Dhamma practice is not limited to how we feel the breath when meditating. How we handle money and wealth is also an important part of our dhamma practice. We can bring wisdom into our financial and consumer activities—how we earn, how we invest, how we spend, how we save, and how we give.
The Buddha gave practical teachings to his lay disciples regarding the proper use of wealth, and to wisely consider how we use whatever degree of wealth we have. He suggested that lay people use their wealth for four purposes: 1) to support ones family by make self, parents, family and friends happy, 2) to invest in the business by making provisions against loss due to fire, flood, king, bandits, 3) to contribute to the community through offerings to relatives, guests, and kings, and 4) to support the spiritual life by making lofty offerings to worthy people who are cultivating virtue, meditation, and wisdom (A. IV, 61).
This list seems remarkably contemporary. We can reflect on how we are balancing all four areas. Are you using your wealth in a balanced way that is appropriate to your values, needs, and responsibilities? You might consider what proportion of your income is spent on yourself, friends, family, and associates; what proportion you reinvest into the growth and protection of your business (include insurance); what proportion supports the broader social community (include taxes); and what proportion nurtures people, practices, and organizations that are dedicated to practices that lead to awakening.
In our monthly daylong programs this year we are focusing on the Buddha’s pragmatic teachings to lay people regarding wealth, relationships, decision-making, and handling conflict.
As we give mindful attention to every aspect of living, the nitty gritty decisions we make with our wallets, as well as sublime meditative pursuits, are equally embraced with compassion, mindfulness and wisdom.