Q: I want to be financially comfortable, even wealthy, but have some guilty feelings about entertaining such ambitions. What is the right attitude towards money, especially for someone pursuing a spiritual path?
Mohanji: Why do we think that money is bad? This is a wrong notion. Money is good.
Money is, after all, matter. Matter is made out of energy. Elements are also matter. Our physical body is made out of elements. It is the same with money.
Money is good. Emotions attached to money are bad. These include attachment and ownership. And this is what makes you happy or sad. Both are to be understood as bondage to money.
There is a saying: “If you have a handful of currency, you own it. If you are up till your neck in currency, it owns you.”
So be in a state where you act as a custodian of money. Be grateful for that role. Money will stay with you and will be useful to you. The moment you shift your stance and become a watchman of your wealth, you will start suffering because of the associated attachments and anxiety.
Money should be considered primarily by understanding its nature:
A. Money is a terrestrial transactional tool. It travels from hand to hand.
Nobody owns money and we are always only temporary custodians of money.
B. If you hoard it, if it is out of circulation, it stagnates, it loses its potential.
C. Attachment to wealth creates anxiety and fear.
D. Non-attachment along with gratitude for wealth creates liberation within. Money flows.
E. Money develops ego and if that is checked, we stay free and liberated.
F. Money has no value to us at the time of our birth, at the time of our death and during our sleep.
G. Money enhances power and social standing. If ego, attachment and greed also grow accordingly, we will have a spiritually poor existence. If humility, compassion and grace grow with monetary richness, we gain a lot in life.
Wise men handle money with detachment and gratitude. Ordinary people handle money with ego and pride yet they remain extremely poor inside, while appearing rich outside. They trade love for money -- in other words, they fall into isolation and lack of love from the world because of the fear and anxiety of losing their wealth.
Wisemen gracefully handle their money and use it for the well-being of themselves, their family and society. They will then earn love and grace from the world too. Only such people are truly rich. The one who has a rich heart is really the rich man. When we are capable of bringing happiness and solace to at least some people not immediately related to us, our life becomes meaningful.
Otherwise, as anxious watchmen of our own wealth, our life gets wasted. Usually for such people, their next generation will waste their hard-earned money. The new generation may not know the emotions behind this money. They will squander it in wild abandon. This breaks the hearts of their fathers who usually die heart-broken and helpless. What they carry to their next life predominantly, will be this helplessness.
The graceful rich man, on the other hand, leaves behind a legacy of selflessness for his children and they learn by the example of their father. They too learn to give. Such a graceful father dies a peaceful death, after a life well-lived.
True happiness is in giving.
Give only what you can give. But learn to give without inhibitions and emotions.
Give to the needy without any feeling of doer-ship.
You will stay liberated and peacefully happy.
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