Money & the Meaning of Life (Part 1)

"Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar's and unto God that which is God's." Jesus – (Matthew 22:21)
For several months now I've known that what's next in my own personal journey along the Purposeful Path is to delve more deeply into my relationship with money and finance.  I've said it several ways — to have a breakthrough, a transformation, to create a new relationship with money — one that is more empowering and that gives me access to greater freedom and power in this important part of the physical/material world.

As is often the case with transformation, it's been a real roller coaster ride that has included coaching sessions where I mostly sat in silence, or wept uncontrollably as I've remembered scenes from my childhood when my mother would lock herself in the bathroom and threaten to take her own life because she was so tired of trying to raise her two sons alone and without enough money to pay the bills.

Not long after that call with my coach I remembered a book I had read several years ago — Money and the Meaning of Life by Jacob Needleman.  I knew as soon as I found it again on the shelf that it was time to read it again, though it's really felt like reading it for the first time.  I must have been asleep the first time through.

We Live in Two World & Are of Two Natures
This is a fundamental truth that Needleman builds upon throughout the book:

"The very essence of the idea of man that we find at the core of all great teachings of all times and places is that we human beings are two-natured…. One force alone can never bring meaning into human life. Meaning appears only in the place between the worlds, in the relationship of two worlds, two levels, two fundamental qualities of power and energy."

One of those worlds is the material or physical world; the other is the spiritual or nonphysical world.  Each world has its own "ruler," and in the material world MONEY IS KING, while in the spiritual world God (or whichever name you care to use) rules. 

And humankind?

We have the daunting task to try to keep some balance, some stability while teetering between the two worlds — one foot in the material and one in the spiritual. Thus:

"Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar's and unto God that which is God's." Jesus – (Matthew 22:21)

To which Needleman writes: "In my opinion, the entire problem of life in contemporary culture can be defined as the challenge to understand that saying of Jesus. It is not so simple; in fact, it is immensely difficult."

I agree.

He continues: "It requires that we begin to understand what in ourselves belongs to the transcendent realm and what to the material realm. And then to give to each what is due to each — no more and no less."

From this arises the question, "What is the relationship that we can develop between these two worlds — worlds that often feel so far apart as to cause us to wince in pain from such a gigantic split — that will ultimately result in a satisfying, fulfilling and joyful life — a life on purpose?

That's the question we'll explore in Part 2 of this article.  In the meantime, why not share your comments and/or questions about this timely topic right here on the Living & Working On Purpose Blog?