“Generally, the wealth of misers never allows them any happiness. In this life it causes their self-torment, and when they die it sends them to hell.” (Lord Krishna, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 11.23.15)
न सुखाय कदाचन
मृतस्य नरकाय च
na sukhāya kadācana
mṛtasya narakāya ca
Friend1: You hear this every now and then. I am not sure if it is a proverb or a direct quotation from a sacred text of a particular faith.
Friend2: What is it in reference to?
Friend1: That it is practically impossible for a wealthy/rich person to reach heaven. Something like it being easier to thread a needle with a large object. I wish I could recall the exact comparison, but I have heard it invoked many times.
Friend2: For what reason? To criticize the wealthy?
Friend1: Along those lines. An excuse for raising taxes.
Friend2: That usually is the result of mismanagement by the government. In the democracy-style system, the easiest thing for the elected official to do is nothing. The path of least resistance. If there is any emergency, increase spending. Act like Santa Claus. This relief package. That stimulus. Spend billions of dollars to make it look like you are helping.
Friend1: That does seem to guarantee re-election.
Friend2: When it comes time to pay the bill, since money doesn’t grow on trees, just raise taxes. That usually doesn’t go over well, so choose a target group that no one will sympathize over.
Friend1: The rich. Tax the rich. Take their stuff. They can afford to pay more.
Friend2: It is not to say that they are innocent, that they are not getting payback from nature for living in excess.
Friend1: Let’s stick to nature, then. Is it difficult for a rich person to realize God? Is it impossible?
Friend2: Now, ascending to heaven and realizing God are two different things.
Friend1: How so?
Friend2: From the Vedic tradition we learn that the “heaven” we commonly speak of is actually part of this material world. You can achieve that destination strictly through deeds. Your net worth is not an issue. Follow enough pious behavior, in a recommended fashion, and you are buying time in the heavenly region after death.
Friend1: What about realizing God?
Friend2: You can do that without ever contemplating heaven. It is everyone’s birthright, their obligation, if you will, to reach that realization. It is open to every single person. Your standing in society does not matter.
Friend1: But isn’t there a corresponding saying that God is always with the poor person? “Blessed are the poor, for they shall inherit the earth.” Something like that?
Friend2: Narayana, the source of men, is inside of every person. He is with the thief and the police officer. He is with the cleaning person and the one who owns the home. He is with both the driver and the passenger. This does not mean that He ever becomes poor. There is no such thing as a daridra-narayana. Narayana is always the Supreme Personality of Godhead Narayana, the husband of the goddess of fortune.
Friend1: Right, but doesn’t too much wealth go to your head? Don’t you become distracted by flashy objects and showing off to people? Wouldn’t it be better to remain humble and meek?
Friend2: It depends. Shri Krishna does say that the wealth of misers leads them to hell. They always think about it during this lifetime, and because they don’t follow sacrifice and charity they get demoted in the afterlife.
Friend1: There you go! That is what I was looking for. In addition, you see that the exalted teachers in the chain of disciplic succession, parampara, are not wealthy. They live completely renounced; something like voluntarily homeless, without the intoxication problem.
Friend2: Begging door to door. No day job. Not relying on any single person for mercy. Complete faith reposed in Narayana. Yes, but understanding is at the consciousness level.
Friend1: What do you mean?
Friend2: Realizing God has to do with the consciousness, and consciousness is not tied to any temporary factor like net worth. Sure, it might be more difficult to realize God if you are distracted by expensive cars and a private jet, but at the same time the poor person might have their own distractions. As Narayana is everywhere, He can be realized in any situation. That is why something like chanting the holy names is so powerful: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.
For realizing not a barrier,
Liberation reward a carrier.
Through holy name chanting,
Even then to wealthy granting.
Whereas otherwise difficult so,
Since focus elsewhere to go.
Narayana never poor or meek,
Available to anyone to seek.