaining Nibbana after the manner of the Lord Buddha and the Arahats. Being tainted with defilements, every person must encounter to a higher or lesser degree unhappiness, poverty, illnesses and ignorance depending on each person’s past and present Kamma. If a person happens to make a serious mistake and goes down the wrong path, they will meet with much unhappiness. Therefore, it is crucially important that one knows how to live one’s life correctly by emulating the Lord Buddha and the Arahats.
To extinguish defilements and attain Nibbana, it takes countless lifetimes of persistent and steadfast endeavour in pursuing Parami-10 or the Ten Perfections to the fullest extent. These include Danaparami (Generosity Perfection), Silaparami (Morality Perfection), Nekkhammaparami (Renunciation Perfection), Pannaparami (Wisdom Perfection), Viriyaparami (Effort Perfection), Khantiparami (Forbearance Perfection), Saccaparami (Truthfulness Perfection), Mettaparami (Loving-kindness Perfection) and Upekkhaparami (Equanimity Perfection). Such are the Perfections that every Bodhisatta or Buddha-to-be must pursue to the fullest extent before their aspiration can be realized.
An individual working on the ultimate level of life-goal must pursue these Perfections in the face of all sorts of obstacles, namely, their own defilements, other persons’ defilements and the evil consequences of their own misdeeds committed in previous lifetimes. They must continue to pursue Perfections for countless lifetimes until all of their defilements can be extinguished and Nibbana can be attained. A wise person who has right understanding of the different levels of their life-goal will make sure to establish himself financially. They will at the same time accumulate as much merit as possible by earnestly giving alms, observing the Precepts and practicing meditation daily. They remember that their ultimate life-goal is to pursue all Ten Perfections to the fullest extent. Further, they are determined to work toward it lifetime after lifetime, however long it may take, until they can accomplish their goal. Such determination will become part of their being and will follow them to future lifetimes to help them work toward their ultimate goal.
The Harm of Poverty
One of the problems feared by all human beings is poverty. No one wants to experience poverty. Some who have had such an experience vow to be poor for the last time. Poverty gives rise to many problems in life. Those who have never experienced it cannot truly appreciate the havoc wrought by it. Poverty causes severe physical and mental hardships. It drives people to do whatever they can in order to survive. Some become victims of slave labour. Some people have to sell their own internal organs for money. Poor persons have to put up with the heat, the cold, the elements, contemptuous remarks and so forth. Some are at the brink of starvation and death. It is for these reasons that the Lord Buddha does not wish His followers to be poor or to live the life of poverty. He wishes the poor to undo the poverty pattern in their lives by giving them details about the harm of poverty and how to go about solving the poverty problem correctly. His teaching on the subject can be summarized as follows:
1. The Lord Buddha teaches the harm of poverty in the Ina Sutta;
2. The Lord Buddha teaches how poverty can drive a person to commit misdeeds and
3. The Lord Buddha teaches how material wealth enables a person to readily accumulate Punna or merit.
The Ina Sutta
The Lord Buddha never forbids His followers to have financial success. On the contrary, He forbids His followers to give in to poverty by describing its harm such that they will work diligently to establish themselves financially. For those who have already met with financial success, He cautions them against recklessness and encourages them to accumulate merit earnestly. In the Ina Sutta, the Lord Buddha says, “Poverty is the cause of suffering for a person who still takes delight in sensual pleasures.” He also gives us the following explanation:
1. Poverty is the cause of suffering for the householder;
2. A poor person needs to borrow money; therefore, being in debt is the cause of suffering;
3. Since a loan comes with interest, the paying of interest is the cause of suffering;
4. Being unable to pay the interest on time, the debtor will be pursued by their creditor. Being pursued by the creditor is the cause of suffering;
5. Being unable to repay the loan, the debtor will be pursued by their creditor. Being pursued by the creditor is the cause of suffering and
6. When the debtor is found, they are taken away to prison. Being imprisoned is the cause of suffering.
The Lord Buddha forbids His followers to be poor knowing all too well the hardships wrought by poverty. He also warns His followers against recklessness. In short, He says that poverty is to be shunned. Poverty must be properly eliminated and poverty must be prevented in future existences.
Buddhists must not spend all of their time earning a living, accumulating material wealth and hoarding it. However, they must know how to make provisions for their future existences by accumulating merit. This way, at least, they will not have to encounter the hardships wrought by poverty all throughout their future existences.
Poverty and Misdeeds
Life is sustained by the four necessities but poverty seriously hampers the procurement of these necessities. Hunger and the fear of starvation cause a poverty-stricken person to fall under the dictate of their defilements and they are driven to procure the four necessities by devious means. They may have to resort to stealing, robbing, killing, cheating, selling illegal goods, selling drugs, prostitution or other means. They may end up being hard-hearted and cruel. The reality is that there is enough material wealth in this world to keep everyone fed, clothed and sheltered. There is enough to provide everyone with the four necessities, namely:
1. Shelter, which includes a place to earn a living;
3. Clothing and
There are enough of other appliances to keep everyone on earth living comfortably. All it takes is for the haves to willingly share what they have with the have-nots. The world economy will improve instantly when everyone is willing to share what they have with others. Poverty will come to an end. Tears will be replaced by smiles. The world will turn into a better and brighter place instantly. However, too many people do not believe in giving and they do not believe in sharing what they have with others. Indeed, too many people use their wealth to exploit others, making things even harder for the less fortunate. Some very scheming and very wealthy individuals decide to go into business together by buying up certain commodities and hoard them until a situation is created where these commodities become scarce. They then bring out these commodities and sell them at a high price. In this situation, the people that suffer the most are the poor. Such an evil act can eventually lead to mass discontent and war can be the outcome. It is bad enough to be poor but the situation is worsened by the exploitation of greedy and unscrupulous individuals. Many less fortunate persons resort to earning wrong livelihood thinking that they can get rich quickly. What follow are all sorts of problems: theft, prostitution, deceptive schemes, selling illegal goods, selling drugs and so forth. Such ill-gotten gain cannot make its owner happy because it fills them with anxiety and, as they commit more and more misdeeds, their mind will become gloomier and gloomier. And at death, the Hell Realm awaits.
A poverty-stricken person is not a bad person but they can easily turn into a bad person as a result of such poverty. This is the reason why the Lord Buddha teaches us different ways to resolve our poverty problems. According to the Lord Buddha, the root cause of poverty is miserliness and the lack of merit accumulation in one’s previous existence(s). Therefore, if one is currently poor, one must know to bear it by not using one’s poverty as an excuse to earn money by wrongful means. Otherwise, the future will look even bleaker than what it is now.
To summarize, the Lord Buddha teaches that to avoid future poverty, one must endeavour to endure poverty in the current existence. At the same time, one must learn to overcome one’s miserliness by earnestly and regularly accumulating merit. In the Bilarakosiya Jataka story, the Lord Buddha says, “A miser is scared of poverty; therefore, they refuse to give alms. Miserliness harms the miser. Therefore, one is to remove miserliness by giving alms because in the hereafter, merit is the only thing that a living being can depend on.” A person seeking to avoid poverty ought to be mindful of the following facts:
1. A poverty-stricken person lacks material wealth in the current existence because in their previous life or lives, they were miserly and reckless. Therefore, they did not bother to accumulate any merit.
2. A person desiring poverty is a wealthy person who is now miserly and reckless. Therefore, they see absolutely no point in accumulating merit. As a result, they will be born a poverty-stricken person in future existences.
3. A person who will be far removed from poverty is a person who is not miserly or reckless.
They earnestly accumulate as much merit as possible here and now. As a result, they will be blessed with great material wealth in future existences. It would behoove every person, rich or poor, not to be miserly or reckless but earnestly to accumulate as much merit as possible here and now so that they will not be visited by poverty in future existences.
Wealth and Wholesome Deeds
There are two types of wealth, as follows:
1. Material Wealth: this is termed Lokiya wealth and includes a large amount of money, silver, gold, property and the freedom to spend it happily.
2. Dhamma Wealth: this is termed Ariya wealth and includes the following: Saddha, meaning belief or faith; Sila, meaning keeping the body, speech and mind pure; Hiri, meaning being ashamed of unwholesomeness; Ottappa, meaning being fearful of the ill consequences of unwholesome deeds; Suta, meaning learning through listening; Caga, meaning being self-giving and Panna, meaning breadth and depth of knowledge.
Wealth in this sense is never to be shunned because it is instrumental in living a good life and it is the source of happiness. It is a great blessing. A person desiring wealth should seek to accumulate both Lokiya wealth and Ariya wealth. In the search for material wealth, one must bear in mind the following factors: how to go about obtaining it; what is the purpose of being wealthy and what one will do with one’s wealth. If one cannot find the correct answers to these questions, the chances are that one’s material wealth may turn into a source of one’s problems later on.
According to the Lord Buddha, material wealth has the following uses.
1. It can be spent on one’s self.
2. It can be spent on one’s parents.
3. It can be spent on one’s spouse and children.
4. It can be spent on one’s friends and colleagues.
5. It can be spent on the monks and ascetics.
It means that the more money one has, the more it can be put into good use and for the purpose of Punna or merit accumulation. What is Punna or merit? Punna or merit is a pure and refined substance which is earned and appears in one’s mind each time one performs a wholesome deed, abstains from unwholesomeness and keeps one’s mind bright and clear. Punna or merit has several special properties in that it can be accumulated, it has the power to purify one’s body, speech and mind, it can follow one to future lifetimes and it has the amazing power to eliminate unhappiness and bless oneself with happiness here and now as well as in future existences. Why must one accumulate Punna or merit? Most people on earth believe that financial success depends entirely on oneself; that is, on one’s brain and two hands but, in reality, it requires more than that. The Lord Buddha teaches:
1 The Bhoga Sutta, Anguttaranikaya Pancaka-Chakkanipata, vol. 36, page 480, states that financial success is not dependent on a person’s talents and abilities alone but it also depends on the merit accumulated in previous life or lives. A person may have many talents and abilities but, without accumulated merit, they will not be able to meet with financial success. Alternatively, if they are able to achieve financial success, they will not be able to enjoy it as exemplified by the following saying of the Lord Buddha in the Siri Jataka text: “A person devoid of merit, whether or not they possess talents and abilities, works diligently to accumulate material wealth only to pass it on to another person who possesses accumulated merit and is able to enjoy it.”
2 The Lord Buddha’s Saying above makes clear to us how important Punna or merit is.
All of the material wealth on earth is here for people to take turn owning it, enjoying it and spending it. Only the persons blessed with accumulated merit can attract portions of it with or without having to work for it. We have all heard about persons born into a wealthy family and who have later inherited the family fortune. Wherever a person possessing accumulated merit is born, material wealth will come to them for their use and enjoyment. Material wealth and the enjoyment of material wealth are the result of accumulated merit. Consequently, all of us should earnestly accumulate merit on a daily basis.
The Role of Merit
In the Siri Jataka text, the Lord Buddha teaches the blessings brought about by merit as follows. “The results of merit include a good complexion, a lovely voice, a shapely physique, good looks, authority, and a retinue of attendants for humans and celestial beings alike. The power and privileges of an absolute monarch, position and power, the happiness of a Universal Monarch, the power and privileges of a celestial king in the Celestial Realm, are all brought about by merit. The wealth of a human being, the wealth of a celestial being and the wealth of Nibbana are all brought about by merit.” This teaching gives us a glimpse of the importance of merit and how every bit of happiness on earth and in the Celestial Realm is made possible by merit. For without merit, there will be nothing but unhappiness.
In the Siri Jataka, Khuddaka Nikaya Jataka, vol. 58, page 273, concerning how to accumulate merit, it is observed that merit must be accumulated personally and according to the teaching in the Punnakiriyavatthu Sutta as follows: “A person wishing for happiness needs to learn as much as possible about Punna or merit. They should practice generosity. They should conduct themselves properly and they should be loving and kind. Once a person has cultivated these three virtues, they will meet with happiness.” The Lord Buddha’s saying above means that merit is earned when a person gives alms, observes the Precepts and practices meditation. These are the merit-making activities which need to be carried out individually. Since these activities are the sources of merit, it would behoove all of us to learn as much as we can about them and to practice them as earnestly as possible.
In conclusion, a person can meet with financial success in the current existence as a result of the merit accumulated in their previous life or lives. A wise person makes sure that they accumulate as much merit as possible here and now in order to make provisions for their future existences. Their accumulated merit will lead them to be reborn in a civilized place where they can continue to accumulate as much merit as possible. The conditions of their life on earth will improve with each future existence so that they can better and better concentrate on merit accumulation and Perfections pursuit until such time that they can attain the Dhamma, extinguish all defilements, put an end to the round of rebirths and attain Nibbana.
Creating Lasting Personal Wealth
Problems are part of life and are encountered by everyone to a higher or lesser degree. It is necessary that one understands these problems so that one can be well equipped to deal with them when the time comes. There are three basic problems in creating personal wealth as follows (The Punnakiriyavatthu Sutta, Khuddaka Nikaya Itivuttaka, Vol. 45, page 386).
1. Poverty Problems. There are two kinds of poverty problems, scarcity and dissatisfaction with what one has. Scarcity means lacking the four necessities. When one is hungry, one has no food to eat. When one is sleepy, one has no place to lie down. One does not have enough clothing to prevent one from the heat or the cold. When one is ill, one cannot afford medicine. In other words, one lives a life of scarcity. Being unsatisfied with what one has. This means being discontented and always wanting more of something. One may have plenty of everything and yet one longs for more. It is like being hungry all the time. One is driven by greed and will stop at nothing to get what one wants. In other words, one lives a life of discontentment.
2. Sickness Problems There are two kinds of sickness problems, which are physical sickness and mental sickness. Physical sickness means illnesses, physical handicap, physical pain and suffering. Physical sickness hampers one’s attempt to create personal wealth. There are three kinds of physical sickness, namely, hunger, physical disabilities and the aging process. Mental sickness means the sickness of the mind as a result of defilements, namely, greed, anger and ignorance. These defilements cause one to lack insight and Right View and they drive one to commit misdeeds which bring about all sorts of problems later on. Mental sickness hampers one’s attempt to create personal wealth.
3. Ignorance Problems. There are two kinds of ignorance problems, which are secular ignorance and ignorance in the Dhamma. Secular ignorance means lacking the intelligence and scruples to create personal wealth by earning right livelihood. Ignorance in the Dhamma means lacking the wisdom needed to judge what is right, what is wrong, what is good, what is evil, what is Punna or merit, what is Papa or demerit, what should be done and what should not be done in order to increase one’s wholesomeness such that one can close the gate to the Hell Realm and open the gate to the Celestial Realm.
Now that one has learnt about the problems associated with creating personal wealth, the next question to ask is what sort of poverty one is suffering from and how one can go about solving the problem. More importantly, how should one go about cultivating wisdom?
The Causes of These Problems
Every problem has a cause. Likewise, the problems of poverty, sickness and ignorance all have their own causes as follows.
Lacking the Effort to Create Patirupadesa-4 Is the Cause of Poverty.
The term Patirupadesa means an environment which is conducive to personal development, the creation of personal wealth and the accumulation of wholesome deeds.
There are four types of poverty that are caused by the lack of Patirupadesa: the poverty which is caused by not being born in Patirupadesa surroundings; the poverty which is caused by not living in Patirupadesa surroundings; the poverty which is caused by not creating Patirupadesa surroundings and the poverty which is caused by the destruction of Patirupadesa surroundings.
The lack of Patirupadesa surroundings is the cause of poverty in the community for the following reasons:
1. The lack of a suitable environment, which includes topography and climate, in that they are not conducive to inhabitation and earning a living. Such an environment includes a desert or an area frequented by such natural disasters as earthquakes, violent storms and floods.
2. The lack of the four necessities, namely, shelter, food, clothing and medicine or having them in insufficient amounts.
3. The lack of virtuous and righteous persons but abundance of unscrupulous and immoral persons who are greedy, envious, jealous, miserly, selfish and exploitative.
4. The lack of secular knowledge and Dhamma knowledge: Without adequate secular knowledge, there can be no financial progress. Without adequate Dhamma knowledge, there can be no progress in terms of moral values and practices. And there can be no good governance principles which are conducive to personal development and the creation of personal wealth. Whoever finds themselves living in such surroundings must find ways to remedy the situation and that may include finding another place to live. If that is not possible, then they must do their best to create Patirupadesa surroundings for themselves and others in the community.
Lacking the Effort to Keep the Company of Righteous Persons Gives Rise to Sickness
A righteous person or a Pandita is a person who is replete with morality (Sila) and wisdom (Panna). Without the benefit of such persons, the community lacks good role models and Dhamma knowledge to help guide their ways in life and they end up making mistakes and committing misdeeds. The end results are physical and mental illness. Physical illnesses are caused by the consumption of addictive substances, living life recklessly, being engaged in activities that bring about bodily harm and so forth. Mental illnesses are caused by allowing one’s defilements to run rampant in the forms of greed, anger and ignorance leading one to commit unwholesome deeds mentally, verbally and physically. Such misdeeds bring about problems in one’s life.
Lacking the Effort to Cultivate Wisdom or Panna Gives Rise to Ignorance
One does not make the effort to learn when one is in school. One does not make the effort to garner different kinds of information. As a result, one easily becomes a victim of lies, coercion and exploitation.
One does not contemplate what one has learnt; therefore, one lacks good comprehension and analytical skills. The lack of such skills causes one to make mistakes at work. And once a problem occurs, one has no idea how to begin to solve it.
One does not practice meditation; therefore, one lacks the wisdom needed to alleviate and remove the mental suffering caused by one’s defilements which include greed, anger and ignorance.
Lacking the Effort to Accumulate Merit Gives Rise to Poverty, Sickness and Ignorance
The lack of merit accumulated in one’s previous life or lives gives rise to a life of unhappiness in the current existence.
One lacks the merit accumulated by practicing generosity in one’s previous life or lives; therefore, one is poor and does not meet with financial success no matter how hard one works.
One lacks the merit accumulated by practicing morality in one’s previous life or lives; therefore, one suffers from physical disabilities, ill health or a short lifespan.
One lacks the merit accumulated by practicing meditation in one’s previous life or lives; therefore, one lacks the wisdom (Panna) needed to learn about the reality of life and how to work toward putting an end to pain and suffering.
How to Create Lasting Personal Wealth
The Lord Buddha teaches His followers simultaneously to create lasting personal wealth and accumulate merit as follows:
One must cultivate the attributes needed to overcome poverty, sickness and stupidity.
One must create the kind of personal wealth that can benefit one in the current existence as well as in future existences.
One must create lasting personal growth and economic growth.
One must correctly protect one’s self, one’s material wealth and one’s community from the root cause of ruin.
Cultivating the Attributes Needed to Overcome Poverty, Sickness and Stupidity
The four components of Gharavasadhamma are the attributes needed to overcome poverty, sickness and stupidity and they include the following:
Sacca, which means learning to be earnest and sincere when it comes to work and the accumulation of merit.
Dama, which means possessing breadth and depth of knowledge, knowing how to take care of one’s body and develop one’s mind.
Khanti, which means having the ability to endure and persist in the face of problems and obstacles encountered in the process of creating personal wealth.
Caga, which means learning to be self-giving, to share what one has with one’s friends, those to whom one is indebted and to the Buddhist monks who practice righteousness according to the Dhamma-Vinaya.
Creating Personal Wealth for the Current Existence
As a human being, one must do all that one can to overcome poverty, sickness and ignorance not only for the current existence but also for future existences. This is what makes the life of a human being worthwhile. To accomplish this task, one must practice according to the Ditthadhammikatthaparayojana-4 as follows:
Utthanasampada – having the ability to accumulate material wealth without causing problems for oneself later on.
Arakkhasampada – having the ability to protect and safeguard one’s material wealth from harm which may show up as natural disasters or ill-wishers.
Kalayanamittata – having the ability to create a network of morally good people as business allies.
Samajivita – having the ability to spend one’s money wisely.
Creating Personal Wealth for Future Existences
Since one’s entity does not end with physical death but it must according to the Law of Kamma continue to undergo the round of rebirth for as long as one still possesses defilements, therefore, a wise person will make sure to make provisions for their future existences so that they will be blessed with every good thing in life and will stay as far away as possible from poverty, sickness and stupidity. They accomplish this task by practicing according to the Samparayikatthaparayojana-4 as follows:
Saddhasampada – believing in the Lord Buddha and His Teachings.
Silasampada – restraining one’s body and speech by abstaining from killing, stealing, sexual misconduct, false speech and the consumption of alcohol as well as other addictive substances.
Cagasampada – giving to those in need.
Pannasampada – purifying one’s mind and keeping one’s defilements under control by practicing meditation.
Creating Lasting Personal and Economic Growth
It is not enough that a person works diligently to accumulate personal wealth until they can overcome poverty, sickness and ignorance. However, they must also make financial contributions towards the development of their surroundings and their community such that it can be an environment conducive to the earnest cultivation of morality among the members of the community as well as their economic growth. When everyone in the community is morally good and able to support themselves and their families by earning right livelihood, that community will be blessed with peace and prosperity. The Lord Buddha teaches His followers to spend part of their material wealth on creating a thriving community blessed with peace and prosperity as follows:
1. Patirupadesa-4: this is the effort put into creating an environment most conductive to the performance of wholesome deeds. It is an environment where morally good people can thrive personally and financially as they continue to accumulate merit.
2. Sappurisupasanseva: this is the effort put into creating a network of morally good people within the community. It requires that one continue to work on improving one’s self, keep the company of other morally good persons, make opportunities for morally good persons to teach others in the community about morality and how to practice it in their daily life, introduce all the morally good persons to each other and organize activities to promote team spirit, unity and harmony.
3. Attasammapanidhi: this is the effort put into establishing Dhamma education within the community. It means teaching the community members about Right View at the level of having a good understanding of the objective of the Lord Buddha’s Teachings and about the importance of achieving all three levels of a human being’s life-goal to the best of their ability.
4. Pubbekatapunnata: this is the effort put into perpetuating and strengthening the Buddhist culture within the community. It requires that one be a good role model. One encourages everyone around one to have Right View, to learn about the Law of Kamma and to accumulate merit on a regular basis. One works to make sure that everyone in the community practices alms-giving, observes the Five Precepts and practices meditation on a daily basis for such daily wholesome activities and the merit earned from them will bless the community and its members with peace and prosperity.
Now that the community and its members are living in peace and prosperity, one still cannot afford to rest on one’s laurels, for danger is always lurking. It is known that the enemy of team growth and team prosperity is Ditthimana. Ditthimana means arrogance, stubbornness and contempt. A particular weakness every talented person seems to suffer from is a high personal opinion. Now, when there are many talented persons in the team with many big egos flying around, the unity and harmony of the team is simply waiting to break down. Ditthimana is generally caused by the following six factors, namely, family background, looks, position, talents and abilities, material wealth and a retinue of attendants. When friendship is tainted by contempt, divisiveness, conflicts and vindictiveness, how can it last? In the end, ruin is brought about for the self, the friend and the team. It would behoove everyone in the team to see the harm that can be wrought by Ditthimana so that proper preventive measures can be built into the team culture. This way, personal wholesomeness, personal economic stability and team unity and harmony can be maintained. A Ditthimana person is certain to meet with the following failures:
1. Self-ruination: when a person harbours Ditthimana to the point where they refuse to listen to anyone, it means that they are being reckless. Recklessness, in turn, easily leads to the Tenfold Unwholesome Course of Action and the ensuing unhappiness.
2. Being cut off from friends: when a person refuses to listen to what anyone else has to say, they will lag behind in terms of current, correct and useful information. The lack of correct, useful and timely information leads to the lack of wisdom. The lack of wisdom, in turn, leads to the lack of personal and economic safety.
3. Being cut off from the team: when a person refuses to listen to what anyone else has to say, they will find it more and more difficult to fit in. Feeling cut off from the team or the community, they no longer receive the business support that they used to receive. They may have to turn to evil-doers for help. Evil-doers and the Causes of Ruin go together and they may end up wasting all of their material wealth on drinking, gambling and so forth. Shortage of funds cannot keep their business going or pay their employees. In the end, they will lose both their employees and their business. A person may have worked very hard to create personal and economic growth and build a good team but all can be finally lost because of Ditthimana. Consequently, the Lord Buddha teaches His followers never to harbour Ditthimana by taking the following preventive measures.
1. Always compare what one is doing with the standard set by the Lord Buddha.
2. Always keep the company of virtuous friends and make a pledge to them that one will always listen to what they have to say.
3. Always accumulate Ariya wealth in order to protect one from ruination in the current existence as well as in future existences. These preventive measures ensure that all of one’s hard work will not end up in jeopardy.
The Fruits of Creating Personal Wealth
Having right understanding about the need to create personal wealth means that:
1. To create personal wealth successfully requires that one practice according to the Gharavasadhamma.
2. To make provisions for the current existence as well as future existences, it requires that one practice according to the Ditthadhammikatthaparayojana and Samparayikatthaparayojana.
3. To create a safe environment for one’s self and one’s material wealth, it requires that one practice according to the Cakkadhamma.
4. To prevent ruination, it requires that one work diligently to remove Ditthimana.
There are six kinds of personal wealth which can follow one to future existences as follows:
1. Wealth in the form of Panna or wisdom: this means that one will be blessed with the breadth and depth of secular knowledge which enables one to meet with success at work, overcome poverty, sickness and ignorance. It also means that one will be blessed with the breadth and depth of Dhamma knowledge necessary for the gradual removal of defilements and the eventual attainment of Nibbana.
2. Wealth in the form of morality: this means that one will be a morally good person as a result of having kept the company of virtuous friends and having practiced the Dhamma. One will abstain from all forms of unwholesomeness. One will perform wholesome deeds and keep one’s mind bright and clear to ensure that one will reborn in the States of Happiness after one dies.
3. Wealth in the form of authority: this means that one will be given a position of authority and privileges. One will be a good leader in that one will be devoid of impartiality. One will be steadfast and truthful. One will exercise good judgment.
4. Wealth in the form of true friends: this means that one will be blessed with morally good relatives, friends and attendants as a result of having encouraged morally good persons to get together, work together and accumulate merit together for the good of the public.
5. Wealth in the form of material wealth: this means that one will be blessed with all kinds of material wealth including servants and attendants. It will be the kind of material wealth gained by right livelihood. One will be able to live happily and joyfully while making provisions for one’s future existences.
6. Wealth in the form of Punna or merit: this means that one will be replete with accumulated merit such that wherever one will be reborn, one will be blessed with human wealth in the forms of good looks, material wealth, favourable attributes, fulfilled wishes, a position of authority, praise and happiness. One will have the opportunity to continue working toward the Path and Fruit of Nibbana by accumulating as much merit as possible.