This is an important and misunderstood topic especially in the West. Stories of wondering yogi saints surviving on nothing and the site of monks in robes dominates the images of Buddhism. Many people mistake a lack of money and poverty as renunciation. Khentrul Rinpoche explains how this is very far from the reality. You can be a rich renunciate Buddhist. There is nothing holy or unholy about money. What makes money beneficial or bad is the intention and how it is used.
Can a Buddhist person be rich and also have renunciation? Do we need to or should we want to have nothing if we are Buddhist? Why would a Buddhist person do any prayers or practices for wealth and prosperity? Isn’t that just more greed, desire and attachment?
Khentrul Rinpoche’s Answer:
Oh yes, yes, this is really important and often people have a big mistakes between poverty and renunciation. So, that means the wealth and prosperity is never wrong. Always is helpful. Always need it. Anybody, anybody need that. Then, okay then you may think, oh why then Buddha talk about renunciation? And the monks, the monastic people have restrictions, what they can belongings they can have, they cannot belong this. What about that? This is for beginner, for beginner’s training. Beginner’s training. Yes.
For instance, if we, our body, for instance our body, the medicine or food, or anything, we have restrictions sometimes. Particularly food, particularly medicine, we have restrictions because of the temporary of the health. Right? But when you overcome this problem, then you can have everything. You can, you can have more, you know. And you should have more. The food and everything, and nutritious food, everything you have the restrictions before, but now you should have more, you know. It’s the same thing.
You know, when we have too much problem of attachment, desire controls our entirety and we don’t understand the wisdom, you know, and the Nirvana, those things, we not, you know, seeking on those things. Instead we are just completely controlled by the worldly desire. And then of course the short, you know, for begin to start you have to make restrictions and make black and white rules for children we make, you know. When we are children, very, very young, we make black and white rules, simple rules to children. But then we don’t follow that. You know, we adult people don’t follow that and don’t need follow this. If you follow that, it sounds silly. So same thing.
So, is nothing wrong at all, or even always best prosperity, richness. But the problem is how you look at that. How you value this. And what is purpose for your you know, like wealth. These things is the problem. When you have understand the best purpose to use this prosperity, then you should have as much as wealth, and you can build even that wealth. When you are, while you are building that you know, big wealth, you could be appears even a stingy person. But reality, you cannot, you’re not be necessarily stingy and you know how to build this prosperity. And then you know how to use this prosperity. And then, you know, you have a good purpose, you know?
When you understand these things and when you have a good understanding, and you have that kind of wisdom, then every single your wealth is beneficial. Beneficial for sentient beings, you know. And sometimes even bigger benefits. Not just someone give you know, shelter, and food and clothes and medicine, but more than that. Could be more than that. You know, like, yeah, you can help somebody’s liberation. You know some, or you can say the quantity, you know, you can liberate a nation, or whatever, the world, or whatever. Otherwise why Shambala is so rich? Why all the Purelands we talk about in the texts, why they so rich? Is that wrong?
Is not the wealth wrong. Not the richness is wrong. We need richness. The ultimate richness is Buddhahood you know. The ultimate abundance, the ultimate fullness is the Buddhahood you know. So why we have to be poverty? Why we have to live in poverty? No. We only, you know, when we have no wisdom, we not understand. If you want live continue without wisdom, how to use your, you know, prosperity, how you build your prosperity, how you use the prosperity, if you don’t want to know that and you want to live without wisdom, and then yeah, sure, you know like you can live poverty. But otherwise poverty is not the answer.
Renunciation means you are not clinging on this, you know. Because clinging, clinging on the you know like, the money or all these things, and anything clinging on the person, a relationship, anything you are clinging on that, is opposite of renunciation, you know. Because that brings you suffering and more problem and narrow-minded, you know, come from narrow -minded. So, and yeah, short vision and narrow-minded.
But so, when you are free from this, you can have as much as wealth as you can. That’s beneficial. That’s why Bodhisattvas are born as, when we are Bodhisattvas, very, very high level of Bodhisattva, and they’re born as Universal Monarch, you know. We don’t have even Universal Monarch. As far as we know here in this earth, this world, this solar system, we know, we don’t have Universal Monarch. But, other world, other universe’s, there have Universal Monarch. Which means they are the Bodhisattva high level, very high level of Bodhisattvas, you know. And then we see the Shambhala is why reach at the Golden Age is described as rich or poor? Think about that you know.
So that’s why prosperity is never wrong. Is only wrong how we think, and how we clinging on that, and how we using this, and our purpose of the prosperity, the wealth is such a short vision and the narrow-minded. Then is a problem. You know, so for instance, if, you know like, you building the wealth, purpose only self-indulgent you know, because come from the short vision, narrow-minded, then is only self-indulgent and demand for the ego. Ego competition, ego competition, “ohh I’m better than my friends and I’m better than my brother, sister. I’m better than my community. My community I’m the best, I have the most wealthiest”. You know, whatever, whoever you showing off. Showing off, this is ego. Yeah, ego competition. Ego demands. You are the slave for the ego demands, you know. You are, yeah, you are servant or slave for the ego demands. Then the wealth is wrong. That purpose and that vision is wrong. But, if you have much more, better purpose, not self-indulgent and ego demands, then is wealth is never, ever, ever wrong. So that’s why.
Especially the Tantrayana. You know Tantrayana is, you know, for instance Buddha taught Tantrayana first time, you know, a human is Indrabhuti. You know, the king of Indrabhuti. Do you know what Indrabhuti told the, you know, the Buddha? Buddha tried to teach, you know, normal Buddhism, the renunciation dah, dah, dah, dah, dah, he talk that. Then his respond, do you know what means? He say [Tibetan]. Basically, what he’s saying is what ever the worst, even worst I have to born, I never want the path of have to abandon the prosperity. He never want this. Means even he say, he doesn’t want reject the desire. He doesn’t want abandon the desire. He want path with the desire. Don’t want you know, path without desire. Okay. So then Buddha knew, ohh, he is the perfect, perfect disciple you know. He realize, Buddha realize, of course Buddha realize already before, but maybe just pretending not realize for purpose of teach other people. But then he quickly, he make all the shravakas and pratyekas make disappear. And then he taught him Tantrayana.
So see? Tantrayana is path of everything we have, never abandon. And we use much better way. So that if simple vision, we can say is longer vision, much better vision and, you know, vast view, you know, broad view, vast view. According to that then is the wealth is nothing wrong.
Also when we say wealth, or richness, or prosperity, it’s not just the money, or the numbers, or electronic numbers. It’s not that, about that only. It is health. Think about health. Who don’t need health? You know, health is the wealth of the health, you know. Wealth of the health. Wealth of youth. Who don’t need that? There is nobody in this universe. Unhealthy and absolutely run down, old, nearly die. Nobody want that. So it is youth and health is the prosperity.
And then think about the wisdom and the compassion. Think about that, you know. That prosperity you know, wisdom prosperity, everything. The richness of wisdom. The richness of compassion. Compassion means, compassion means, real, real compassion means confidence. Confidence, and fearless confidence. Never scared for anything. You know, that is the real, real compassion, you know like. Of course then how to start, begin, yes, sensitive. You are not callous. You are sensitive. You understand other people’s suffering. Yeah, that to begin, start, but then how you care about that and how you solve that problems, you know, that is you need confidence and the fearless. So that is the real compassion. That is really the best prosperity. And the wisdom. You know wisdom means you understand. Your decisions never be wrong, you know. So this is the real wisdom.
So these things as also prosperity. So sometimes on the text say the best prosperity is that. Second best to prosperity, the health, you know, and youth. You know the last prosperity is the materialism. But the materialism also is very helpful for if you know how to use. If you have wisdom how to use, if you have compassion enough, how to use properly then is incredible helpful. That is so obvious. We already all know. But many people are just pretending they don’t want that. That’s is a really big mistake. You know.
So even we have lamas in Tibet call [Tibetan]. [Tibetan] means renounced, renounce the world, you know. You don’t want completely renunciation. And [Tibetan] you know, renunciation from [Tibetan]. He, some lamas say, Oh, he is not [Tibetan], he has so much wealth. And he has many, many, [Tibetan]. [Tibetan] means between yak and a cow. That females have a much more milk than any other female animals. So then in Tibet, of course, a lot of milk means is rich, you know. Wealthy. So then they say [Tibetan]. How can be he renounced? He has so much [Tibetan]. So then the other lama explain. Ohh, renunciation in the mind is not, you know, is not poverty. So like that.
So, I think this is really have to deep, deep think and deep reflecting. Otherwise people often mistake, you know. So basically, renunciation means you are not attached to the wealth and why? If you are attached, then you don’t have generosity, no opportunity to generous you know. And then if you have not opportunity generous, then you cannot, you don’t have even proper discipline, ethical discipline. If you don’t have ethical discipline, then you don’t have diligent. You don’t have tolerance and patience. You don’t have then diligent. Then if you don’t, then you don’t have concentration, you know. This concentration is not normal concentration. The meditation stability. You know the special power of mind. You don’t have that. If you don’t have that, then you cannot have perfect wisdom, you know. So this is all linked you know, This is all linked. But when you have these things, then the wealth is there, even material wealth is there, is nothing wrong at all, and incredible helpful.
So I think this is maybe take time people can understand and have to, yeah, it requires, need deep reflection. Okay, thank you.