The single most destructive desire present in the human race is the desire “to make money”.
In the name of “making money”, we make slaves of other people, we rape and pillage the earth, we abuse animals, we create inferior products designed to break down and crowd our landfills, we compromise our internal values, we trample over colleagues, we burn ourselves out, we spend more time working than with our family, and we write it all off as “just business”.
All this because of our burning desire for money.
Yes, Money is our God, and we are reaping the rewards of our actions. Environmental destruction, new diseases every year, misery, poverty, war, famine, ill health, conflict of all types…
The sustainability movement has to be the biggest joke of all. All these products coming out with the sustainable label… when in truth, it’s not that we need to buy different products, but that we need to change our entire production paradigm. But making that change would mean that some people might make less money…
So why this rampant focus on money? We’ll do anything we can to save it… we’ll do anything we can to make it… But what for? And at what cost?
After all, money in and of itself is nothing. It’s a piece of paper, a piece of metal, a number on a computer screen. It’s not actually money we desire, but that which we think money will give us. We think money will make us happy. We think it will turn our lives into something wonderful. We think it will get rid of all the striving and all the struggle. We think if we had money, we’d finally be free – free to do whatever we liked, how ever we liked.
Watch the coverage right now of the jackpotting Big Wednesday (NZ’s big state run lottery) and witness our one-track minds. What would you do with $25 million?
Most people’s first response is “I’d quit work”. How revealing is that! Are we all just working “for the money”?Are we all just a nation of slaves, chained to our jobs because we have to pay the mortgage, raise the kids, keep up appearances, support our lifestyles? I don’t believe that. I’m sure there are many, many Kiwis out there who, if they one the ‘big one’, wouldn’t quit their job at all.
- Would Fat Freddy’s Drop quit music if they won?
- Would painter Graeme Sydney quit painting if he won?
- Would John Key quit politics if he won?
All those people who talk about quitting work if they win… what are they going to do with their time, and why aren’t they doing it already?
‘Work’ is how we contribute to society. We offer up our skills, talents and passions for the good of all, to consciously create the world we live in. Why would you cease to offer a contribution to your world just because you didn’t have to “make money” anymore? What’s stopping you from making that contribution now?
As Confucius said, thousands of years ago:
Find a job you love, and you’ll never work a day in your life.
After quitting work, most people would pay off debts (including friends and family), take a holiday, buy some stuff… and then what? You’re not working anymore… are you just going to “play” for the rest of your life?
I’m sure many people who think about winning would do far more creative, community-building things with their money.
Like this for instance…
If I won $25 million… yes I’d pay off debts, including those of friends and families. Then I’d split the money into two. One portion for family-orientated goals, and one portion for community-orientated goals.
Family money would be all about the land – buying and preserving native forests, growing food, rearing animals, being self-sufficient, setting up trusts for the kids.
For the community portion, I’d get together my sangha (spiritual community), set up a not-for profit organisation, and determine the best possible way to use that money to benefit the community as a whole.
And boy would it be fun.
As my sangha is primarily made up of yoga and meditation folk, I imagine I would set up some type of yoga/meditation/retreat foundation. We’d get the land and buildings sorted out, design a programme, sort out how to generate constant streams of income while also making the facilities available to all, and we’d swing into business.
Community-orientated, not-for-profit business. After all, what’s the point of ‘making money’? Screw that, we want to create compassion, kindness, love and joy – and lots of it! Don’t get me wrong, we might make money as a side effect of what we’re doing, and that would be all good – but it wouldn’t be our main intention, and we wouldn’t sacrifice our values to it.
Anyone can make money. How many of us know how to create more joy around us? How many of us can create love? Compassion? Kindness?
This organisation would value the people who contributed – and that value wouldn’t just be measured in dollars, but also in working conditions, and benefits. Simply put, we’d look after the people who worked for us because they’re family.
Just like we’re all inherently family.
Creating a project like this would create a channel for me to contribute the world via my skills, talents and passion, in the most productive way possible.
As a yogi, creating this project requires walking the path of Karma Yoga. The disciple of Karma Yoga lets his/her individual empirical self with all of its possessive and greedy tendencies die, and connects the Self with the Principle for Universal Purposes. In essence, you become an instrument of Divine Will. Action is taken with no thought or attachments to results. The essential goal of Karma Yoga is to free one from egoism – from the desire for money, fame, success and all it’s trappings.
It would be so easy to fall into all of these traps even while creating a project “for the good of all”. Instead of the ego being transcended, it could be further strengthened – wanting to get as many students as possible, as much publicity as possible, even create as much money as possible. This is why as a yogi it’s so crucial to be aware of Karma Yoga when out and about in the world.
This from Holistic Online:
The message of Karma Yoga is this: when we work in harmony with the Power that runs the universe, we are not egotistically motivated, and we no longer maintain compulsive desires relative to the future. With the eradication of compulsive desire, we are able to live in the present, while planning for the future, without being bound to the future.
Yogic philosophy does not ask us to give up intelligent planning. It says to renounce egotistic desire. We are then able to be open to inner guidance and to flow in the stream of grace. The Intelligence-Power that sustains the universe has a plan and a purpose. When we are in harmony with It we are free, even while involved.
As we work with a cheerful attitude, doing what we are best suited to do, we know a harmony and an inner peace which those who strive and struggle can never know.
Hence, approaching any new action, the yogi is mindful of the path of Karma Yoga. The action is taken with no attachment to results, with no investment of self within the action. One simply lets the action flow through the Self, making one an instrument of God/the Divine/Life/the Universe.
So is my desire to create a project to benefit the community while using my skills, talents and passion coming from ego, or from life. Is it about serving, or is it about achieving?
One simple way to know the difference is to observe the thoughts that arise after an action had been done.
‘I have helped that man’ is the response of the ego, one is pleased with oneself, or full of pride. Energy flows inward, focus is on the self.
‘That man gave me an opportunity to serve’ is the response of the yogi, who feels gratitude or appreciation toward the man. Energy flows outward, focus is on the other.
But why even care? If one is creating something for the good of all, then does it matter if it’s driven by the ego, or by spirit?
It does matters, because the internal experience is completely different – and in the end, finding contentment within ourselves is one of the “goals” of yoga.
When people do what they do to get ‘more money’, it’s actually contentment that they’re searching for. The yogi has a clearer understanding that external circumstances do not create stable internal experiences, because no matter what, change is the natural condition of the world. Therefore the yoga does what he/she does because they’re aware of how intention and action create the internal circumstances, not so much the external circumstances – they’re just a by-product.
If we create something, even something ‘good’, and we expect or desire money, recognition, fame, or success as a result… then when we get or don’t get that result, we have an internal reaction to this result. Our internal experience is attached to the result, and therefore we are not free.
If however, we create something with no expectation or attachment to the result, we are open to whatever shows up. Whatever shows up doesn’t disturb our internal state, and we respond by simply taking whatever action needs to now be taken. Our internal experience is constant, no matter what the result. This is true freedom… when nothing and no one can sway the sense of peace we hold within us. Witness the Buddha, witness Jesus.
From this perspective, if I used my Big Wednesday winnings to set up a yoga/meditation/retreat facility and for whatever reason five years down the track it failed miserably because no one came… it wouldn’t effect me at all because I was walking the path of Karma Yoga and had no attachment to the results of my actions.
Is this easy?
The ego is in entrenched part of who we are in every moment, and it is only with constant vigilance and practice, and the help of great teachers, that one is able to let go of all the attachments of this Western world and discover that peace within.
But is it worth it?
Hell yes! Only a limited few will ever win “the big one”, but everybody has access to internal contentment, if they’re willing to do the work.
So next time you find yourself wishing you had more money, take a step back and observe that thought. Where does it come from? What do you think more money will bring you? Identify how you think you’d feel if you had ‘more money’, and then know that you can get to that internal state without changing your external circumstances (of course, when you change your internal circumstances, the external ones will naturally follow suit…)
And whoever does win the big jackpot – what a great joy to be able to play with all that money! May it bring you lasting peace and contentment.
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