A well to do disciple was very fond of his frugal guru who used to live in a village under a tree, meditating most of the time. The guru was a free bird and went around begging for alms. The disciple thought that if he gave a cow to his guru then he would not have to go begging for food. However the guru refused to take it saying that he was very happy with his existence and also his order forbade him to have any worldly possessions. Nevertheless after great persuasion and cajoling he reluctantly accepted the gift of the cow. The disciple was delighted and felt that he had done a great service to his guru.
Many years passed before the disciple went to the village to see his guru for some advice. Not finding him under his usual tree he inquired about his whereabouts from the villagers. They showed him a hamlet at a distance. On reaching it, his guru rushed out from one of the huts with a stick in his hand and started beating him. "Look how you have ruined my life" the guru shouted. "First the cow, then the cowgirl and the rest followed! I cannot meditate and most of my time simply goes in running this outfit".
Too many possessions burden a person's mind and is a distraction to deep thought. Thus most of the time a person is occupied with his possessions and thinking of ways on how they should be increased. This pursuit of possessions becomes an end in itself. Similarly there is a tendency in people to amass wealth. Most of them hardly use it for their enjoyment. Majority of their time goes in amassing it and worrying about it. It becomes a way of life.
Possessions and wealth are necessary for having a comfortable life. However we should have them for our needs and not for our greed. For example a person will only wear a pair of clothing at a time so what is the need to possess hundreds of them. Or one lives in one house at a time so what is the need to have a house in every city etc. etc. Similar is the case of hoarding other material goods.
Amassing of wealth and possessions come from internal insecurity of a person. This leads to an ever-increasing spiral of trying to get more money for acquiring more goods and services and leads to a corrupt and unsustainable life style. Wealth, which is not in circulation, is dead wealth and does not help anybody.
This insecurity can be reduced by trying to understand ourselves. Most of the people are afraid of trying to look deep inside themselves for better understanding. This deeper understanding gives us a perspective in life and is the genesis of spirituality-the understanding of spirit inside us.
Spirituality can also help in keeping our greed for materials and resources in check. As a person progresses on the path of spirituality his or her priorities in life change. The focus of life shifts more towards getting personal happiness through mental peace and is less on material needs and desires and hence towards sustainability. Spirituality also helps make a person internally secure and humble.