The Yoga of Money
Yoga provides us with the greatest way to make and handle money, to give money its true value, and to use it to achieve success and happiness. I know how surprising this claim sounds. Indian spirituality is identified with renunciation and detachment from the world. Our typical image is of a white-bearded hermit, meditating in a cave high in the Himalayas. But, in reality, Yoga isn’t spiritual in the religious sense. Yoga is the science of consciousness.
When you know how consciousness actually behaves, you find that something startling happens: You change with it. Learning about anything else doesn’t have this dramatic effect. You might be enthusiastic, even delighted, to learn about anything else—history, geography, physics, etc.—but you won’t be changed on the inside; you won’t experience the personal transformation caused by Yoga.
There is an immediate connection to money, strange as this seems at first glance. At the soul level, there is generosity of spirit. This manifests as the following:
• Infinite abundance
• Infinite possibilities
• Unlimited creativity
• Mercy, grace, and loving kindness
• Eternal love
• Boundless giving
These gifts are innate and human awareness is designed to express them. If you embody them in your own life, you are wealthy in the truest sense of the word. Measuring wealth by money alone is spiritually empty. (I know nothing about reggae music, but the great reggae musician Bob Marley spoke like a yogi when he said, “Some people are so poor, all they have is money.”)
To attain wealth of the lasting kind, the kind that gives your life meaning, value, and sustenance, base your daily existence on the generosity of spirit. Everything else you desire will follow of its own accord.
Once you make the connection between consciousness and money, you have stepped onto the right path. Money isn’t all the gold in Fort Knox and all the dollar bills floating around in pockets and purses. Money is a tool of consciousness. Therefore, your state of awareness determines how you see money, how you gain it, and what you use it for. Consciousness is always in motion, and so is money. Consciousness motivates us to seek more out of life; money follows this journey and eases the way if you have enough of it.
If you shift your attitude away from money as the goal, but instead intend to get more out of life, you will have the support of consciousness. In Yoga this support comes from dharma, which comes from a Sanskrit verb that means “to uphold or support.” If you are in your dharma, as it is usually phrased, abundance follows. If you are out of your dharma, you experience lack. Without the support of consciousness, nothing valuable can be achieved.
The concept behind money is powerful, and once it took hold (archaeologists trace the first money to the Mesopotamian shekel around five thousand years ago), money exploded as an idea. Behind modern life, the idea still flourishes. Seen as an invention of the mind, money accomplishes four different things that are necessary to human society. Money serves us as reward, value, need, and exchange. Pause and consider why you personally need money, and you’ll see that all four things are present in your life.
Reward: The money slipped into a child’s birthday card, the salary every worker is paid, and the tip left for the waiter in a restaurant are all rewards.
Value: The money slipped into the birthday card is pure giving, not needing to be earned. But it conveys that the child who gets the money is valued. The salary you earn expresses the value of your work, and for many people this becomes a way to measure their self-esteem.
Need: We live in a service economy that exists to fill people’s needs much more than to provide physical necessities. When you need a doctor, a college education, a set of new tires, and a thousand other things, money brings you what you need, even seemingly superfluous needs, like this season’s new fashion in sneakers or a bigger flat-screen TV.
Exchange: Money makes up the difference between two items that do not match in value. If you have a mountain bike for sale and I have only a dozen eggs to offer as barter, money has to be exchanged to make the bargain fair.
All of these ideas, and many more swirling around money, are the products of consciousness. This much it is easy to show. Yoga adds a missing ingredient, which turns out to be all-important. Yoga teaches that the closer you get to the source of awareness, the more power your consciousness has. By translating this power into things you desire, and the money to pay for them, you transform consciousness into wealth.
Money can’t be sorted out from this tangle of good and bad choices. Because it is tied to everything we need, value, reward, and exchange, money is actually the coin of consciousness. You gain and spend joy, you experience love, friendship, family, work, opportunity, success, and setback, and money is always somewhere in the mix.
As Yoga sees it, consciousness is creative. It gives the mind thoughts, feelings, inspirations, breakthroughs, insights, “Aha!” moments, and everything else we value, including love, compassion, joy, and intelligence. The closer you are to the silent wellspring of consciousness inside you, the more you will receive these benefits. In the Judeo-Christian tradition, these benefits got translated into the fits of a merciful God, or Providence. But Yoga retained a focus on the self, not an outside divine power.
By keeping the focus on the self, we are not merely higher primates, but the expression of infinite pure consciousness. We exist to fulfill any creative possibility that we desire to pursue. There is no value judgment in Yoga. It is the science of consciousness, not a set of moral rules. Desires are all equal the instant they are born in our awareness. What kind of desire is good for us, however, is our personal responsibility.Dharma and Money
The generosity of spirit is infinite. Therefore, nothing is more natural than abundance. What is unnatural is scarcity, lack, and poverty. I know that these are loaded words. All kinds of beliefs swirl around rich and poor, haves and have-nots. Social forces often work against the poor, and in no way am I casting blame or making a value judgment. Underlying all the inequality and unfairness, spirit isn’t harmed or even affected. Take a snapshot of anyone’s life anywhere in the world, and there is a path of dharma that spirit will support. It is always an inner path, and yet few people, East or West, rich or poor, understand how to gain access to their spiritual birthright. Yoga is the storehouse of the knowledge that is required before anyone can truly live the life they were meant to live, in fulfillment and abundance from the inside.
The key to wealth is being in your dharma, staying on the path that is best for you. “Best for you” is not defined in advance. You have a choice, and in fact you have been making choices your entire life that led to this moment in time. Look around, and the situation you find yourself in was mind-made. The physical appearances of a house, a job, possessions, salary, bank account, etc. are the results of consciousness. In and of themselves, material things have no intrinsic value. A mansion can be a place filled with unhappiness, a cottage can be filled with joy. A job can be a source of personal fulfillment or a grind. Your salary can bring you what you want out of life or barely keep your head above water.
If you want more out of life, construct a vision that dharma will support. In a moment I’ll ask you to write down your personal vision of success, wealth, and fulfillment. But before that can be useful, you need to know which values dharma supports and which values it doesn’t.
Dharma will support you if . . .
You aim to be happy and fulfilled.
You give of yourself to others.
You make other people’s success as important as your own.
You act out of love.
You have ideals and live by them.
You are peaceful.
You inspire yourself and the people around you.
You are self-reliant.
You listen and learn.
You expand your options.
You take responsibility.
You are curious about new experiences.
You are open-minded.
You have self-acceptance and know your worth.
Because being in your dharma is the most natural way to live, these things are just as natural and easy to follow. But modern life doesn’t guide us according to what is dharmic, and often quite the opposite. We are influenced to believe in a way of life that produces stress, distraction, unhappiness, and constant stimulation. These results come about when you live on the surface of your awareness. On the surface there is a constant play of demands and desires that have no deep roots. Their spiritual value is nil, meaning that there is no connection to dharma.