There is a widely held misconception that Buddha Sakyamuni taught his disciples to cultivate a disdain for secular success and prosperity. This common misinterpretation no doubt motivated some of those who sent me somewhat disparaging emails about my participation in the “70 Days of Conscious Prosperity”.
The simple fact is that Buddha actually taught his students that the way to happiness could be accomplished through through accumulation of immense wealth, striving for worldly success, and seeking pleasure through the senses, just as much as it could through a monastic practice.
So what did Buddha say about renunciation?
According to Bhikkhu Rahula, they were specifically intended for the monastic community. There is no doubt that the Buddha spoke of a higher bliss that could be found in a renounced life. “Happiness in detachment” is a more stable form of happiness because it comes from within — not dependent on unreliable things like wealth, relationships, or social status.
But the Buddha understood the Middle Way — that the renounced lifestyle is not for everyone. And he never intended those monastic practices to apply to everyone.
In fact, I would suggest that Buddha Sakyamuni was a secular humanist, who understood, endorsed and celebrated the the life of the “householder” as equal in dignity and worthy of respect.
Here’s what Bikkhu Rahula says about it:
“The Buddha’s view on prosperity can be summarised as follows. First, one is entitled to as much wealth as one wants, as long as it is earned ethically, without harming others. We are told to “gradually increase wealth without squeezing others, just as bees collect honey without harming the flowers.” Secondly, we need to use our wealth to benefit both ourselves and others. In other words, wealth is not to be pursued for its own sake, but for the good it can do for the world. He advised his followers to use their money to satisfy family members, employees, friends, and associates.”
Prosperity is about growth from within. If we are to experience prosperity, we have to look seriously at what we value internally, and at our intentionality. Our external experience is always a mirror of our interior state of mind.
Since all growth begins in mind, then we must begin to approach prosperity by turning our attention inward to see with a new vision… a new awareness… the potential for abundance that already manifests all around us, in us and through us.
Dr. Ernest Holmes notes, “To view limitation is to impress it upon the mind.” There is a line in Psalm 19, in which the Aramaic translation is roughly, “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be in alignment with that which is Universally Pure.” In other words, when our thoughts and words are in alignment with Universal Law, then what we manifest will always be growth-oriented, wholesome and good.
The longer I practice, the more I begin to shed and let go of my perceptions, and begin to see things as they truly are — without judgment or attachment. And so I will continue to challenge myself to rely less and less on worldly things to shore up my false sense of ego. And by ensuring that my intentionality is in alignment with the teaching of Rav Yeshua and Buddha Sakyamuni — by focusing on using my good for the Greater Good, and always seeking to alleviate suffering in all sentient beings — I will demonstrate prosperity, abundance, health and wholeness in every step, and with every breath.
This is the Middle Way. This is the Way of Happiness and Abundance. It is our Way.
My inner awareness is my reality of life. As I expand and grow in consciousness, I recognise that all phenomena in my experience begins with me, and me alone. I need only open wide the windows of my mind, to embrace the Light that flows in, through and all around me… illuminating every thought, and exposing those thoughts which stray from reality, so that I can gently return to centre. I affirm that every breath I take is filled with mindful awareness and growth. I watch my actions demonstrate a consciousness of prosperity and fullness. And so I release my word to do its good and perfect work, and return to me in my experience abundantly multiplied. And so it is!
khenpo gurudas sunyatananda
“Chenrezig, Treasure of Objectless Compassion;
Manjushri, Lord of Stainless Wisdom;
Vajrapani, Destroyer of all adversarial forces;
O Je Tsong Khapa – Losang Drakpa –
Crown Prince of the Sages of the Land of Snows,
Humbly at Your Lotus Feet I ask your blessing.”
Drawing on the essential teachings of the great spiritual teachers, philosophers and freethinkers throughout time, Khenpo Gurudas Śunyatananda (retired Archbishop Francis-Maria Salvato, O.C.) has been regarded as a provocative, revolutionary “voice of reason” within the field of religion and spirituality, since 1983. Having the distinction of being one of the few openly non-theistic, openly-gay and post-denominational thinkers ever to serve as Bishop-Exarch and spiritual leader of the autocephalic Eastern Catholic Franciscans in North America, Gurudas is the author of more than 600 articles, eight books and currently serves as the spiritual advisor for a non-theistic, intentional spiritual community, The Spiritus Project.
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