Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Economics and Ethics III

This post is more accurately called ‘Financial Economics and Spirituality’.

It is relatively easy to believe that one can breath the rarefied air of spirituality while serving as a doctor, a nurse, a social worker or a teacher. After all, Christ himself is a teacher, a healer, a contemplative and a servant.

But can pursuing a vocation in finance be a way to divine union? Can a CEO of a bank, a branch manager, the Federal Reserve Chairman, the Finance Minister, an accountant tread an alternative journey into the divine darkness and light?

Just a short consideration on what the ‘commandments’ of a financial spirituality would look like:

Love the Spirit of Finance with all your heart, mind, soul and strength.

Wisdom, power and authority are from God. We believe that political kings can be anointed and that bishops and priests are endowed with sacred Power by the Holy Spirit. Is it therefore anything strange, if the kings of wealth, the captains of our financial institutions, have an anointing of their own? And by further extension, is it so unusual if finance workers in general have this anointing too, though to a lesser degree?

Indeed, both reason and inner experience can verify that the Spirit of God moves in the world of finance, as it moves in the world of politics, education, medicine or religion. A divine Fire, similar in essence though not in external manifestation to the Spirit that graces a Church or a school or a hospital, can be found illuminating the institutions of finance.

The catch is that generally people are attracted to a financial vocation not by any spiritual calling, but by the prospect of riches. Love money with all one’s heart, mind, soul and strength is the implicit guiding principle of many who work in this field. The gifts of the Spirit, the power to multiply metaphorical or literal bread, are typically misused for egotistic ends.

Yet the true apex of finance is not to be the Federal Reserve Chairman or a ‘Master of the Universe’ or the richest human on earth. The true acme of financial achievement is to be completely one with the Spirit that governs all finance, to be a servant-king that shares the throne of the Lord (Revelations 3:21). And the first condition must be to eradicate all love of money, for such idolatry can only hinder one’s upward thrust—God admits to his presence only those who sincerely love Him for his own sake, and not those who hypocritically seek Him for earthly riches. Given the function and gifts of the Spirit of finance, the love of money is an especially potent temptation and deviation.

‘Love one another as I have loved you.’

The foundation of true love is obedience. One cannot really love God without at the same time seeking and obeying his Will. And one cannot fulfill His will thoroughly unless one is set aflame by Love divine.

Thus one seeks to love the Spirit of Finance by obedience. And by obedience, one finds love that brings obedience to perfection.

And in this realm, what would the will of the Spirit be? To govern financial resources, however much or little, with prudence, vision and a spirit of stewardship; to serve, to give oneself generously to one’s clients; to multiply wealth and bread for all, to promote the larger financial interests of one’s country or even the world. And ultimately, to do all these because it is the divine Will to do so, with no attachment to external reward or fame.

And the real reward? The increasing Presence of the Fire, His light and bliss and inner riches. And an increasing capacity and wisdom to govern wealth and to use it well. And an increasingly boundless and illimitable authority over the forces of wealth

Patience and the Dark Night

Finance and commerce are fields where the powers and principles of earth and darkness hold almost complete sway. Given the nature of these disciplines, this is of course understandable, and to some extent, inevitable.

To bring the fire of spirituality to these fields would be a long, arduous task. The doors would not open with ease. Even with grace. Much patience is needed, especially in the purgation process where one’s desires for money are potent and recurrent and natural. True, the Spirit and his messengers are the ultimate governors of finance—but many too, are the forces who work on the dark and egotistic minds and spirits that are common in this field.

For precisely because the rewards of this path potentially include the fruits that the children of earth most covet: money, worldly power, fame, success, vainglory and so on, the nature of the aspirant must go through a thorough cleansing before the inner revelation of the Spirit of Finance can be thorough. One must be thoroughly sincere and be free hidden agendas and the chains of darkness.

Needless to say, it is a long wait. Yet a divine finance is no impossible chimera, but one strand in the eventual transformation of the earth.