I still remember the day I got my first salary. It was Rs. 18234/- on 29th September’2006. I even remember the ATM where I checked the balance and for the first time a bank account in my name had so much money. Even though the amount was expected, I was delighted beyond limits. I couldn’t sleep that night because of happiness. Initially, I didn’t even know how to spend this money. I never got more than Rs. 5000/- from my parents, so I was obviously not used to having so much money in my account. And then I entered the malls of the cities and got the taste of wearing branded clothes and shoes, eating in exotic restaurants, buying expensive branded cosmetics and whatnot. 

Fast forward to year September’ 2007 – my salary was slightly higher than the first salary that I had received but I was now used to the fact that by 20th of each month – I would be left with a few hundred in my account and I would somehow manage for the rest of the month. I started using credit cards which was a huge mistake. I realized that mistake only when I ended up not paying credit cards bills completely over the years and eventually was indebted like crazy. 

Fast forward to the year 2020 – my salary is way higher than the year 2006. However, the situation is not very different. Of course, I have bigger responsibilities now like home loan, car loan, school fees, investments etc. – but money is still not enough. I have realized that even if my income is 100 times what it is today, it still won’t be enough. There is no point running after money and this has really changed my perspective towards life. The work that I do, I really do because it makes me happy and because the sense of achievement is much greater than the amount that gets credited to my account at the end of each month. 

The year 2020 has made me go a bit towards spirituality. And I have learnt the following about materialism from the various spiritual books and videos that I am into these days:

  1. Materialism without any spiritual direction will lead you in a very negative situation. We all know that a lot of money makes you lazy. Problems like diabetics, obesity, drug or alcohol addiction are a few examples of having more money than your needs. Your wealth is supposed to make you happy and not miserable. If it makes you miserable, then there is something terribly wrong because your own hard-earned wealth is not working for you.

This concept is something that I have accepted. There is some amount of spirituality needed in life to ensure that I don’t flow down the gutter only to realize that I have wasted my life. If I don’t have my own goals sorted in my head, it is very easy to just sway away with what is happening in the world. My spiritual journey helps me stay on track and not lose control over my own thoughts, feelings and emotions. 

2. One cannot give up all materialism because that is not practical. However, there should be a balance between materialistic and spiritual life so that we stay on the right track. The ideal balance is – Be as materialistic as if you are alive only for this day. Be as spiritual as if you are going to live for eternity. 

This concept is very confusing to me. If I earn only as much as I need today, what about all the money that I am saving for my retirement, for my son’s education etc? I guess this concept is too idealistic. So, I have made my own balance. For every paisa that I have to spend, I ask myself if this is really needed. For every extra effort, I make only to earn another paisa, I ask myself if I really need to earn more money. More often than not, I know the answer. I must admit this balance is very delicate. And for every person, this balance is very different. As long as I am grounded with my spiritual energy, this balance is just an intuition or a feeling. It is not judgment or prejudice. It is not like depriving yourself of joy. In fact, this balance is supposed to make me joyful and if it is not, then the balance is not right.

Over the years I have learnt to make peace with money (or lack of it). I have learnt that money is never enough because desires are never enough. I have learnt that spirituality does not mean giving up entirely on the materialistic aspect of life. Spirituality means to make my materialistic aspect bring joy to me (not misery). I have learnt that if I let the world take control of my life, the material aspect of my life will go out of control because the world is largely driven by consumerism.