Real wealth is that which cannot be taken away from you; only then can it be yours, only then is it meaningful to call it yours. But what kind of wealth is this that cannot be taken away from you? If this kind of wealth does exist, it must be something within you – only then can it have such a quality.
Whatever we can accumulate from the outside can be taken away. Only that which belongs to our intrinsic nature cannot be taken away from us. That which dwells in our very soul cannot be taken away from us; and that which cannot be taken away is what we call the soul.
Many people do not have a soul. When I say this, you may be very shocked, because we start with the belief that everybody has a soul. That is correct; it is correct in the sense that everyone could have a soul – but not everyone does. If you take an inventory of everything that you possess, does it include anything that cannot be taken away? In answering this question you will come to know whether you have a soul or not.
Just make a list of all your wealth, of whatsoever you have; then sit down, and with a red pen start ticking off whatever can be taken away. You will find that the whole list is covered in red – not a single thing is left which cannot be taken away. So this means you don’t have a soul. If you come across anything in your life which cannot be taken away by anyone, not even by death, only then can you know that you have a soul.
From reading the scriptures everyone gets a wrong idea: that the soul is something which we already have. We certainly do, but what is the point of something existing or not existing if you know nothing about it? And if you don’t have any experience of something, then even if you have it, what will you do with it? It is like having a diamond buried under your house but not knowing where it is or whether it is even there at all. What value can such a diamond have in the marketplace?
You may say that even though you don’t know its whereabouts, the very fact that a diamond exists under your house makes you an emperor. But in reality you will still have to go on begging, because you do not have the diamond in your hands. And until you have found it, how can you be really sure that it is actually buried there? Until you have unearthed it, even to say that it is buried under your house is meaningless.
Are you going to say that it is meaningful because it is written in the scriptures? Does the assurance of your scriptures make any difference? You have no idea! You don’t have a map, you don’t know what the soul looks like, you don’t have its name or address or anything. You have only heard that there is a soul; you don’t know whether such a soul exists or not.
The sutra says:
Desire only that which is within you.