The Sri Yantra symbol for cosmic energy

On Money & Civic Service

The right attitude towards money makes all the difference in building alternatives in a world of chaos, confusion and uncertainty.

There’s a prevailing theme among people we come across in our work at Exile: a corrosive relationship to money.

There is the more obvious manifestation of that relationship, which is the accumulation of things that is thought of as wealth. We see this everywhere in western society.

The less obvious manifestation is the idea that one must be impoverished financially and resource-wise in order to experience some form of ‘happiness’. Of course, that in and of itself, presents myriad challenges, not the least of which is that ‘happiness’ is a concept rather than a way of being or becoming.

Another less obvious manifestation is an idea that stems from any number of worldviews, which is that we can only really live in a post-monetary society, some of which is driven by post-modernist notions of living and working.

One common result of these dualistic ways of thinking about money, wealth and happiness is that nothing new or different actually gets built that can transform our economies from extractive places of scarcity, to those which create and support abundant forms of discernible value.

We look at mastering the material world as a means for completing cycles of regenerating value in varying forms — owned, shared, hybridized, cooperative, what have you. This approach is not bound to a worldview; rather, it is about creating a world of our own design and which provides us with our own choices. Money, naturally, has a role in that world creation, but it is neither an obsession nor a hindrance nor something to avoid.

Beyond what money means in purely material capacities, our mastery is devoted to being in service to the Mother, and to reappropriate and regenerate wealth in honor of Her. More concretely, we use money to build platforms that provide the highest civic or societal value possible, and those which regenerate and protect natural resources.

The discourse of Sri Aurobindo quite beautifully captures this intentionality and purpose:

Money is the visible sign of a universal force, and this force in its manifestation on earth works on the vital and physical planes and is indispensable to the fullness of the outer life. In its origin and its true action it belongs to the Divine. But like other powers of the Divine it is delegated here and in the ignorance of the lower Nature can be usurped for the uses of the ego or held by Asuric influences and perverted to their purpose. This is indeed one of the three forces ― power, wealth, sex ― that have the strongest attraction for the human ego and the Asura and are most generally misheld and misused by those who retain them. The seekers or keepers of wealth are more often possessed rather than its possessors; few escape entirely a certain distorting influence stamped on it by its long seizure and perversion by the Asura. For this reason most spiritual disciplines insist on a complete self-control, detachment and renunciation of all bondage to wealth and of all personal and egoistic desire for its possession. Some even put a ban on money and riches and proclaim poverty and bareness of life as the only spiritual condition. But this is an error; it leaves the power in the hands of the hostile forces. To reconquer it for the Divine to whom it belongs and use it divinely for the divine life is the supramental way for the Sadhaka.

As this passage explains, money itself is typically under the control of Asuric (‘northern’ or modern people’s) influences on material things. Modern notions of spirituality have therefore seized upon another form of that control which renders us without material wealth in exchange for an ‘enlightened life’. Neither is necessary, and neither is true.

What is true is that anything is possible in terms of creating more equitable forms of wealth in this material world. This, in despite what has been taught in our institutions, and despite whatever blocks our imaginations from creating something other than what we’ve been accustomed to experiencing.

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Exile designs, builds and helps capitalize market ecosystems dedicated to supporting people + planet. We work with startups, privately held businesses, Fortune 1000 companies, as well as non-profit organizations and government entities.