Hallelujah 🙂 All Power and Glory is Thine, O Lord!
For about 6 months of life ‘i’ lived without using any money. Sometimes people would give money, at which point I would turn around and give it away to someone else.
What motivated venturing into this lifestyle was the profound sense of freedom experienced during a 7 day homeless retreat (“street retreat”) experience in NYC.
And, what motivated the street retreat experience was 1. a desire for new, awesome, storytelling-worthy experience, 2. a desire to grow in ability to empathize with homeless people, and 3. a desire to overcome the fear of poverty.
The great news – after experiencing with lifestyles both having money and not having money – is that it really doesn’t make a difference. The Reality is the Present, and what impacts the quality of our Present is our internal awareness and the attitude we choose to cultivate. If we look at life over the course of a day, sure we could say that external things impacted our experience of reality, like the people we talked to, the food we ate, the things we looked at, etc. – but if practice a heightened sense of awareness, and tune into the Reality of the Present, which is Now and Always and Forever – we can become aware that nothing external impacts us at all. The quality of the Present is totally experienced by us based on our internal processing and awareness.
Having lots of money or having no money at all is only a factor in our lives when we are dwelling in the past or projecting into the imagined future, but in the radical Present money is just like anything else: it belongs to the Lord. In the Present, we can become aware of the illusion of ownership. The government may grant protection over what we call property, but ultimately we can see all objects in the world of form as simply Present in Reality, possessed by none but the Lord. Only in the mind – which operates based on the illusion of the past and the imaginary future – do such ideas of ownership and possessions exist. Really, only in the mind does the illusion of a separate, individual identity perpetuate itself. Fully in the Present, we can acknowledge that we are present not as a physical body and human mind, but we are present as consciousness that is aware of what is present. We can be aware of sensations in the body, aware of thoughts in the mind, aware of objects in the room, but we don’t identify with any of them. We are simply the consciousness that is aware. Jnana Yoga: you are invisible!
Anyway, if you can accept that what you are really are is invisible, if not – great!
Let’s pretend for a moment that what you are is the physical human and let us return to living without money.
Money, like everything else seen in the world, is a form of energy. Like a gun or a knife, money is neutral. What matters with money is the intention behind using it. Just like with a knife, it can be used to cut a throat or to cut a fruit. Money can be used to buy food or drugs. So the intention behind its use matters supremely. Nothing in the world is to be condemned, but rather what is to be avoided are negative intentions and attitudes that make us feel weak. Avoid anything that makes you feel weak, and stay with that with makes you feel strong. Strength in Purity!
Okay – back to living without money.
For me to live in such a way for 6 months, there were several motivators. One of which came out of the suffering of humanity. I thought about how many humans are starving daily due to lack of basic needs, and yet others live in excess and luxury, how can this make any sense? Why would I participate in such a system that allows some to own 10 cars while others are dying from not having 10 sips of water? Internally, I felt somewhat sick about the idea of having any money, essentially a storehouse for the future, when so many others were suffering in the present. How can I store up for the future while others are dying in the present? Living without money was one way in which I could feel internally in peace about the situation, at least knowing that I was not hoarding or greedily gathering more than I needed to survive.
Another motivating factor for me to embark on such a lifestyle experiment was a desire to know the Truth about Reality and God. Prior to the experiment, I regularly read the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew books 5-7 in the New Testament, and I still occasionally do. There are many teachings in there that resonated with me deeply and pointed to the notion that one is certainly able to live without money and God provides. Some of the teachings that motivated me in particular were:
- Store up treasures in Heaven (e.g. the mind, consciousness), not on earth (e.g. money, stuff)
- Seek first the Kingdom of God and His Righteousness (e.g. living a virtuous, serviceful, peaceful, loving life) and else shall be added unto you (e.g. basic needs will be met like food and shelter)
- Don’t worry about tomorrow. Look at the birds. Does God not take care of them? How much more valuable are you? Sufficient for the day is its own evil. (e.g. you don’t need to store up money for the future – living one day at a time is more than enough)
I think you’ll agree, it is easy to look at some of Jesus’ teachings and see how living without money is certainly not shunned, and perhaps even encouraged.
So then, what is the key to successfully living without money?
You might also ask, what is the key to successfully living with money?
The key, in both situations, is the same.
You might sum it up in one word: attitude.
With an attitude of gratitude, one can live happily no matter how much they have or don’t have. In reality, with a positive attitude, one has everything that really matters. The internal attitude we choose paints the picture for the entire world around us. There is a teaching that heaven or hell are in our own minds. It is our choice how we see things. When we own responsibility to choose our own attitudes, and choose positive, uplifting attitudes, life reveals itself to be far more enjoyable and peaceful.
Our happiness and peace is not dependent on anything outside of ourselves. Money or no money, we can be happy.
Personally, one of the attitudes that served me best on the 6 month journey of living without money was an attitude inclined to service – you can call it service-orientation. Inclined to be of service in the present moment, who wouldn’t want me around? Wherever I went, I would clean up, take out the trash, pray with people, listen deeply to whatever was being shared. A couple times I can remember when the ego snuck into the service-orientation and actually coupled the service with ulterior motives of laziness or greed, and sure enough the behavior corrected itself quickly because I was then asked to move on to a new place. So everything serves as our teacher! When we are out of alignment with the Truth, we are told so.
The 6 months of living without money was an incredibly happy time filled with immense freedom. With the primary responsibility being to my own experience in the Present Moment, and ensuring it was as peaceful and loving as possible, live revealed itself to be beautiful and light. Abundances of opportunities to love and serve presented themselves, and I was rewarded with ample freedom to live and enjoy the world exactly as I pleased – which often times just amounted to more service! As Mother Theresa says, “The fruit of service is peace,” and when you have peace, what else could you possibly want?
The fruit of service is peace!
If you’d like to try living without money, I’d recommend:
- Cling to some spiritual teachings. Be it the words of Jesus, Buddha, Krishna, Dr. David R. Hawkins, Gandhi, etc. Whoever it is, be sure they are a legitimate, respected teacher of Love, Peace, and Truth, and do your very best to practice their teachings fully and completely in every moment. Everyone, on some level, respects one who is sincerely practicing spiritually teachings. And, the best part is that all the spiritual teachings lead to greater peace, love, and happiness. Practicing the teachings is their own reward.
- Be willing to listen to everyone, no matter what. I don’t like to say never, but I’d almost say – never interrupt. Living without money means you’re embracing a radically simple, humble, lifestyle. Of course, spiritual pride can puff you up, so be aware of that and do your best to stay humble. You are just sincerely seeking to know the Truth via direct experience and serve the Highest Good as best you can. Listening is a primary way to serve, and it is a primary way to earn the support of those around you. People love to talk, and if you listen devotionally to whatever is being said to you, chances are that the person you are listening to will be happy to treat you to a meal or let you sleep on their floor, or both. They might even try to give you money! Listening is essentially the work of a counsellor / psychiatrist / psychologist, and people pay those people big bucks! So for you to listen for free is really an awesome gift. And, listening can help dissolve people’s ego, at which point love shines forth, and when love is shining forth, it will shine forth on you.
- Be ever ready and willing to serve. Clean up without asking. And clean public places too. Realize your service is to humanity and all creation as a whole, not just to individuals. Even though it might look like individuals are taking care of you, really what is happening is the creation is taking care of itself. You are the creation, and you are taking care of the creation. So love every little bit of it. Always be willing to pick up trash, clean dishes, etc.
- As much as cleaning is a great service, also remember the service of your presence. Just being present, content with what is, is an incredible gift. Moreover, appreciating nature and seeing beauty in all things is a gift. Laughing and enjoying people’s company is enough. Relax and don’t take things too seriously. Have fun! You can always go back to earning money if the moneyless life seems too miserable for you. By all means, love every moment and have fun. And serve! Realize service is actually a great source of fun.
- Be willing to fast. Educate yourself about fasting. It can actually be quite healthy. Also, good to learn about hatha yoga so that you can keep the body and mind healthy. Light eating, daily stretching, walks, laughter, and possibly chanting/singing are all good ways to stay healthy and happy. The moneyless lifestyle means you accept total responsibility for the wellbeing of your own human animal. So learn how to take care of it. Vegetarian and vegan foods are a good way to ensure you are eating healthy foods. Meat and dairy can be slippery slopes. Fruits and vegetables, nuts, seeds, and grains will almost certainly keep you healthy. Throw on top of that 5 to 15 minutes of consecutive laughter daily, walks in nature, a bit of singing your favorite songs and intentionally smiling at and silently blessing everyone who walks by you…you’re golden!
As you can see, it is all internal. What determines the quality of our lives is nothing external per se, but it is rather the internal attitude and awareness we hold when playing in the external world of names and forms. Ultimately, it is all for fun. The healthy person takes all of life as game. Don’t get caught in seriousness or in dogma. Allow people to have their own experiences, and accept that every moment, we are all being offered exactly the learning opportunities we need for our growth and spiritual evolution. The world is already perfect as it is. We don’t need to save anyone. If there is one person to save, it is ourselves! So focus on yourself – your internal attitude and awareness. Continuously become more and more conscious of love and peace within yourself at all times, and that love and peace will radiate outward and serve all of creation.
I plan to write more on the differences of living without money and living with money sometime soon, but for now – it is all within!
The Kingdom of God is Within You.
Gloria in Excelsis Deo!