The materialist spiritualist

In India, materialism and spirituality are not in conflict with each other. Lakshmi – the symbol of material prosperity is portrayed pressing the feet of Narayana - the symbol of spirituality. We always say LaxmiNarayana which refers to the combination of wealth and spirit. But it is very important to note that greed and spirituality don’t go together.

If you have a factory or a business, you can continue to run it and still be very ethical. There is no need of saying materialism is bad and that you want to go towards spirituality by leaving it. You can continue doing your duty. This is what is expressed in one of the scriptures where Ashtavakra told king Janaka that he can be a king and, at the same time, be totally spiritual. What I usually say is ‘keep money in your pocket and not in your heart or head’. When the money is wrongly placed, that is when the problem arises. Another one of the ancient scriptures in India says, ‘Righteousness comes from wealth. Proper governance is the basis of the economy.' Even if you have to do charity, you can’t do it with an empty bowl. How can you think of feeding ten hungry children with no money at hand? Is it not your dharma to feed them? So renouncing money is no good.

Some people renounce money and take pride in their poverty to draw sympathy. Ancient sages never denigrated money. They honoured it as a part of the divine and transcended the grip of its illusion. They honoured wealth as Goddess Lakshmi who is born out of yoga that transforms bad karma, brings out latent skills, the ashta siddhis (eight perfections) and nava nidhis (nine types of wealth). If you have a financial problem, you have to take action. It is not good to simply sit and wait for money to come from somewhere or run to an astrologer.

You have to take alternative precautions. Don’t be too choosy about your job. Take whatever job is available and move on. Have positive thinking and attention and then move ahead. In Sanskrit there is a saying “Wealth runs towards the one who puts effort, one who is industrious and courageous.” So, Lakshmi (Goddess of wealth) goes to him, who puts effort and is like a lion - brave and courageous. Goddess Lakshmi sits on a lotus flower in water. Wealth is unstable. Your real wealth is your inner strength. You may have lots of money in the bank, but if your mind is fearful and small, then what is the point?

And the most important is the faith in the Highest Self - the faith that I am going to get whatever I need and whenever I need. Then you give miracles a chance. Bank your faith on the divinity and the power of your own ‘sankalpa’ (positive intention) and thoughts. All that we need is to have a heart to do something. God will help you.

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