Journalist Shamin Chibba finds a new perspective on Lakshmi, the Hindu patron of money and fortune while attending the Money as Golden Currency of Love workshop.
A figurine of Lakshmi – the Hindu goddess of wealth, fortune and prosperity – stood in the prayer room in my family home along with a dozen other gods and goddesses of the Hindu pantheon. Her perfectly symmetrical face, jewel-encrusted crown and elegant red sari spoke of regality. She spouted gold coins from her right hand and held a lotus flower in the left. Perhaps she was depicted in such a way to inspire devotees to work harder, make more money. At least that’s how the Hindus I knew saw it.
The names by which I knew Lakshmi – Lakshmima, Mahalakshmi, Matajii – seemed to reinforce her power and significance, yet, for the longest time, I couldn’t understand why a goddess would encourage the pursuit of money in a world already ravaged by greed. Couldn’t she be like Saraswati, who enshrined knowledge, or Kali, who held time and change in her hands?
The way some Hindus called upon Lakshmi smacked of the avarice that’s pervasive around the world. They did not consider it perverse to pray to her and fast on Fridays for the sole purpose of attaining wealth. It was as if they were haggling with her.
For as long as I can remember, such behaviour made me doubt Hinduism as a path by which I could hone my spiritual values. In a world that still struggles with overcoming poverty and gross economic inequality, I found it hard to believe that there was a goddess willing to exchange coin for a few words of praise, sacrificial fasts, and sweetmeats.
It was for this reason that I was particularly interested to attend Linda Tucker’s three-day workshop on “Money as the Golden Currency of Love”. It promised to take us beyond cultural, racial and gender divides into the most urgent issues of our day and deliver solutions right from the heart of Nature.
I was not disappointed. I found Brad Laughlin’s understanding of Lakshmi insightful and, to be honest, so darn refreshing. He spoke of the deity with reverence.
“Lakshmi is the goddess of both love and abundance,” he said. “So, love and money – the ancients recognise that the two are one and the same energy. There’s no difference. Money is simply the visible form of the energy of love. And it started out that way. It started out as this sacred gift.”
Laughlin, who is the Executive Director of spiritual change-makers, CoreLight, looked back at the Neolithic era – between 10,000 BC and 4,500 BC – for evidence of money being a sacred symbol of the feminine. It was, he noted, the age of priestesses and goddesses such as Lakshmi.
“It was during this age that money was essentially invented. It was back in those days that we found the first records of money. So, isn’t that interesting? Money was originally a sacred symbol. Money was associated with love and with the feminine.”
Personifications of nature
Upon hearing Laughlin’s monologue on Lakshmi, I recalled Joseph Campbell’s take on Hinduism.
To the American mythologist, Hinduism was a spiritual endeavour, not a dogmatic religion. He believed the image of Lakshmi, and indeed all the Hindu deities, were personifications of phenomena in the natural world. He went as far as discovering that the Greeks who settled in India around 200 BC likened her to Artemis, which he detailed in his book The Masks of God.
Lakshmi is tied to the full moon. Hindus pray to her on the night of Sharad Purnima, a harvest festival marking the end of the monsoon season. This explanation of Lakshmi as the bringer of autumn made more sense to me than the version of her being a cash dispenser.
Money is energy
Laughlin’s notion around money as love plays right into historian Yuval Noah Harari’s idea that money is a unit of mutual trust. For, without love, there can’t be trust. So, if a person can’t trust money, especially the kind that is divinely ordained, their relationship with it is soured.
Laughlin called this the fear of abundance, which has its roots in religious teachings that maintain money as the root of all evil and that it is nobler to take a vow of poverty.
“We’re afraid of getting lost in what’s called Maya in Sanskrit – the material world – if we’re immersed in the world of money. We’re afraid we might lose sight of our spiritual nature if we’re too much in abundance.”
And therein lies the break in the relationship with money. An antidote to this souring connection is to transform one’s consciousness around money. Sarah Grace, the founder of California-based Somatic Sanctuary, gave a hint on how to make that change.
“Money is energy,” she had told the workshop. “I feel that the consciousness around money is directly in relationship to the consciousness of our connection to that which is higher.”
Grace said the modern concept that money and survival are tied together is a symptom of the world functioning from an unhealed wound of insecurity.
“People’s base foundation is fear. I feel more than 80 percent of people on the planet are in a state of unhealed trauma, which is often related to survival and terror. Before money shifts, people need to heal the traumas that they’re holding that have been passed on ancestrally.”
There is an opportunity for ancestral healing here, she said, one that relinquishes the idea of ownership both of land and money. “We all are made up of Earth mineral stars. Our ancestral energy comes from the cosmos; it’s in our blood. We are indigenous on this planet and there’s an opportunity to recognise we are not separate from the tribes, from the indigenous cultures. They’re all here with us.”
A kind of purification would need to occur when accepting financial inheritance with a tainted past. “It’s ultimately our own purification that has to happen so that wealth can be seen, offered and gifted from a place of purity and not from survival mechanisms that most often money came from,” noted Grace.
Work from the heart
Mariëtta van der Werff learnt a hard lesson on money when she founded Avanos, a seed distributor in Zimbabwe. During that country’s tumultuous 2000s, the value of money was determined by our collective behaviour. Greed and the manic pursuit of profit ultimately led to the worthlessness of the Zimbabwean dollar and the collapse of the nation’s economy.
“Money, currency, whatever you want to call it – you can’t hold on to it,” she had told the workshop. “If you try to control it, if you try to grip it, it’s just going to slip through your fingers like sand and you will have nothing at the end.”
It is not about making a lot of money in the old exploitative paradigm, said Van der Werff, adding that we need to drop the conditioning and belief system deeply ingrained in all of us. Instead, we should focus on the work that is required of us – the kind of work that comes from the heart with an emphasis on service above profit.
She gave a practical antidote on how to break the typical profit-mongering business model. Avanos, she said, has shifted its focus to serving three tiers. “My business model is about serving, first and foremost, the farmers of this country [Zimbabwe] so that they can produce the food that this country needs. It’s about serving the consumer with a good product [so] that they have a reliable adapted African product to eat. And it is about serving the Earth.”
Regaining our love for life
Linda sees in the White Lions a paradigm shift taking place, which is ushering in a Golden Age that may truly bring this era of exploitation to an end. Only then may we regain our love for life.
“What it requires of us is to truly listen to nature and the principles of these founding laws that are in our true natures, we have to remember our true natures. And money is such a key issue because it gets to the very cracks…In many cases it’s the most debased use of currency and resources that really speaks into humanity’s loss of love with life.”
Linda’s idea of predation succeeding consumerism [https://www.lindatuckerfoundation.org/on-shifting-our-relationship-with-money/] as an economic value system could be the key. She has described it as an exchange of energetic gifts whereby the apex predator restores balance and ensures continuity of life. The system prevents collapse as it ensures all beings are provided for and protected. In such a state, we would receive – not take – what is necessary and share the remainder of the world’s abundance. This is how one could make peace with money; to understand that when you have it, most of it is not yours. Money is shared through the thousands of exchanges and interactions with each other.
My LionHearted friend, Sumayya Ismail, once wrote of a vision of the Golden Age that I think is a suitable ending for this essay:
“In the eighth card of the Major Arcana in the Tarot, stands a lion, and beside him, a woman, usually with her arms embracing him and the infinity symbol above her head. Together, they form the picture of strength. But it is not a one-sided strength, nor a battle of wills or a power struggle of domination or extraction. He is not threatening her; she is not taming him; but together, in their symbiotic union they find balance and through that open heartedness, a true strength.
“In that way, they are like the White Lions of Timbavati and their kin across the vast wilds of Africa, who know that it is only through a sense of symbiosis and unity with everything around us that we ensure a greater sense of strength, and the infinite survival of us all and the planet that we share.”
Access the recorded sessions of the Money as the Golden Currency of Love workshop HERE