What Money Is & What Money Is Not

Money is coined liberty, and so it is ten times dearer to the man who is deprived of freedom. 
If money is jingling in his pocket, he is half consoled, even though he cannot spend it.
 --Dostoevsky (House of the Dead, part 1, chapter 2)
Money is incarnate desire.
  -James Buchan (Frozen Desire)
Money is not a dollar bill or a check or a penny, nickle, or dime.  Money is not gold or silver or copper, nor is money cowrie shells or gems or salt blocks or cattle. 
Money is not a credit card.  Money is not even an electrical current or binary code in a computer!  All of these things represent money, but they are not money. 


Money is not a material substance.

The Goddess Juno Moneta, root of our word "money"


Money is a belief in the head.


Money is a shared belief of two or more people.   A German mark is nothing but a piece of paper with pretty pictures on it to a Yanomamo in the Amazon jungle.  The Yanomamo sees it with the eyes of reality. 


Both the buyer and the seller must

believe in money 

or it's not money.   


Money is credit. 

Credit is belief. 


The very first definition of credit in The American Heritage Dictionary is:  ‘Belief or confidence in the truth of something”

The word credit comes from  the Latin credere, “to believe.”

So does the word creed.  Creed is another word for religion, for both refer to a shared (cultural) belief.


Money is credit, a creed, a religion.
Credit is also praise (also called honor, glory, award, prize). Praise is the opinion, the beliefs, of others.


The word praise comes from the Latin pretire, meaning “to prize”, which comes from the Latin pretium, meaning “price”!  And this is derived from the Indo-European root per-, which means “to traffic, sell”!   


The words prostitution and pornography come from per- [see Love & Possession - Sex & Money for a discussion of prostitution, the root of all professions].


Working for money is ulterior motivation. 


When you work for the sake of working itself, you are being real.

When you work to gain the credit of others, you have ulterior motivation; you are pretending, not being real; you are prostituting yourself; you are adulterating yourself;  you are an adulterer; you are serving an image in the head (your imagination); you are thus an idolator.


The word hypocrite is actually the English form of the Greek hupocrite, which means actor, pretender.


Yes, Money exists no place but in the mind!


In the same way that we could point to a dollar bill and call it money, we might point to a photograph of John F. Kennedy and call it John F Kennedy, even though we know the photograph itself is not John F Kennedy, and that's okay, the nature of symbol.  Now if we actually believe the photo itself is John F. Kennedy, then we are deluded, superstitious.  We might point to Michaelangelo’s painting of God on the Sistine chapel and say “This is God” knowing that the painting itself isn’t God.  But if we actually believe it is God, then we are idolators.  Idolatry is simply an archaic word for superstition.  Idolatry is mistaking the symbol for the thing it symbolizes, blindness to Reality. 


You can pledge allegiance to a symbol or you can pledge allegiance to Reality.  You can't do both. 


You can pledge allegiance to stars and stripes, to scriptures, to money, or else you can actually care about real things, real people. It's impossible for you to do both. 


You can't serve both Reality and Mammon. 


But most adult people in the world believe money to be a real substance.  Most adult people in the world are deluded, superstitious, idolators. This is not a statement of judgement, but of simply what is.  Look around: are not people, at this very moment, sacrificing living beings, human and animal, and even whole nations, as well as destroying the natural environments they depend upon, for this delusion, this imagination, this idol, that exists only in the mind?  


People bicker and war over symbols, over creeds, not over Reality. 

Many natives in the Americas were astonished at their European conquerors’ lust for a yellow substance called gold – a lust so great they massacred whole populations and environments to get it.  Natives, like Black Elk, commonly called gold "the yellow metal that makes white men crazy" and the thing that they worship [Black Elk Speaks]. Why do people lust so much after something so useless? Many Christians and Muslims and Jews love to condemn other religions as idolators even as they themselves sacrifice themselves and their fellow human beings before this  idol called money, this idol they serve with all their hearts, minds, and souls, even as they mouth praises to God.  And they eat food offered to this idol. 
Wars and animal exploitation and environmental destruction are all sacrifices to this idol, hopelessly beyond rationality.
In the words of Christopher Columbus, note the first seed planted by Europe in the Americas:
El oro es excelentíssimo;
del oro se hace tesoro,
y con él, quien lo tiene,
haçe cuanto quiere en el mundo,
y llega a que echa las ánimas al Paraíso
(Gold is a most excellent thing;
gold constitutes treasure,
and with it, whosoever possesses it,
can do whatever he wishes in this world,
even sending souls to Paradise).
                                                                             --Christopher Columbus [Varela, 327]
                "In Gold We Trust"






When you serve what is unreal, you become unreal. 

When you serve what is Real, you become Real.


The idols of the nations are silver and gold,
The work of men’s hands.

They have mouths, but they do not speak;

Eyes they have, but they do not see;

They have ears, but they do not hear;

Nor is there any breath in their mouths.

Those who make them are like them;

So is everyone who trusts in them.

(Psalm 135:15-18)


The faith of every person is in accord with his innate character.

 A person is made up of faith. 

Whatever his object of faith, even so is he.

(Bhagavad Gita 17:3)


Those who worship the gods go to the gods.

Those who worship their ancestors go to their ancestors.

Those who worship the elements go to the elements.

Those who worship Me come to Me Only.

(Bhagavad Gita 9:25)

Money is a schoolteacher.


Don’t get me wrong,

imagination is a beautiful  thing.

But imagination ceases to be beautiful when we start believing it to be real. 

This is when we serve our imaginations rather than our imaginations serving us.


Money is imagination.


The rulers of the nations serve imagination and are thus Imagi-Nations.



When you are in preschool and kindergarten, the teacher might give you gold stars as incentives to learn.  When you reach higher grades, you receive grades of A, B, C, D, & F as motivation.  These are your credits.  There are students who learn simply because learning is fun and interesting, and there are students who learn to get credits.  Some students who began learning for credit start realizing learning is fun, and they learn for the sake of learning.  These are the mature ones.  They are not under a law outside themselves, but under a law written on their hearts.  The immature students need a system of credit and debt to push them along.  The mature students are beyond credit and debt, and do everything for gratis, grace.  Immature people need outward laws to guide them.  Mature people realize that the reward is in doing, under grace.  Mature people work gracefully, are generous, able to give expecting nothing in return and able to receive without guilt, without debt.   Money is law, a schoolteacher for the immature.  Gratis is grace, freedom for the mature.  Money is forced, gratis is graceful. 


Money has its purpose, and its purpose is to also become obsolete, just as gradeschool’s purpose is to become obsolete and a child’s purpose is to grow up.


The trouble is, our society has become corrupt, and children stopped growing up, continuing to work for outward credit.
Reward and punishment [credit and debt]
is the lowest form of education.
  -- Chuang Tzu
When an archer is shooting for nothing
He has all his skill.
If he shoots for a brass buckle
He is already nervous.
If he shoots for a prize of gold
He goes blind or sees two targets--
He is out of his mind!
His skill has not changed,
But the prize divides him.
He cares. He thinks more of winning
Than of shooting.
And the need to win
Drains him of power.
   --Chuang Tzu (19:4)
The love of credit is the root of all evil.
The love of reward is the root of all evil.  
The love of praise is the root of all evil.

Ego is simply the love of credit/reward/praise.

A person of yoga
obtains everlasting peace
by abandoning the rewards of action. 
The person ignorant of yoga,
selfishly attached to reward,
remains bound.
(Bhagavad Gita 5:12)

Ego goes before destruction,
And a haughty spirit before a fall.

(Proverbs 16:18)

Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city,
because she has made all nations
drink of the intoxicant
of the wrath of her prostitution.

(Revelation 14:8)

הֽלְלוּיָהּ      Hallelu-Jah     

Hallelujah means
All Credit to Jah,
All Credit to Reality. 
Hallelujah means renouncing self-credit.  Money is self-credit. 
Hallelujah means letting Jah again take care of credit and debt. 
Hallelujah means returning Thought of Credit & Debt to Heaven,
returning the Knowledge of Good & Evil to Heaven,
Returning Stolen Fire to the Gods.
Hallelujah means re-entering the Grace of Eden
from which we fell when we lusted after the Fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Credit & Debt, when we lusted after the fruit of our own efforts, the rewards of action.
Hallelujah Translated For Atheists
If you don't care for the word "God", because it's been abused almost beyond meaning, then ponder on whatever manages credit and debt, the cycles of nature, apart from our control, whatever brings balance of positive and negative in the infinite universe. You can see all credit belongs to it.  Ponder our insignificance in the face of the infinite universe.  Humility is realization of reality.  Reality doesn't care whether you call it "God" or whether you personify it or not.  Call it Truth, call it Reality, or whatever you like.  Simply be aware of, accept and love reality with all your being, the only natural thing to do, the only happy thing to do.  Every creature, every particle in the universe, must submit and bow to reality sooner or later, either voluntarily or involuntarily.  If you want a happy life, bow to reality voluntarily. Voluntarily means without payment, without expectation of credit, without force, without control.  Cont-rol means "against the roll." 
The same that applies to religious folks applies to you: to overlook reality, to overlook real people, because we're hung up on words, is called idolatry, mistaking the symbol for the reality it symbolizes.  Again, people oppress and kill each other over symbols, not reality, whether we're talking religious theocracies condemning folks for not using the right god-label, or atheistic regimes (i.e., China, North Korea, former USSR) condemning folks for using any god label.  It makes no difference, all oppression comes from the same spirit: idolatry, mistaking symbol for reality.
[To examine our Fall from Grace generally in world mythology & specifically in the Bible, see these 2 essays: