The discourse of contentment, rejected by the modern secular world we live in is dominated by two ideologies, both based on wealth and economics, broadly classified as Capitalism and Communism or Socialism. Both seek to create a happy world, and believe that happiness is a function of wealth. If this were true, why are those who obtain wealth never happy or satisfied?
Capitalism believes that generation of more wealth will create happiness; Communism believes that better distribution of wealth will create happiness. The former celebrates individual entrepreneurship while the latter seeks governmental interventions. Many nations have flirted with both. Neither has resulted in happiness. And neither seems to offer solutions to future problems. These theories are suspicious of the 'discourse of contentment'.
Capitalists fear that this will destroy the market. The accent is on producing more in order to consume more. There is no talk of sharing or contentment.
A just society it is claimed will always seek to encourage a capitalism oriented to the economic self-sufficiency of its citizens. It can do this by facilitating labor oriented toward the creation of equity, and by legislating other economic practices and institutions that do the same. But the system only degrades humanity and prevents the advancement of it truly means to be human. Wisdom, intellectual and emotional growth are all halted under capitalistic societies.
Communists are convinced that contentment is the propaganda of the rich to the poor to ensure that the poor stay poor and do not ask for their rights. For, they argue, without discontentment, there will be no revolution.
Communism is state capitalism, in which all or most means of production are owned and controlled by "the state", and few or no means of production are owned and controlled by individuals.
Subdivision arises from different conceptions concerning economic means or, to put it another way, the exercise of political power (or control) over the economy and/or workplace. The authoritarian opposes democracy, and wishes to concentrate political power in the hands of a few.
What Kind of Growth?
Modern management is obsessed with 'growth'. But everyone refers to material growth alone whereas that is only one small part of holistic growth. Traditional wisdom also celebrates growth. That is why symbols of growth like mountains of food, cone-shaped sweets and overflowing pots of milk are considered auspicious symbols. But growth in the religious and spiritual framework is not material alone. It includes intellectual and emotional growth.
When an individual evolves intellectually and grows emotionally, he becomes content with his wealth, and starts to share his wealth. He includes others in his prosperity. Growth, then, is not at the cost of others; it is for the benefit of all. When this happens, there is no need for socialist revolutions or separately considering corporate social responsibility. Wealth flows through the pyramid of society spontaneously.
The Right Proportion
Intellectual growth and emotional growth are the two arms of spirituality. Unfortunately, the word 'spirituality' is deemed dangerous, impractical or theoretical by both Capitalists and Communists. In rejecting spirituality, material discourses have willy-nilly ignored intellectual and emotional growth.
That is why 90 percent of the world's wealth today serves only 10 percent of the world's population. And this proportion is not going to change in a hurry - new regulations, policies and laws notwithstanding. For, currently, there is intellectual and emotional stagnation both at the top and bottom of the Capitalist and Communist pyramid, and it is finally being realized by the entire planet almost simultaneously.