What do the sacred scriptures of various religions say about money? How has it evolved as a means of social control since the days of Ancient Mesopotamia. Bestselling author Kabir Sehgal talks big chunks of history and even bigger chunks of change. Kabir Sehgal’s latest book is “Coined: The Rich Life of Money and How Its History Has Shaped Us” (http://goo.gl/AiTXg0).
Read more at BigThink.com: http://bigthink.com/videos/kabir-sehgal-on-money-and-ethics
Transcript – Historically, money has been used as a way to control other people. For example, in ancient times, ancient Mesopotamian times, it was illegal to sell your family, your wife, your son into slavery unless you were settling a debt. So what does that show us? It shows us that money can make us act very irrationally but also very dangerously. What is slavery? Slavery is but a type of debt of controlling other people. And so what’s happened over the years, over the generations, over the civilizations, the people who issue the money they like to control the money because they realize if they can water down the value of it or they can increase the value of it they can change people’s behaviors. So as a business person it’s important to realize that money is not the only thing coming to relationships, meaning that you shouldn’t just value all your business leads or business contacts in terms of money because money makes us do irrational things and often selfish things in the business context.
So, in part of researching this book I wanted to look at the idea of religions, what do different spiritual masters same about money? I mean 80 percent of what Jesus says in terms of his parables in the book of Matthew are about money. There are over 80 versus in the Koran having to do with money or wealth in someway. In Hinduism there’s four aims of life but two of them really matter to this topic of money and one of them is called Artha. Artha, what does artha mean? It means that you have to go out and make material wealth. It’s okay to make wealth. It’s your duty to make wealth because you have to take care of your family, you have to make a living. But the pursuit of artha, the pursuit of money will leave you yearning for more. It will leave you empty. And that will mean you’ll need to go for the fourth aim of life, which is moksha, liberation from it, detachment from it. So it’s the pursuit of artha that leads you to the liberation of it, which is a very nuanced and sophisticated way of looking at money. This corresponds to periods of your life. For example, when you’re young and early in your life you should be trying to make money; you should be trying to take care of yourself. If you’re working on Wall Street, if you’re a stockbroker it’s okay to make the money. But as you leave this world you should start to renounce from it and detach it because you certainly don’t take it with you.
This could also correspond to periods of your day. In the morning you go to work; you make a living; you make some money. But when you come home you should unplug from it. You should detach from moneymaking pursuit and try to balance your life in that way. So there’s a reason across all the faiths that talk about less is more. So many of us are driven by more is better, but it’s important to realize that sometimes less is more.