Question: What is money and why are most people deeply uncomfortable about it in one way or another?
It is a touchy question, because money is not what it appears. Money is more deep-rooted. Money is not just there outside in the currency notes, it is something to do with your inner, mind, attitudes. Money is your love of things, money is your escape from persons, money is your security against death, money is your effort to control life, money is a thousand and one things. Money is not just in the currency notes, otherwise things would have been very easy.
Money is your love – love of things, not of persons. The most comfortable love is of things, because things are dead, you can possess them easily. You can possess a big house, a palace – the greatest palace you can possess easily – but you cannot possess even the smallest baby; even that baby rejects, even that baby fights for his freedom. A small baby, howsoever small, is dangerous for the man who wants to possess him. He will rebel, he will become rebellious, but he will not allow anybody to possess him.
People who cannot love people, start loving money because money is a means to possess things. The more money you have, the more things you can possess; and the more things you can possess, the more you can forget about people. You will have many things but you will not have any contentment, because deep contentment comes only when you love a person. The money will not revolt but it cannot respond either, that’s the trouble.
That’s why miserly people become very ugly – nobody has responded to their love ever. How can you be beautiful without love falling on you, without love showering on you like flowers – how can you be beautiful? You become ugly. You become closed. A man who possesses money or tries to possess money, is miserly and he will always be afraid of people, because if they are allowed to come closer they may start sharing. If you allow somebody closeness you have to allow some sharing also.
People who love things become like things – dead, closed. Nothing vibrates in them, nothing dances and sings in them, their hearts have lost the beat. They live a mechanical life. They drag, burdened, burdened with many things, but they don’t have any freedom because only love can give you freedom and love can give you freedom only if you give freedom to love.
People who are afraid of love become possessive about money. People who love become non-possessive, money doesn’t matter much. If it is, it is okay, it can be used; if it is not, that too is okay, because love is such a kingdom that no money can purchase it. Love is such a deep fulfillment that you can be a beggar on the street and you can sing if you have love in your heart. If you have loved and you have been loved, love crowns you, makes a king of you. Money simply makes you ugly.
I am not against money. I am not saying to go and throw it away, because that is another extreme. That is also the last step of the miserly mind. A man who has suffered too much because of money, who has clung to money and could not love anybody or become open, becomes so frustrated in the end that he throws away the money, renounces and goes to the Himalayas, enters a Tibetan monastery and becomes a lama. This man has not understood. If you understand, money can be used, but people who don’t understand are either misers, they can’t use the money, or they renounce the money, because in renouncing they are also saving the same mind. Now there will be no difficulty in using it: you renounce all and escape. But they cannot use the money, they are afraid of using it.
They can renounce, remember this. I have seen misers renouncing completely, totally. The man who founded a university in Sagar, India, where I was a student, was a rare specimen. His name was Dr. Hari Singh Gaur. I have never come across a greater miser than him and I have not come across a greater renouncer either. He was perfect in both ways. For his whole life he never gave a single paise to anybody, no beggar ever received anything from his bungalow. It was known in his town, Sagar, that if some beggar was going to Hari Singh’s house to ask, others would laugh and they would say, “Seems to be new to the town.” Nobody ever received anything.
He never donated a single rupee for any cause, humanitarian or anything. For the Indian National Freedom Movement he never donated a single pai – no, that was not his way. He was a perfect miser and he was one of the greatest lawyers in the world. He had three offices, one in India, one in China, one in England, and he worked four months in England, four months in India, four months in China. He was one of the best lawyers in the world. He accumulated so much money and then in the end he donated his whole life’s savings. The whole university of Sagar is created by a single person’s donation. It is one of the most beautiful universities.
But when he donated, he donated all. You will be surprised to know that he donated so absolutely that he did not leave a single pai for his children. Now they are fighting in the courts, they have nothing, they are beggars on the street. The miser remains a miser to the very end, even when he renounces. He couldn’t give to his children even a single pai but he could renounce the whole.
First you can accumulate money like a madman, then one day you understand that you wasted your whole life. When you understand this you become afraid, but the old habit persists. You can give the whole and forget about it and escape, but you cannot share it.
If a man of understanding has money he shares, because money is not for itself, it is for life. If he feels that life needs it, love needs it, he can throw it away completely, but it is not a renunciation, it is again using it. Love is the goal for him; money is the means, but money is never the goal. For people who are after money, money is the goal; love becomes just a means. Even their prayer is for money; even prayer becomes a means to money.
Money is a very complex phenomenon. Why do people get so much into it, and so many people at that? It has a certain appeal, a magnetic appeal. Money has a hypnotic appeal in it and the appeal is that you can possess it completely. Money is very docile. It becomes a slave. The ego feels very fulfilled.
Love is not docile. Love is rebellious. You cannot possess love. You can possess a woman, you can possess a man, but you can never possess love. If you possess a woman, the woman has become money, a thing; if you possess a man, the man has become money, a thing, an instrument. A man is a man only and a woman is a woman only when they are an end unto themselves ( not a means to anything else. Money is the means, and to become obsessed with the means is the greatest foolishness that can occur to a man, and the greatest curse.
Money should not become the goal, but I am not saying at the same time that you should renounce it and become beggars – use it, it is a good means. I’m not against money, I have nothing to say against it. I am saying something about you and your possessiveness, not about money. Money can be beautiful – if it is not possessed, if you don’t become obsessed with it. It can be beautiful. Money is like blood circulating in the body: in the body of society money circulates, it is blood. It helps society to be enriched, to be alive – but it is like blood.
You must have heard about diseases in which the blood stops and cannot circulate, clots of blood come into existence and they become blocks and the blood cannot circulate in the body. Then you are paralyzed, and if the clots happen in the heart you are dead.
If money circulates, moves from one hand to another, goes on moving, the more movement the better, then the blood circulates well, then life is healthy. But when a miser comes in, a clot has happened; somewhere somebody is accumulating, not sharing, and that is a clot in the blood circulation. The man disturbs, he does not live himself and because of his blocking he does not allow others to live. The money has stopped circulating. Blood circulating is life, blood stopped, blocked, is death. Money circulating is life, money stopped, blocked, is death.
I’m for a society where money moves fast, nobody clings to it and everybody uses it. Remember, the simple law of money is: the more you use it, the more valuable it is.
For example, we are sitting here. If ten persons have a hundred rupees in their pockets, and they keep it to themselves, then ten persons have only one thousand rupees, dead. But when those rupees circulate, if they make two rounds, ten thousand have become twenty thousand; if they make three rounds they have become thirty thousand; and if they make four rounds…. The more they circulate, the more money there is, because when one hundred rupees are kept by one man those hundred rupees are dead. If he uses them they go to somebody else, then they come to him again because others are also using them; now he has two hundred rupees, and again three hundred, four hundred, five hundred…. The more you use it, the more money floats and circulates, and the richer society is.
America is richest because America is the least miserly country in the world. Money circulates fast; everybody is using that money which he has, and even that money which he is going to have in the future, he is using that too. The country is bound to become rich. A country like India is bound to remain poor because people cling. If you cling to money the country will remain poor. When nobody uses it, money becomes like clots in blood.
India has two types of people: misers and renouncers. Both of these types are wrong, ill, abnormal, neurotic. One should have money, earn money, produce money – and use it. One should hold it only to use and one should use it only to hold; it becomes a circle. Then a person is both, a miser and a renouncer together. When you are miser and renouncer together you are neither miser nor renouncer, you simply enjoy whatsoever money can give. Money can give many things and money cannot give many things; when you use it then you know what money can give. Money can give all that is outward – things of this world, nothing is wrong in them. Nothing is wrong in having a beautiful house. Nothing is wrong in having a beautiful garden – money can give it to you. But money cannot give you love, that is expecting too much from poor money.
One should expect only that which can be expected, one should not move in the impossibilities. Just asking poor money to give you love – poor money cannot do that. But nothing is wrong, don’t get angry with the money! Don’t burn it and throw it in the river and go to the Himalayas. In the first place you asked something which a man of understanding would never have asked – you are foolish, that’s all. Nothing is wrong with money.
A wandering monk came to see me two or three years ago and he was very much against money. He would not even touch it – this is a neurosis. There are people who only count money the whole day, and in the night also, in their minds, they go on counting. They only touch money with a loving hand, they never touch anybody else with a loving hand. When they look at their currency notes, watch their eyes – they sparkle. They are hypnotized. These are neurotic people. Then there are other neurotics….
This wandering monk came to me; he would not touch money. So I said, “Then it must be very difficult for you. How did you come to Bombay to see me?” He said, “There is nothing difficult.” He showed two other men, his disciples: they could touch, they were not such evolved beings. What foolishness! They could purchase the ticket and they could keep the money, but for him, he said, “I don’t touch, I have gone far beyond it.”
I said, “But what is the point? Now you are not only using money, you are using two other persons as your pockets. You have reduced two persons, alive persons, to pockets; you have murdered. What was wrong in keeping it in your own pocket?”
And the man said, “So it seems you are in favor of money? What can money give? Can money give love? Can money give God?” I said, “You are foolish if you ask love and God from poor money, your expectations are false. Money never promised them to you, but whatsoever money promises it can give. It never promises that it can give you love. If you expect you are idiotic.”
These people who have been expecting too much from money one day become enemies of money. Then they escape, then they don’t touch money. Even Vinoba closes his eyes if you bring money to him, he will not look at it. What nonsense! What is wrong in money? Something still seems to be miserly inside, something still seems to be like a wound, otherwise why close your eyes? What is wrong in a currency note? It is just paper, and these spiritual people go on saying that it is just paper. If you put ordinary paper in their hands, they touch it, but when you put a currency note there they throw it away as if it is a scorpion or very deadly disease.
Neurosis can move from one extreme to another. Use money. Money is beautiful as far as it goes, and it goes far enough! As far as the world is concerned it goes far enough, but don’t expect love, because it is of the interior, of the inner being, and don’t ask for God, because it is transcendental.
Use everything for its own capacities, not for your dreams. Then you are a healthy man, and to be healthy is to be holy. Don’t be abnormal in any way. Be normal, ordinary, and just create more understanding so that you can see. Money can be used, should be used, it can give you a beautiful world.
Otherwise, sooner or later, if you are against money you will create a dirty country like India: everything is dirty – but they think they are great spiritualists. Everything has gone ugly but they think they are great spiritualists because they have renounced. That’s why things have gone so bad. They think one has to close one’s eyes and not look outside.
It is good to look outside because outside is God’s creation; it is good to look inside because inside the creator is sitting. Both are good. Eyes are meant to blink; they are not meant to remain open forever and they are not meant to be closed forever. They are meant to blink – open and close, open and close. That is the rhythm – out and in, out and in.
Look outside – the beautiful creation; look inside – the beautiful God. And by and by you will see that the in and out meet and mingle and are one.
Osho, Living Tao, Ch 6, Q 5