If you were expecting the title to be some clever set for rich in spirit or some such drivel, this is going a different direction. When we are talking about being a buddhist in the modern era there is not a lot of discussion about the fact that buddha was rich when he started his journey.
Don’t get me wrong every story about the Buddha begins with talking about him the crown prince. My issue is story is always slanted as though his wealth made his renunciation even more special. He gave up all of “this” for a spiritual quest. I think that is great. Most people would have continued to distract themselves with more rather than realize that more will never be enough.
My consideration is about whether or not Buddha’s wealth was a necessary condition for his enlightenment. I believe the answer has important implications for the moderne spiritual seeker. I believe that his wealth was a necessary condition. If he had to take care of his family personally, he may never have attained.
This seems relevant to many of the western Buddhist authors today. It seems like many of them have come from a background of money. They did not swim to the Himalayas. I do not know all the current authors’ stories, but a few that I ran across seemed to come from a background where money was not an issue.
Let me clear one thing up about what I mean by “wealth.” I am not suggesting that everyone on a spiritual path has to be a crown prince or a Hilton heir. What does seem very necessary is to be well off enough that money is not really an issue to stay in secular life. Clearly if you are begging for alms as a monk money, is not so necessary.
I am also not suggesting that spiritual progress cannot be made without being well off. The hardships of poverty are a great spiritual proving ground, but to live a life that does not lead beyond poverty may be a sign of a lack of spiritual development. Further I definitely believe it may place a cap on how far you can go into spirit.
What I am really getting at, I think, is that to be fully invested in a spiritual path you need to be free of obligations. I would be a little more skeptical of the Buddha if he had just up and abandoned his family. The same way I would be less inclined to hold someone is positive regard that escaped to a spiritual journey to avoid facing up to secular debts.