Wealth and Trusteeship

Posted: June 19th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Financial Advice | No Comments »

(This article has been reprinted from Navrang Times. The author is unknown.)

Sri Aurobindo says: “All wealth belongs to God and those who hold it are trustees.” Roman Rolland opines: “This thing must be put bluntly: every man who has more than necessary for his livelihood is a thief.”

Albert Einstein puts it more mildly: “It is everyone’s obligation to put back into the world at least the equivalent of what he takes out of it.”

All of us have been born on the earth with a particular object, with a definite purpose—to serve humanity. We are here with a sublime mission to make this world more beautiful, to make it a better place to live in, to serve fellow human beings.

Someone has said: “We are here for the sake of others.” No life is really happy until it is helpful. He indeed gets the most out of life who does his utmost to elevate mankind.

Nothing really belongs to us. Whatever comes into our possession, we are in possession of it only in the capacity of a trustee. Andrew Carnegie believed that the rich had a moral obligation to give away their fortunes for the common good of all. He asserted that all personal wealth beyond a family’s needs should be regarded as a trust for the benefit of the community.

In the words of Phillips Brooks, “No man has come to true greatness who has not felt in some degree that his life belongs to humanity and that what God gives him, He gives him for mankind.” The philosopher Voltaire says: “I know of no great persons except those who have rendered great services to the human race.”

The central problem facing the world today is how to satisfy our ever increasing wants and needs. Gandhi believed in the doctrine of non-possession, i.e., voluntary dispossession of wealth and worldly goods beyond basic and daily needs. He once said: “We have enough to satisfy man’s needs but not enough to satisfy man’s greed.” He would say: “It is sinful to multiply one’s wants unnecessarily.”

Orison Swett Marden opines: “No one will live long in the world’s memory who has not done something besides selfishly grasping and hoarding wealth or working within the narrow sphere of personal interest and ambitions.”

Money itself has very little to do with happiness. Some of the most wretched persons in the world have been very rich. They could have everything that money could buy, but their money didn’t buy them happiness. It didn’t bring contentment or harmony into their homes.

The world never honors the greedy and selfish; it only cherishes the memory of those who have illustrated in their lives the highest human values. The man who lives for his self alone, whose life is not of value to the whole community, is a colossal failure.

People may make millions and still be utter failures. Making a life is more important than making a living. The rich have no business to indulge in vulgar display of wealth when the poor lack such basic necessities as drinking water. To quote Orison Swett Marden again: “A large part of the immorality and crime in the world is due to the influence of the ostentation of flaunting of wealth in the face of those less favored. It is a powerful undermining force in our civilization. No rich person has a right to set an example which will demoralize others. Our rights to extravagance cease when they injure others.”

The Holy Vedas say: “The Lord does not favor the rich who refuse to share their wealth with the needy and poor. The rich man who does not utilize his wealth for noble deeds or does not offer it for the use of his fellow-beings, is selfish and has earned the wages of sin. Horded wealth eventually proves to be the cause of his ruin.”

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