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The Mother by Sri Aurobindo
Chapter IV

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        Words of the Mother - III
“Wealth and Government”

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(Note written by Mother, 1958:) “We are preparing upon earth the connecting-point, that point of communication and junction between the mental and terrestrial human consciousness and the supramental and superhuman Consciousness. It is a whole intermediate world that is being worked out, a new creation manifesting and materializing.
         In order to be realized here upon earth, this creation must utilize the already existing material means and powers, but in a new way, adapted to the new needs. One of the most essential powers is the financial power.”[1]

(Shyam Sundar:) “What relation is there between the wastage we (Your children) do and the shortage of money raising its head in the Ashram for years?

(Mother:) The relation of cause and effect.”[2]

(Mother, 1955:) “Wealth is a force — I have already told you this once — a force of Nature; and it should be a means of circulation, a power in movement, as flowing water is a power in movement. It is something which can serve to produce, to organise. It is a convenient means, because in fact it is only a means of making things circulate fully and freely.
         This force should be in the hands of those who know how to make the best possible use of it, that is, as I said at the beginning, people who have abolished in themselves or in someway or other got rid of every personal desire and every attachment. To this should be added a vision vast enough to understand the needs of the earth, a knowledge complete enough to know how to organise all these needs and use this force by these means.
         If, besides this, these beings have a higher spiritual knowledge, then they can utilise this force to construct gradually upon the earth what will be capable of manifesting the divine Power, Force and Grace. And then this power of money, wealth, this financial force, of which I just said that it was like a curse, would become a supreme blessing for the good of all.”[3]

(Student, 1954:) “Sweet Mother, it is men who have created money. Then how is it a divine power?

(Mother:) Hm! (laughing) It is as though you told me: it is a man and woman who have created another person, then how can he be divine in essence? It is exactly the same thing! The whole creation is made externally by external things, but behind that there are divine forces. What men have invented — paper or coins or other objects — all these are but means of expression — nothing else but that.... I just said this a moment ago, it is not the force itself, it is its material expression as men have created it. But this is purely conventional. For example, there are countries where small shells are exchanged instead of money. There are even countries where... Someone has written a story like this: in the North wealth means having hooks for fishing; and the rich man is he who has the greatest number of fish-hooks. You know what these are, don’t you? — small iron hooks for catching fish which are fixed at the end of the line. So, the multimillionaire is one who has a huge number of hooks!
         It is purely conventional. What is behind is the force I am speaking about, you see, and so it manifests in all sorts of ways. For example, even gold, you know... men have given a certain value to gold, because of all metals it deteriorates the least. It is preserved almost indefinitely. And this is the reason, there’s no other. But it is a mere convention. The proof is that each time a new gold-mine is found and exploited, the value of gold has fallen. These are mere conventions between human beings. But what makes money a power is not this, it is the force that’s behind. As I was saying a while ago, it is a force that is able to attract and use anything whatever, all material things and...
         So this is used according to a convention. Now, it is understood that wealth is represented by bits of paper which become very dirty, and on which something is printed. They are altogether disgusting, most often good only for lighting the fire. But it is considered a great fortune. Why? Because that’s the convention. Yet one who is capable of attracting this and using it for something good, to increase the welfare of this world, the welfare and well-being of the world, that man has a hold on the money-power, that is to say, the force that is behind money.
         In French we call money ‘argent’. ’Argent’ is also the name of a white metal which is just a little more... a little prettier and a little more lasting than other metals, one which is less easily oxidised and spoilt. So this is called ’argent’, money. And then, by expansion, all that is wealth is also called ’argent’. It is really paper or gold or sometimes just written things... because many large fortunes are only numbers written on paper, not even these papers which circulate, only books! There are immense fortunes which govern the world and are just written on papers, like that, with some documents and conventions between men. The fortune may increase, become triple, fourfold, tenfold, or else it may be reduced to nothing. They sell everything, they sell cotton, they sell sugar, they sell corn, coffee, anything at all, but there is nothing! There is no cotton, no sugar, no corn, nothing. Everything is on paper! And so you buy millions of worth of cotton: you don’t have a wisp of cotton there! It is all on paper. And so, sometimes later, you sell it off again. If the price of cotton has increased, you gain a fortune, if it has gone down you lose a fortune. And you have with you neither money nor cotton nor anything, nothing but paper. (Laughter) It is entirely a convention.”[4]

(Sri Aurobindo to his wife, 1920:) “I have three madnesses. Firstly, it is my firm faith that all the virtue, talent, the higher education and knowledge and the wealth God has given me, belong to Him. I have the right to spend only so much as is necessary for the maintenance of the family and on what is absolutely needed. Whatever remains should be returned to the Divine. If I spend all on myself, for personal comfort, for luxury, then I am a thief. Up till now I have been giving only one-eighth of my money to God and have been spending the rest of it for my personal happiness — thus trying to settle the account and remain immersed in worldly pleasures. Half of the life has already been wasted; even an animal feels gratified in feeding itself and its family.
         I have realised that all these days I had been pursuing the life of the animal and of the thief. Having realised this, I have felt much repentant and have grown a repulsion for myself; no more of it, — this sinful act I abandon for good. Giving the money to the Divine means using it for works of dharma.”[5]

(Mother, 1958:) “Money belongs to the one who spends it; that is an absolute law. You may pile up money, but it doesn't belong to you until you spend it. Then you have the merit, the glory, the joy, the pleasure of spending it!
         Money is meant to circulate. What should remain constant is the progressive movement of an increase in the earth's production — an ever-expanding progressive movement to increase the earth's production and improve existence on earth. It is the material improvement of terrestrial life and the growth of the earth's production that must go on expanding, enlarging, and not this silly paper or this inert metal that is amassed and lifeless.
         Money is not meant to generate money; money should generate an increase in production, an improvement in the conditions of life and a progress in human consciousness. This is its true use. What I call an improvement in consciousness, a progress in consciousness, is everything that education in all its forms can provide — not as it's generally understood, but as we understand it here: education in art, education in ... from the education of the body, from the most material progress, to the spiritual education and progress through yoga; the whole spectrum, everything that leads humanity towards its future realization. Money should serve to augment that and to augment the material base for the earth's progress, the best use of what the earth can give — its intelligent utilization, not the utilization that wastes and loses energies. The use that allows energies to be replenished.
         In the universe there is an inexhaustible source of energy that asks only to be replenished; if you know how to go about it, it is replenished. Instead of draining life and the energies of our earth and making of it something parched and inert, we must know the practical exercise for replenishing the energy constantly. And these are not just words; I know how it's to be done, and science is in the process of thoroughly finding out — it has found out most admirably. But instead of using it to satisfy human passions, instead of using what science has found so that men may destroy each other more effectively than they are presently doing, it must be used to enrich the earth: to enrich the earth, to make the earth richer and richer, more active, generous, productive and to make all life grow towards its maximum efficiency. This is the true use of money. And if it's not used like that, it's a vice — a ‘short circuit’ and a vice.
         But how many people know how to use it in this way? Very few, which is why they have to be taught. What I call ‘teach’ is to show, to give the example. We want to be the example of true living in the world. It's a challenge I am placing before the whole financial world: I am telling them that they are in the process of withering and ruining the earth with their idiotic system; and with even less than they are now spending for useless things — merely for inflating something that has no inherent life, that should be only an instrument at the service of life, that has no reality in itself, that is only a means and not an end (they make an end of something that is only a means) — well then, instead of making of it an end, they should make it the means. With what they have at their disposal they could ... oh, transform the earth so quickly! Transform it, put it into contact, truly into contact, with the supramental forces that would make life bountiful and, indeed, constantly renewed — instead of becoming withered, stagnant, shrivelled up: a future moon. A dead moon.
         We are told that in a few millions or billions of years, the earth will become some kind of moon. The movement should be the opposite: the earth should become more and more a resplendent sun, but a sun of life. Not a sun that burns, but a sun that illumines — a radiant glory.”[6]

(Mother, 1958:) “Money is a force and should not be an individual possession, no more than air, water of fire.
         To begin with, the abolishment of inheritance.”[7]

(Mother, 1958:) “Financial power is the materialization of a vital force turned into one of the greatest powers of action: the power to attract, acquire, and utilize. Like all the other powers, it must be put at the service of the Divine.”[8]

(Shyam Sundar:) “The pleasure of possession now appears like dust in front of self-giving.

(Mother:) The pleasure of possession is a purely vital and physical thing which, to the extent that the inner being is developed and the consciousness is enlarged, gets replaced by the sense of judicious employment and becomes a clear vision of the true use of all things.”[9]

(Shyam Sundar:) “I understand that the true use of things depends on the loss of the sense of ownership and on the growth of consciousness.

(Mother:) The sense of ownership belongs to the ego, and when the ego disappears the sense of ownership is replaced by the correct vision of the true use of each thing (money or object) and it remains only to act according to what one sees.”[10]

  1. Mother's Agenda 1951-1960, June (?) 1958
  2. En Route (On the Path): The Mother's Correspondence with Shyam Sundar, p.40
  3. Questions and Answers 1955, p.55
  4. Questions and Answers 1954, p.251
  5. Bengali writings translated into English, p.351
  6. Mother's Agenda 1951-1960, 4 October 1958
  7. Ibid., undated note (1958)
  8. Ibid., undated note (1958)
  9. En Route (On the Path): The Mother's Correspondence with Shyam Sundar, p.100
  10. Ibid.

See also