By Rudra Shivananda
Money is a form of energy. It is earned by work or some other effort and is useful as a standard means of exchange. The possession of money or material wealth is not counterproductive to spiritual progress. It is the attachment to or obsession with money that is a great hindrance. Wealth can be used for helping others and for maintaining a balanced life-style to enable one to follow the spiritual path without worries about food or shelter. However, if one spends most of one’s time trying to get more and more wealth while neglecting one’s practice, then there is little hope for that life. On the other hand, if one is so poor that one cannot support oneself or one’s family, then there will be difficulty in maintaining a strong practice. Let common sense and the example of past masters guide us.
A rich young man wanted to follow the Master Jesus, but the Lord saw that the man’s heart was too attached to his wealth and so He told him to give away all his riches if he wanted to be a disciple. It is not because wealth per se is bad, but the attachment.
An ancient India sage, Janaka was also a wealthy king with much land and a grand palace. He was once in the forest attending his Master’s lecture, together with many others, when reports came that the capital city was on fire and that the palace and all his riches were in danger. Everyone starting sneaking away to attend to their possessions, and only Janaka was left. After the Master had given the highest teachings, He asked the king why he did not attend to his palace, Janaka responded that he had able servants who could take care of such material things and even if his material riches were lost, they were not important and may be regained, but the spiritual riches being given by the Master might not be available again for many lifetimes. Soon, the servants came and reported that all the fires were merely illusions and had mysteriously disappeared and that the king’s possessions and his subjects were all fine – it had been the Master’s test for his students.