Vanity of vanities! All is vanity. All that one, amassed with hard work, wisdom, knowledge and skill, must be left behind to be enjoyed by another who did not toil for it. This also is vanity and a great evil.
We have the above from a 2300 years old Wisdom book of the Bible. Another three hundred years before the above writing, a sage Sankara Acharya, the greatest of ancient Indian (Hindu) philosophers and theologians taught that the vision of difference between you and I, or when you feel that I am not in you and you are not in me, that you are different from me, that is illusion or vanity; the reality is that you and I are one.
This is also true in our vision of God or what Sankara calls the ultimate Reality, Which is One and only One, in which you and I are. This is what Christians call fusion of human soul in the divinity. Our feelings of superiority and its absence are finally vanity. That is the teaching of today’s reading from Ecclesiastes. Jesus says the same in different words.
Recently there was a news story that the richest man in India with one of the greatest business empires of the world, has employed forty people chosen from the topmost military security personnel of the country, paying for all their expenses to the government. For his wife’s personal security another ten are additionally employed. The annual personal pay cheque he collects would amount to $25 million, with perquisites many times that amount. Income from his business would be a few hundred billions and the value of his total assets would be a few trillions. He lives in an eight-story mansion by himself with provision for all these security and other staff. This building has even a private helipad in addition to other luxuries like private swimming pools, gyms, banquet halls, tennis courts, cinema halls, and the like.
Jesus’ words in Luke 12:20 could be mentioned here,
“You fool! This very night your life is being demanded of you. And the things you have prepared, whose will they be?”
It is said $1.75 trillion is spent by world governments for military. Spending by individuals in the world that is by us, for property and personal security would be many times the above amount. Again, 85 rich people of the world hold as much wealth as the poorest 3.5 billion inhabitants of the earth.
None of us is probably among the above 85. Most of us will be among the other 3.5 billion inhabitants of the earth, probably helping to add to the number of the first 3.5 billion. And St. Paul today, may be foolishly, tells us,
“If you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God” (Colossians 3:1).
“Vanity of Vanities! All is vanity” (Ecclesiastes 1:2).