The Buddha asked him to share what was on his mind. The rich man continued, “My life is focused on my work. Although I have made a lot of money, I am preoccupied with worry. Many people work for me and I am responsible for them. They depend on me for their success. Yet, I enjoy my work and enjoy working hard. When I met your followers they spoke of the importance of living the life of a recluse. I also notice that you yourself were the son of a king, living in wealth and splendour, but you gave it up to wander as a homeless recluse looking for enlightenment.
I want to know if I should do the same thing and give up my wealth. I want to do the right thing and be a blessing to my people. Should I also give up everything I have to find truth?” The compassionate Buddha told him, “Anyone can receive the bliss of finding truth as long as he follows the path of unselfishness. If you are going to cling to your wealth, then it is better to throw it away than let it poison your heart. But if you do not cling to it, and use it wisely, then you will be a blessing to people. It is not wealth and power that make people slaves, but clinging to them.”
The Buddha explained to him that his teaching did not require anyone to become homeless or give up the world unless he wants to. But it did require people to free themselves from the illusion that the body and world are their permanent and true home. He said his teaching required people to lead an ethical life. The Buddha said: “Whatever people do, either in the world or as a recluse, they should put their whole heart into it. People should be committed to whatever they do but full of energy If they face struggles, they should do so without hatred or envy People should live a life not of ego, but of truth, and then bliss will fill their soul.”
Nonattachment does not mean we have to give up our homes, wealth, families and what we have received in life. It only requires that we give up attachment to these things. Whatever situation in which we find ourselves has come to us due to our karma. Our attachment should be with God.
Our attention should be on making sure our soul attains communion with God. Those who are blessed with wealth should make the best use of it by taking care of their family responsibilities and then sharing with others. We need not give up everything. We can live in the world and do the best we can, but keep our focus and attention on finding God. Our hearts can develop purity and an attitude of selfless service and sharing with others. We need not be attached to our outer situation. We can work to make a living while also working to develop spiritually.