Buddhism on Wealth and Poverty
From a Buddhist perspective, excessive wealth and an extravagant way of life can become a source of attachment, and create a fear of loss and of ceaseless craving. However, Buddhism does not see wealth as intrinsically evil, and does not claim that nirvana—the state of being free from suffering and the attachments that cause it—is more difficult for the wealthy to attain. On the contrary, rich people are in a privileged position to practice the virtue of generosity, and traditional Buddhism partially connects economic success in the present, to acts of charity in the past during previous lives. Wealth itself is not the problem, as long as it is attained by honest means and used for the benefit of the wider society. Some currents in the Buddhist tradition encourage charity to the monastic community in particular, in order to accumulate spiritual merit for future lives. However, Buddhism also advocates compassionate giving to the poor and the sick as a virtue in its own right. According to one account, the Buddha walked thirty miles to teach a poor person, and first made sure he was fed before focusing on spiritual matters.