A Critique of Materialism: Permanent Joy VS Fake Happiness

A Zen Master lived the simplest kind of life in a little hut at the foot of a mountain.

One evening, while he was away, a thief sneaked into the hut only to find there was nothing in it to steal. The Zen Master returned and found him.

“You have come a long way to visit me,” he told the prowler, “and you should not return empty-handed. Please take my clothes as a gift.” 

The thief was bewildered, but he took the clothes and ran away. The Master sat naked, watching the moon.

“Poor fellow,” he mused, ” I wish I could give him this beautiful moon.”


Explanation Of The Wisdom


Here is one of the key insights you need to have to live a happy life:

“True richness of life is not in material posessions but in deeper consciousness of one’s being.”

That might sound philosophical at first but on the contrary, this is one of those practical insights that can change your worldview of the world.

How many of us are going through 50 to 80 hour work weeks to get to a future circumstance?

Maybe you are trying to get free of debts.

Or maybe you want to save up money to move to another country.

Whatever the reason, we are deeply ingrained in this paradigm of “get somewhere, do stuff” due to society and its programming.

Unless you have consciously investigated this issue, you don’t even have a say in the matter. Society brain washes you from a very young age. 

Telling you that you need to desire and find happiness in material possessions and experiences. But see, all of these are temporary external distractions. The true permanent beauty of life is right there within you.

If our education system taught people about meditation and enlightenment from the age of eight, we’d be living in a radically different society.

In one of his essays, Seneca lists all the trappings of obscene wealth—a golden roof, purple clothes, marble floors. He describes the life of someone who has been blessed mightily by fate and fortune.

They have imposing statues, the most brilliant art, teams of servants. They have country homes and fancy jewelry. What does having all these things teach? Seneca asks. “All you learn from this is how to desire more stuff.”

That’s the irony of material success. It’s a series of moving goal posts. You think having X will be sufficient only to find that 2x is better and that 3x is preferable still.

“Prosperity is a restless thing: it troubles itself,” he says elsewhere. Or rather, it propels itself.

See if you can find one billionaire who isn’t trying to acquire more. See if you can find one famous person whose actions don’t indicate that they’d like at least a little more fame.

Because that’s what we learn from these things—it isn’t a sense of what’s “enough” it’s a sense of how much more there could be.

Needless to say this is a path to bankruptcy, personally if not financially. It’s a hedonic treadmill that eventually breaks down…or breaks the person frantically running atop it.

So get off while you still can.

There is only one way to put this wisdom into practical living: start a daily meditation practice and start an investigation towards enlightenment.

Theory, debates, reading, listening, talking, arguing and knowledge will only get you so far. 

You must “walk the talk”.

If in doubt, remember the priceless wisdom.

“Meditate on the breath (mindfulness meditation to build concentration and awareness skills) and then self-enquire (the teachings of Ramana Maharshi) until you are free of all psychological sufferings and ego. (aka enlightenment)

Do this everyday and trust in the process that eventually your mind will be healed.


Because all good things require training and patience.

Know that as long as you do the work, the results will eventually follow.”

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