The word wealth always reminds people of money and the sayings or concepts related to money. For example, “money talks”; “money makes the ghosts turn the mill”; “as birds die for food, so men die for wealth”; “the poor have no friends even though they live in the noisy downtown, while the rich have remote kinsfolk even if they live in the deep mountains”; “poverty chills ambition” “one cent short may put a hero in an awkward situation” etc, etc..
In the 1980' s, all shops were state-owned with marked prices. You couldn't buy what you wanted with even one cent short, so one cent could indeed embarrass a hero. A popular song at that time started “I picked up one cent at the roadside, and I handed it over to the policeman…” But now no one cares to pick it up even if it were ten cents.
People's reverence for money is expressed in varied ways. The names of companies or stores are often “Beer of Wealth and Honor”, “Restaurant of Wealth and Rank” “Store of the Aristocrats” “Hotel of Fame and Prestige” etc. (even some people's names have the meanings of “full of gold” or “great fortune”). At New Year's time, the god of wealth is worshiped and the picture of the god is covered with signs of money. When a millionaire is walking in the street, people will show their profound respect even though they know very well that they can not get a cent from him. The English film “the Million-Pound Note” makes a most vivid revelation of this situation. With the million pound note in hand, the hero has the privilege to buy on credit, or on loan and is even presented money from others. It's an idealized end of the story that the hero is still loved by his girl friend ev[www.fwsir.com]en after he lost his million-pound note. However, without the million-pound note, they couldn't have known each other. It's very difficult for people to make friends directly with beggars.
The song of “All Good Things Must End” in A Dream of the Red Mansions attacks the money worshipers by saying:
“All men long to be immortals
yet silver and gold they prize
And grub for money all their lives
Till death seals up their eyes”
But when Chen Shih-yin tries to expound this song by analyzing the inconstancy of human relationships and the incomprehensible human heart, he has to say:
“While men with gold and silver by the chest
Turn beggars, scorned by all and dispossessed”
The conclusion is that it doesn't work without money.
In spite of the human civilizations over thousands of years, people can not deny the function of money. This shows how important money is. Money plays a decisive role to individuals, to families and even to countries or nationalities. Otherwise, why is everyone, from doorkeepers to presidents, trying to earn as much as possible? Why does every country need Chancellors of the Exchequer, who keep formulating and revising financial laws and regulations? How different it is to be a creditor nation and a debtor nation! The United States is playing the tyrant just because it is wealthy enough. A poor man may cherish lofty aspirations, but will probably be beaten because of his poverty. The Afghanistan may have won a lot of sympathy, but how difficult it would be to live solely on charity.
Of all ages and in every country, all kinds of corruption stem from money. No matter how rough the man is, and in what despicable way he earned the money, he can grease the palms of or buy over some very decent officials or even intellectuals. Can you see how crucial a role money is playing? (A case in point is the bankrupt of the company)
Some people or organizations like some religious groups claim that they have seen through the human vanity and can take money lightly, but to people's puzzlement, they are also accumulating money, either to renovate the temples, or to regild Buddha's statues, in whatever pretexts. They are not engaged in production, so they can only depend on the donations from the devout believers. Sometimes your sincerity relies on whether you donate and how much you donate. Do the monks care about money? The answer is affirmative. What's more, many monks are already provided with a salary.
We are living in a material world, and it's really difficult to deny the function of money or wealth. We need money for food, clothes, education, hospital, housing and transportation, etc. There's rarely anything that doesn't need money. What we can discuss now is not the importance of money, but whether money is almighty and whether more wealth can bring us more happiness.
We must say that money is not almighty, and there are many things which money can't do. For example, many emperors like Qin Shihuang longed for elixirs. As wealthy as they were, and as mighty as they were to take every measure to search for long life medicine, they still could not avoid the sad denouement that “their graves are a covered with weeds”.
Many great men suffered from fatal illness. Even though they were treated with the best medical means, they had to suffer as much as the ordinary people, and met with the same inescapable fate. Rich or poor, great or ordinary, we come and go with nothing belonging to us.
Huang Shiren, the cruel hearted landlord, was rich but Xi'er would rather hid in the deep mountains and turn into a white-hired girl than marrying him;
Wang Baochuan wouldn't give up her marriage with Xue Pinggui even though she had to live in the cold cave for over ten years;
Emperor Shunzhi of the Qing Dynasty owned the whole country, but just because of the death his beloved concubine, he eventually became disillusioned with this world and spent the rest of life in the temple as a monk (it's all right even if it is a legend).
Many love stories can never be bought with money. The ever-lasting folktale of Liang Shanbo and Zhu Yingtai shows people's identification with this point of view.
Wealthy men also have a lot of worries: afraid of being stolen or kidnapped, they may have to hire a bodyguard; they're concerned about their spoiling the children, or worry about the family discord because of the legacy disputes after their death; Fearing devaluation if they don't invest, while fearing of bankrupt if they invest; Where is their happiness?
How much is enough? No limitation. As poor as beggars without a penny, they can make a living by begging. It's said that some have become millionaires through begging. As wealthy as a billionaire, they can only enjoy a couple of dishes each meal. If someone is allergic to seafood, or tired of rich dishes, he may enjoy the pickled vegetables just as much.
As for money, people can take it easy sometimes, but most of the time, they can't. In theory, they may take it easy while in practice, they usually take it very seriously; Talking about others, they can take it easy, but to themselves, they take it seriously again. Some people take it seriously for one moment, but may take it easy afterwards, just as we said what is hidden from the concerned is plain to the bystanders. Most people take money too seriously when being involved. In fact, as long as you have enough to eat, what is the difference between a little and a lot?
Everything has a limit, so does money. We should conform to the course of the nature in stead of going out of our way to grasp it. We should spend according to our income. The rich may enjoy much more luxuries but no less worries than the poor. The only difference is the content and form of worries. The higher the income is, the bigger the expenditure is. The world famous boxers may earn millions of dollars for one game, but often find themselves deep in debt. With an annual salary as high as tens of thousands of dollars, the former President of the United States Bill Clinton ran into debts because of lawsuit, and had to throw off his airs to earn money in every mean. However, the monthly income of some of the Chinese families is no more than a few hundred Yuan while leading a life with enjoyment. Happiness doesn't necessarily rely on money.
According to the western fable the Gold Touch, a king was very fond of gold and prayed to God for more gold everyday. To teach him a lesson, God imparted the Gold Touch to him. From then on, whatever he touched turned into gold, including bread, milk, flowers, and even his beloved daughter. He couldn't eat gold, of course, nor could he lose his daughter. In the end, he repented his sin, pleaded God to take the Gold Touch back and went back to his former happy life again. This story is a little exaggerated, but at the same time it told us vividly that wealth and happiness are not synonym. What's more, no matter how much money you have, you can't spend it all.
Wealth itself is neutral, but it acquires a double-attribute because of the difference of its owner. Kind people use it for charities, while wicked people may use it to make guns and cannons for killing. Therefore wealth can be the origin of both good and evil.
God(if he really exists), can you make the kind richer and the evil live in poverty?
Wealth always reminds people of money, land, houses, and cars, etc. which are all material. In fact, wealth has two aspects: material and spiritual. People pay more attention to material wealth, which is tangible and also limited. For example, a cake can be quickly eaten up, and a big sum of money can be spent. However, spiritual wealth is different, since it is intangible and unlimited. For example, a kind of philosophy, concept, spirit, a plan, a strategy, or a innovation is hard to estimate its value. Chairman's Mao's thought had aroused millions of people, and with an overwhelming and irresistible momentum, his strategy of “encircle the city from the country” defeated first the Japanese invaders and then Jiang Kai-shek's army of eight million. Deng Xiaoping's principle of “reform and opening up” led China out of the trap of poverty. The current financial policy and the general plan of “” have kept the Chinese currency RMB from devaluating during the Asian economic crisis and kept our national economy at a 7% growth rate in the unstable macro environment of world-wide economic crisis.
An enterprise can grow bigger and bigger like a snowball, but in the meantime, it can go bankrupt instantly like a deflated balloon, all depending on whether the operating strategy and specific measures are appropriate. Just as the old saying goes: As long as the line is right, the future is bright. Long-term development doesn't depend on good luck. Therefore we believe that spiritually rich is really rich, and spiritual wealth is the biggest wealth. Judging a man, we should see whether he has the wisdom while judging an enterprise, we should see whether its strategies and measures are in accordance with the historical trends. Never trust beautiful illusions like the moon in the water and flowers reflected in a mirror that will not last long. We don't advocate beggarism, so we are not afraid of wealth, but uphold wealth. However, we should acquire wealth in a proper way, and think more about the future. We should not forsake good for the sake of gold, nor should we benefit ourselves at the expenses of others. What we should do is to enjoy our own share at the common wealth of the human beings. Wealth is not absolute. A great man may as rich as owning the whole world, at the same time, he may also as poor as penniless. Therefore, as long as we are not spiritually poor, it is all right even if we are not rich man for the whole life.
Being poor is not because someone is penniless, but mainly because of the lonely misery in his inner world. They are green-eyed, because they are never satisfied with what they have, but are always jealous of people who are successful or who earn higher salaries. They never look at other people's devotions and contributions, but with their habit of jealousy they always feel poor and uncomfortable. It is more difficult to solve internal poverty. Suppose we can look back at the past with the concept of wealth, how can we stay poor? We may well say that wealth lies in your heart and we should know how to treasure it.
Translated by Zhang Baodan
June 20, 2004
讲到财富，人们想到金钱、土地、房屋、车辆等等，但这都是物质的。其实财富包括两方面，即物质财富和精神财富。物质财富人们比较看重，但它是有形的，因而也有限。比如一张饼，可以吃光的。比如一万元，可以花完的。而精神财富则不然，它无形也无限。比如一个主义，一种 观念，一种精神，一个计划，一个战略，一个创新，常常很难估算它的价值。毛泽东的思想，当时发动了千千万万的民众，排山倒海，势如破竹，以农村包围城市的方略，打败了日寇，打败了蒋介石八百万军队。邓小平的一个“改革、开放”方针，让中国甩掉了贫穷。中国现时的积极财政政策和拉动内需的大战略，使我国在亚洲金融危机时能保持人民币不贬值，在世界经济危机起伏动荡的大环境中，能保持国民经济 7 ％的增长率。