When we lack certain things, the joy of living is diminished.
In some instances we may become severely distressed and even incapacitated
by such lack. When we are sick, in other words, when we lack good
health, it is usually not a happy circumstance and we do all we
can to regain our health. When someone is poor, that is, when they
lack money and material possessions, life is not very enjoyable.
Such a person is not able to live the way they wish or do the things
they want. Poverty oppresses and incapacitates. As individuals and
as nations, we all are desirous to distance ourselves from poverty.
Likewise, life is not so full and joyful when we fail to find
happiness and fulfillment in relationships and in our work. (By
relationships, I mean relationship with God and relationship with
our fellow human beings). The deep desires we have to commune with
deity and to love and be loved by others are emotional needs we
are born with. And so we find that human beings experience want
in three identifiable areas. Life requires us to cope with physical,
material and spiritual wants.
The saying, "health is wealth" implies that someone
in good health can be said to have physical wealth. When a person
has a lot of money and material possessions we describe him or her
as being materially wealthy. In the same vein, when someone finds
happiness and fulfillment in relationships and in their work, they
can be said to possess spiritual wealth. And this brings us to the
concept of total wealth. To have total wealth is to be completely
free from any form of lack, be it physical, material or spiritual.
This is the holistic model of success. A person is truly wealthy
only when he or she has gained total wealth.
In general, people tend to be primarily concerned with their
material well-being. Hence they focus on striving for material wealth.
But thanks to the likes of Jane Fonda, the American fitness buff
who helped to popularize the "keep fit" trend. In the
last few decades, Americans and others around the globe have realized
the need to actively pursue wealth of the physical kind. There is
now an awareness of the health risks inherent in the sedentary life
style engendered by technological advancement. These days, being
healthy is not just about being free from sickness. One has to be
physically fit. Lots of people are now adopting the proactive approach
of exercising regularly to maintain good health and keep fit.
However, acquiring spiritual wealth is one goal most people cannot
be said to be striving hard to attain. And to think that this ought
to be our first priority. When someone gains spiritual wealth, they
are guaranteed to also gain material and physical wealth. If you
have any reservations about this assertion, then listen to the wise
counsel of one of the worldï¿½s greatest spiritual luminaries, Jesus
Christ of Nazareth:
"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what
you will eat or drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is
not life more important than food, and the body more important than
clothes? Look at the birds of the air, they do not sow or reap or
store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are
you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can
add a single hour to his life?
"And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies
of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that
not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these.
If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here
today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more
clothe you, O you of little faith? So do not worry saying, ï¿½What
shall we eat?ï¿½ or ï¿½What shall we drink?ï¿½ or ï¿½What shall we wear?ï¿½
For the pagans run after these things, and your heavenly Father
knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness,
and all these things will be given to you as well." (Taken
from the Bible (NIV), Mathew 6:25-33).
But what is there to lose if someone chooses not to bother with
the pursuit of spiritual wealth? The answer to this question can
be found by taking a close look at the lives of some prominent individuals.
When it comes to fame and fortune, very few people can match
Michael Jackson. He rose so high as a star that the tag ï¿½superstarï¿½
was just not good enough for him and so he has been dubbed ï¿½megastarï¿½.
The singer has undoubtedly raked in fabulous amounts as earnings
from record sales worldwide. But in spite of his phenomenal career
success, he has not found happiness and fulfillment in close relationships.
His marriage to Priscilla Presley did not prove to be blissful.
He has been involved in other relationships that ended on a sour
and acrimonious note with settlements taking place in and out of
court. Michael Jackson may rank as one of the richest and most famous
men in the world, but he certainly is not one of the happiest. Riches
and popularity are simply not enough. We need spiritual wealth to
guarantee happiness and fulfillment in life.
The late Princess Diana had everything going for her, it would
seem. She became a member of one of the worldï¿½s most loved and respected
royal families by marriage. In terms of material wealth and social
status, her union with British royalty catapulted her to the very
top. However, the love of God and fellow man, which are pointers
to spiritual wealth, were not particularly evident in her private
life. In close relationships, happiness and fulfillment eluded her.
She slid from the position of dream princess to the level of adulterous
spouse and then chose to tag along as girlfriend to a wealthy businessman.
We all know the tragic end to her story. She was killed in a car
crash while on a trip with her lover.
As monarch of an oil producing Arab State, the late King Hussein
of Jordan enjoyed the affluence and influence that come with his
position. But while all was well materially, he was wanting in physical
wealth. Even the best doctors in the United States could not save
him from the cancer that put an end to his reign while he was still
in his sixties. Money cannot always secure good health much less
procure longevity. Only the possession of spiritual wealth will
enable us attain and maintain happiness, good health and success
In "The Parable of the Rich Fool", Jesus confirms that
there is a price to pay when we fail to make acquiring spiritual
wealth our first priority, (The Bible, Luke 12:13-21):
Someone in the crowd said to him, ï¿½Teacher, tell my brother to
divide the inheritance with me.ï¿½ Jesus replied, ï¿½Man, who appointed
me a judge or an arbiter between you?ï¿½ Then he said to them, ï¿½Watch
out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a manï¿½s life does
not consist in the abundance of his possessions.ï¿½
And he told them this parable: ï¿½The ground of a certain rich
man produced a good crop. He thought to himself, ï¿½What shall I do?
I have no place to store my crops.ï¿½ ï¿½Then he said, ï¿½This is what
Iï¿½ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there
I will store all my grains and my goods. And I will say to myself,
ï¿½You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life
easy; eat, drink and be merry.ï¿½ï¿½
But God said to him, ï¿½You fool! This very night your life will
be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for
yourself?ï¿½ This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things
for himself but is not rich towards God.ï¿½
If the reader is still not convinced of the wisdom of striving
for spiritual wealth, the statement I am about to quote should settle
the matter. It was made by someone who has chased after the material
as well as the spiritual kind of wealth.
Sir John Templeton is one of Americaï¿½s most successful financial
investors. He is reputed to have created some of the worldï¿½s largest
and most successful international investment funds. Later, he sold
his various Templeton Funds to the Franklin Group for $440 million.
Now in his nineties, he is a fulltime philanthropist. Through the
John Templeton Foundation, which he established, he gives away about
$40 million a year to funding work aimed at discovering and advancing
scientific knowledge about the spiritual aspect of life. For his
many accomplishments, he was knighted Sir John by Queen Elizabeth
II in 1987.
Here is what this extraordinary individual has to say about what
the pursuit of spiritual wealth has done to his life: "I focus
on spiritual wealth now, and I am busier, more enthusiastic, and
more joyful than I have ever been." (Culled from www.templeton.org).
In terms of quality of life, we all want the best for ourselves
and total wealth is the very best that life has to offer us. Be
wise, go for it.
Emmanuel Emezie is a philosopher-scientist. A six-year-long
scientific research into the spiritual aspect of life led him
to the discovery of intriguing and life-improving spiritual