You Can’t Take It With You
My Uncle Ken, a loving heartfelt man and my mother’s older brother, passed away this week. And in contemplating his death, it also started a contemplation in me about money and its relationship to death. It may sound trite to hear “You can’t take it with you”, but it is actually a very profound statement. Whatever you can’t take with you, is not what you should be spending a lot of time on earth attaining. What does continue is your consciousness, your life. What is true is never lost.
At the same time, money is our society is embedded in everything that we do and is therefore something we spend a lot of time in our lives dealing with. But although it occupies an important place in the physical world, in the “god world” it has no importance at all. That is why Christ said, ” It is as difficult for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of Heaven as it is for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle.”
So the accumulation of money just for itself from this perspective looks ridiculous. I have often felt that those who accumulate money for the sake of it believe they are going to cheat death. The more money they have, the better and the goal is the accumulation of money for its own sake. This has become an illness that could affect the very survival of the planet. There is richness in the world, but it cannot be had through accumulating things. Acquiring things is the ego’s attempt to expand itself. Even if we could extend ourselves to the end of the universe and appropriate everything in our path, we would be missing the boundlessness of Beingness, our spiritual nature.
Because we can’t take it with us, it really has no value in and of itself. In and of itself, it is actually sterile. It is only a symbol of value, not real value. You could liken it to a physical body with no spirit in it. And it is our spirit that survives. Why spend your life acquiring which adds so little value to what does continue after physical life- your consciousness? So the question becomes, how can we bring our spirituality, our consciousness into our money? And in effect transform it from something sterile into something valuable?
The only real value is in its use in the physical world. But for so many, the accumulation of money for the future (which is an illusion) becomes an end in itself, and we forget where true value lies. This is what I say in my book:
We experience a painful emptiness when we believe that the material world is the source of our bounty and don’t understand that our physical senses are not our soul’s satisfaction. The heart of our true nature is endless, boundless love and a richness that is not finite. The joy of Being cannot come to you from any possession; it emanates from the formless dimension within you, from consciousness itself, which is one with who you are.
Once we know this to be true, we don’t have to spend our time and energy acquiring more and more things and then trying to protect or hoard what we have—because Beingness is ours, and it is unlimited. The Being world is beautiful and glorious and luminous, and it is the source of our richness. The more we know ourselves as that, the more we understand that this richness is inherent in who we are.
So what if you learned to use money wisely for your own personal growth and for the growth of others around you? If you develop that wisdom, then you can let the wealth you have be the means of bringing in higher values of the progress of the spirit. In his book, Grieve No More Beloved, The Book of Delight, Ormond McGill transcribes “There is no harm in acquiring great wealth if you possess it rather than letting it possess you. Look upon wealth as a means of acquiring greater freedom to do that which is worthwhile doing. If you can handle money in that way, then it is worthwhile acquiring in the physical world, as the stewardship of fortune can teach many lessons worth learning, but for far too many it is simply money, money, money…jingle, jingle, jingle.”
That does not mean we can’t acquire treasures and collectibles that are meaningful to our hearts- that is not the same as collecting money just for the sake of it. What is important to remember however, is that those objects are not valuable in and of themselves, but because of the joy or pleasure – the Beingness – they bring our hearts and for the reminder of formless dimension of Being that is their nature. They are valuable because of the formless dimension beneath them. If your treasures also bring joy to others, then that is even better. Nothing that beautiful, or worthwhile is ever lost. All that you acquire that touches your consciousness will go along with you in spirit.
Money is the perfect place to practice the spiritual principle of “To be in the world and not of it.”