Many people think that on the path of spirituality, money is an evil and must be abhorred. Let us examine it.
Upanishads recommend a balanced living. Lord Krishna says in the Gita which can rightly be called the ultimate self-management manual, ‘Samatvam Yoga Uchyate’, i.e. Yoga is balance or equanimity.
Artha, Dharma, Kama and Moksha are the four essential objectives or ‘Purusharthas’ of human existence. Two of these viz. Artha (money) and Kama (worldly desires fulfilled or nourished by the power of material adequacy) relate to the material side of our existence. The other two, Dharma (in the sense of not religion, but righteousness) and Moksha (ultimate liberation from physical, mental and spiritual suffering), relate to our spiritual side.
For a Grihastha (householders like you and me), all four are important. If life be compared to a car, then these are like its four wheels, two on one side and two on the other. If you have some wheels bigger than the others, you obviously can’t keep a balance.
Thus, those who worship money and put it above everything else, or those who think that spiritual people should hate money, are both being unbalanced. By over-emphasizing or ignoring the material side, we are losing the vital balance necessary for durable peace and happiness.
In the example above of life being a car and Artha, Kama, Dharma and Moksha being its 4 wheels, God is the 5th and supreme wheel : the Steering Wheel. He alone can guide the remaining four. So we must put God first, because all possessions, all human relations, all things are His gifts. You cannot ignore the king and enjoy a kingdom. We must not love the gifts of God more than God Himself. It is said that those who do not give God the first place in their life, give Him no place at all. Strictly speaking, God alone exists – the rest are His changing manifestations. ‘Vasudevah sarvam, iti’, says the Gita.
‘Seek thou first the kingdom of God, and all other things shall be added unto you’, says another scripture.
It is attachment to money, a greed for material gains, that is evil. What matters here is the attitude one has towards money.
If we put money and things above health and happiness, can we expect to get healthier and happier ?
Lord Krishna was Dwarakadheesh, and yet he was a God of all wise Sanyasis. Raja Janak was king of Mithila and yet to his palace came sages like Shuka Deva for the ultimate lessons in Brahma-Vidya, or the ultimate God-knowledge.
Renunciation is an inner attribute. My master, Sri Paramahanxsa Yogananda, author of the spiritual classic,
Autobiography of a Yogi’, used to say ‘A beggar can be more attached to his begging bowl than a king to his kingdom’.
It is all about how we choose to look at it. Money is important in life ; we all need it and it is possible to be a Grihastha, to earn money for paying one’s bills which one must honorably do, ‘to buy and sell’, and yet to keep the mind on God !
So, let us have a balance; let us neither worship nor hate money. Let us earn money but love God and serve Him in all beings. ‘Yo mam pashyati sarvatra, sarvam cha mayee pashyati….’ …, ‘He who seems me in all and all in me, never loses sight of me nor do I ever lose sight of him’, assures the Yogeshwar.
It is not what duties we have, it is not whether we are a Grihastha or a Sanyasi, it is what is our perception, our attitude, that matters in spiritual progress. For embodied souls, until they are fully liberated, there are material needs that cannot be denied, and for most people, it is better to earn one’s livelihood than to be a burden on the society. And for a Grihastha, earning money for the family’s sustenance, is a God-given duty, a Dharma.
Have a blessed day and keep your balance. Be outwardly dutiful in your worldly roles, inwardly attached to God alone !