January 8, 2010

Isn't money simply a mean?

Let me begin with a question. How much money is 'good enough' to leave peacefully? I realize it is an open-ended question with no possible consensus reply. But what I am trying to ask is, do we all really believe that money is merely a way of securing a peaceful life? If yes, then should we not also know how much is enough? On the other hand, if money is not the mean but the target itself, what's the target amount you are trying to reach? Is there a quantifiable answer to it?

I am fortunate enough to be at a stage of life where survival is not my main target. This is the case with a lot of people I know - my friends, my cousins, my seniors, etc. Lot of us earn substantially higher than our basic needs. Most of us also earn much above even our luzury needs that we enjoy. Most of us earn enough to take our families out for a movie or dinner few times a month. We earn enough to enjoy a couple of vacations in a year to a far-away place, away from the routine. Sure, we need money to do all this and more. Point is, many of us are earning much more than what you need to do all this. Day in and day out we are slogging out in our lives to get that higher increment or a super bonus that marginally/incrementally goes into our savings and not towards luxury spending. Saving for an uncertain future perhaps. Despite all this, I strongly feel a lot of us are giving way too much importance to money and financial safety, thinking about not just the next year or two but even 10 years and 20 years down the line. If this is how it goes, money will hypnotize us and leave us drained and dead even before we are actually dead.

I have two points to add further. First is the happiness quotient. If the money-making efforts are making you truly blissful, then half the problem is taken care of. You are not killing yourself internally for a secure future. However, is this not a rarity? Lot of us crib about not having enough time and mind-space to live for ourselves. The attempt to get 'work-life balance' has caught up in a big way among corporate executives. Clearly so, there seems to be an unhappy inner self even as the outer self is busy chasing the money targets. That, to my mind, is a problem one must address. If more money does not make you more happy on a daily basis (and not at a future unknown point in time), then we ought to change few things around.

Now, let's assume one is indeed blissful in doing things that consequently results in money being created. Case in point would be a sportsman, an actor, a painter, a musician or a CA for that matter who loves what she does. Even then, I have an inkling that there is something not-so-right. That's my second pointer. I cannot see a lot of sense in a situation where someone tries to achieve a separate room for each member of his family (by purchasing a 3BHK flat, for instance) at a time when some of them around in this world cannot afford a single small room for 10 of them put together. I am not intending to sound 'socialistic' here. Question that disturbs me is, do the money making people not think about the relatively under-privileged soceity? I am not taking anything away from people who make money. Surely they are extremly skilled and work hard to earn whatever they do. But, do they not believe that once they reach that point of security, they can then try to help somebody else around to get to security as well? Like as if we are one big family in this world and we seek & help each other out? Can we not do that more often than not? Can there be no collective efforts towards that? Or do we remain self-centered as always? Do we simply add more luxuries to our own wealth & lives, and may be end up not even enjoying them. By upgrading from a 21-inch TV to a super big Plasma, when life is so reckless & fast that we spend only a few hours in front of the TV. If that's the case, wasn't the decision to upgrade the TV just a symbolic gesture to tell the society around that you are a wealthy person and ought to be respected? TV is just an example, we could be spending our money in a lot of other ways.

I read this somewhere recently (I think it was Sri Sri Ravishankar who said this) that our education system needs to be modified to include two more things in it right from grass-root levels: a little bit about Philospohy and a little bit about Philanthropy. I totally agree. This will add a sense of perspective in our lives and see things in a different manner. We will be more compassionate and less wasteful in our attitudes.

I have asked myself how much money is 'secure' enough for my family. Working to reach that number and then trying to spread out for others is what my motto is. If you think this way of living makes sense, then ask yourself how much money is 'secure' enough for your family and their needs. Then work hard to reach a level where even 'ancilliary' works (read part-time) that does not consume all of your time will help you earn that bit. Rest of the time can be used to make this whole world a much better place. This is where education helps. A professional degree like MBBS or CA must be used to make our lives less complicated and easier. Unfortunately, we use these degrees to challenge ourselves to earn some obscenely high amount of money and screw up our own happiness in the process.

I began with a question. Let me end with a beautifully worded line that I read as the status message of one of my friends and is apt here. A perfection of means & confusion of aims seems to be our main problem.


Nitin said...

Very good post Sir..
Really made me think but at the same time its also very difficult to implement.

chandani said...

Sir,this is totally awesome,but i have one doubt,let me also know abt d ppl who actually strive hard for their living....and try to make their dear ones atleast occupied with they basic needs...their main motto is only and only to earn money????what u suggest about their view?

Insearch Ofdivinity said...

Dear Restless,

A very pertinent question. Unfortunately, the answer is not too easy. Infact it is quite difficult. Thing is most of us go through life without ever considering the question. How much is enough? I think it is a very relative term & is directly proportional to the greed or if I were to put it mildly, what will assuage the needs of ones materialistic ego for more. But the fact is like you said, even you cross it like way over, very few actually think of returning back to society. The fact that you are even thinking about it is commendable. However, it will not be easy considering you have also to keep in perspective those around you. And they will have their say mind you. Whether you like it or not & you cannot getaway easily with 'It is my money & I can do what I want'. But once you start it it will most definitely give you a lot of joy that no materialistic gain can ever give you.

And my friend, remember I old you in the beginning itself, you are now beginning to feel the first stirrings of the real quest of life. But the road isn't easy & fraught with dangers or rather pitfalls. Hope you conquer those easily. God bless.

chinmay said...

Hello Sir,
I adore your perspective about money, but to the extent of that line where you have mentioned 'think about the relatively under-privileged society?'.I think everyone possess different journey of life.We should not feel depress by seeing such under-privileged society.If we see from point of view material life(in which we believe only on what we see around us)then you can't help but feel deprived by seeing such people.I think their destiny has made them to live such life.One Saint replied when he was asked by his disciple that whether Destiny is true or Efforts,he said "You take efforts is your destiny.You did your duty as pe your destiny is your efforts"

ankita said...

Hello Sir,
i completely agree with your views, as i had also discussed it with my mom the very next day when you had discussed on this matter in your lecture. i am greatly influenced by your this post. Thank you for making me realize it.

who said...

you can take initiative to help needy people i m sure followers (at least some of them including myself) will help u to achieve that...
find purpose means will follow (Mahatma Gandhiji)

sonu said...

very very nice & beautiful sir......

U No Hoo said...

@Chandani: I did not understand your question properly. Could you re-frame it pls?

@Insearch: It is indeed a difficult path and I'm already starting to feel the preliminary heat of it. But then, I cannot stop my thoughts or my self. So, let's see where all this leads :)

@who: This post was not about the way to change things around, but I get your point nevertheless.

@ all others: Tanku for reading and posting your thoughts.

Harry said...

Hi sir,

I just read your blog and I suddenly remembered what my dad had said to me once.

I think it was over an overtly extended dinner when I was in the mood to talk about anything that didn’t demand additional academic efforts from my side.

So I whipped out my philosophical heart in front of him and spoke at length about something similar to what you’ve typed.

The intent was to show him that my level of maturity was not just in terms of physique but also in terms of psyche.

In reply to my ten minutes of non-stop tongue wag which, mind you, was extremely meaningful and admirable, he said (after having an annoyingly long and hearty laugh):-

“One who has accomplished the incredible feat of living a fearless life shouts ‘Do what is right and don’t give a damn about what isn’t’ and he is true to his word. Others listen to him and smile thoughtfully; nod vigorously; clap generously and shower overflowing praises on him; then they go to their respective homes; and when their family is having a nice and quiet dinner after a hard day’s work, they merely repeat what they’ve heard; and then expect their fathers to listen to them and to smile thoughtfully; nod vigorously; clap generously and shower overflowing praises on them as well.

It was then and there (as my brother cackled until his glass spilled all its contents on the table) that I decided to postpone philosophy to that stage of my life where my tongue will speak for myself and not just repeat what my ears are filled with.

Jokes apart, I assure you sir that I’ll put a deep thought to it once I’ve achieved something. I’ll pray that what I’ve read in your blog gets retained in my brain.

deepti said...

Hi sir,
Recently i went through a book "The monk who sold his ferrari" it also implies d same thoughts.its really good on ur part dat u r using orkut as a mean 2 spread such gr8 thots.thank u sir.

U No Hoo said...

@ Harry & Deepti - Tanku for reading and commenting :) Let us all increase the tribe of people who thinks likewise.

sonu said...

hello sir,i completely agree with your views,also i am greatly influenced by your this post.Thank you for making me realize it once again. you can take initiative to help needy people im also surealy helps you to achive that...
& last but not least its really good on ur part dat u r using orkut as a mean 2 spread such gr8 thots.thank u sir.from shruti mavlankar

karthik said...

Hello Sir,

I agree to what you mentioned in this quote and I have been thinking almost it (not exactly)in same line since long.

I truly feel something need to be done for the still struggling category of people in our nation by the people who earn well above par to their needs (basic & luxury). Having that will to do something good is very important, thats what I believe.

Now the actual problem:
Considering me as a part of this society, I am puzzled of where to start from, whom to start with and what to start with? I guess this question will haunt almost all the people who wish to start doing something for the sake of Society.

As far as I am concerned, I would surely want to work for the education of that category of students who are deprived of this right just because they cant afford it financially. I know there are government programmes for this but I believe that it is not within their reach. Even if I would be able to help educate one child out of all, I will be more than happy since that will help atleast one family get out of the cycle of poverty. Also, I can surely say that the person who comes out of it will surely work for the welfare of the affected in future. Thus there will be one more addition to those who really mean to do something for the welfare of the society.

Moreover, who knows how many Mandar Dikshits would come out of them.

This is what I want to start with.
Also, I am really motivated by your (as well as Hariharan Sir's) thaughts. I would like to thank you for sharing it in class as well as this bolg.

I know this comment is something out of your post but I just wanted to open up.

vaishali said...

Dear Sir,
I agree with what u say...I feel that it all depends on somebody's greed to allocate wealth.Some of us dont have much of it but still find sometime (even money)to reach out to less priviliged.
Also,it happens sumtimes that we consciously talk about all these things but are not conscious enough to act over that but just feel pity about the less priviliged.
I believe that no matter how much the persons income is (except those who can just fulfill their basic needs), one can alwayzz contribute in sum way if they REALLY wish to irrespective of the reasons they might wanna give.I am glad to realise this just b4 few weeks..
Keep writing such posts sir..its really inspiring.God Bless!!

Someone, u no ;) said...

I think it's easy to think on these issues but it's equally difficult to know what and how things are to be done...

hariharan said...

@Someone u no
Thts what I am also trying to find out how the things are to be done. But this is the first step towards it. Its a kind of Brainstorming to achieve what sir is thinking.

The point is majority doesnt even think on these lines

U No Hoo said...

@Shruti: Thanks for the feedback.

@Karthik: Truly appreciate your concerns. Keep building these thoughts. About Hariharan Sir - I cannot agree more with you. He is a rare soul and we need more like him in the world.

@Someone: My attempt was to make people think on it. The 'doing' part is being worked upon.

@Hari: Tanku :)

Someone, u no ;) said...

@ Hariharan Sir: Hmm... I understand your point. We have talked on it before also and your views were same but my point is only thinking on issues will never lead you anywhere doing things are much important (not that thinking isn't)And am sure as we grow old (capable to transform thoughts into actions)many of us will be busy in chasing those plesures and luxuries and we may forget that we ever thought on any such thing, many a times people whose support and permission we need may not support...
...so there are many hurdles I feel will make less number of us actually act on our aims or thought's and that is what might have happened with many of people as well...

@ U no hoo: Thanks for making people think, as Hariharan Sir has mentioned (to which I totally agree)that it's the first step and which makes it important but my point is right actions must be taken. Money must reach to the right set of people (needy ones), only then it'll serve the purpose...

hariharan said...

@Harish sir
Thx a lot its a big compliment for me. I hope I maintain tht reputation going forward and dont disappoint you.
@someone u no;Yes I remember we talked on this. We will soon take steps towards it.