Why do we allow trees to be cut down? Because it makes money (for logging companies and developers). Why do we allow the exploitation and killing of animals? Because it makes money (for the meat- and dairy industries). Why are seeds being patented, making the saving and sharing of seeds a crime? Because it makes money (for the agrochemical and agricultural biotechnology corporations). Why is a wide range of normal human behaviour diagnosed as mental illnesses? Because it makes money (for pharmaceutical companies).
Only a materialistic attitude to life turns money into the ‘end in itself’ it now has become; an intervener, propelling ecological destruction, and the destruction of healthy human livelihoods, to paraphrase the ecological activist Vandana Shiva.
Money is not the root of all evil. Unhappiness is. And money in the hands of unhappy people becomes a tool to try to chase away our uninspected dissatisfaction.
We all pay lip-service to the fact that money doesn’t make us happy, yet most of us still succumb to a lifestyle with a lot of unnecessary or careless spending.
David Cain, in his article ‘Your Lifestyle Has Already Been Designed’, says: “We buy stuff to cheer ourselves up, to keep up with the Joneses, to fulfil our childhood vision of what our adulthood would be like, to broadcast our status to the world, and for a lot of other psychological reasons that have very little to do with how useful the product really is. How much stuff is in your basement or garage that you haven’t used in the past year?”
In our materialistic society, this spending-happy attitude is deliberately cultivated and nurtured in us: by big business, the government and even the education system. We give value only to our physical comforts and bodily survival, denying our inherent happiness and all spiritual values that are its offshoot.
To quote David Cain again: “I don’t think it’s necessary to shun the whole ugly system and go live in the woods, pretending to be a deaf-mute, as Holden Caulfield often fantasized. But we could certainly do well to understand what big commerce really wants us to be. They’ve been working for decades to create millions of ideal consumers, and they have succeeded. Unless you’re a real anomaly, your lifestyle has already been designed. The perfect customer is dissatisfied but hopeful, uninterested in serious personal development, highly habituated to the television, working full-time, earning a fair amount, indulging during their free time, and somehow just getting by.”
I want to go a step further and ask myself why I have been such an easy target and willing follower of materialistic principles. It’s as complex or as simple as Vandana Shiva states in the documentary ‘Money and Life’: “You cannot say no to money if you haven’t found your real being”. I’m a spiritual being and I know it. So do you. I am not first and foremost a consumer. Neither are you.
As the living, spiritual master Yanchiji succinctly expresses: “Every physical appearance depends on life-force or the energy that is life-force or the energy that is life. Everything in the first instance is freely given by the great almighty and mysterious life-force, or spiritual-being. The grass is freely given by the power of life-force. The water is freely given by the power of life-force. The sun is freely given by the power of life-force. The air is freely given by the power of life-force. The beast is freely given by the power of life-force. The milk is freely given by the power of life-force. We take and make a block of butter into money. We lose our psychic/spiritual connection when we equate life with economic/political ideas and success. In the midst of our western political way of life one can begin to feel and think money makes life, rather than always remembering and honouring the great mysterious energy that makes Life.”
This does not mean that in the spiritual life, money as a tool gets discarded. Instead, it’s used to create physical circumstances for the advancement of the evolution of all of humanity. It’s used to create beauty and life-inspiring opportunities for all to share. It’s used for celebrations. It’s kept in its rightful place, circulated and never allowed to become anybody’s master. It’s the servant of the only real currency: life.
© Sitara Morgenster