If you live as though money brings the only happiness, clearly something has gone wrong. You have neglected the entire world of spirit, with the implication that the surface of life is enough.
Even though we seem to have wandered far from the issue of war and violence, we are actually at the crux, because when people settle for the surface of life they miss the only level that can bring war to an end, which lies beneath the surface.
The word Maya, which is usually translated from Sanskrit as “illusion,” has many wide-spreading meanings (our modern words matter, mother, and measurement are related to this root). I prefer to define Maya as “distraction,” and without holding moral judgments against money, I must accuse riches of being a terrible distraction. They hold us in the grip of a false self-image, that of being creatures whose purpose on earth is to be prosperous and secure.
Our real purpose on earth is very different, as every spiritual tradition recognizes. We are here to evolve and grow. We are here to discover who we are. We are here to transform our surroundings in keeping with who we really are.
Great spiritual teachers have said that we are ultimately here to transcend matter, to worship our maker, to appreciate the infinite creation and learn humility before it. All those things may emerge once we know who we really are. That is life’s central mystery, and money doesn’t come close to answering it.
Nakedness before God is a symbol for a deeper value, which is closeness to God, a life without separation from one’s source. True renunciation is really a shift in allegiance: you shift your attention from the surface of life to the underlying reality.
Adapted from: Peace Is the Way, by Deepak Chopra (Harmony Books, 2005).