By: Dr. Kate Tomas is the Women’s Spiritual Empowerment Mentor. She works with women to teach them tools for self mastery, spiritual connection and powerful business growth without exploitation. She runs two multi-six figure businesses. www.drkatetomas.com.
For most people, money and spirituality seem like unlikely bedfellows. We are taught that wealth and material riches are at odds with true spiritual enlightenment, and that ‘the best things in life are free’ implying that we should not be focussed on building financial security and should instead be paying attention to relationships, connection, deeper meaning. For those of us in business who consider spirituality to be important to them, this could pose a real dilemma. How do we square the circle of wanting a financially flourishing business with a desire to feel in alignment and connected to our true spiritual selves? The thought that poverty brings you closer to God is a pretty powerful idea. Do we have to sacrifice financial stability in this world for proximity to the Divine?
I have long felt this to be a misunderstanding. It is no surprise we are conditioned to think that material wealth and financial security are ‘on different planes’ to spiritual growth considering the messages we are brought up with. One often cited passage from the New Testament states that “it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God."(Matthew 19: 23-26). At first glance this seems to imply that it is literally not possible for a rich man to get to Heaven, but actually the Eye of a Needle was the name for a gate into Jerusalem that Camels would wander through with little trouble. The analogy here was used to describe how although more difficult for a rich man to achieve enlightenment, through God, all things are possible. It just requires a bit more work. But why more work?
More interesting I think, than dismissing money as evil and far from godliness, is the idea that spirituality; that connection to the Truth of existence, the meaning of life and all that really matters, is at odds with Capitalist exploitation. Because Capitalism; the economic model of accruing wealth through the exploitation of other people’s labour, is something deeply at odds with an understanding all spiritual practices and traditions recognize as true: that Individuality is an illusion and we are all One. With this understanding, hoarding private wealth gained through other people’s labour is not only not going to lead to an experience of oneness with everything, it is actively working against the recognition of your own divinity. So depending on how the rich man in the Biblical analogy gained his money, he would have an easy or difficult time getting into the kingdom of God. Jeff Bezos might have a God complex, but he will be fundamentally blocked from experiencing his own divinity for as long as he builds his wealth on the backs of poor workers.
You see it’s not money or wealth that is at odds with spirituality, it is exploitation and abuse. To be truly spiritually connected, one needs to have a strong and easily accessible connection to the Self. Behaving in ways that are not in alignment with who you truly are will lead to a deep alienation from the Self. Exploiting others is not Divine.
Having access to resources and feeling entitled to wealth are often side effects of true spiritual connection. Capitalism has taught us that the only way to achieve material wealth is through clever (and not so clever) exploitation of others in a weaker position than us, but that is not the case. It is perfectly possible to feel entitled to money, to actively pursue and joyfully engage with money and not alienate yourself from your authentic self. The important piece to remember is that your actions, and those of your business, must align with your authentic self. Having money can be a powerful way to strengthen your spiritual connection, as you have the resources to live more authentically and with more kindness. A mantra I teach my students is ‘The more money I have, the more kind and authentic I can afford to be’.
If you want to build a truly thriving financially healthy and self-sustaining business, it will be important to embrace money. As basic as that sounds, so many of us with spiritual leanings have been taught, erroneously, that money is evil. Recognise that although we cannot divest from Capitalism in all ways, we can each choose to NOT exploit. We can choose to make money in a way that honours the divinity of each person we engage with, and that recognizes their connection to ourselves. Creating businesses that contribute powerfully as a force for good means that not only do they not need to conflict with your spirituality, but they can support and strengthen your connection to self.