This article discusses the two different types of wealth available to us. They are material wealth and spiritual wealth. All expressions of wealth fall into either of these two categories. However, one of these kinds of wealth fully depends on the other. In other words, one type of wealth is fundamental to a good life, while the other derives from it.
Read on to discover more.
The Two Types Of Wealth: Material And Spiritual
To begin, let’s define both types of wealth:
- Material wealth: anything which can be perceived with the five senses. If you can see it, hear it, touch it, taste it or smell it falls into this category. Material wealth is interchangeable, it can be bought, sold, stored and inherited. Like a luxury car, a house or a work of art.
- Spiritual wealth: anything which gives us peace, love and/or joy. You can’t perceive spiritual wealth with the five senses. But you know it’s there. You experience it within. It can’t be bought or sold and it can’t be transferred. Like health, friendship, romantic love, peace of mind, wisdom or success.
Material wealth depends on the conditions of the world outside of us. Spiritual wealth depends on the quality of our inner life. Material wealth can come and go. Spiritual wealth is transcendent.
Spiritual wealth is our bedrock; without it we are truly poor. We can have everything material in life deemed worth having, but if our health is poor, we have no close friendships or romantic relationships or our minds are in turmoil we are incapable of enjoying it.
Why Spiritual Wealth Is Fundamental
I will start this section with a great quote from Jon Kabat-Zinn:
“Wherever you go, there you are.”
There is profound wisdom in that statement. I will do my best to expand upon it, but the quote carries all the meaning within itself, so I might just butcher it.
Our inner world is always with us. It is us. Until the day we die, we will be experiencing life through this inner world. No matter where we go, this is our experience. Life happens within us. Nowhere else. No time else. All is within us, always now. Nothing can change that.
If our inner world is a place of restlessness, anxiety, depression, anger, hatred, all manifestations of fear, nothing happening in the external world will be able to dispel those burdens. Meaning that we can win the lottery, change jobs, relationships, houses and spouses, any of these things may bring about temporary relief, but if the turmoil of our inner world remains unaddressed, we will simply recreate the same situation from which we were trying to escape in the first place. Such material change is superficial.
If our inner world is a place pf peace, relaxation, happiness, joy and love, then nothing happening in the external world can shake those qualities. These states of being are grounded in the eternal present, the now. Even if an event occurs which throws our inner world into disarray, like moving to a new country, bankruptcy or unemployment, by remaining grounded in the now the situation will eventually be resolved on its own or through our action.
People can have tremendous wealth and still be miserable. Others can have no material wealth and still be happy. In the first case, having a penthouse would provide the luxury in which we can be miserable. In the second case, having enough food to share with those we love can seem as a bountiful feast.
Spiritual wealth is fundamental because it depends on our choices. Material wealth, while dependent on our choices, also depends on the outside world, and can fluctuate. We have complete control over our spiritual wealth, we have only partial control of our material wealth.
But there’s more to this, I’ve discovered.
Material Wealth Is Derived From Spiritual Wealth
It has been shown that human beings have our best ideas, learn the most and create our best work when we are happy and relaxed.
This means that if you are financially broke and desire to change your life circumstances the best thing you can do for yourself is to take responsibility for your inner world. Become responsible for your happiness, your piece of mind and joy. You will then create the best work you have to offer and will be rewarded for it.
We each have the power to choose how we respond to our life circumstances. Viktor Frankl, author of “Man’s Search For Meaning” and survivor of Auschwitz, wrote:
“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing; the last of the human freedoms, to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one own’s way.”
In other words, we can always choose how we respond to any situation.
We might not be in the best circumstances now; we might be broke, ill, lonely, drowning in debt or a combination of all of these things. That’s admittedly tough. It’s tough to be human, especially if our pasts have not been particularly kind to us when we’ve been most vulnerable. Sadly, this happens everywhere; children suffer abuses of all kinds and can do nothing about it. Maybe it happened to you. If it did, I’m sorry for that. But I don’t pity you.
I don’t pity you because you are human and you have the capacity to choose how you respond to your life circumstances. You have the power to shape your future with the choices you make now.
We all have the power to choose to do something now which will make tomorrow a little bit better. It could be washing the dishes, doing the laundry or calling a loved one we haven’t spoken to in a while. We can all do something now which we know will leave the world a slightly better place than it was before we did it.
And that’s spiritual wealth. To be aware that you are a living, conscious being endowed with free will; to choose to respond to your life circumstances rather than react to them in the same old way.
That’s why material wealth is derived from spiritual wealth. That’s why spiritual wealth is our bedrock. So I invite you to cultivate your spiritual wealth today. Go for a walk in a park. Meditate or journal. Be with those you love. These activities nurture our spiritual wealth, which is non-transferable. It’s yours.
It’s your own piece of experience in this vast universe we call home.
Take care of it.