Money and Spirituality

I know a teacher of spirituality who teaches people how to align themselves with the Tao in order to achieve greater success in every aspect of life. The principles he talks about are fully documented in my book, The Tao of Success.

This teacher’s definition of success includes financial prosperity with no apologies whatsoever. To him, there is no conflict between worldly success and spiritual success. In Asia, this is a widely accepted mind-set, taken for granted by almost everyone. In the West, it is not quite as accepted.

There have been some who took offense when this teacher spoke of applying spiritual teaching to gain monetary abundance. “Excuse me,” they would ask, “but isn’t being greedy diametrically opposite to being spiritual?”

The teacher would try to explain: “You are mixing up different concepts. Greed is the lack of moderation in pursuing money. It is the lack of moderation that drives us away from spirituality, not the pursuit of money.”

“So instead of learning to meditate or being present in the moment, we should learn all about how to make lots of money? That’s ridiculous.”

“Again, you are mixing things up. A poor person can be highly spiritual, not spiritual at all, or anywhere in between. Same with a rich person. To think that one has to choose one or the other is a false dichotomy, because there is nothing wrong with choosing both at the same time. Be careful whenever you are presented with a either-or proposition. Always regard ‘neither’ and ‘both’ as possible options to consider as well. In this case, what we are saying is that you can be both spiritual and wealthy. One does not preclude the other.”

“Look… it simply does not feel right to talk about acquiring ever more prosperity when there are so many people in the world who live under such crushing poverty.”

“It’s actually the other way around. No amount of poverty on my part will help ease their suffering in the slightest. On the other hand, the more resources I can utilize, the more I can do for them. When you do not understand this Tao, you remain trapped in a maze. You feel guilty for enjoying more in life than those who are downtrodden, and the guilt may lead you to sabotage your own success — because you feel undeserving. It is time to follow the guidance of the Tao and walk out of this labyrinth. You deserve abundance in life. That abundance includes love, friendship — and financial prosperity. You deserve all of it.”

Derek Lin
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