Money is not, as many people believe, 'the root of all evil'. There is something within human beings that uses money as a means to express its greed. Do away with money and put anything else in its place and, as long as people continue to be possessed by their own weakness, base appetites and passions the probablem will be the same. So it is not money that is to blame, but man. Man is not sufficiently enlightened, he doesn't know what attitude to adopt with regard to money, how to use it properly, for what reasons and what purpose it should be used. In itself, money is neither good nor bad; it is neutral. At the same time, it is a tremendously powerful means in the hands of those who possess it and this is why it can be used either to destroy or to save. The whole question, therefore, is one of attitude. Money is powerful simply because human beings attribute great value to it. If they decided, tomorrow, to divest money of its value and attribute it to something else, the same pattern would repeat itself all over again, with the same tragedies, the same seductions, the same splendours and the same degradations.
Keep your money in your safe or in your pocket, but never in your head. If you keep it in your head it will be an opaque screen that will cloud your vision. If you keep it before your eyes as an ideal to be reached at all costs, less ready to see people's good points; you will be less considerate, generous and tolerant. You will become severe, intransigent and cruel. To have no money at all, on the other hand, is not desirable either. People have sometimes wanted to live in stark poverty, thinking that it would enhance their spiritual life, and have ended by becoming a useless burden to society. That is not the ideal solution! As long as we are on earth and things are organized as they are today, we need money.
Perhaps, in the future, there will be no more money: our currency will be love. Yes, why not? Love is a far more valuable currency than gold! But it is still too soon for mankind to achieve this conception of things and, as we may be sure that money will be with us for some time to come, it is important to have the right ideas about it so as to avoid becoming a prey to its seductive wiles. That is all we need: the right attitude. It is not wrong to have money. How could you help others if you had no money? It is all very well to have a heart full of love but, if you have nothing else, you still cannot help people materially. I seem to be talking to you as though I had to persuade you - as though you needed to be persuaded that money was necessary! I know that I don't have to worry about that: you all agree that we need money. The only question is how to behave where money is concerned, how to use it.
If you give money to someone who has not achieved the mastery of his thoughts, feelings and desires, he will hasten to use it and abuse it for his own debasement. His new wealth will enable him to ruin his enemies, have all the women he wants, etc. You cannot pin the blame on the money: if the desires of his heart are evil, it is not the fault of money. You can say the same for anything else: oil, gas, coal etc.: you can use them all for constructive or destructive purpose and, if you choose to use them for an evil purpose, it is not their fault. The fault lies with you who harbour evil in your heart.
The conclusion to be drawn from all this is that you must first transform yourself so as to be capable of using money and all your other possessions for no other purpose than your own elevation and the good of humanity. Once you achieve this, you can possess billions and still not fall a prey to it, still resist its lures; you will be in a position, then, to realize the sublime things that you have dreamed of for so long.
Those who are still weak, still subject to their passions should not be given money; that is clear, but if you give money to Masters and Initiates, they will never use it for anything but good. So it is human beings who need to be changed for the better and money can be left to fulfil the purpose for which it was meant; it is not at fault. I have so often heard people saying, 'Money is the cause of all our misfortunes'. Well, they say that as long as they haven't got any, but as soon as they get some we hear a different tune. In the first place, therefore, they are being stupid in failing to recognize the true cause of their misfortunes and, in the second place, they are being dishonest. Two terrible failings! What they should say is, 'Money is very, very necessary. In fact, it's wonderful; but Heaven forbid that I should ever become a slave to it!' If you think that money is the only thing that matters, you will have effectively destroyed the very qualities that would have enabled you to savour the pleasures and delights that wealth can buy. This is the danger: you will have everthing you have ever desired and still be unhappy because you will have everything you have ever desired and still be unhappy because you will have destroyed the element that enabled you to find such exquisite, subtle flavour in every experience. This is the greatest misfortune: to be in a position to have everything you want, to indulge all your desires and to be incapable of enjoying or getting any pleasure out of any of it.
Of course, it is also terrible to be destitute and penniless. But if you had the choice between possessing everything and being incapable of enjoying it on the one hand and, on the other, of possessing nothing but of preserving your powers of enjoyment, you would be better off with the second alternative for, when you have a sense of taste, you can delight in whatever comes to keep this power of enjoyment for it is also linked to health. To be sure, the best of all is to have both: money and the ability to enjoy it. If I see someone hurrying to give me money, I'm not going to fly into a rage and refuse it, but I have not devoted my life to trying to get a lot of money. If it comes, as I say, I'm not going to refuse it or drive it away, but I would never abandon my work to go in search of it: never!
To retain your ability for enjoyment, that si what counts. But only light can give you this sense of taste, this capacity to enjoy everything. Once you have found the light, whatever your activities, whether you are eating, working or going for a walk, everything has the most delicious flavour.
If you don't work with light, if you don't understand what light is, it means that you have not understood the first thing about life. Light is all: light created the world; light is the cause of the universe. Light is a spirit, a spirit that comes from the sun. Each ray is a tremendous force which travels througout the universe to penetrate matter and accomplish its work in it. If ever there were a subject that needed to be studied in depth it is the subject of light: the nature of light, how it works and how we can use it and work with it. He who abandons light and focuses exclusively on money and his business interests is on the wrong track for the gold he is pursuing is, in fact, simply a condensed form of light. Yes, gold is a condensation of the sun's rays which have been collected and fashioned by creatures living underground. What happens when you put gold and silver on a pedestal and neglect light? It means that you are forgetting the father, the cause of all things. Or, if you prefer, you are neglecting the lady of the manor and paying court to her servant.
Naturally enough, when her mistress sees this, she will close her door to you and tell you, ?It is I who am entitled to the place of honour; I see your courting my cook or my chambermaid whereas you should be giving first place in your love and respect to me. Very well, all doors will be close to you!'
When you have money it opens all doors in the physical world, that is true. But the other doors, the doors of peace, happiness, joy and inspiration, the doors of all the qualities and virtues remain closed to you. What good will it do you to find all other doors open if the doors of the sanctuary remain closed to you? Are you incapable of feeling joy or of taking pleasure in anything you do? It is a sure sign that the spiritual doors are closed to you and this means that you have a wrong understanding of life and the values of life.
You must give your love and homage to the lady of the house, the princess; in this way her servants will also serve you. The princess will tell them, 'Give him food and drink; give him clothes and a room', and her servants will hasten to obey: 'Yes, my lady; yes, Your Highness.' Gold is the servant whom we cherish so dearly that we never think about whose service she is in. Gold is dependent on the light of the sun; it is formed by light. So it is light that you must love first and foremost, and the gold will follow; it will come to you. When you walk out with the princess, all her attendants will follow you, ready to serve you. Whereas, if your head is full of gold, it will dazzle and blind you to everything else. Once the idea of money fills your head, you will have eyes for nothing else, not even for the beauty, splendour and intelligence of creation.
You will object, 'What are you talking about? We have to have money.' Believe me, I know better than you how necessary money is. But I still say that you must not fill your head with it; you must not make it your master, your ideal; you must not think that thath is what life is all about. money is a means, a tool, an agent, yes; but not an ideal, not a goal. Your ideal must be something quite different: your ideal must be light; your goal must be light. Never let money become your master; it is a very good servant but a very bad master; as your master it will give you disastrous advice and lead you away from the Kingdom of God. Keep your mind fixed on light, therefore, because, if you possess the light you will be capable of healing yourself, of achieving the mastery of yourself, of understanding the whole of life... and even gold will come your way. But if you don't possess the light, there will always be others more intelligent than you who will rob you of what you have. What else can you expect if you're so stupid?
The trouble is that people are stupid: they have found their attitudes at a commonplace stall in a commonplace market and now they spend their time clamouring for cash, cash and still more cash because, they say, 'If I had lots fo cash I could get everything else I wanted!' Yes, everybody knows that particular stall but almost nobody knows what I know. For I also have a stall in the market and you would do better to come to my stall. You will soon see what you can buy there.
"People love money because instinctively they feel it represents everything life has to offer. But they have confused things: they mistake gold, which comes from the sun and is the symbol of life, for life itself. Just as life provides everything, they believe gold (or let us say money, since this is the word most commonly used) also provides everything. They assign an importance to it that they no longer give to life, because they have lost their life. They tremble at the idea that someone might rob them of their money, and they take unimaginable precautions to protect it. Look at the banks: they have become veritable fortresses. Nothing is better guarded and protected than their safes. Why do people not tremble as well at the thought of losing their life, the very quintessence God has placed in them and which makes them his sons and daughters? Since they are his children and all the riches of the universe belong to them, is it not more desirable to work to reinforce their life, to intensify it, than to lose it in the pursuit of a few trinkets?"
There was once a king who enjoyed strolling through the market (Nowadays, kings are so restricted, they can no longer wander through the markets by themselves but, in the old days, that was possible. A king could walk about in the town and his subjects would come and present their petitions to him). So, this king was strolling through the market and looking at the stalls when, all of a sudden, he heard a merchant shouting, 'Wisdom for sale; come and buy some wisdom!' Greatly intrigued, the king went up to the man and asked him, 'Do you really have wisdom for sale? How much is it?' 'It comes in three sizes', said the merchant, ' One hundred crowns, a thousand crowns or ten thousand crowns.' 'I'll take ten thousand crowns-worth!' said the king. 'Very well! Here you are: ' Do what you have to do , but think of the consequences.' 'Is that all?' 'Yes, that's all.' The king laughed, paid the merchant his ten thousand crowns and walked off, chuckling and murmuring, 'Do what you have to do, but think of the consequences'.
By the time he got back to the palace he had forgotten the incident until, suddenly, the phrase came back into his mind: 'Do what you have to do, but think of the consequences', and he laughed again, thinking of that strange philosopher. The next morning, the king was being shaved before going to an important meeting with his ministers. His chin was already covered with shaving cream and his barber was approaching him with the razor in his hand, when he suddenly thought of the wisdom he had bought in the market and, looking at his barber, he said, jokingly, 'Do what you have to do, but think of the consequences.' To his astonishment, his barber went as white as chalk and fell at his feet, sobbing, 'Mercy, Lord; have mercy on me! I didn't want to do it; it was the ministers who forced me.' The king quickly recovered form his amazement and, realizing that some dreadful plot had been hatched against him, pretended to know about it. 'I know all that', he said, 'But tell me exactly...' 'Sire, I was meant to slit your throat while I was shaving you. I have a wife and children, sire, and they threatened me. I had to do it.' 'Yes, but who?' 'I'll tell you, sire; but promise me you won't kill me.' Well, you can imagine the rest of the story for yourselves, but this is how the king was saved, thanks to the wisdom he had bought in the market.
And I, too, have a stall in the market, but my wisdom is free. And this is what I am telling you today: 'Cherish light above everything else; cling to light and you will be saved.' And now, just a world or two more to complete what we were saying about the servant. What does a servant - or the housewife, if she hasn't got a servant. What does a servant - or the housewife, if she hasn't got a servant - have to do every day? She has to sweep, dust, wash and tidy her house and adorn it with some flowers here and there. But human beings have never understood the meaning of what they do every day. For me, this is a language. It is the book of Nature that I love to read and interpret. Since we are all obliged to look after the cleanliness, order and harmony of our houses, shouldn't we show the same patient care, regularity and tenacity in keeping our inner life clean and tidy? It is this understanding that is so lacking in ordinary human beings: they focus only on the physical dimension and fail to see that cleanliness and order must also exist in their mental life; that it is on this level that they must get into the habit of making everything tidy and harmonious every day, without fail. It is this that is beautyful and useful: unfailingly, every day, to look into oneself, saying 'Let's see: what needs to be tidied up?' And then, to clean and tidy up anything that is out of place, untidy or bizarre and to get rid of any rubbish or dust that has gathered. If the disorder is not tidied up every day, it will end by becoming unmanageable. Every day, therefore, several times a day, you must try to restore peace, order and harmony within yourself. Those who fail to do so will never be in command of the situation. People hasten to repair the destruction caused by a storm, an air raid or an earthquake as soon as it is over. Why don't you do the same, every day, in your inner life? There are always some little storms going on, some rain or some bombs falling, a few holes through which mice can get in ...so there is always a little patching and cleaning and tidying to be done. You must look into yourself every day, and if you see that your thoughts and sentiments are not what they should be, you must set things straight immediatly.
But people do none of this. They do nothing because they have never been taught the truths of Initiatic Science or, if they have learned these truths, they scoff at their precepts. And yet, by practising these methods a human being can achieve complete control of all his cells. Yes, because he will have understood, he will have been faithful and constant and, one day, everything will fall into place and work exactly as he wants it to. When the bombs were falling we saw how the soldiers and firemen put out the fires and repaired the bridges and so on, without delay, and we think that that is normal; we take it for granted. But when it is our own inner life that is concerned, we don't know what to do. So, now you see why we try to concentrate three, four, five, ten times a day, so as to remedy the situation. If you hear a voice setting up a great hubbub within you, tell it to keep quiet and go and sit down and listen. And preserve until you succeed in making it obey you. You will be proud of yourself when you gain the upper hand. But if you let everything go and expect the situation to sort itself out alone, peace and tranquility will not be restored for years... if ever.
There; now you see what interesting conclusions we can draw from this image of the lady of the house and her maid.
'The poor don't know how to use their poverty as the most effective means of evolution; they constantly rebel against it. Why? Because they want the money that the rich have. They would like others to think that they find wealth offensive but, in fact, they long for it with all their might. If the rich had a clearer understanding of the question, they would distribute all their wealth to the poor, and the poor would refuse it and say, ''No, no; we don't want anything; we're very well off just as we are!'' If they were truly enlightened, the rich would want to strip themselves of their wealth and the poor would want nothing more than they have. For the sake of their own salvation, therefore, the rich should turn to the poor and beg them to accept their riches, and the poor should refuse adamantly. You will say that I'm turning everything upside down. Exactly! Because this is how we can get everything right side up again!'
how people would scoff at the idea that the rich should offer their wealth to the poor and the poor should refuse it! So why do I talk about it? Is it for your amusement and my own? No. Be patient and you will hear some very interesting explanations. Can the rich or the poor explain the reason for their circumstances? Do they know why some people are rich and others poor? If you ask a priest he will tell you that it is the will of God. What have the rich rich done to deserve their fortune and the poor to deserve their poverty? Nobody can answer this because they have rejected the notion of reincarnation which explains every individual situation. Those who are rich today have earned their wealth, in one way or another, in previous incarnations. Initiatic Science tells us that, sooner or later, we always get what we ask for. Whether what you ask for be good or bad, you will get it. The Lord gives every creature what they ask Him for, and if it turns out to be bad for them, it is not His fault. If you ask for a burden and then find yourself crushed beneath its weight, you cannot blame the Lord. It is a terrible thing not to foresee the long-term consequences of what you ask for. If you knew in advance how things would turn out, if you foresaw that the satisfaction of your desires would lead to unhappiness or illness, you wouldn't ask for them. This is why, in Initiatic Science, the disciples begin by learning that some things should be asked for and others should not.
In any case, one thing is certain, and that is that the rich are rich because they have cultivated certain qualities and worked for their wealth. The law is always faithful and true. You will say, 'But they cheated and lied. They got rich by fraud and violence'. That may well be, but, even if they did use such means, the law says that they must be given wealth because they have done everything in their power to get it. Of course, what the law does not say is whether they will keep their wealth for long nor whether it will satisfy them and give them peace and joy. But they will get what they asked for. They may have succeeded by using illicit means, but they have succeeded. What they don't know, of course, is what the consequences of their success will be. To be sure, not all the rich have used deceit and dishonesty to achieve wealth. some have become rich through their own hard work or thanks to an inheritance, by chance or thanks to a discovery. It is not possible to enumerate each particular case.
Take the case of the Jews, for instance: most of the major businesses are in their hands today. And who made this situation possible? Christians. In their ignorance and hatred, Christians persecuted the Jews and this persecution led to their developing some exceptional qualities that enabled them to survive even in the worst conditions. It is true that a practice such as circumcision (which is based on an age-old science), through the modifications it produces in the functioning of the endocrine glands, has contributed to a particular trend in the evolution of Jews. But it is Christians who, without realizing it, drove the Jews to develop their financial skills and, today, it is they who rule the world. To be sure, there are also Christians and Muslims who have become immensly rich through the oil industry but none of them has the abilities and that special intelligence that Jews have. In one way or another, therefore, the rich have earned their wealth.
And now, let's talk about Initiates. Initiates have no desire to be rich because their aim is not to settle down in the world nor to rule over it. An Initiate wants, above all, to become a luminous beacon, a shining light and, cosequently, he has no wish to encumber himself with things that would prevent him from devoting himself to this divine task. An Initiate wants to be free and detached in order to work on himself and others; it is because he refuses to burden himself that he is able to make continual progress and go from strength to strength until he becomes truly formidable. He doesn't need to worry about protecting his money from thieves, falling prices on the stock exchange or the devaluation of the franc of the dollar. This is why I say that those who are always in hot pursuit of wealth are fools: they don't understand that, because of this, their soul will never know anything but emptiness. What good wil it do them to swallow up the whole world? I would be different if they used some of their wealth to help very gifted young people to become outstanding artists or scientists, for instance. But, no; they keep it all for themselves and never help anyone; they are only interested in opening more and more branch offices or shops and ruining their competitors. And, as they know nothing of the laws, they don't know that, when they come back to earth in their next incarnation, they will be beggars.
Believe me, many beggars we see everywhere today are the reincarnation of people who were very rich in a previous incarnation but who were also very selfish and tight-fisted. It is good to be rich. Yes, but it is only good to be rich if it allows you to be useful to others, not if it means that you despoil them and give a free rein to your craving for destruction. So many people use the power their money gives them to pull strings behind the scenes and do all kinds fo despicable things. If they only knew what they were storing up for themselves! But they don't care one jot about that: they have other irons in the fire: And this is why, one day, the Invisible World will decide to pull the floor out from under their feet and let them all collapse. And they will collapse - all of them. The time is drawing near. The Invisible World gives each human being the chance to manifest himself, and all that he does is recorded until, having given a free rein to his basest inclinations for long enough, the time comes for him to be judged. And the laws are terrible! This is what human beings don't realize. They live in darkness and, even when great Masters come to enlighten them, they reject them and refuse to believe what they say.
Of course, anyone can see that: all those great Masters, all those Initiates who have dedicated their lives to discovering truth, who made such great sacrifices and proved their absolute disinterestedness, kindness and greatness of soul - they are all misguided. It is the idiots, brutes and criminals of this world that are on the right track. No, no; believe me, nothing could be further from the truth! In fact, I will show you that you don't know how to read the book of living nature; you have never learned to read the language of plants, mountains, lakes and animals - or of mankind. Let me give you just one example ot of thousands: when the sun rises who sees it first? Those who are at the bottom of a canyon or those who are on top of a mountain? Those at the top of the mountain, of course. In other words, it is those who are purest, most noble and most elevated who are the first to see and grasp the great truths. Goodness knows how many hundreds of years it will be before the common run of benightend fools begins to grasp few smatterings as well. This image of the mountain tops lit by the first rays of the rising sun is a lesson. The great book of Nature is laid out before us and we have to decipher and interpret it; we shall never be misled if we do this. Most human beings trample this book underfoot, that is why they are so deeply plunged into error and illusion.
Go and look at all those who set out to swallow up the whole world and see what a state they are in a few years later: they are preparing to end their days in clinics or asylums because their nervous system cannot stand the strain. They believed that wealth would give them security, pleasure and power, and it does give them these things; that's true. Unfortunetly, it is also gives them something else. They are constantly harassed and have nothing solid to hold on to inwardly. But Initiates, whose only desire is for light, love and purity, live in a state of total fulfilment. Their only concern - apart from the barest necessities in the way of food, clothing and shelter - is how to help others. No one is happier than they and yet, instead of imitating them, the poor spend their time moaning and envying the rich. They fail to understand that their poverty gives them spiritual conditions that could help them to discover another world and to dedicate themselves to a sublime ideal. They are free but, as they don't know how to use their freedom, they are no better than the rich and are just as much to be pitied.
I know, of course, that the rich will never beg the poor to relieve them of their riches. Nor will the poor refuse the invitation. The idea is ludicrous. But I simply wanted to make the point that a rich man is so weighed down by his burden of wealth that he needs to be relieved of some of that weight. Look at how he walks: shoulders bowed and hands behind his back, his fingers constantly moving as though they were autmatically counting. And, as he never looks where he's going, he stumbles against a branch and falls down. And a poor man who is an idealist is no better off: walking along with his head in the clouds and not looking where he is going, he ends by tumbling into a ditch. You have to be sensible and learn to look both up and down while you're walking. A whole philosophy is contained in the way one walks.
Actually, if the rich really wanted to live a sensible and more balanced life, they would make their minds to get rid of part of their burden. Yes, but as the poor would be perfectly content as they are, they would not want to saddle themselves with any extra weight. And I find myself in the same situation: even if a multi-millionaire offered me several millions, I would tell him, 'No, I don't need it. Give it to the Brotherhood if you like but, personally, I prefer to be free and to go on with my work. 'I feel myself to be the richest of men; why should I impoverish myself? But people just don't understand: true wealth lies in being at peace and seeing things as they really are. What value is there in the possession of wealth if it is to the detriment of all that is most precious in yourself? True wealth is the wealth of your thoughts and feelings, for you can share them with others without impoverishing yourself.
It is good to possess material wealth but only on condition that it does not rob you of your freedom. I have already explained this question in a previous lecture. When the Pharisees and Sadducees were looking for a pretext to condemn Jesus, they asked him, 'Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?' But Jesus asked for a coin and said, 'Whose image and inscription is this?' 'Caesar's ' And Jesus said, 'Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's.'
For two thousand years Christians have been quoting this saying and yet they have never discovered how much they should render to Caesar and how much to God. And then I come on the scene with my warped mentality and, setting fire to a log of wood I say, 'Look how it burns: first it produces masses of flames; then it produces gasses, in lesser quantities; then a little water vapour, even less, and finally, all that disappears and we are left with nothing but a handful of ashes. Well, the ashes are for Caesar because they are all that is left on the ground.' That is what Caesar is: the ground. Caesar is here, on earth. The flames, gasses and steam that go up into the sky belong to Heaven. So, there you are: we must consecrate three quarters of all our possessions, activities, thoughts and sentiments to the Lord and one quarter to Caesar; nothing could be more clear. But, instead of that, people give all they have got to Caesar and keep nothing for the Lord. This is why the rich will be punished, if not in their present incarnation, then in the next. And if you say, 'I don't give a hoot about being punished in my next incarnation, I want to have as much as I can in this one!' all I can say is that you are very stupid to take that attitude.
For my part, I have always maintained that, it I were offered the earth itself on condition that I gave up my work, I would refuse. Yes, because, if I were deprived of these spiritual activities, I would be dead; I would have no taste for life any more. So, my answer is, 'Keep all your money an leave me alone'. Believe me, I say this before Heaven, and Heaven knows that it is the truth. So many people allow themselves to be bought without hesitation. This is why the rich are convinced of only one thing: that everything can be bought. And, in fact, it is all too true: they buy men's convictions, feelings and consciences. If you only knew what went on in the world, you would realize how powerful money was. Money is all-powerful on earth. Yes, but it has no value at all in the world above. There are other things that are all-powerful in the world above, not money. And this is why, if your ideal is to become exceptional beings, you must be more and more ready to refuse certain commitments, certain responsibilities, knowing that, if you don't refuse them, it will mean losing your liberty.
True wisdom lies in being capable of giving up certain things. But it is as though people's one desire was to allow themselves to be enslaved on every level. Not long ago a woman came and asked for my advice about remarrying: she had already divorced six husbands and was contemplating getting married for the seventh time. I was dumbfounded! I said to her, 'Dear lady, don't you attach any importance to your freedom?' No; it seems that freedom bored her; she felt that she should always be married, always unhappy and ready to divorce again. Why couldn't she take advantage of her freedom to undertake some new spiritual activities? People always seem to feel the need to tie themselves down. In fact, nine tenths of you are in the same situation: you have the mentality of the rich. Instead of freeing yourselves so as to devote yourselves to making fantastic discoveries, you go in search of situations or occupations that will effectively bury you and prevent you from learning anything about true wealth.