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:


"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?