I have come across a television series entitled “Million Dollar Rooms”, the premise of which is that any room that they show costs at least a million dollars but in many cases costs much more! After watching an occasional episode I’m appalled by the self-centeredness of it all and enthralled by some of the technological tricks incorporated into these rooms! Lest we think that it is solely the wealthy who focus on possessions, we have only to look at the homeless encampments in Hawaiʻi’s parks and beaches to see that even those with little money… certainly not enough for a million dollar makeover… still place emphasis on possessions. Gathered around the homeless one sees shopping carts brimming over with items and suitcases of various types, all like chicks gathered around the mother hen.
Some have been tempted to view a plethora of possessions as proof that the Divine approves of us and that we are alright with the Divine. Even as the Divine can be completely present while being completely transcendent, so too it is possible for our life to be chock-full of “things” even while inside our relationship with the Divine is one marked by impoverishment. There is no true correlation between the amount of the “things” that we possess and the happiness of our interior life. To make this point throughout history in various religious traditions there have even been individuals who have had few possessions but who many have called rich in happiness.
Complicating this issue of happiness and possessions is that we live in a culture which indoctrinates us to always want more and as a result of this orientation we do not appreciate what we have. When we focus on what we don’t have then what we do have becomes invisible to us. As in so many issues relating to our interior life when we go to purchase something we should ask ourselves whether we actually need the item or do we just want it? And if the answer is that we just want it then a rich vein for us to mine would be to ask ourselves why.