Many centuries ago there was a city where the inhabitants had amassed much wealth, all except for one man, who had always been deemed a bit odd by everyone else. He was an old mystic who lived alone on the outskirts. Early one morning there was an earthquake, and the city started to crumble. The citizens were in a blind panic and in their desperation tried to rescue what they could from their wealth of possessions. With their arms full of diamonds, gold, money, artefacts and treasures; all were running for their lives. Amongst all the chaos and clouds of dust the old mystic ambled along with just his stick, seemingly oblivious to what was going on around him.
One disturbed citizen stopped and said to the old man, “what are you doing? The city is crashing down around us and we are trying to rescue what we can of our wealth, but you are just walking with your stick, as if you are taking a morning stroll.” The old mystic laughed and said, “the stick is my only possession. You have all measured success by the impermanence of objects, I on the other hand have the greatest wealth of all; awareness, which I carry within me. But you are right about the morning stroll, I always take a walk at this time of the morning.”
As the flustered man continued running the old man shouted, “you can’t have a painting without the canvas!”
Indeed, you cannot start a painting if you do not have something on which to paint. In the same way that it is a complete and utter waste of time to base your life, values and ambitions etc. on objects; even if they are objects of wealth. The important thing is to prime the canvas (inner world) before chasing objects in the outer world. Without these foundations in place there is nothing to support us when our own personal world comes crashing down; which it invariably does from time to time. The old mystic was a realised soul and remained completely unmoved by the chaos around him.
The nature of the egoic mind is such that it can never be satisfied. So, whether you crave left-handed spanners or vast amounts of money, the ego’s thirst for these things will never be quenched. Seek first the Secret Garden of the Soul; once you are centred within this awareness, worldly objects can then be enjoyed as they were meant to be enjoyed, without fruitless obsessions.