Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
It is said in the Vedic literature, Dharma is righteousness. Then comes artha, which means- the means, money. And then Kama, desire. And then liberation, moksha. So, Dharmasya moolam artha. That is, righteousness is based on prosperity. If everybody is prosperous, nobody will steal anything. The root of dharma or righteousness is prosperity, is money. So, it is all linked. Money is important, but money is only the means. It is not everything.
Never link money with happiness. Even the poorest people are happy, if you see. In fact they are more happy. But money can create a false notion of security to you: You think if you have money, you have everything. The idea of money is for comfort. Isn’t it? Why do you want money? For comfort. But money can give you only one type of comfort.
There are three types of comfort: Physical comfort, emotional and mental comfort, and spiritual comfort - the inner comfort. Whereas money provides only one type of comfort, it doesn’t give emotional and spiritual comfort. It is essential. Like, we all eat to live. But if we live only to eat (laughs), then something is very wrong with us. Basically wrong.
Scriptures and ancient people beautifully describe how to make best use of money. You make five equal portions of the money. You use one portion for yourself, you save twenty percent, you use another twenty percent for your family, and immediate needs, and you make use of one portion for the society .One is called Aapad dhan. It is for emergency, for any need in the future. And there is another school of thought which says you spend 10 percent on charity, you save 30 percent, and you use 60 percent the way you want.
I would say, you don’t need to spend even 10 percent on charity. Keep aside at least 2% or 3% of your income. If you don’t do charity at all, your money will be spent on court cases and on hospitals. You keep aside 2 – 10 percent for the world. Then the greed will not happen in our mind. Greed kills the person and then kills his business also.
But ambition is ok. You should have ambition. You should aspire to create more wealth. Creating more wealth is not a bad thing at all. So, that balanced attitude for money must be there. Money should not be everything in life. It should be to sustain, and to give you physical comfort. And it’s only spirituality that is absolute comfort. When you are connected with the divinity, mental and spiritual comfort is there, you don’t even think about money. Things come automatically.Next year, this ashram will have completed 20 years. Before we had this ashram in North America, we used to hire places here and there. So many people used to come, and we needed our own kitchen for vegetarian food. It was difficult to have advanced courses in hotels here and there.Then I said that the next time I come, we should have a place where we can keep the atmosphere pure, where only meditation happens and where the vibrations of the place become more saatvik, more congenial and more in harmony with nature. Then some of our devotees went around and looked at places, but we didn’t have that much money.
First we put up some tents, and all the tents flew away. It rained. They had a kitchen here and wooden things. Everyone started doing a little bit here and there, and the place became beautiful. So, the whole place come up in some time.This is what is called siddhi. Siddhi means you get what is needed. In India, there is a proverb which says you really wished for nuts and it came to you when you lost all the teeth (laughs). You were praying for nuts, ‘Oh, I need nuts, I need nuts, I need nuts.’ And then when you got nuts, all the teeth were gone! That’s no use. You are praying for husband or wife, and they appeared when you are 75! It makes no sense!
We never ever worry for how things will be done! This is what is siddhi. When the spiritual power is there, spiritual energy is there, everything happens effortlessly. Move with faith and confidence. At the same time, don’t live too much in the air. Be a little practical also. Till you get to that level of spiritual inner dependence, you have to have the reasoning. Reasonably, you should be aware of how you should manage funds.
So, it’s like dance. How dance will happen? When one foot is on the ground, and one is up. If both legs are buried in the mud, can you dance? And if both feet are in the air, then also you cannot dance. You’ll fall. So, dance happens when there is one foot on the ground, and one up in the air. This is what is whole knowledge – practical yet ethereal, spiritual in approach. But I have seen some people who are too ethereal. They don’t do any work but they simply sit, ‘I want 20 million dollars, I want 100 million dollars.’ They don’t even think about small numbers. (laughs) They Pray for it every day. Nothing is going to happen that way also.Know that balance.