Prices of land have zoomed over the past ten or twenty years. The rise is mind-boggling in towns like Delhi. Those who did not buy land earlier can hardly dream of doing so now. Those who did, have a great sense of relief and consider themselves very fortunate
An opportunity to buy land near Delhi came in my life too. In 1980, I was posted at Lucknow as Deputy Secretary in the Industries Department. At that time the new township of Noida was coming up on the outskirts of Delhi and was considered a profitable place for investment. At that time the mad rush for real estate had not begun and so it was almost a buyer’s market. The Chief Executive Officer of Noida was an IAS officer who had been my Collector when I was a SDM. Once he had come to Lucknow for a meeting and came to my office and offered me a plot of land at a prime location in Noida. The offer did not attract me much and I declined it. Today prices of land there have gone up so high that I regret my decision of declining the above offer. Of course, I got another opportunity to buy land in Lucknow and I have constructed a modest house there.
While I missed the opportunity of investing in land in 1980, a great turn came in my life. Soon after I was transferred to Gorakhpur, where I came across some great saints as well as books. My association with them changed the course of my life which became much more meaningful to me. I could understand the true purpose of living and started acquiring the qualities necessary to achieve it. Once on this path, I started feeling contentment in all walks of life and all petty temptations were overcome. With steady progress in this direction, I began enjoying every bit of life. It does not mean that there are no troubles in my life. In fact, there are more than what I would consider my legitimate share, but with inner strength, I am able to accept them without fretting and fuming. Very few, I am afraid, are able to appreciate this aspect of my life. For most people, material success is the only measure of life.
Let us compare the two investments. Investment in material things brings us respect and security. It takes care of our old age and provides us an opportunity to help others. It keeps our children happy and we can also provide them a good future. The positive aspect of material prosperity cannot be denied. But it has a negative aspect also. Quite often we forget to draw the line and fall into a vicious circle. If so, we miss the finer aspects of life while the negative aspect of material progress soon starts troubling us. The only way to counter the negative aspect is the finer or, say, the spiritual aspect of life. Thus a balanced growth of both aspects of life is necessary in order to live a purposeful life.
There is a tendency on the part of most of us to keep postponing our spiritual growth. We consider it something which can be acquired in old age. But the fact is that like material growth, spiritual growth also requires an alertness of our faculties. It is something which needs an intelligent understanding of life and if we do not show an inclination at the right time, it may be too late. Moreover no one can be sure of old age. It may or may not come. Even if it comes, it may come with such handicaps that, understanding the spiritual aspect of life may not be possible. We then end up saying that we did not invest in spirituality when the opportunity came and now it is beyond our capacity. This establishes the necessity of spiritual investment at the right time.
It may be argued that if nothing goes wrong in life then what is the necessity of growing spiritually? After all, such growth is required for bad times only. Against this there are two arguments. First, that no one can be sure of having good times only. In every one’s life, there come difficult situations. For facing such situations, we need inner strength which only comes from spiritual growth. Secondly, it is not true to say that inner growth is required only in times of adversity. It is equally required in the time of prosperity. One needs inner growth to face prosperity in a dignified manner. Moreover, in prosperity we can develop our spiritual dimension so as to face adversity in a dignified manner. Thus the spiritual growth is required for good as well as bad times.
We can also compare our spiritual growth with defense forces. Many may question the desirability of maintaining strong defense forces at a time when the prospects of war are receding. But they forget that this is mainly due to the presence of a strong army. Only powerful nations can talk of peace. Moreover, defense forces have a role in peace-time also. Without peace-time they cannot prepare themselves for war-times. Similarly, without growing spiritually during prosperity we cannot face adversity in a dignified manner. And if we achieve enough spiritual growth during good times there would perhaps be no such thing as bad times.
We may, therefore, conclude by saying that timely spiritual investment is as necessary as timely material investment. Once we miss the opportunity to do so, it may be too late.