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Running After Money

Why does every­one run behind mon­ey?

I would say its your choice. You run behind mon­ey, it’s okay! There is noth­ing wrong with that. If you know it is prob­lem­at­ic but still you feel stuck then yes! it is a prob­lem and it needs to be addressed. If you look at the prin­ci­ples its always impor­tant to under­stand from first prin­ci­ples.


In the Indi­an sys­tem we look at the purushartha. Purushartha means the fun­da­men­tal pur­pose of human exis­tence that is clas­si­fied into four: Dhar­ma, Artha, Kama and Mok­sha. Now Artha means wealth. So wealth is con­sid­ered a very impor­tant aspect because with­out wealth, with­out mon­ey you can­not trans­act nor­mal­ly. You can­not have a nor­mal exis­tence. It becomes very very tough to lead life being poor. If it is by choice that is dif­fer­ent but oth­er­wise its very tough. You can imag­ine peo­ple liv­ing below the pover­ty line. They are almost hand­i­capped. So wealth is a very very impor­tant require­ment.

Why We need Wealth?

So that being said, that is one of the com­po­nents. But why do you need wealth? That per­spec­tive gives you the aspect of choice, the ele­ment of choice. If you don’t have that per­spec­tive, you feel boxed up. You become obses­sive about artha. That is called lob­ha or greed. If you have that expan­sive per­spec­tive of dhar­ma and under­stand your role in the soci­ety then you start envi­sion­ing all the resources that you require. And you will see that one of the resources is mon­ey or wealth or artha. If you have that per­spec­tive, then you will put in effort o gain mon­ey but not for itself. By itself mon­ey does not mean any­thing. But for the pur­pose of doing some­thing larg­er, for a high­er pur­pose you need resources.

How did mon­ey Evolve?

If you look at how mon­ey would have evolved, say, ini­tial­ly peo­ple would have had no need for mon­ey. They would have bartered goods then as that expand­ed, as trade expand­ed, it would required some com­mon thing that can help in their trans­ac­tions. And hence mon­ey would have been invent­ed. Right! It is inven­tion. Human beings have dis­cov­ered it lets say. But now we have bound by our own inven­tion. Just like this mobile phone, you know! Many peo­ple feel stuck with the mobile phone. They suf­fer because of the mobile phone. But it’s just a human inven­tion to make life bet­ter. That’s who it should be worked with. So mon­ey got invent­ed and then there would have been this social con­di­tion­ing over a peri­od of time. Every­one observed that if you have mon­ey you can do cer­tain things, if you don’t have mon­ey, you can­not do cer­tain things. You are not empow­ered in cer­tain ways.

A Social Con­di­tion­ing

With this comes social con­di­tion­ing and over a peri­od of time that’s rein­forced by par­ents to chil­dren and so on and passed on gen­er­a­tion to gen­er­a­tion. So par­ents slight­ly nudge them towards the pur­suit of artha or mon­ey. That’s not wrong. It’s a very valid process. That’s how con­di­tion­ing works. Every­thing is about con­di­tion­ing. But con­di­tion­ing is a twin edged sword. If you don’t have the per­spec­tive, a larg­er vision, then you are boxed in that con­di­tion­ing. Oth­er­wise the same con­di­tion­ing lib­er­ates you. For exam­ple this body if it is con­di­tion to walk and run it is con­di­tion through abhyasa, through repeat­ed prac­tice, we fall down, get up, fall down, get up and every­one nudges us towards tak­ing the first step when we are very young. So that is con­di­tion­ing the body to walk which is very good. Sim­i­lar­ly con­di­tion­ing the mind on artha is not wrong. But now the prin­ci­ples are fuzzy. And hence mon­ey becomes an obses­sive con­di­tion­ing. That’s when it becomes prob­lem­at­ic. Oth­er­wise its an okay con­di­tion­ing. So when you see this con­di­tion­ing, you feel stuck in it.

Get­ting Out of It:

You bad­ly want to get out of it you will need to use an alter­na­tive approach where you go live in an envi­ron­ment that does not rein­forces this con­di­tion­ing. Now our reg­u­lar soci­ety rein­forces this con­di­tion­ing. You go to work and peo­ple talk of invest­ment, mon­ey, prof­it and busi­ness. You come home peo­ple talk of mon­ey and secu­ri­ty. But how do you break that rein­force­ment? How do you get out of that rein­force­ment? how do you use neg­a­tive rein­force­ment? You need to go to envi­ron­ments that do not rein­force this con­di­tion­ing. Then it becomes loose. Oth­er­wise it grips your mind. That’s why in our tra­di­tion­al process, peo­ple where adviced to live in ashra­mas for some­time. An ashra­ma is a place where such soci­etal con­di­tion­ing are not rein­forced and hence it becomes flu­id. Oth­er­wise it becomes rigid.

Liv­ing in Nature

For exam­ple the ego is not rein­forced and hence that becomes flu­id and you breathe peace. Anoth­er way is to live in a nat­ur­al envi­ron­ment. Nature does not rein­force these human invent­ed con­di­tions. That is one won­der­ful way. That’s why peo­ple choose to live in forests or go to moun­tain tops or trekking up the moun­tain. If you go to Himalayas whether you have mon­ey or not doesn’t mat­ter so much. That you will see it loosens that con­di­tion­ing and then you breathe easy. So mon­ey is not a prob­lem. Devel­op a high­er vision for which mon­ey is nec­es­sary. Then you will se that if you have mon­ey its okay! You will use it in the right. You will not be all worked up about mon­ey.

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