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What religions say about money
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Wiccans, Hindus and Buddhists
What if all you want is a way to acquire more money?

The Wiccan/Pagan Times Rituals Page Web site advises: "If you need improved finances, turn your wallet or purse by the light of a waxing crescent moon three times to draw money to you. Make sure you first spy the full moon outdoors. This brings luck."

It may not be to your advantage to be too successful in attracting cash. Some Hindus say they detect a general hesitation on the whole issue of excessive wealth.

"Hindus do have, more culturally than religiously, an ambivalent feeling toward wealth, " says Dhruv Luthra of Washington, DC, who grew up in India. "There's an entrepreneurial spirit among Indians, but at the same time, there's a hesitation about wealth."

He notes that Hindus, unlike Christians and Jews, don't have one major religious text to guide them. Instead, geographical location and personal interpretation deeply influence an individual Hindu's thinking on everything -- including finances.

"This may be more the older generation, but there is a feeling that wealth shouldn't be excessive," Luthra says. "This is my subjective view -- when I go to India, people are doing business like crazy, but they look upon wealth in the West as excessive.

"There's also concern about waste."

As for charity, there's no minimum or maximum, Luthra says. "What matters most are actions," he explains.

Like most religions, Buddhism emphasizes spiritual growth but recognizes that some material stability is necessary for happiness.

In the Anguttaranikaya (a collection of Buddhist teachings), the Buddha says there are four kinds of happiness that stem from wealth: Atthisukha, the happiness of ownership; Anavajjasukha, which is the happiness that comes from earning a just livelihood;

Ananasukha, which is happiness that comes from not being in debt, and finally, Bhogasukha, which is the happiness of sharing one's wealth with others.

Buddhists who give away all their possessions to the temple, thus sharing all their wealth, do so before becoming monks, explains Yiyun Li, a writer who grew up in Beijing, China.

Beyond money
The minister and the rabbi both laughed when asked if they got into religion for the money.

"I'm a rabbi to bring people closer to Judaism," says Rabbi Blesofsky. "We're not in the rabbinical business for the money. Many Chabad organizations are constantly fund-raising to meet their monthly commitments."

Pastor Kummer says there may be money to be made in the megachurches, but not as a minister in Africa, as he chose to be, or as a campus minister, his current position.

"I love working with people and Biblical texts," he says, when asked to list the rewards of his job -- financial or otherwise.

That doesn't mean that money is a minus for observant Christians. For Kummer, there's an enjoyment factor in the Christian view of cash.

"God intends money as something that can be used in a way that's fun," Pastor Kummer says. "As it says in Second Corinthians,God loves a cheerful giver. Some people say a 'hilarious' giver."

Pastor Kummer thinks excessive materialism hurts everyone -- the rich and not-so-rich. "As long as we worship money, we can never have fun with it."

Bankrate.com's corrections policy -- Updated: Aug. 22, 2006
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