Money - Putting money in its place
by Suma Varughese
Is money the purpose behind the choices you make and the values you live by? If so, beware! Money is a good servant but a poor master. Money should be the consequence of how you live your life and not the cause of it
When Jesus Christ was within a hair's breadth of enlightenment,
Satan led him to a mountaintop and offered him dominion over the glittering
cities spread below. On the night of the Buddha's enlightenment,
Mara offered him the same temptations. Both refused and were
of money is based on the fact that it controls the material
world. In this arena its power is absolute. Cars,
foreign holidays, islands in the sun, beach houses, penthouses, name
your dream and fork out the cash. Anyone aspiring to go beyond it is
obliged to grapple with and triumph over it.
question to address is—Is money good or evil? There may
be multiple answers depending on where you are on the path.
We begin with
a set notion. Many condemn money outright on account of what men
do under its influence-murder, cheat, steal, manipulate, betray.
Others may laud the opportunities it unveils and its potency as a motive
a more fluid viewpoint, money has its good and bad points. It can
be used to blow up humanity. It can also be used to create sanctuaries
for the spirit. But even that viewpoint is insufficient to understand
the power of money. Another factor is the motive behind making
and spending money. Making money to gain power
over others can have unpalatable consequences for society. Spending
money in order to enhance social status is not the best use we can
put it to.
scriptures emphasize the importance of right motive. Right
living was based on four parameters—dharma (ethical action),
artha (wealth), kama (pleasure) and moksha
(liberation). This is the framework through which an individual is meant
to steer his life. Money and pleasure must be pursued in such a
way that it leads you eventually to liberation. Dharma on one hand
and moksha on the other safeguard the individual from making
money the wrong way or for the wrong purpose. Money, according
to traditional wisdom, was meant for the betterment of society. The householder
had the sacred obligation to feed Brahmins, indigents and his own
family before he ate himself. He was to take care of the unproductive
sections of society such as children, widows, the old, and the renunciates.
Money was never meant solely for oneself.
Clarifying motive clarifies the attitude towards money.
We realize that money is necessary and capable of great good. Because
we earn and spend money ethically, we learn
to value and respect it. Because we don't use it to gain self-worth or
status, we doctor its expenditure purposefully. We arrive at a
balance that tells us when to spend, how much to spend and
how to spend. This calls for coasting beyond impulse or vanity
to the zone of purposeful expenditure. Even indulgence
can be purposeful, such as planning a holiday or buying an expensive
sari for a festival.
priority do you give to money in your life? Is money the
criterion for the livelihood you choose, the friends you keep,
the choices you make and the values you live by? If so, beware! Money,
as they say, is a good servant but a poor master. Give it power over you
and allow it to determine your life and it will crush you.
should be the consequence of how you live your life and not the cause
of it. Choose work that you love and that will benefit society, make
choices based on your growth
and money in all probability will follow. Even if it doesn't,
it won't matter for you will have assigned it the lowest place in your life.
Finally, what is the New Age claim all about that it is possible to have financial
and spiritual abundance? Of course it is possible, but if anyone
is seriously inquiring into it, he or she does not have the detachment
for it. Unless you cease to want money, you can never really
make the two go together. And once you cease to want it, why should
the question be addressed at all?
of one's relationship
with money is attained when one no longer needs it. Unafraid of
life and trusting the universe completely, we coast along with a song
on our lips, knowing that our needs will be taken care of. We are now
free of the material world and can have a shot at enlightenment.