As part of its work on the March 2023 issue of the online journal ‘Renaissance’ which has ‘Money and Yoga’ as its theme (released on March 21), the Renaissance-AuroBharati team organised a special interactive session on March 29 at Sri Aurobindo Society, Beach Office.
Mr. Deven Shah from Auroville facilitated a session titled ‘Yogic Relationship with Money’. The session focused on the nuances of engaging with the money-force as part of Yoga sadhana and also manifesting what the Mother dreamt: “money would no longer be the sovereign Lord.”
Dr. Beloo Mehra, Editor, Renaissance welcomed the gathering. In her brief introduction to the topic, she highlighted that in an integrated evolutionary perspective of human development emphasized by Indian culture, the satisfaction of the natural needs and propensities of man’s physical, vital and mental being and the fulfillment of his duties and responsibilities have never been denied in an ascetic spirit. They are accepted as indispensable parts of his evolutionary growth and development.
She added that it is this understanding that led to the scheme of the four broad pursuits of human life called in the Indian tradition as purushārthas – Artha (fulfillment of the material and economic needs and interests); Kāma (satisfaction of vital desires and enjoyment, seeking of pleasure); Dharma (the need of our higher mental and moral being for knowledge, values, ideals and right living); and Moksha (the spiritual need for the ultimate freedom, fulfillment and perfection). These purushārthas are based on the idea that our being must pass through different stages in its growth, and the legitimate needs and desires of each level of the human being have to be fulfilled before he can rise to a higher level.
Dr. Mehra then introduced Deven Shah, the speaker and facilitator for the session and invited him to proceed with his presentation. Mr. Shah began by asking all the participants a simple question – why are you here or what brought you to this session? A diversity of responses came forth, and Mr. Shah later analysed and summarized them by saying that it all comes down to a recognition that we all intrinsically feel that it is important to develop a nuanced understanding of the nature of money-force and its right value and place in outer life as we consciously walk on the path of inner growth.
He reminded that with a complete understanding of human life and its goals, our ancestors recommended that one should never develop rajasic attachment to the money nor practice a tamasic denial of it. And that in addition to whatever we find in our ancient texts about cultivating right attitudes toward money, we find a much deeper understanding of the very nature of money as a universal force in the works of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother.
Throughout the session, Mr. Shah highlighted several key points addressed by Sri Aurobindo and the Mother when it comes to dealing with money-force. He also integrated nicely some insights from other spiritual texts such as Patanjali’s Yogasutras, Dhammapada, and others.
During the session, Mr. Shah also invited the participants to do some reflection and write their responses to three questions – what are your childhood impressions about money (before 12 years of age); what are some of your growing up memories (ages 13-25 or so) with regard to understanding of money and how to handle it; and what are your living questions today when it comes to developing a healthy approach and right attitude toward money.
Several people shared their reflections afterwards which again made the whole session richer and helped participants appreciate the nuanced view of how one’s circumstances, influences and life-experiences shape one’s evolving understanding of everything in life, including money. Mr. Shah also shared briefly about his evolving understanding of money and how reading Sri Aurobindo’s views on money helped him synthesize many of his wide readings and perspectives that he had received in his inner and outer journeys. This exercise was appreciated by all.
A brief discussion also happened about the nature of money itself; there also Mr. Shah invited participants to share their existing understanding and then brought in the Mother’s and Sri Aurobindo’s insights on this. Some discussion also ensued about the view of life and world which is at the basis of mainstream economic systems in the world today and the yogic or spiritual view of life and world.
Toward the end of the session, Mr. Shah shared some key ideas from the vision of the future spiritualized society given to us by Sri Aurobindo and the Mother. In this regard, he spoke briefly about the various experiments happening in Auroville with regard to money and new economic models and systems.
The interactive nature of the session and very practical significance of the topic was appreciated by all the participants.
About the Speaker: In the search for ‘Truth’, Deven Shah has explored various dimensions of money while working in the personal finance and technology sector for around 20 years. He got deeply influenced by Sri Aurobindo and The Mother’s consciousness and in 2016 he joined Auroville where he is an instrument for various experiments in Integral Education and the study of Sanskrit.