Principles and Concepts

What is contentment?

Contentment lies in feeling satisfied with what one has. Some people question the value of contentment, because they consider ambition as the ladder to progress. The more one has, the more one seems to want. There is no end to ambition and greed. According to Guru Nanak Dev Ji, greed burns like an unquenchable fire; the more it is fed, the stronger its flames rise. A greedy person is never satisfied, even when they gets all that they want. Avarice leads to many vices like fraud, lying and gluttony. An Avaricious person blunts their conscience and even bleeds their nearest and dearest ones.

Contentment implies frugality. Our wants are many, and our real needs few. Things, we can do without, cannot be regarded as necessities. Peace of mind comes from elimination of wanting.

Contentment implies that life is greater than its wealth or riches. Regard money as a trust, real joy comes from giving and not in receiving. Moreover, excessive wealth often leads to luxury and vice.

Contentment is felt when one compares their lot with those who are less fortunate. Adversity is not a punishment but rather an opportunity for development. Moreover in poverty, there are few temptations and fewer flatterers.

A contented person remains content in adverse circumstances, be it poverty, distress or sickness. These are accepted as normal events of life, while discontented person increases their own misery by comparing their lot with that of more fortunate people.

Contentment results from submission to the Divine Will which a true Sikh accepts with gratitude and joy. Guru Arjan Dev ji says: “Without contentment, it is impossible to acquire peace of mind.” Peace and happiness come naturally to a stable mind.

In Sukhmani Sahib, Guru Ji tells us:

ਸਹਸ ਖਟੇ ਲਖ ਕਉ ਉਠਿ ਧਾਵੈ ॥
ਤ੍ਰਿਪਤਿ ਨ ਆਵੈ ਮਾਇਆ ਪਾਛੈ ਪਾਵੈ ॥
ਅਨਿਕ ਭੋਗ ਬਿਖਿਆ ਕੇ ਕਰੈ ॥
ਨਹ ਤ੍ਰਿਪਤਾਵੈ ਖਪਿ ਖਪਿ ਮਰੈ ॥
ਬਿਨਾ ਸੰਤੋਖ ਨਹੀ ਕੋਊ ਰਾਜੈ ॥
ਸੁਪਨ ਮਨੋਰਥ ਬ੍ਰਿਥੇ ਸਭ ਕਾਜੈ ॥
ਨਾਮ ਰੰਗਿ ਸਰਬ ਸੁਖੁ ਹੋਇ ॥
ਬਡਭਾਗੀ ਕਿਸੈ ਪਰਾਪਤਿ ਹੋਇ ॥
ਕਰਨ ਕਰਾਵਨ ਆਪੇ ਆਪਿ ॥
ਸਦਾ ਸਦਾ ਨਾਨਕ ਹਰਿ ਜਾਪਿ ॥੫॥
“Earning a thousand, he runs after a hundred thousand.
Satisfaction is not obtained by chasing after Maya.
He may enjoy all sorts of corrupt pleasures,
but he is still not satisfied; he indulges again and again, wearing himself out, until he dies.
Without contentment, no one is satisfied.
Like the objects in a dream, all his efforts are in vain.
Through the love of the Naam, all peace is obtained.
Only a few obtain this, by great good fortune.
He Himself is Himself the Cause of causes.
Forever and ever, O Nanak, chant the Lord’s Name. ||5||”
(Ang 279)