Man is a bundle of desires. The material world and all its glitter blind us into seeking it. The momentary display of the glitz and the glamour that we are exposed to time and again make us assume that it is synonymous with ‘everlasting happiness’. And so begins our pursuit of ‘everlasting happiness’ through the acquisition of all that glitters.
While there is nothing wrong with the pursuit of happiness and even the acquisition of the good things that the material world has to offer, the assumption that the former is dependent on the latter is certainly naïve. Happiness is a subjective notion and has nothing to do with worldly success which is almost always measured by our material worth. And yet, if we choose to be naïve and continue to ‘buy’ happiness for ourselves, we need to keep in mind the simple axiom that ‘the end does not justify the means’.
Each one of us desires different things from life. This is because some of our desires were fulfilled in our past lifetimes while others still hound us. We take birth, not just to settle our karmic debts (rnanubandhan) but also to accomplish our unfulfilled desires. When we set out to fulfil these desires, the law of karma either frustrates us or facilitates the fulfilment of our desires, depending on our past account of good and bad deeds. If we still insist on fulfilling our desires that are not meant to be, by adopting the wrong means, we may be able to acquire what we had set out for but we can be sure of never being able to enjoy it. Such is the working of karma.
In the play Macbeth (Shakespeare), the protagonist gets all that he wanted to acquire but his mind gets contaminated with doubt. This drives him insane and he is unable to enjoy his conquest.
People who resort to shortcuts or move ahead in life by cheating or fleecing others, don’t get very far. The Law of Karma ensures that even though they may go scot-free by law they are imprisoned by the negative impact of their unrighteous behaviour or actions.
So, if you really want the trappings of the material world, go ahead and earn it the right way. The Law of Karma will ensure that your desires get fulfilled effortlessly and you get to enjoy them as well. But don’t ignore the fine print: enjoyment is fleeting and belongs to the material world, ‘everlasting happiness’ does not belong here.