Friday, October 18, 2013

Is Money Necessary?








Reading some excerpts from a friend's novel, I came across this from one of his characters:  "You know the old saying: money is the root of all evil."
I commented to my friend that this was a misquote:  "It's actually: 'For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.' (1 Timothy 6:10)  Money in itself is neither good nor bad."

In literature, Scrooge in Dickens' A Christmas Carol is an example of the "many griefs" that can ensue when overconcern with money eclipses our humanity and fellow-feeling, and Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby portrays the Lost Generation and the emptiness of wealth without the compass of solid values.

Mark Boyle, author of The Moneyless Man and The Moneyless Manifesto, is one who seems to subscribe to the "old saying" and who has thus chosen to live without money.  After studying economics for six years in college, he was inspired by the movie "Gandhi" to be the change he wanted to see in the world. He decided that meant he would have to give up cash, initially just for one year, and this stretched out to five. He refers to money as "that soulless, empty, arbitrary concept" that is useless for providing our basic needs. "We are completely delusional about what we need in order to live nourished, meaningful lives...As the Cree Indian proverb goes, it seems that 'only when the last tree has died, the last river been poisoned and the last fish been caught, will we realize we cannot eat money.' "

In contrast to Boyle's perception of money as a delusion, in David Cameron's book A Happy Pocket Full of Money, he calls it "an illusion, a shadow of something else...It is all just numbers written on paper and computer storage devices and assigned to people and entities like companies and investment groups — or, more accurately, further illusion!...The only reason this system does not collapse is that we all believe in it."  He says we should not look at the shadow, the illusion of money.  Rather, it's about developing internal value, or wealth consciousness, which he says "is available to all people equally...Like everything else that is important to our being alive — like air — wealth consciousness is free to all. But you can choose to develop it or not, or to exercise it or not."  He defines wealth consciousness as "simply the expansion of your consciousness and awareness into the wealthy parts of your Self...You are already wealthy, but you have been taught to choose not to experience your wealth."

 Since most wars and wasting of the Earth's resources come about through our belief in scarcity (or as Swami Beyondananda calls it, "scare city"), they will end when we are truly in touch with our inner riches, and when we believe in the possibility of abundance for everyone.  The outer reality reflects the inner,  and as this belief gains ground and becomes widespread, so will  unlimited, free, and sustainable energy technologies become available. And it all starts with each one of us, here and now.

We may need to redefine wealth or what it means to be rich.  Is it about winning millions in the lottery, or is it about having "enough"?  I think having enough is about being able to follow our chosen path, without wasting energy in worry -- whether it's worry about taking care of our basic needs, or on the other hand, about dealing with huge amounts of money. Of course, we are all different,  and some, like Mark Boyle, will feel abundant with much less or no money. He said that his first year of living cash-free was "the greatest experience of my life." He  is following his natural bent, doing his life's work.  Even without money, he is wealthy in his own way.  Others may need a lot of money and material possessions to feel on track and fulfill their purpose.  The important thing is to  be happy with our lives, comfortable with ourselves and with what we have, while staying open to our dreams, and following our heart.

In one of the parables of Sri Ramakrishna, there is the story of a woodcutter who was asleep and dreaming. When a man awakened him, he was greatly annoyed.  "Why did you wake me? I dreamed I was a king, I and my children had everything, I was on the throne and ruling over my country.  You destroyed my kingship!"  "Oh, it was only a dream," replied the man. "What's the problem?"

The woodcutter was further angered, but inspired to an important insight: "Get away from me, fool! My dream of being a king was just as real as my dream of being a woodcutter."

If the woodcutter could continue to feel the reality he experienced of his king state, he would, more and more, see this in his waking dream. We all need to do the same.  Gold-diggers get a bad rap, but I propose we become gold-diggers of our consciousness, embracing and living our golden dreams, in whatever form they play out for us. And somewhere, a king may be dreaming about being a woodcutter...

I also propose cultivating a "trust fund," simply trusting in our own life energy to meet our needs and guide us into right action.   This trust fund is one that will always be there for us and never run out.  To quote the shortest poem I ever wrote:

WORDS TO LIVE BY
Just
trust.

"Love is the only gold," said Tennyson. And love is not just about personal relationships.
As adults, many of us need to get back the zest and love of life we had as children. Hopefully, we aren't just existing, not just passing time here on planet Earth. Life can be a love affair with All That Is, with who we are and who we can be.  How can we put a price on that?








10 comments:

Tantra Wave said...

Virginia Woolf ("A Room of One's Own") noted that money is a requisite to be a writer, and the entire book is an argument on the subject. It is one thing to be idealistic and state that money is this an that, that all we need is love and so on. Simply false ideas in a world of rags and bones, of concrete matter. Money is a fact. If you reject it, the universe will conspire to keep it away. If you seek it, you can help others with it, if you so wish. The subject of money is very deep and profound. It is the cornerstone of a myriad human issues. If money is neither good nor bad, then there is nothing wrong with its existence either, is there?

Jen said...


David, that's what I was saying, that there's nothing wrong with money, there's a place for it in our lives. At the same time, it's not the source of our abundance. That source is within us, and yes, love has a lot to do with it.

Jen said...


btw, the title was meant to be an attention-grabber, along the lines of James Thurber/E.B. White's "Is Sex Necessary?" ;)

John Ransom said...

Certainly money can be a source of pleasure and happiness. It is a means. And there are some very good things that one might want to do that cannot be done without money; that is, without the relevant means. I want, let's say, to go to Italy and see fabulous ancient ruins. There's no denying that a sufficient lack of money can block such a pleasant trip. Scrooge was sick--really mentally ill--because for him money was not a means at all. He didn't just deny his worker Cratchet extra coal to heat his office; Scrooge was just as stingy with himself! *All* he cared about was the pure accumulation of means. That's sick. He mistook *means* (money) for *ends*. Does money, in itself, make you happy? No: how could it? But first, if you have a lot of it, the wide variety of things you can do with it might make you not unreasonably happy, and the lovely actual things you do with it give money a special glow.

Jen said...



Still, the fact that money in itself can't make you happy shows that there is a more important factor at work, and that's our inner state of being.

http://blogs.wsj.com/wealth/2011/03/09/dont-envy-the-super-rich-they-are-miserable/

Alexi said...

Jen, your writing is beautifully elegant, and this sentence expresses my own philosophy: "I think having enough is about being able to follow our chosen path, without wasting energy in worry -- whether it's worry about taking care of our basic needs, or on the other hand, about dealing with huge amounts of money." Yes! And I agree that there is nothing wrong with money; presently it is still an efficient means of exchange in a world of apparent separation. As the world shifts, eventually everyone will be able to follow their passions and have their needs met. And that is, of course, based on trust. I love your idea of a "trust fund."

Presently it's important to acknowledge and honor our money beliefs, rather than denying and opposing them. I admire the people that are living without money, paving new paths for others to follow. I also admire the people that are working within the present system to do what they most love to do in the world.

Jen said...


Thank you for your thoughtful reply Alexi! And glad you share the vision of a world where everyone is able to follow their passions and have their needs met. Let's hold that vision!

Jenna Clayton said...

This was just brilliant writing, Jenifer! Thanks so much for posting it! <3

Jen said...



So glad you enjoyed it Jenna! <3

Kelly Martin said...

Thanks for popping over to my blog post http://www.kellymartinspeaks.co.uk/2014/01/can-you-get-rich-by-visualising-wealth.html#comment-1224539458 and directing me here.

I loved what you wrote "Rather, it's about developing internal value, or wealth consciousness, which he says "is available to all people equally...Like everything else that is important to our being alive — like air — wealth consciousness is free to all. But you can choose to develop it or not, or to exercise it or not." He defines wealth consciousness as "simply the expansion of your consciousness and awareness into the wealthy parts of your Self...You are already wealthy, but you have been taught to choose not to experience your wealth."

This feels very true, and I also feel so many of us may fear money because of its history or rather the history we have attached to it. I know for me its about learning to accept it into my life and to know it is no different to the air I breathe and is love not pain or suffering (as per my life experiences). Humans over time dirtied the concept of money but it feels to me a shift is happening. I am prepared to welcome this shift (grin) and cultivate my own inner wealth but also to embrace and then release any fears to do with the paper stuff that occasionally fills my purse LOL thanks again for directing me here.