Deification of the dollar

In Hindu mythology, Lakshmi is the goddess of good fortune/wealth.  She creates the wealth Vishnu needs to preserve and grow the universe, and for distribution to the earth’s beings by Kubera, who stores it in the Himalayas.  In one myth, she is born from the meditations of Prajapati.  At her birth, the other gods desire her gifts so fiercely they want to kill her and steal them.  Prajapati tells them not to use violence, or kill women, to receive the gifts and as they calmly approach her, she gives them each something of great value.

One of the great failures in our attitude about money in contemporary culture is its deification, our mutiny against the gods put it in a place of worship in their stead, resulting in a loss of soulfulness in our relationship with it.  In the story of Lakshmi, there are multiple gods playing differing roles around the concept of wealth: creation, preservation, growth, distribution, and storing.  All of these are relational behaviors with money that should be emulated by us for a balanced perspective in our own financial lives.  

In 2010, Paul Piff, a UC Berkeley researcher, found that poor people were 44% more likely to be generous with the little they have than those in other classes.  The ability to feel compassion for the plight of others was the significant factor in their sharing attitude.  I believe this attitude of compassion should inform all the aspects of wealth.  Using compassion when we grow our money means choosing ethical industries in which to invest.  Compassionate storing is holding banks accountable for their predatory behavior and regulating them.  Compassionate creation is finding ways to use our callings to the benefit of the greatest number of others in the world.  And so on.  With this attitude, we are inured against the use of violence, physical, social, emotional, sexual, etc. in our financial lives.

 

K Piff, Paul & Kraus, Michael & Côté, Stéphane & Cheng, Bonnie & Keltner, Dacher. (2010). Having Less, Giving More: The Influence of Social Class on Prosocial Behavior. Journal of personality and social psychology. 99. 771-84. 10.1037/a0020092.