One of the sacred teaching of Buddhism is that suffering roots from our desires. Our desires are always seeking to be satisfied which puts us in the position of always wanting and needing. We always think that we will be happy once we attain a certain amount in our bank accounts, buy that house or have the the things that we want. However since money is a numbers game, if we rely on it to be happy, we will always be wanting.
But in truth, Buddhism does not truly teach us to fully shun money and stay away from it. Rather it it guides us on how to use it properly.
Is Money Evil?
In many religions and ideologies, money is viewed as evil. It is viewed as a source of greed and inequality. People see money and they know that there is good in it. However it is normally associated with materialistic goodness. When people say “money” they often think of how this commodity can better their lives.
Money is not evil no more than any other resources. Money only becomes evil if it starts to change us and possess us. It becomes evil if it starts to control your thoughts and actions. Greed causes money to become evil.
However money is neither good nor evil. It can be either of the two depending on the person. If a person uses money for selfishness and desires too much money, then it causes suffering to himself and to others. On the other hand, if money is used for empowering other and enriching the lives of others, then it is not evil but good.
Buddha’s Lessons On Wealth and Money
Buddha has many teaching not only for attaining Enlightenment but also for living day to day life. He has often spoken to lay people who have sought his wisdom. Merchants and the reach have asked him on how to find virtue despite wanting to live a good and wealthy life.
Buddha has also gave many teachings on how to acquire and manager fortune and money. He states that balance is the key. He even teaches the virtues for balancing money to create a budget, how to use money and help others and one’s self and even how to enjoy money.
His Dharma’s or teachings teach many truths about wealth and happiness that come with it. How to spend one’s money and how to do business. He also teaches how to share money and how to balance one’s budget.
1. Four Kinds of Happiness Related to Wealth
Atthisukha – Happiness through ownership.
Anavajjasukha – Happiness coming from right livelihood (e.g. not dealing with illegal and harmful item, slavery, sales of intoxicants and slaughtering animals)
Ananasukha – Happiness from being debt free.
Bhogasukha – Happiness from sharing one’s money and wealth with others.
Buddha teaches us that there is nothing wrong with owning a house and properties because with such, we can provide for our family, parents and relatives. And through ownership, we can help others. He also states that we should work and take pride with the work that we do. Our work should help the community. Buddha also states that in order for us to be truly happy we should avoid debt and try to pay off our debts. Debts bring anxiety and suffering and thus living without debt is bliss.
But one of the most important tenents that Buddha has mentioned is that we should learn happiness coming from being able to help others. We should help those who are poor and do not have the ability to eat. We should help those who are in a lower stature than us. We should help hungry animals. Helping others brings about joy. And thus this teaches us that wealth can be a vehicle of goodness.
2. The Sigalovada Sutra
The Sigalovada Sutra is a set of teachings towards the lay people given to a merchant who sought the Buddha’s advice on how live a virtous everyday life. It is a set of Dharmas stating how to handle wealth, family, friends, work, sex, saving money, entertainment and even popularity.
The Sigalovada Sutra teaches the Four Steps In Balancing Money:
Set aside money for one’s needs and wants, more importantly one’s needs.
Set aside money needed to grow one’s business and skills. Set aside money needed to be able to perform one’s work (transportation costs)
Set aside money that you would need to grow your business or to enrich your career. You may expand your business or learn something new.
Set aside money for times of need.
The Sigalovada Sutra also teaches to avoid vices, gambling, greed and idleness. Aside from that it teaches good work ethics such as being dedicated to your work such that you “rise” before your employer and “lay down” after him. This means to put a lot of eagerness to help you manager and your company and share good service.
According to this teaching, true wealth and riches is not derived from the amount of money earned, but rather the essence of hard work put into it. Buddha states that true wealth can only be achieved by perseverance and by allowing passion for work to flow through. In of his teachings he mentions that a man should toil the land and work without complaining of the heat or the cold, the insects and all the harshness of the land.
Ziji is a Tibetan word that means innate and steadfast confidence. This is the form of confidence that allows us not to fear poverty, loss of stature and old age. It is the kind of confidence that allows us to free our minds from obsessing about money.
More often that not, we scramble through life to earn money because we fear that we are going to run out of it or will be poor or even homeless. Ziji teaches us to not put money in the center of our lives, but rather use it as a tool to live.
Wealth should never be the destination of happiness. We should never think that we will be happy when we attain wealth. But rather use wealth to as a means to live our lives and help other. We should live simply and help others.
Simple Life Lessons from Buddhism About Money
Money has been the center of life for many people. People want to earn more money so that they can increase their social stature. Life has become more materialistic than ever.
But what does Buddhism tell us about living our daily lives? It teaches us to let go of desire and greed and live simple.
1. Eat simple and healthy food – Simple and healthy food do not cost so much money. Eat vegetables and grains. Lessen or avoid eating meat. This will not only save you money but would also help your health.
2. Do not buy things that you don’t need – When you buy things that you don’t need, your money will run out. You will have debt and you life will be full of unnecessary things.
3. Work not because of money but because of service – If you work just because of money, you will never be contented. If you work because of service, you will go home everyday fulfilled.
4. Do not have vices – Avoid drinking, smoking or gambling as this burns away money like burning grass on a summer’s day.
5. Share what you have – We should help one another specially those who are in need. Never be greedy and allow wealth and happiness flow from you.
Buddha has taught us many virtues. Buddhism is not just abstinence and asceticism, it is also about the proper management of the earthy goods that we have.