085 – 8 Spiritual Truths About Money
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We all have to deal with money in our lives. Making it, spending it, giving it away, using it to be generous, saving for the future and so on. And we all have to make choices in relation to money – regardless of how much we have. Relating to money is part of spiritual practice.
I’ve often been confused about how to relate to money ethically – I ask myself questions like…
- “Is it right to be generous to that person?”
- “Shall I spend my money on this or that?”
- “Do I have enough money for now and the future?”
- “How much is enough?”
- “Am I being stingy or greedy?”
- “Should I be giving more?”
- “Who and what should take priority financially?”
- “How much more money do I need to earn?”
Recently, I was experiencing an issue relating to money. Without boring you with the details, the upshot is that I needed direction on what to do. Often, when I find myself in these situations, I’ll ask for help. Sometimes from friends or professionals. And sometimes I’ll seek spiritual guidance from the source. I’ll meditate and allow the mind to settle and become quiet, a space opens up, I connect, and then I ask the question. The answer I received was “refer to the scriptures”. I’ll often be guided to do this. The other stock response I receive is to seek guidance from the wise! Often, I’m not told what to do, but how to do it – I’m given responsibility for the decision or action.
I followed the direction and started investigating using two sources. The first source was Christian teachings and the second source was Buddhist teachings. And I also took some time to contemplate my own question to extract more insights. Once I’d done this, being a lover of lists 🙂 I created a new list called “8 Spiritual Truths About Money”:
- Financial wealth is not a sign of spiritual alignment or spiritual maturity. This is obvious really. But helpful to keep in mind during times when we’re experiencing a perceived lack of financial wealth or when our wealth is threatened in some way. It’s also helpful to keep this in mind when we’re financially wealthy!
- Using money skilfully is the way to go. What I’m suggesting here is that we can align ourselves with spiritual guidance in relation to spending. For example, the Ten Commandments in Christianity, Buddhist precepts, the Ten Commandments of the Quran, my 7 guidelines to cultivate peace and kindness. Then use our financial wealth according to that guidance. We could say, spend skilfully. For example, using our money in acts of true kindness and generosity, only obtaining money that we actually need, spending only when there’s a genuine need, avoiding spending money on things that are unskilful, and investing responsibly.
- To live harmoniously we need to put our spiritual ethics (doing the right thing) above making or obtaining more money than we actually need. If we’re accumulating or holding onto more financial wealth than we need, there’s sure to be the ego, craving and greed involved – and these things ultimately lead to harm and suffering. I appreciate that we all need different amounts of money considering our own individual circumstances, obligations and culture.
- Acquiring money skilfully requires honesty and straightforwardness. For example, selling things (personal or business related) for a fair price. Not taking advantage of others when we’re in a position of power. Earning money in a way that’s fair and honest. And of course, not stealing in any shape or form. This includes being honest on our tax returns and not streaming pirated films! It’s about being upright financially and kind to others.
- The only way that we may accumulate financial wealth skilfully is to remain mindful as we do so. Mindfulness puts us in the best possible place to be skilful and to remain free from creating new attachments and egoic identifications. Accumulation of wealth, especially excessive wealth, can be a source of attachment, which leads to craving and suffering.
- Being wealthy is fine, so long as the wealth is gained skilfully and used skilfully. Many years ago, I remember asking a wise Buddhist teacher if it was OK to wealthy. And he said “yes, so long as you’re generous!”
- Financial wealth is impermanent. Like all things, financial wealth comes and goes. And sometimes the universal plan for our wealth is different to our personal plans! It helps to reflect on this impermanence from time to time. This is where faith comes in. If we can have faith that the universal plan is actually the right plan, we can be at ease with our own financial destiny whilst also taking responsibility for it. It’s the basic balance we need to strike between taking responsibility to the best of our abilities and having faith in whatever outcome we might experience.
- Praying or wishing for a financial outcome will only bear fruits if what we’re wishing for is aligned with what the universe ultimately needs! How do we work out what’s required for the universe as a whole? We stay mindful, open ourselves up, have faith, and as well as thinking things through, we allow ourself to be guided in the “right” direction.
Here are a couple of articles that educated and inspired me…
- Berkley Center – Buddhism on Wealth and Poverty
- What does the bible say about money and wealth – Christian Bible Reference Site
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