How much is too much?

  • Aneet Kanwal Randhawa, Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
  • Updated: Nov 21, 2014 14:14 IST

Avarice is a trait for which I do not claim exclusivity. Most of you would find its traces in yourself, though in varying proportions. A cursory glance of the scriptures made me aware of five vices. One of them is greed.

I remember the parables I was fed as a child, à la 'The Greedy Dog'. Back then, I was able to grasp the subtle messages. But as my horizons broadened, those messages got lost in the din of increasing desires.

How much is too much? The question has haunted me, of late. Yet, a satisfactory reply has continuously evaded me and I'm nowhere near figuring out the order of the importance of my needs.

Then factor in those clichéd statements that God has provided for everyone's needs and not greed. They might hold a momentary significance for me, but nothing beyond. I fail to take a cue from the metaphorical beauty of the illustrations in our scriptures.

They seem to stem from a utopian world which seems next to impossible to believe in.

Yet, at times when my mind enters a state of introspection, it presents a strange law, a law akin to one expounded by science, such as laws of conservation of energy, mass, etc. I call it the law of conservation of wealth. In simple terms, it implies that one man's greed is another man's poverty. But as soon I am out of this elevated state of mind, my greed betrays me and becomes someone else's poverty.

Whenever I sit in tandem with nature, I wonder whether it replicates this trait of mine. But I soon realise that it is an exclusive trait present only in the human race. Aesop's 'Greedy Dog' is Aesop's to take care of. But I am yet to spot a greedy bird or a butterfly. Nature only knows to manifest itself in its entire splendour, giving more every time.

Nevertheless, I continue piling on well beyond my necessities, without realising its futility. Each buy is nothing but a conspicuous consumption and a bizarre rationale to make it owner's pride and the neighbour's envy.

With all my insecurities, I strike lucrative deals with God, unmindful of the fact that he only understands the ways of love and devotion. I practise charity with ulterior motives. Prudence calls for the idea to save for a rainy day. But I go far beyond that.

In my earnest desire to cultivate a sense of security, what I witness is a mirage of desires, one making way for the other. At this juncture, my mind impinges upon me to give up my false sense of security and take the plunge into the unknown. It tells me that I will certainly not be a loser in this bargain. Insecurity with its mysterious ways will give my life a new and exciting meaning altogether.

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