Some people are surprised to find a mystic speaking about business and gold, especially as Hazrat Inayat Khan often regretted the dominance of materialism today. As he shows here, though, the wisdom of a Sufi can serve in all fields of life.
Wealth has always proved to be a central object in the life of the world, an object towards which every mind is naturally attracted and which can solve most of the problems of life. However earthly they may seem, all things become good or bad by their use or abuse. In all ages man has made coins of gold, and there man proves again his soul’s longing for light, for gold is the color of light and among metals gold reflects the light most. In the Quran it is said, ‘All that we have created on earth and in heaven is for thy use,’ which means: not for you to fear it or hate it or to renounce it, but to use it. It is easy for the poor to ridicule wealth and the wealthy, but once the poor man possesses wealth, then the question is whether he holds it or throws it away.
We realize from this that it is important that man should learn first in his life the right use of wealth. This problem can be solved by first considering the question from all points of view, from the moral as well as from the psychological, and also from the social and political point of view – in what way wealth can be rightly acquired. The present chaotic state of the whole world is caused by the lack of this particular knowledge. Today man only knows one thing: he needs money, he must acquire money, and if he has money he must hold on to it. But still the question remains: why does he need money, how can he acquire money, and for what purpose shall he acquire it?
Through lack of this knowledge both rich and poor are at a loss. The rich everywhere are anxious to hold what they have and are nervous; for if conditions go on as they are now, what will happen tomorrow? Their heart is not at rest, even with money locked up in their safe. The moneyless, striving every moment of their life to possess all that the wealthy have got, win it perhaps at the cost of the destruction of a nation or race, of a moral code, or of culture and beauty and goodness. They only think of how to achieve this and how to take the wealth away from those who now possess it, but not how far they are justified in having the wealth which belongs to another, nor what use they will make of this wealth. This fight for life has so blinded humanity today that man is intoxicated in the struggle of life. He has no time to think of anything else, yet a thorough study of the problem from all points of view is the first thing necessary, and it can be the greatest help in living a better life and in doing good to one’s fellow men.
Money being the principal thing for which man toils, he should know the best way to acquire it. He must first judge his talent, his capability, his art, profession, or work. He must judge fairly, without a personal thought, what he really deserves for what he does. Everyone is blind to this. A person only thinks of what another man earns, how very rich another person is, and how good it would be if he were in his place. Today man’s cry for democracy is in order to pull down another man from his high place, instead of taking enough trouble to rise to high places by his own efforts and with the justification in his own conscience of deserving that place. Whatever man earns in life, and however great and rich he becomes through it, without the development of the sense of justice he is like a blind man.
Externally a wealthy man seems enviable, but in point of fact, if one only knew his true condition, one would not envy his circumstances for a moment, for they not only blind him but blind those who surround him too; he has not only enemies among his adversaries, but he has enemies among his dearest friends. He may have an enemy in his brother or sister, in his wife or child. It is not their fault; it is that wealth is blinding. When a man develops his qualification, his merit, his talent, and when by that right he earns his living, he is quite justified in demanding what he really deserves. But man cannot be very just when there arises the question of self; therefore, he must also be open to compare his idea of his qualifications with the opinion of others, and he should be ready to recognize the superiority of someone else’s qualifications. Today man, blinded by the thought of competition and rivalry, ignores the superiority of talent, merit, art, or culture in another person.
In business the honor of the word is the first lesson that every businessman should learn. Honor in business is the first commercial virtue. At the same time, to fight avarice is the duty of every businessman, and also to think of the advantage of both sides, of himself and of his customer. In modern trade, externally there is little bargaining, but the bargaining spirit still exists inwardly. Business today is a battle between buyer and seller, the one wanting to succeed at the expense of the other. Therefore it is not a business; it is a battle, and a battle mostly results in destruction. Now, after all the profiteering during the war years, is there peace in the commercial world? Every businessman is crying out with grievances, no matter to what country he may belong. This shows that in reality it is the profit of each that is the profit of all. Whether in art, industry, labor, the professions, or commerce, one thing must be kept in view, and that is consideration for others, with an eye open for justice and fairness.
To be continued…