The culture of Enough
When we learn to say ‘enough,’ higher desires will unfurl and lead us towards joy and greater life, says Suma Varughese
Perhaps, the one word that is missing in our vocabulary today amidst the feeding frenzy unleashed by runaway capitalism is ‘Enough’.
Today, the word has connotations of defeatism, complacence, and low drive. What, say no to more and more food, clothes, diamonds, cars, and homes! Or say no to more and more millions piling up in the bank, more and more production sending up inventory, and more and more ambitious sales targets! Perish the thought!
However, if you were to turn from the all-dominating economic perspective of today towards a timeless spiritual one, the wisdom of Enough comes sharply into focus. Every scripture in every wisdom tradition across the world has identified greed as one of the dominant vices pulling us down. And sage after sage has recognised that the more we feed this vice, the more all-consuming it becomes. We lose our self-control, and eventually, our self-determination. We are in helpless thrall to all that we desire.
Now, I am firmly of the opinion that we need to work our way through our desires or transcend them. Suppressing them or ignoring them is only postponing dealing with them and will also give these forces greater power over us. This means we need to bring the light of consciousness into our desires, whatever they may be. Even as we take another bite into that delicious chocolate, or finger the piece of jewellery at a shop, or pile on products on to our online shopping cart, let us stay aware of the drivers pushing us. No need to resist them. Indeed, that would only reinforce them. Simply stay aware and non-judgemental. They are what they are. And eventually, we will arrive at the state of satiation. Fortunately, the law of diminishing returns applies to all matter. The fourth laddoo (a sweetmeat), diamond necklace, car, or house simply cannot satisfy us as much as the first did. With age, we also see the futility of this chase for more and more of what is innately dissatisfying. And thus, we come to the stage of Enough.
Does this mean we will slip into a stage of sloth and lassitude? Will our lives grind to a halt? Not at all. When lower desires no longer appeal, higher desires show up. The desire for intimacy, for meaningful connections. The desire to follow our passion for cooking, gardening, learning languages, or reading. The desire to contribute or serve. The desire to create. The desire to realise one’s potential. Above all, the desire for transcendence. And in these areas, there is no limit to growth. The more we contribute to people’s lives, the more we are filled with joy and purpose and inner fire. The more we work on our various talents and proclivities, the more they unfurl and grow. The more we move on the spiritual path and free ourselves of all that stops us from being our true Self, the more multidimensional and protean we appear.
Life grows in meaning, purpose, and abundance. When we plug into higher desires, we also activate an unending source of joy and fulfilment. Life becomes wonderful.
Similarly, manufacturers and organisations need to stay vigilant about their motivations. The profit motive is not sustainable in a finite planet. They too can decide to produce just enough for their needs and that of those who work for them. They need not subscribe to the punishing philosophy of more and more that can only cause burnout.
I think the pandemic and lockout has shown us the answer to that. When push comes to shove, we can live on very little. The less material things dominate our lives, the more time and opportunity we have for non-material pursuits and drives.
So let us cultivate the wisdom of Enough.
Suma Varughese is a thinker, writer, and former Editor-in-Chief of Life Positive. She also holds writer’s workshops. Write to her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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