Money creates a false sense of independence


Money gives one a sense of freedom and ownership. We believe that with money we can own anything, that we can put a price tag on anybody’s services.

Ownership of something means total control of its existence. When we buy a piece of land, we feel that we own it, although the land continues to exist even after the owner is no more. How can we own something that outlives us?

Money also gives the idea that we are powerful and independent, blinding us to the fact that we live in a world of interdependence. We depend on farmers, cooks, drivers and the services of so many people around us. Even an expert surgeon cannot operate by herself. She depends on others. Because we pay for their services, we overlook the fact that we depend on them.

If we look at why most people with money are arrogant we will find it is because of the feeling of independence that money brings. The awareness of dependence on the other hand makes one humble. The basic human quality of humility is taken away by a false feeling of independence.

Can money really reflect the worth of a person? We cannot put a value to human life. Wealth can be attained through one's skills, abilities, inheritance, or through corrupt means. The means of attaining wealth brings its own consequences. The very motive for corruption is peace and happiness. Yet peace and happiness remain elusive when the means are corrupt.

As possession of money creates the illusion of independence, money is often referred to as maya. A Sanskrit phrase sums it up: Miyate anaya iti maya – That which can be measured is maya.

On the other hand, some people blame money for all the ills in society. There are others who even consider it an evil. Just as possessing money brings arrogance, rejecting it too makes one arrogant. Some people who renounce money take pride in their poverty to draw attention and sympathy.

However, ancient sages honoured money or maya as a part of the divine and transcended the grip of its illusion. They knew that when we reject or hate something, we can never transcend it.

They honoured wealth as Goddess Lakshmi, the consort of Narayana. She is born out of yoga. It is yoga that transforms the bad karma and brings out latent skills and talents. It also brings up ashtasiddhis, the eight perfections and nav nidhis, the nine wealths.

Yoga helps one move from arrogance to self-confidence, meekness to humility, dependence to interdependence, from craving for freedom to the recognition of unboundedness and from a limited ownership to oneness with the whole.

When people lack faith in the Divine or in their own abilities or in the goodness of society they suffer from a deep sense of insecurity. As a result all that appears to provide security is money. They rely on something that is not certain, and end up getting upset. Uncertainty causes craving for stability.

The world is of change; the Self is of non-change. We have to rely on the non-change and accept the change. This is like perceiving the real as unreal and unreal as real. In fact, all miseries are unreal. A wise man knows that happiness is real, as it is our very nature. Unhappiness is unreal because it is inflicted by memory. When we see everything as a dream, then we abide in our true nature -- love, joy and peace. We then understand that money is not all-important. Values, sense of belonging, love and care are more important.