( Story told by Swami Vivekananda )
You have all heard of that rich man in Rome who learnt one day that he had only about a million pounds of his property left; he said, ‘What shall I do tomorrow?’ and forthwith committed suicide. A million pounds was poverty to him. What is joy, and what is sorrow? It is a vanishing quantity, continually vanishing. When I was a child I thought if I could be a cabman, it would be the very acme of happiness for me to drive about. I do not think so now. To what joy will you cling? This is the one point we must all try to understand, and it is one of the last superstitions to leave us. Everyone’s idea of pleasure is different. I have seen a man who is not happy unless he swallows a lump of opium every day. He dreams of a heaven where the land is made of opium. That would be a very bad heaven for me.
Again and again in Arabian poetry we read of heaven with beautiful gardens, through which rivers run. I lived much of my life in a country where there is too much water; many villages are flooded and thousands of lives are sacrificed every year. So, my heaven would not have gardens through which rivers flow; I would have a land where very little rain falls.
Our pleasures are always changing. If a young man dreams of heaven, he dreams of a heaven where he will have a beautiful wife. When that same man becomes old he does not want a wife. It is our necessities which make our heaven, and the heaven changes with the change of our necessities.