Yoga provides us with the greatest way to make and handle money, to give money its true value, and to use it to achieve success and happiness. I know how surprising this claim sounds. Indian spirituality is identified with renunciation and detachment from the world. Our typical image is of a white-bearded hermit, meditating in a cave high in the Himalayas. But, in reality, Yoga isn’t spiritual in the religious sense. Yoga is the science of consciousness.

When you know how consciousness actually behaves, you find that something startling happens: You change with it. Learning about anything else doesn’t have this dramatic effect. You might be enthusiastic, even delighted, to learn about anything else—history, geography, physics, etc.—but you won’t be changed on the inside; you won’t experience the personal transformation caused by Yoga.

There is an immediate connection to money, strange as this seems at first glance. At the soul level, there is generosity of spirit. This manifests as the following:

  • Infinite abundance
  • Infinite possibilities
  • Unlimited creativity
  • Mercy, grace, and loving kindness
  • Eternal love
  • Boundless giving

These gifts are innate and human awareness is designed to express them. If you embody them in your own life, you are wealthy in the truest sense of the word. Measuring wealth by money alone is spiritually empty. (I know nothing about reggae music, but the great reggae musician Bob Marley spoke like a yogi when he said, “Some people are so poor, all they have is money.”)

To attain wealth of the lasting kind, the kind that gives your life meaning, value, and sustenance, base your daily existence on the generosity of spirit. Everything else you desire will follow of its own accord.

Once you make the connection between consciousness and money, you have stepped onto the right path. Money isn’t all the gold in Fort Knox and all the dollar bills floating around in pockets and purses. Money is a tool of consciousness. Therefore, your state of awareness determines how you see money, how you gain it, and what you use it for. Consciousness is always in motion, and so is money. Consciousness motivates us to seek more out of life; money follows this journey and eases the way if you have enough of it.

If you shift your attitude away from money as the goal, but instead intend to get more out of life, you will have the support of consciousness. In Yoga this support comes from dharma, which comes from a Sanskrit verb that means “to uphold or support.” If you are in your dharma, as it is usually phrased, abundance follows. If you are out of your dharma, you experience lack. Without the support of consciousness, nothing valuable can be achieved.

The concept behind money is powerful, and once it took hold (archaeologists trace the first money to the Mesopotamian shekel around five thousand years ago), money exploded as an idea. Behind modern life, the idea still flourishes. Seen as an invention of the mind, money accomplishes four different things that are necessary to human society. Money serves us as reward, value, need, and exchange. Pause and consider why you personally need money, and you’ll see that all four things are present in your life.

Reward: The money slipped into a child’s birthday card, the salary every worker is paid, and the tip left for the waiter in a restaurant are all rewards.

Value: The money slipped into the birthday card is pure giving, not needing to be earned. But it conveys that the child who gets the money is valued. The salary you earn expresses the value of your work, and for many people this becomes a way to measure their self-esteem.

Need: We live in a service economy that exists to fill people’s needs much more than to provide physical necessities. When you need a doctor, a college education, a set of new tires, and a thousand other things, money brings you what you need, even seemingly superfluous needs, like this season’s new fashion in sneakers or a bigger flat-screen TV.

Exchange: Money makes up the difference between two items that do not match in value. If you have a mountain bike for sale and I have only a dozen eggs to offer as barter, money has to be exchanged to make the bargain fair.

All of these ideas, and many more swirling around money, are the products of consciousness. This much it is easy to show. Yoga adds a missing ingredient, which turns out to be all-important. Yoga teaches that the closer you get to the source of awareness, the more power your consciousness has. By translating this power into things you desire, and the money to pay for them, you transform consciousness into wealth.

Money can’t be sorted out from this tangle of good and bad choices. Because it is tied to everything we need, value, reward, and exchange, money is actually the coin of consciousness. You gain and spend joy, you experience love, friendship, family, work, opportunity, success, and set- back, and money is always somewhere in the mix.

As Yoga sees it, consciousness is creative. It gives the mind thoughts, feelings, inspirations, breakthroughs, insights, “Aha!” moments, and everything else we value, including love, compassion, joy, and intelligence. The closer you are to the silent wellspring of consciousness inside

You, the more you will receive these benefits. In the Judeo-Christian tradition, these benefits got translated into the fits of a merciful God, or Providence. But Yoga retained a focus on the self, not an outside divine power.

By keeping the focus on the self, we are not merely higher primates, but the expression of infinite pure consciousness. We exist to fulfill any creative possibility that we desire to pursue. There is no value judgment in Yoga. It is the science of consciousness, not a set of moral rules. Desires are all equal the instant they are born in our awareness. What kind of desire is good for us, however, is our personal responsibility.