Joseph Benner is one of the few modern spiritual writers whose teachings clearly betray an advanced spiritual state. That is not to disparage all other modern writers, of course, because many of them have vast riches of wisdom and knowledge to share. But Benner was next level – he was beyond the temptations of money and fame, even publishing all his books under the pen name “Anonymous”.
In the following article, “Mammon”, from his remarkable guide to enlightenment, The Way to the Kingdom**, Benner says essentially what I’ve said on this blog a number of times before – money is neutral. It is not inherently evil, but it is certainly not to be regarded as an aim of the spiritual life, and indeed the love of money is one of the major roadblocks on the spiritual path.
If you are determined to maintain the chief error of the modern age, the “Money is spiritual” lie, then read no further, as Benner’s article will only make you uncomfortable. None of it was news to me, and even so it made me consider deeply my own priorities.
“We wonder how many realize what a mighty power Mammon has become in the world—in fact that he seemingly rules the world. If you do not realize it as yet, consider what follows, and then perhaps you will agree that there are very few indeed who are not under Mammon’s sway, who do not fear him, and who are wholly free from his power.
First look around among your friends and note how money, or the possession of it, means everything to them. Without it they are “looked down upon” by those who have it. With plenty of it, especially if they spend it freely, they are “good fellows.” Those with a superabundance of it are “looked up to” with more or less awe by those who have less or little, while others bow and cater to them, deem them a great success, and generally consider them as having reached an exalted place in the world. Are you sure, in your business dealings with others that the prospect of profit or loss in no way influences your statements or causes you not to listen to a desire to help them, when you want to sell them something?
Can you admit that the possession of money, today, in the eyes of the world, does not mean more to the vast majority of people than the possession of any other thing? Which means that practically everyone acknowledges Mammon as their lord and master, yields to his demands, and thereby gives money absolute power over them. Do you think this is stating it too strongly? Then answer to yourself these questions:
Are you who read truly free from its power? Think! Has it no hold whatever on you? Are you not in the least afraid of losing your job, your social or financial standing, or your investments? Or should you lose all, have you not the slightest fear for yourself and of your power to regain what is lost? Are you sure in your social relations with others that their possession of wealth or lack of it has no effect or influence whatever on your attitude towards them—that the beggar and the banker are alike your brothers? Can you truly say that money means nothing to you, that the possession or lack of it in the eyes of your friends has no place in your thoughts, and that you could be a tramp or a millionaire with equal disregard of Mammon’s power to cause you to deviate one iota from your loving service to the Lord Christ within? If you can answer “yes” to these questions, then have you truly reached the stage of discipleship, and are ready for or are now really doing the work of the Master, for you have passed a supreme test and are worthy of doing the work you came here to do.
This article is written in the full understanding of the insidious power Mammon has acquired over practically every seeker of the Kingdom, a power that very few are aware of, and which it is our duty to show up clearly, so that each may know for him or herself and deal with it definitely from now on. This power has so instilled itself into the consciousness of nearly everyone that it is most difficult to free one’s mind from it sufficiently to see the hold it has obtained upon our thoughts and lives. If we will only admit it, it influences unconsciously most of our motives, desires, aims and actions, and it ever drives us onward with the whip of fear so that we cannot reason calmly and see that self is being wholly misled by a false god to the forgetfulness of the Loving One within, who promises if we seek first His Kingdom and His Righteousness all things else will be added.
Therefore we say to you, search deeply into your mind and heart and make sure that you have not unconsciously been worshiping Mammon, obeying his mandates and living under his rule, rather than God’s. This applies as much to those to whom the need of money is perhaps at this moment paramount in their thoughts, as to those who have an abundance of it and who are living in an atmosphere of wealth. Money of itself, of course, is no more than a medium by which we exchange one commodity for another, and is therefore neither good nor evil. But a selfishness that seeks more than one’s share of it or more than one needs and can use, is undeniably evil, for that deprives others of their just share or needs.* Such a selfishness, however, has become so common that it is not considered to be selfishness any more. It is deemed to be a normal process of nature—a “survival of the fittest,” when from the foregoing it is plainly seen as perverted nature.
Therefore, many millions of souls are living in a perverted state, entirely under the dominion of a self-created power, existing, maintaining itself and fast gaining a stranglehold upon its creators, solely because they do not realize whom and what they are serving – their own selfish wills. Mammon is thus seen to be crystallized selfishness – nay, entitized selfishness, because money has no power unless it is gathered together in the hands of a few who purposely deprive many others of their rightful share in order to maintain their power and to further their own evil ends.
We will not go further into this phase of the subject at this time, but for fuller light upon it refer to you the article on “The Enemy” in the booklet Brotherhood. One thing each seeker of the Kingdom must clearly determine here and now – the influence that Mammon has had over him in the past, and that this influence must be eliminated from mind and heart henceforth and forever. This means that from this moment his allegiance is to God alone and that he will look to Him only as his support and his supply, and will have full and utter faith in His promise of what will result if he makes the seeking of Him and His Righteousness first in his life.
But realize that much will come to test this faith, and outer circumstances may grow very dark and friends and loved ones may condemn and consider you gone daft. But know that when everything is darkest, and it would seem that God and all else have deserted you, the time of deliverance draws very near. For there is no truer saying than that it is always darkest just before dawn. Those who have the booklet Wealth should read it again in the light of the foregoing. It will prove most illuminating, and you will find its pages filled with inspiration and helpfulness.”
*James’ footnote: although New Thought holds that there is absolutely no lack of supply in the universe, not everyone has the consciousness to draw directly from the universal source. Many who hold the belief in scarcity are reliant upon the economic system for their sustenance. Within this context there is a limited supply, and people who selfishly hoard riches for themselves with no regard for others really are depriving others of their share.
** Sadly this book takes a sharp turn towards the crazy after a few chapters. I recommend the opening chapters but must advise extreme caution when reading Benner’s absurd origins story.