THE PHILOSOPHY OF MONEY

CHAPTER 1: WHAT IS MONEY?


Money is also called cash or currency. It is used for the exchange of things. In the old days, when people didn’t have money, they exchanged their things with each other by direct negotiation which is called "purchase and sale agreement".

For example: one brought a bag of rice to the market in exchange for a cow or one took a duck or a chicken to the market in exchange for rice or salt, etc. Or there was a very poor person who wanted to sell their house for a capital to start up his business.

He then looked for one who wanted to buy his house, and as a return, he would have a piece of land, a cart or some rice. That means, from the beginning, when money didn’t appear, people exchange their things with others’ by which is so-called "purchase and sale agreements". They didn’t care much if the two things used in exchange had the same value.

So, if one day a person brought his vegetables to the market and the market had a shortage of vegetables, the result would be that his vegetables became worthy and could exchange for a chicken and if otherwise, it could only exchange for an egg. Or someone went to the woods for wood. He then brought his wood to the market in exchange for something. He looked for a person who needed his wood and had the thing he was looking for. Clearly, looking for a person who needs what you have and has what you need takes so much time.


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CHAPTER 2: THE BIRTH OF MONEY


In the ancient time, one had to do everything oneself such as hunting, planting, building, sewing and clothing and so on… That means when one needed something, he had to do it himself.

One day, there was a man who made a very beautiful knife and another man passed by and suggested, "You make a knife for me like yours. I will give you my fox or bear. " The owner of the knife realized that he didn’t need to hunt, but only stayed at home and made knives and he would have everything he needed through the exchange his knives with others’ things. Gradually, the jobs became specialized. Some people only focus on making hoes, some planting rice and some hunting… They then directly exchanged their things with others.

However, this direct exchange wasted time. Therefore, little by little people thought about intermediate things to exchange things for convenience.

In the beginning, there were many metals that took the role of money; later they were valuable metals and the last was gold. Men used melted gold to make coins and use it in exchange for goods. The advantages of gold money are homogeneity and durability. Moreover, it was also a high valuable commodity so all people accept to use it to assess their things. At that time, human reached a higher level of civilization. People took gold money as an intermediate thing in exchange goods. It was golden money that saved people’s time in trade and encouraged specializing in production and this helped people make remarkable progress in development.

Researchers discovered that people also used beautiful shells as a mean of exchanging things in Africa in ancient time. This way was too easy to cause in action since anyone could dive into the sea to pick up shells and used them to buy commodity/ others’ things; hence, this kind of money was not fair and unworthy.

People also realized that it was not essential to use a valuable thing like gold money for exchanging. Instead, they could use another thing for this purpose and that’s why paper money appeared.

Today, a man, even a child, does not wonder why a sheet of paper with a picture, a signature and a series number on it can buy many things they need. However, in ancient time, it is totally different.

People wouldn’t believe and accept if they were told that they could buy anything with a sheet of paper. They thought that how come a sheet of paper bought a cart full of rice, or paid a medical doctor for his drugs or paid for a person who had been working for them in a year?… Ancient people didn’t believe this because a sheet of paper itself didn’t have value like gold money. So, it was very hard for paper money to be accepted at that time. However, nowadays, people have no wonder for it. So, clearly, paper money is a big step in advancement of society in law, compliance and state organization.

In Vietnam, in the time of King Ho Quy Ly, people began to use paper money. However, at that time, his issuance of paper money didn’t win people’s support, especially big trader classes’. When Minh Dynasty (from China) invaded Vietnam, they pretended to support Tran dynasty against Ho Quy Ly (support Tran to destroy Ho) and Vietnamese people were deceived. Thus, they notied Minh’s military as soon as they discovered Ho’s military, so Ho’s military lost.

If, at that time, our people had been able to understand the reform of King Ho was a big advance and supported it, then we wouldn’t been invaded by China during decades. Regretfully, this reform of King Ho was too strange, too fast and furious and beyond all people. He replaced coins with paper money in trade which made all classes in the society surprised and they didn’t accept it but nowadays, people have no wonder for it.


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CHAPTER 3: THE TRUTH OF MONEY


That is enough for us to talk about money and the rest will be talked by economists. Now we talked about the true and moral aspects of money. When a sheet of paper is approved by administrators and the society to use in sale and purchase, we can buy things with it. However, money can’t buy all but two kinds of things: one is materials, and the other is service.

A material is a special commodity that we can see and touch, for example, clothes, rice, houses, vehicle, and jewelry, machines, media, lamps, fans, paint and photos, etc. We can buy all those things with money. Money is also a material and materials can be bought by materials.

The second thing we can use money to buy is services. For instance, we can buy cutting or curling hair service. That means we go to the hair salon, give money to the owner and he will make any hair model for us. He can dye our hair, curl it, straight it, or even shave it. So we can use money to buy hair service.
Another service is health service. That means when you are ill, you visit a doctor for an examination. That service we can use money to buy. We can also buy a so-called "consulting service". When we want to build a house, we go to a place specialized in design and require them to design a construction drawing for our house. Of course, we must pay money for this service.

Also, there are some kinds of service which don’t appear in law. That is palmistry/fortune telling. This is also called a consulting service. People who like this service must have plenty of free time or are sad about something. They will seek a fortune teller and ask him if they will feel happy the next day or when their girlfriend/boyfriend make up with them; or one wants to start his new business, he then comes to see a palmist and ask for his advice. Surprisingly, some ladies became nuns just because of a palmist’s prediction, "You must become a nun because of your destiny and if otherwise, you get married, you will be miserable" or "According to your destiny, your life will be glorious if you become a nun, otherwise, you will have so much misfortune. " We know a monk who was predicted to become a monk when he was a child although at that time he didn’t have that intension. One day, he got sick and a doctor examined and told him his sickness (at that time the sickness was just in incubation and would happen later. The doctor also predicted, "You will become a monk and a composer in the future". The child was so much surprised at that news because he knew nothing about Buddhism, so how come he would be a monk? However, the prediction came true. The child became a monk and also composes many songs about Buddhism.

There is a very popular service and most of us know it. That is educational service. We take our children to school to receive the education and we must pay for it. However, if we bring our children to pagodas for summer courses, we don’t need to pay any amount of money. In there, our children are taught culture, morality, physical training and some skills such as rescue, first aid, re prevention, re fighting and some soft skills such as communication, logical map, teamwork… You don’t have to pay any fee for these subjects because pagodas have sponsors for this activity.

Thus, all kind of commodities from materials and essential services can be bought by money. Because of this, people conclude, "Money talks", or, "So much money can break the law". That means money can buy anything and even the conscience of lawmakers. Money can make lawmakers wriggle, support the bad and bully the good.

Money is so powerful. It can buy materials, human’s service and even human’s conscience. Thus, people put it on top of everything and they conclude: "Money talks. " Because of that, many people choose a lifestyle of doing anything as long as they will earn money like fraud or robbery…

A newspaper reported that there was a man who was so kind to his family and his neighbors that he was a good exemplar to the men in his village. However, when he got out of his village, he turned into a different man – he was a thief with a lot of knives and guns. Until he got out of his village, he revealed his nature being as a thief who caused a lot of cases. However, when he returned to his village, he continued playing nice. A long time later, he was discovered and arrested by the police, but very difficultly.

You see, people dare to do whatever to make money even it is against human morality or the law as they think having money is having everything. When they have no money, they won’t be able to have whatever they want. No nice clothes, no cars, no houses and more importantly, they are disrespected. They realize that they are put down because of their poverty while the rich is treated completely different. Thus, they decide to make money at all costs. Regretfully, they don’t understand that karma is the driving factor to decide who will be poor and who will be rich; they just think that being rich is due to being wise. So, they make a decision to earn money sink or swim. They don’t know that the more they do to make money, the more sins they commit and the truth is money cannot buy everything. People see money can buy a fan, a TV, a CD player, fashionable clothes, etc. or a service: you will pay someone money and they will help you massage, shampoo, to organize a tourist tour from A to Z… Because of their misunderstanding of money, people make an extremely serious mistake.


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CHAPTER 4: MONEY CAN NOT BUY EVERYTHING


If we think more about money, we will realize that money can’t buy everything. For example: money can buy medicine and services at hospital but not health. They will examine and take care of us but our being healthy is another story. Why? – Because our health depends on our gene, our lifestyle, and our practice but not on medicine or any service. In this world, there were many billionaires who died in misery while with their wealth, they could by any kinds of medicine, even a hospital to only serve them. However, they had to die from a disease.

So, money can buy medicine and health service but not health. What make us healthy (physically and mentally) is our blessing created in our previous lives. Thanks to this blessing, we are full of energy, eat and sleep well and can stand many difficult situations. These things cannot be bought with/by money. If you do not have blessing created in the past, no matter how much money you have, you cannot enjoy a great sleep, a delicious meal, a tireless jogging because these things cannot be bought by money.

Money can buy an entertainment but not happiness. For example: children can spend tens of thousands VND to play a computer game, or someone can spend their money for dancing in a bar, slobbering, gambling or going picnic… However, these things cannot help us have happiness because after that computer game, the children are tormented and suffer from what is happening in the game and even worse, they can kill people because of his losing in game. Are drinkers who cheer loudly and passionately happy? – Absolutely not. They treat their wives and children very badly, making them very miserable and they themselves lose their value. That means one can use his money to buy an entertainment and this will help them be funny for a moment but make them commit sin and suffer forever.

Happiness is absolutely different. Happiness is something invisible and untouchable. Happiness can only be achieved by a good manner, a good philosophy of life, a calm soul, and a heart full of love. That is, even we have money but we do not have morality, we will not be able to have happiness. You can be proud of yourselves and live a comfortable life but make no mistake about it that you are happy. So, how can we know if we are happy or not?

Let assess our inner feelings to know if we are happy. If you feel peaceful when the wind shakes leaves; if you love the kids who are happily having a shower in the rain or in the morning, you feel how lovely it is when the light goes through the leaves, the birds sing joyfully all over a garden… That means if you can nd happiness from very simple things, you reach the Dharma in some way.
That kind of happiness cannot be bought by money because it can only be achieved by spiritual practitioners and those who have ethics because of their pure and calm mind. Once you have a pure and calm mind, adversities and misery in this life will not be able to cause you any troubles and you will always feel happy all the times and all the places.

If you feel peaceful when the wind shakes leaves; if you love the kids who are happily having a shower in the rain or in the morning, you feel how lovely it is when the light goes through the leaves, the birds sing joyfully all over a garden… That means if you can nd happiness from very simple things, you reach the Dharma in some way.

That kind of happiness cannot be bought by money because it can only be achieved by spiritual practitioners and those who have ethics because of their pure and calm mind. Once you have a pure and calm mind, adversities and misery in this life will not be able to cause you any troubles and you will always feel happy all the times and all the places.

Even when someone misunderstands and scolds you, you do not feel sad but still happy. Is it strange? – Because you think you are helping them reduce their stress and feel sorry for them. Those who can reach that level cannot be suffered by any ways and they can find happiness in every aspect of this life and all Buddhists should be like that.

Money can buy cosmetic services but not beauty. You can go to a beauty salon, ask them to make your nose become higher, your eyes have double-eyelids, ask them to tattoo your eyebrows, your lips and help you have dimples… That is, you can ask for your nose, eyes… to be more beautiful. However, do you look more beautiful? Many will say "yes" but the truth is you don’t look better because they are not yours. True beauty comes from a beautiful soul, which in turn comes from your merit created in the past. Your merit makes others want to look at you and willing to help you when you ask them. Beauty doesn’t come from a straight nose, eyes like a dove’s, lips like a heart, hair like clouds, skin like snow and cheeks like two peaches but it comes from the love you have for others. The more you love others, the better-looking you will be.

Knowing this fact, from now on, you should not ask if a girl is beautiful, a nun is beautiful or a monk is handsome. You should ask "Does everybody love that nun? Does everybody love that monk? Does everybody love that girl?" because one’s true beauty must come from one’s soul and the love of others for one and this beauty exists forever. We are happy not because of our beauty but because of the love of people around for us.

Poet Nguyen Du once said beautiful women sometimes suffer. Why is that? – Because what we actually need in this life is happiness but not beauty. Our ultimate goal is to achieve happiness. So what is happiness? Happiness is when we are loved and respected and helped when in need. For example, there was a man looking for a wife, he then posted this news on a newspaper. If he was a super ficial, and irresponsible man, he would choose a beautiful young girl and if he was a mature man, he would choose a modest, intelligent and resourceful girl. He would not choose a beautiful girl to be a model. The most important thing to us is not our beauty but our soul and the love of people for us and that money cannot buy. So if you want to have true beauty, you have to live the way that people will love you and that is your value which comes from your soul but not from your money.

There is a saying, "Money can buy someone’s service but can’t buy their loyalty". For example, if you pay someone some money for their service, he will serve you a year in return. However, when a thief threatens him with a gun and ask where you put the money. The servant will tell the thief immediately. That is someone is ready to give you their service equivalent to the amount of money they receive from you, however, only their service but not their gratitude or loyalty. So how is a loyal person? That is a person who will always protect you and even give you their life when necessary. Loyalty like that, money can’t buy.

This loyalty is formed by the favors the boss did from many past lives, by the boss’s manner and morality but not by his money.

So when you have money and servants, that does not mean you have everything because the truth is different. Although you pay them money, in their heart, there is no place for you, but only your money. They will serve you whenever you’re able to pay them and if someone else threaten or pay them more, they will betray you. So, how can you win their loyalty? That is, in addition that you pay for their service, you should treat them with love and great care. Even when they have difficulties or make mistakes, you should not re them but help them with all your heart. These things make them owe you a debt of gratitude, hence, their loyalty to you naturally appears. So it is not your money that you pay them every month that wins their loyalty but it is the way you live and the way you treat them.

Many people make a serious mistake when thinking money is all. The truth is our soul and our life is the deciding factor.


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CHAPTER 5: THE ORIGIN OF MONEY

Where is your money from?
Is it from the State, from your boss or from your customers?

These are correct but not deep. The underlying reason that causes your boss or your customers to pay you is your blessing from your past lives. It’s true that the more blessing, the more money you have and vice versa. What happens with your blessing? It will go someday because of your enjoyment. Somebody may say, "to avoid being out of money, I will buy a house. My house cannot be lost and moreover its price will go up in the future". Is it true? The answer is it is not true at all. Because when your karmic retribution comes, it will force you to sell your house because of some reason. It may be that a member of your family has a fatal disease, or that you owe a substantial debt to the bank that you cannot pay it off, or that you are involved in a lawsuit or that you cause an accident and have to pay the victim money in compensation. So don’t even think that it will be fine that when you have money all you need to do is to keep it carefully because your blessing is not endless.

Somebody may say, "It’s true that we will run out of money if we only spend it but if we buy a house then how can our house be lost?" The truth is when you live in a beautiful house, you are spending your blessing and of course after sometime of spending, your blessing is over. So it’s not likely when you buy a house, you will live in it until you pass away. This depends on how many merits you have. So you can stay in your house in 5 years, 10 years or longer, in 20 years. This period of time is equivalent to your merits and after this time, you have to sell your current house for a cheaper one because you need money for something. Nothing lasts forever. Money is merit and your merit will end someday. Please keep it in mind.

So how can we make our merit last forever? That is when you know how to create new merit. We know that our money in this life results from our merit in our past lives, so if we don’t spend all our money but use it to help others then our money will become our future merit. Therefore, if you are rich and your neighbors are poor, you should think of a way to help them to be well-off. You can give them some money for them to start up their business, or to help their children finish their study at school or to learn a trade. That is, when you are rich you should help your neighbors to be better-off but not make them become your servants. Only those who help others or help Buddhism to be prosperous will have more merit and even more, their merit will be increasing more and more in the future.

Why will we gain great merit when we help Buddhism to be prosperous?

That is because Buddhism is all about morality which helps people in the world live better. Buddhism helps us kill the evil in our mind, so we will be nice and bring happiness to others and we will not be bound by worldly things anymore. Buddhism has such big value, so who helps to develop It will gain outstanding blessing.

Our money results from our blessing and our blessing is limited. Only when we use our money to create our future blessing then our blessing will last forever. To do this we must not be selfish but share with the needy and that is the morality of compassion.



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CHAPTER 6: MONEY IS BOTH HAPPINESS AND A BURDEN


There is one more characteristic of money, that is, money is both happiness and a burden. Clearly, money is happiness. For example, if you have one hundred million or five hundred million VND, you will feel easy to go to a pagoda for a sermon. And if you have no money, do you dare to delay all your work for a sermon? – Absolutely not, because what will be for your dinner keeps your mind busy. So money brings you happiness because it helps you feel easy and this feeling is extremely valuable; and that is why you will have blessing when you give your money to someone. That is because you help them feel less worried in a period of time.

For example, there is a person who is worrying about what is for his dinner and you give him 50 thousand VND. This person will feel secure in a short time and so do we, if today we have 1 million or even 500 thousand VND, we will feel secure in a time. That’s why people say that money is happiness simply because it helps us fell less worried in a time.

Money is also a burden. Why is that so? Only wise people realize this while others only think money is happiness.

Money is a burden because of these two reasons. The first one is if you spend money on wrong things, your blessing will decrease and end some day and the second one is if you don’t spend it on anything but just keep it, you will have disasters. Just observe the rich and you will see they often make either mistake: one is they spend money on wrong things and will be out of money and blessing, the other is they only save money but not spend it on anything and they keep having bad luck. Just observe the people around you and yourself, you will realize this.

Most people agree to the first reason but just a few understand why our spending is wrong. Our spending is wrong if it falls into three following cases: The first is when we waste our money. The second is when we buy something that we don’t truly need it and the third is when we give our money to those who are not deserved. Our poverty in this life does not actually result from our miserliness in a past life. Many poor people are not miserly but generous to everyone. And since they are generous in this life, surely they were like that in their past life, so how can they are poor now? The real reason is in the past life they spent their money for wrong purposes. That is they wasted their money or spent on things that brought little benefit. For example, if we buy an expensive commodity and it offers small benefit, we are wasting our money.

Some rich people even spend a million USD (equivalent 22 billion VND) on an expensive thing. However, they put it in a case and never use it. Clearly, no one gains benefit from it. So, if you buy a pearl or lots of clothes that you will never use, you are said to buy what are not worth buying and the consequence is you will have no money in the future.

What about giving money to those who are not deserved for it? For example when rich men go to a bar club, they often calls a few beautiful girls to sit with them and they do not hesitate to give each of these girls a tip of 100USD and with this amount, a family can live in a month. Those who give tips are proving their generosity and the receivers will spend these tips within just a night, that is the receivers also waste their money. Those who give money to people like that will be out of blessing some day because of their giving to those who are not deserved. Another example of giving money to those who are not deserved is when you give your money to a person who is about to gamble or drink. If you do so in a long time, you will run out of blessing, and thus will be out of money. Even when you offer to a monk, it is not sure that you will earn blessing, even worse, you will have no more blessing left because that monk is not a true monk and your case falls into the case of giving to those who are not deserved. Only when you offer your money to a true monk, your blessing will increase because they are deserved for it.

A true monk will be a good example of morality to everyone while a false monk has done and will do many wrong things, and thus is not deserved for offering. So if you waste your money, that is buying things that you don’t really need or give your money to those who are not deserved, surely you will run out of money in time.

The second case is when you just keep your money, that is you put it in a safe of bury it in the ground. Putting money in the bank is another story and in this case you still help the bank and other people. If you just put your money in a safe of bury it in the ground, after 1 year or 2, maybe nothing happens but after 5 years, your family will have troubles.

Therefore, if a family has corrupt children or sudden troubles or a member die a tragic death, you can say that this family has a large amount of money because just keeping money at home, you will have disasters. It’s strange but true that spending money on right things, you will earn blessing but just keeping it you will have misfortune. So, we can say that money is happiness but also a burden. It is happiness because it makes you feel secure because you know you can live in a time and you can buy what you want. It is a burden because if you spend it on wrong things of just keep it you will run out of your blessing and will have misfortune. Thus, when having a large amount of money, wise people will worry about it why unwise ones will feel happy with it.

We can assess our progress in cultivation based on how we feel when we have a large amount of money. If you feel worried, you make progress in cultivation, hence you have achieved wisdom and success. You can base on this criterion to assess someone by asking him or her, "How do you feel if you have a billion VND?" If they answer they would be happy then that person doesn’t know about Buddhism and if they answer they would feel worried then you should respect them because they understand Buddhism and are moral.

Another example is about the cultivation in Buddhism. There was a person who had just adopted Buddhism. He had belief in the law of Cause and Effect. He tried to keep the precepts, did good deeds and avoid having done bad deeds. Besides, he regularly went to pagodas to learn the Dharma and meditated. After a few years, his mind was able to be calm. That his mind could be calm is like he had a billion VND from winning the lottery. This comparison sounds strange but true because many people act wrong when their mind can go into meditation. Having a billion VND, one who has morality will feel worried about spending them for right purposes while one who does not have morality will feel happy. This case is similar to the case when a spiritual practitioner can enter meditation. If they feel cheerful, they don’t have wisdom to become a Bodhisattva while those who have wisdom will be worried. Does it not make sense? We know that the goal of a spiritual practitioner is that their mind can enter meditation, that is, their mind is completely peaceful, no more afflictions, and their mind is the whole universe. We often thought that this is the goal and those who achieve this goal should feel happy but today we hear the opposite – those whose mind can enter meditation feel happy can’t become saints or Bodhisattvas.

We talk about this thing to practitioners to help them not to make mistakes like those who have lot of money but spend on wrong things. When you have enough merit, you can go into meditation, that is when your mind is completely calm and peaceful and if you feel happy, you are still bad and cannot become a great Bodhisattva and also, you are creating bad karma, thus you will have bad luck and your morality decreases. On the contrary, if you feel worried like when you have 10 billion VND because from that time on, you have a big responsibility to Buddhism and you are on the right path.

Keep it in mind that the level we achieve in meditation is allowed by Buddha. Don’t even think that if we make effort, we can enter meditation. The truth is only when Maitreya and Sakyamuni Buddha allow, you can enter meditation, otherwise, you cannot, no matter how long you meditate. Please be aware. No one is able to realize your appearance when you practice in a remote area but Buddhas are. Every minute of your practice, Buddhas are aware. No matter where you practice, in a temple, at home, under a bridge or in the forest, Buddhas are watching you. So, try your best to practice and when the right time comes, Buddhas will allow you to go into meditation.

Understanding this you should not feel pleased when you are able to enter meditation since you know that this is not due to your capability but due to Buddhas’ permission. Therefore, you should feel uneasy because you have a big responsibility to Buddhism. When you have not entered meditation yet, don’t feel uneasy, just focus on your practice and fulfill your obligations. However, it makes a big difference when you are able to go into concentration because from that time on you have obligations to Buddhism, so please use your ability extremely precisely. If you often show off your ability like, "I can go into meditation, or I have natural power, or I know everything about you, or I know your past lives or your future life…" you will fail in your life, that is, you will have bad morals so much misfortune. Conversely, if a person is always humble and make effort to do everything for Buddhism, i. e. to build a pagoda, persuade people to go to a pagoda for practice or educate others then he will be a darling son of Buddha. That is from his concentration, he has a potential and secrete power and he uses his power to bring benefit to others. This is a correct thing you should do when you attain high level in meditation and it is incorrect that you regard yourself as a saint or a Zen master and allow you to receive others’ offerings and respect. This would be great that the higher level you reach in meditation, the more humble you are so that you will dedicate your life to Buddhism. You then become a good disciple of Buddha and will be a great Bodhisattva for the world.

In conclusion, keep it in mind that in practice, if your mind has not been calm and peaceful yet, you should help others and Buddhism according to your ability. However, when you can go into concentration, you have a duty to Buddhism. When your money is not used for anything, you will have bad luck. Likewise, when you can enter concentration and you don’t do anything for Buddhism, bad things will happen to you. You will feel insecure gradually. It may sound strange that one who can enter meditation has misfortune but it’s true. The reason is because they do not use their strength in meditation to bring benefit to Buddhism and people. Therefore, when Buddhas and Bodhisattvas give you a precious thing, you should use this thing for the benefit of Buddhism but not to enjoy it. For example, If Buddhas help you to have intelligence, you should use it to help others but not to show it off. If Buddhas give you the ability to go into concentration, you should use that mental power to serve Buddhism and human beings but not to enjoy it. Money is like so. Your money is from your blessing in the past and you have to use it to carry out your duty to life but not to use it for your personal purposes, otherwise, you will lose your blessing gradually. Anyone who feels uneasy to have money is a good disciple of Buddha and who feels happy is the one who doesn’t know much about Buddhism.


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CHAPTER 7: SAVING # KEEPING


"Saving" differ from "keeping". Saving money is correct but "keeping" is not. Buddha taught us what should be done with our money as following:

  1. First is for saving
  2. Second is for investment
  3. Third is for necessary things
  4. Fourth is for charity
  5. Fifth is for offering

If your money falls into these items above, you are correct. You see, Buddha mentioned saving money. So what is the difference between saving money and keeping it?

On the surface, "saving" and "keeping" seem the same since money is kept in somewhere but the nature is different.

Money for saving is the amount we need just in case our family (laymen) or the monks of a temple need it for something that not in our prediction or happen unexpectedly. We shouldn’t spend all money we have earned because life is unpredictable and it will be risky if you don’t have any savings. Similar to life in pagodas. This time is very different from Buddha’s time, so every pagoda has to save money just in case. This amount is mandatory and it’s wrong that you don’t have any.

Keeping money is different because you always want to save money as much as possible and it’s too much for unexpected or unpredictable events. If you save money like that, you will have disaster. Maybe in the first, second year, nothing bad happens to you but from the fifth year, you will have misfortune for sure. This is the difference between keeping and saving money.


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CHAPTER 8: SOME DISEASES


Now we analyze some diseases that the poor and the rich often have.

There was a famous writer who was very eccentric that nobody could understand him. When he got his salary in cash, he didn’t check if he received the correct amount but he went to the balcony of the third floor and threw all the money away. Everyone in the yard was very pleased to pick up his money. What does his action mean and what is his attitude to money? It means he looked down on money. On the surface, it seemed he was generous and was not attached to life but actually, that is the attitude of disregard for money and the consequence would be he would no longer be able to make money.

However, he would have bad luck and good luck, that is he would not have ability to make money, but when he is hungry, many people would give him food when he begged them because in the past when he threw away his money for people to pick up, it’s like he gave them money but in a disrespectful way. So later he would no longer have money, but people would give him when he was a beggar. This is a very rare disease in the world because people are prone to pick up money from others but not let others do the otherwise.

Another disease is miserliness, that is, when you don’t give someone even a penny. Those who are
miserly will not have money in the future. You see, two opposite diseases have the same consequence. Both throwing your money away and not giving even a penny to others result in not being able to make money in the future.

Spending money but for personal purposes only is a disease of rich people. They will buy whatever they wish but will refuse to do charity. If someone comes to see them to collect money for poor families or for some students who cannot pay their schooling, they will be unwilling to donate. They may give 10 or 20 thousand VND but with criticism: "ones must take care of themselves. They have to work and pay for themselves and if they can’t, ask their parents". Also, they criticize the people who collect the money that they are too free to take care of others. Those rich people will not be able to have money in the future because they don’t hesitate to spend a large a mount of money on something they like but refuse to give a little amount to help others. Those people are extremely selfish, so they won’t have a right of owing money in the future.

Every summer our pagoda opens a course for students of the sixth to tenth grade. Our Buddhists also invited some rich people to our pagoda because they thought that when those rich people understood the benefit of the course, they would donate some money. However, the result is quite different. They didn’t donate money but just said: "Those whose children learn here must pay the fee". If all people think like that, life is not beautiful. Many poor families also want to send their children to pagoda to learn morals because they want their children become good and useful people for the society and their children’s future will be better than themselves. Our pagoda does not require the parents to pay for anything. We just invite donations from the public. So the saying, "ones must pay for their children", is somewhat merciless because it is not sure that anybody can pay for their children. There are the poor and the rich in our society and we should sympathize with those who are not as lucky as us but not put them down. Those who behave like that will not have money in the future according to the law of karma.
Many people offer money to pagodas. Sometimes they offer plenty. However, they want to rely on their money to control the pagodas. If their requirements are not accepted, they get angry and leave the pagodas immediately. This is also a kind of disease. As a wise Buddhist, you should not feel proud when you offer something to a pagoda but should be humble then you will earn outstanding blessing worth thousands of times of what you offer. For example, if you offer 50 million VND to a pagoda and don’t feel proud of it and don’t let anyone know it then Buddhas will count you offer 500 million VND because of your attitude when offering. So in the next life, you will reap the blessing of 500 million VND, that is 500 billion VND. That’s the way of the law of Cause and Effect goes.

Also, there is a case when you offer 50 million VND and you only earn a blessing worth this amount because you show off your offering and feel proud of it. Every time you tell someone about your offering, your blessing will decrease a bit and after 500 times of telling, your blessing will be 0. If you don’t let anyone know your offering, you will earn a blessing of 500 billion in the next life because Buddha appreciates your way and that you will gain a great blessing in the next life. So, those who offer money to a pagoda should bear it in mind that no matter how much money you offer, keep being humble as if you didn’t offer anything. If you do so, first you will have many favorable conditions when you practice Buddhism; second you are blessed by Buddhas; and third you will be allowed to go to heaven after your death. However, if you do otherwise, your merit is reduced gradually.

It may be strange to you that although you keep making so much effort to do many good things, you don’t receive any good results when you are alive. However, a good news is celestial beings are watching you every day and when you die, they will take you to their heaven which only allows qualified people and because this world is not good enough for you who are always modest, respect and live for others and know the correct way to spend money. However, you don’t know this truth, so you fear the death. You fear because you do not know where you will go to, whether your children will worship and provide you with food every day to not be hungry. You don’t know that many good things are waiting for you in heaven in which you will be allowed to enjoy many dishes much more delicious than ones in this world and you can have how much you want.

There is one more disease of the rich, that is, they base on money to assess others. For example, there is a wealthy person who has many Buddhist friends not as rich as them. They say, "You are devout but poor. I’m rich, so I’m more valuable than you". That means the rich measures the value of humans by money. For them, who has more money is more valuable. Those who base on materials to assess others have the retribution of being attached to materials, that is, the future place for them is human realm, animal realm, hungry ghost realm or hell. They only belong to those realms, from the realm of humans downwards, because they judge others by their money instead of their morality. So, we should love and respect those whose mind is good and should not respect those who only has selfishness and pride in mind. If one does the former, one does not belong to the realm of humans but beyond it like heaven, for instance, and if one does the latter, one is deserved to live in the realm of animals, or hungry ghost or hell and you can be sure that those people will commit sin. Only people who assess people base on their morality will bring benefit to this life.

We can know where we will be reborn into by our assessment for others. Someone may wonder why the assessment based on mind or money cause serious karma. The reason is those who only respect money instead of morality will not improve their morality, so they will not correct their mind and do good deeds. And because of not doing good deeds they not only lose their merit but will commit sin because of their immorality. So, as a Buddhist, you should judge someone by their manner and morals but not the materials they own.

That is the reason why we have to respect monks and nuns who is the poor. You can own a car or a villa while monks and nuns do not have any asset. However, you have to pay homage to them because they have compassion, wisdom and things of mentality from the Dharma. Those precious things in their hearts and in their mind cause us to respect them. Because of the great respect we show to those true monks and nuns, we belong to human realm and above and we are making progress in spirituality.
For people who see monks and nuns and say, "Those monks are penniless" will have no money in the future and will fall into lower realms. This is why we should respect monks and nuns.

There is one more disease of the rich, that is, they consider money a mean to have power. They will buy off government officials to protect them from doing evil things. They will hire people to serve and work for themselves. Those who want to have power will cause harm to society. Their desire for having power at all cost will make them become devils. There is no exaggeration here. Those who use money to force others to do bad deeds will become a king of devils after death if they still have blessing and surely will go to hell in time.

Now we can explain why people say, "money is a good servant but a bad master". That means if we regard our money as our master – something over us that win our respect, our money will order us to do evil things. In this case money is a bad master. The truth is money is not a master, only people regard money as a master. Those who treat money like that will dare to do everything because of money for sure.


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CHAPTER 9: WHY IS MONEY A GOOD SERVANT?


A wise person will not treat money as a boss but a mean to serve themselves. When money is put at its right position (below humans), we try to use it effectively to bring benefit to life. Money will be a good thing if we use it this way.

This saying is very short, profound and exact and whether money will be an evil boss or a nice servant depends on users.

Now we will talk about the diseases of the poor. The first one is the poor always have a desire for money. One who has no money always desires money. And because of having no money, they are always busy thinking of many ways to earn money, and as a result, they often feel worried and stressful. This is due to their bad karma which makes them feel insecure. Those who are blessed will earn money easily, thus they feel easy. That is the karma which make the poor always feel worried and the rich feel easy except for the case the rich are greedy for money, they also feel uneasy, too. However, for poor people, if they have a right philosophy of life, they will feel unstressed, but not much and most of the poor always worry about earning money. This is the first disease of the poor.

The second one is they sometimes think of dishonest and illegal ways of making money. Sometimes because they are in need of money, they do many illegal things such as fraudulence, robbery, smuggling, or trade in drugs, weapons. . that is the possible disease of the poor.

The third disease is currying favor with the rich. If a poor person respects money too much, he is prone to curry favor with wealthy people with the hope that they will give him some money. Currying favor means we pretend to respect a person not because of their manner but because of their money. This disease will end when we have morals because since then we will only respect people who have morals and live a righteous life but not because of their money. Normally, Buddhists do not have this disease because they have morality, so they only revere those who have morality and noble mind. For the rich, we will respect them only if they are ethical and if they are unethical and we curry favor with them, we will lose our ethics because we don’t value ethics. That is how the law of karma works.

The fourth disease of the poor is that they get an inferiority complex. If one does not have money while people around him have much, he will keep his distance and also, he does not try to increase his blessing. That attitude is passive. We should not let them get a complex so long but try to help them end this disease, otherwise, they won’t go to pagodas and won’t try to gain merit and as a result, they will be poor forever. We should visit and encourage them because any way, we are better than them. If we do so, their complex will reduce. We then help them know Buddhism and help them recognize the value of a person does not base on their money but their morality. If we do so, we are useful to this life. Let’s save those who have a complex by that way.

The fifth disease is the poor does not desire money but, on the contrary, despise it. This disease is very rare and sounds strange but still exists and it surprises us. Normally, it is appreciated that when you have lots of money and you do not value it and those who can be like that have high morality. Conversely, if you are poor but still say, "I don’t need money and I look down on it", you are so arrogant and your saying has no value. Only when you are wealthy and you say "money is nothing to me", your saying has value and it proves that you have high ethics, otherwise you should not do that or you will be poor forever.


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CHAPTER 10: HOW TO DO WITH OUR MONEY


Buddha taught laymen (we) 5 things about how to do with our money Nourish ourselves and our family.
Help needy people.
Offer to the Triple Jewels.
Invest in our business.
Save some.

You see, Buddha put "Help needy people" above "Offer to the Triple Jewels". It proves Buddha’s great compassion for human beings.

The 5 items above is for those who have quite high income because the income has to be large enough to be divided. For the poor, only nourishing themselves and their family is hard, let alone help others, offer to the Triple Jewels, invest or save some. In Buddha’s time, there was a rich man who visited and consulted Buddha then Buddha taught him to divide his income into five parts as above but no need to divide equally. Maybe the amount for nourishing is big, the amount for helping is quite small, the smaller is for offering,the amount for investment is quite large and for saving is little. How much in each part depends on your capacity. Don’t misunderstand Buddha and divide equally. For poor people, they even can’t accomplish the first item. So, they have to make effort to earn blessing but how can they do if they don’t have much money? – They can do it with their mouth. This way the blessing we earn is maybe bigger than the one we do with our money.

The truth is the blessing we gained with our mouth is bigger than the one we gained with our hands and our money. Also, our mouth creates bad karma faster, bigger than the one created by our money and our hands. For example, if one day you went to a pagoda and bit the monk, how is your sin? It is very serious because you insulted a monk. However, it is still not as bad as when you went to the market and spoke ill of the monk because your word would cause people to lose their faith in this monk and Buddhism. If your mouth committed a serious sin, you would never know how long you would have to stay in lower realms next life. The retribution for you when you bit the monk may last in a few years and will be end if you sincerely repent of it but it will be nothing compared with the case that you slander the monk since it makes people lose their belief in Buddhism.

We know that our mouth will create blessing or commit sin more than our body and money. So if we are so poor we should use it to earn blessing. That means you should talk with others about Buddhism. There are so many people in this world have not known Buddhism yet, so there are so many chances for you to create blessing.

Buddha taught Right Speech
Master every word
To ll people’s heart
With only good things.
Not much for the cost
Not much for labor
But too much karma
Whatever we speak.
Easy disparage
May fall in the sage
Bad karma begins
Animal life starts.
Try to praise the good
So others can hear
Then they can follow
What the good has done.
Praising Buddhism
To take man by man
Come back to the truth
So they’ll be happy.
Talk about karma
Reincarnation Enlighten people
Out of the evil.
Never say bad words
Never praise oneself
Never say quarrel
Never say a fraud.
Many things to say
To make good karma
So please be careful
When starting a word.

If you are rich, you should not patronize others and waste your money but should live a simple life and be friendly to others. Because your money will be a rocket that takes you to heaven or hell in a twinkling,
so please be careful with it. There is another fact you should know that the more money, the more obligations you have to this world. So if you have plenty money, you should feel uneasy but not happy and enjoy it because this is the obligation Buddha assigns to you.

If you are poor, you should accept it as your karma and live contentedly. However, try to work hard and do good deeds. You should respect those who have blessing of wealth but do not curry favor with them. Also, do not be superstitious to use charms to make money.

For example, you superstitiously think that you will have a neighbor’s money if you put a mirror somewhere on your house to reflect the light to the neighbor’s house or your business will run smoothly if you always keep a charm in your pocket. Don’t even believe in things like that. The correct way is to try to create merit and to understand that our poverty results from some mistakes or sins in a past life. So now you have to find out these mistakes or sins then fix them but not let them go through the next life. The most popular mistake is to be stingy and not to help others. If it is not your case, it might be that you wasted your money, bought things that you didn’t really need or gave money to those who were not deserved. If it is still not your case, it might be that you offered to false monks, or you just kept your money and it became useless after you died… That is, you should check your daily manner to find out the mistakes you committed in the past and try to repent and correct them. If your mistake is having been stingy, it’s easy to fix it but if it is having wasted money or just kept them or having given to those who were not deserved, it’s hard to discover. However, we should try our best to discover them to fix and no longer allow ourselves to commit them again.

There is a story about two miserly guys who went swimming in a river. They challenged each other to a game of submersion. The loser would pay the winner 50 thousand VND. After having counted one, two, three, both dived in the river and held a pillar at the bottom of river to not oat on the surface because floating on the surface would be a loss of 50 thousand VND. And three days later they floated together. This is a satirical story about stingy people. And we have stories about wealthy people, too. There are exceptionally wealthy people in the world such as billionaire Bill Gates, who was the president of Microsoft corp. His property reaches hundred billion dollars and he is one of the richest in the world. His philosophy of life is very compassionate, so he is also the biggest sponsor in this world. He soon made a will in which he will leave eighty percent of his property to poor people who have AIDS, leprosy, hepatitis, or are infected by dioxin… You may wonder what did he do in the past life so now he is so rich? Actually, in the past life he worked in science field and had an invention that the world has been using in hundreds of years. For example, that was a motorbike or a light or something like that that the world is still using. And when he was reborn, his blessing accumulated from the past will cause the world to buy his products in order to make him the richest in the world. When a person invented something, he did not think of earning money with his invention but for the convenience of humans. It is this motive that helps them gain an outstanding blessing.

We tell this story to remind us that we can use our intelligence and power to bring benefit to people and our work will help us have merit and this merit will be multiple times greater if we do with altruism
and love.

We have talked about the philosophy of money to realize that money is not everything but it is means and our responsibility to people. Thus, the more money we have, the more worried we feel because we have to use it correctly to bring happiness to this life. If you can do so, you will gain great blessing and if you spend it on wrong things, you will have no money in the future and even worse, you will fall into lower realms.

This is also true with the achievement of concentration in meditation because those who can do that like when they have 10 billion VND. So, if they use their power in meditation to serve Buddhism and people then they will gain great blessing, otherwise, if they misuse it like to feel proud of it or to show it off then they will lose their achievement and commit bad karma. Moreover, money or concentration is past blessing, hence it will end if we just reap it. So, if you have that blessing, don’t rely on it and think it will be endless but use it to create blessing for the future.

We have talked about the diseases of the rich and the poor to help us avoid them and use our money correctly. We will respect the money we have but will never put it above ourselves, so it will be our good servant and our great tools to bring benefit and happiness to this world. We hope that all of you will be rich in both of materials and morals, so that each of your penny will bring morality and happiness to people.

Namo Sakya Muni Buddha.

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