Contentment

by Friends of Godwin

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In the kitchen in our Centre we have a poem: “He who knows his need, and yet is without greed, whatever be his creed, he is a saint indeed”. This was composed by a friend of mine and what made him compose this was what he saw in India. He told me that he was going to one of the Indian temples and outside the temple there was a beggar who was seated and he had a piece of cloth in front of him for the money and the beggar had his eyes closed. When my friend saw this beggar’s face with his eyes closed, he was so impressed, inspired by the serenity, the calmness with which the beggar was sitting like this. He was so curious that he stood alongside him and just spent some time with him. And suddenly this man got up, picked up some of the coins and threw the other coins onto the ground. Then he went to a shop nearby, he took something to eat, something to drink and he disappeared. So this incident really had a strong impact on my friend and when he was reflecting on this incident this poem came to his mind.

I’m not telling you to throw away your money, but what I am suggesting is to use the money functionally. We need money, we need material possessions but what is important is that they’re possessing us now. So what we need to do is not to allow them to control us but for us to learn to control them. Then there is a change which takes place inside you, then a very beautiful spiritual quality comes into being, which is contentment. It is rarely that I meet someone who is really contented with himself, with herself, with whatever they’re having. This spiritual quality is very much emphasised in the Dhamma. There’s a beautiful Pali word for this: santutthi. Contentment is the greatest wealth. It’s very interesting.