Riches vs Wealth

Tarot is a great focusing tool for mediation and contemplation because the 78 cards encompasses all universal human emotions and experiences. Each suit concentrates on one aspect of life.

In our modern world, the suit of pentacles is highly relevant when reflecting upon our lives as it addresses our social and economic statuses. If we understand and learn from these cards, we will have a fighting chance at material success.  However, this suit is not only about material well being. Rather, it reminds us that we must seek a balance between our bodies and souls. While the 2 of Pentacles addresses this need, other cards in the suit also serve as a reminder of this.

The 4 of Pentacles brings our attention for this need for balance by demonstrating the difference between riches and wealth. This card shows a crowned man seated with a golden pentacle resting above his crown. Two more pentacles lie on the ground in front of him and he has one foot on each. Lastly, he cradles one more pentacles with both arms and holds it in front of his chest – it is uncertain whether he is showing it off or using it like a shield. His facial expression is solemn.

It is immediately apparent that this man is rich in a material sense. He can buy anything that money can afford. But is he wealthy?

Unlike riches, wealth is more than having. It is also a feeling – a feeling of abundance. To experience abundance, one needs to feel joy and gratitude. In other words, we need to be happy about what we have. A person can be richer than kings and can afford the finest meal. But if she eats alone every night, is that wealth? Is she happier than the person who must work hard to afford a meal but has a wonderful family to share every bite of food with?

Perhaps this is a lesson that many already understand – if not emotionally, at least in concept. Many would also think that the lesson stops there and conclude that this is a message on the limited value of materialism. But that’s not the point.

We should see that the opposite is just as true. We can have the most loving family but still no joy or peace if we are constantly cold and hungry. Just as happiness isn’t derived solely from material possession, emotions alone do not satisfy the soul. All ideals and no practicality is equally foolish.

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