As you turn around every corner of the house, do you see possessions that you have needlessly accumulated or those that you actually need? Is shopping your need or has it become your hobby? With the undertakings varying from window-shopping, to tracking discount sales, international expos, free gift offers, etc., shopping fills not just cupboards, but also mental space.
Perhaps two characters of Mahabharata have precious wisdom to share with us in this regard.
Ashwathama, the son of Drona was what you would call a shopping freak. He owned a rare jewel as decoration for his forehead because of which he had no need to be afraid of enemies, no disease would ever bother him, hunger and thirst would never subjugate him and no living being could harm him! Though he knew the effect of the jewel, he never really believed it to be effective and had no confidence in its performance. He would sheepishly run to his father for protection at the sight of imminent danger. It was like a high-end mobile phone in the hands of a gadget-ignorant person. A good showpiece with little pragmatic use!
He loved to gather things that made him feel secure. What he desired, he thought he deserved. Like an adamant child, he demanded and coerced his father to bestow him the Brahmastra, the most powerful missile in the world. Remember, if you desire what you deserve, it will come to you. But if you desire what you don’t deserve, you will run after it.
The natural result of Ashwathama’s disposition was that he was always convinced that what others have is of better quality than what he has. He even approached Krsna to swap his Brahmastra for Krsna’s Sudarshan chakra! The mind is a magician that tricks us to perceive things in our hands as uninteresting and grandeur in things in others' hands.
Arjuna’s approach to shopping provides insight into our weary and tricky minds. Rather than accumulating more and more, Arjuna chose to find value in everything he had. Rather than dig in more places, he chose to dig deep. Rather than looking for rare jewels, he cultivated the rare jewel of confidence in himself. He never demanded anything from his father or his guru Drona, he trained himself to be self-sufficient.
Arjuna realized that if he learnt to use what he has to the optimum, he could activate the law of magnetism. Rather than coerce Drona to give him more gifts, he pleased Drona to give him more blessings. The trigger to the law of magnetism is pleased blessings.
Arjuna was so over-whelmed with gratitude for what he had, that he had no time to think about what he did not have. The feeling of incompleteness envelops one when gratitude is absent.
A shopping freak would do well to remember that the mind is like a bottomless pit. The more effort you put in filling it, like Ashwathama, the more depth you will find in its hollowness. The pit has to be capped with the lid of intelligence like Arjuna.
We tend to accumulate more than we need because that brings in a sense of security. Instead of appreciating what we have, we desire what others have and strive to have that by hook or by crook.
We should instead focus on accumulating by quality and not by quantity, which means accumulating good character and values rather than material possessions. Qualitative accumulation attracts blessings and blessings give satisfaction which is far superior to the incomplete satisfaction of owning material things.
Let us cap with intelligence, the bottomless pit that our mind is.
(Shubha Vilas is a Tedx speaker, lifestyle coach, storyteller and author. He studied patent law after completing his engineering degree. But, finally, he chose the path of a spiritual seeker. Ramayana: The Game of Life is his bestselling series. He’s also the author of Open-Eyed Meditations and Perfect Love - 5.5 ways to lasting relationships. The focus of his work is the application of scriptural wisdom in day-to-day living, addressing the needs of corporates and youth through thought-provoking seminars. He has delivered more than 4000 lectures across the globe. He is also a visiting faculty at the Indian Institute of Management.)