Money and Spirituality: 3 Viewpoints

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How do you view money and spirituality?

How do these ideas relate, in your mind, heart, and experience?

The intersection of money & spirituality has fascinated me for years. I’d like to share with you 3 viewpoints about it...
Viewpoint 1: More Spiritual = Less Money

This is what we find in traditional scriptures, e.g. Judaism, Christianity, Buddhism, Islam, Hinduism, Taoism, Baha’i, and others.

I recommend checking out the following webpage that collects verses from various scriptures about the dangers of money:

What The World Religions Agree on About Money (by Daniel Suelo)

I’m sympathetic toward this view. I deeply respect these traditional scriptures. However, I don’t agree with the typical interpretations of it — I don’t think having less money means you're more spiritual .

I do think that money has become too important in the minds & souls of most people. It weighs us down. Fear of not having enough money creates all sorts of negative behaviors and addictions. So does Greed. Both fear and greed are problems for society and for the spirit.

Let's get clear about these things and start to inoculate ourselves:

Money = Security?
The more money, the more feelings of security you’re supposed to have, right?

There’s a fascinating article in The Atlantic that describes the emotions of the super-rich (those with at least 25 million dollars in assets)... and how often they feel anxious, fearful, not secure, not even financially.

Read Secret Fears of the Super Rich.

It is true that having a basic level of financial security is helpful. Just be aware of what that really is for you, instead of pursuing fantasies and turning those dreams into requirements for your happiness.

Money = Prestige?
This is a dominant--and unspoken--assumption in my industry of business/marketing coaching.

The more money you charge for your services, the more prestigious you are, right?

Observe this assumption the next time you see the marketing messages of business gurus--
Get a “6 figure income!”
Build a “7 figure business!”

These are tapping into people’s desperation for security and prestige.

If you tie your self-worth to how much money you make, or have, then you’ll be in trouble: you’ll never have enough.

It’s time to call the B.S. on the“charge what you’re worth!” message, and separate Money (a transactional symbol) from your Self Worth (which is infinite...You are worth more than any money in the world.)

Another assumption is that those who charge more are also more experienced. There’s a seed of truth in that. But I encourage you to look past this shallow assumption. Some who charge a lot, are not that experienced nor effective, than some who charge less.

Money = Pleasure?
You can buy delicious and delightful things, go on vacations, have cooler experiences if you have more money…. right? This is another insidious assumption, which has a bit of truth, but greater pitfalls.

First of all, more pleasure often means more addictions, over-satiation, and laziness.

True and lasting pleasure is found in the journey of personal, character, and spiritual growth, which can mean many things — from enlightenment practices, to the pursuit of excellence, to a deep love of literature.

You don’t need money to have pleasure, and to equate the two is a vicious cycle of grasping and addiction.

Money = Power?
Again, this appears to have a seed of truth... with dastardly consequences for the soul. Money buys elections, as well as domination over others. The more people you can pay to do your bidding, the more power you have, right? This appears to be true, for those who haven’t experienced — or have forgotten — that True Power is having greater self-control, self-confidence, equanimity, and a stable connection to one’s divine source.

Through genuine spiritual practice and integration of wisdom into daily life, you gain true power, regardless of how much money you have. And with true power, you draw forth people who respect you and allow you to influence them.

Viewpoint 2: More Spiritual = More Money

Do people really think this?

Yes they do. Try these links:
Many of the "conscious" or "heart-based" Business/Marketing gurus believe that somehow, their mindfulness practice is true spirituality and it also brings them more money.

Let's give them the benefit of the doubt.  It is true that if you:
  • Develop a positive mental attitude...
  • and think about / visualize your money goals all the time
…then you have a better chance of getting more money.

But these are mental skills, not spiritual. When you start elevating them to “spiritual laws” you're putting money-mindset stuff at the profound level of "Love your neighbor as yourself" and that starts to confuse greed with virtue.

Mental skills are not the same as spiritual growth.

Viewpoint 3: Detach Money and Spirituality

Whatever financial state you are in, you can be deeply spiritual… or not spiritual at all.

I believe you know what spiritual means. Spiritual is not “someone with less money” nor “someone who can manifest money.”

What about being a human embodiment of Virtues, Divine Love, and Wisdom?

I see a spiritual person as someone who feels very connected to their deepest source of joy, peace, and love. It isn’t the ability to earn money, nor to have less of it.

Some wealthy people are spiritual. Some wealthy people are not.
Some poor people are spiritual. Some poor people are not.

What we need is detachment between Money and Spirituality, between “being spiritual” and “manifesting money”.

Let us remember that whatever financial circumstance we find ourselves in, at any moment in our life, the Great Spirit is always calling us closer, toward greate r embodiment of spirit. We can practice spirituality, no matter our financial situation.

Today, let’s be spiritual, which may be the most important part of life. And, let’s also take care of our financial side of life. Let’s be wary of the teachers we follow that mistakenly connect spirituality with money.

“Do not let money steal your heart, so it rules your life like a despot. Usefully manage money by understanding the law of brotherhood that brings us together.” — Chico Xavier