By Brian Foster
You may not believe this, but the rich have the most difficult trials. If our growth as a spirit depends on our making the correct choices, then for the wealthy, there is a magnitude more decisions that must be made. For with wealth, comes options. This point becomes clear in the answer to the question about the gauntlet of temptations that we must experience;
261. Is it necessary for the spirit, in the course of the trials to which he has to submit in order to arrive at perfection, to undergo every sort of temptation? Must he encounter all the circumstances that can excite in him pride, jealousy, avarice, sensuality, etc.?
“Certainly not, since there are, as you know, many spirits who take from the beginning a road which spares them the necessity of undergoing many of those trials; but he who suffers himself to be drawn into the wrong road, exposes himself to all the dangers of that road. A spirit, for instance, may ask for riches, and his demand may be granted; and, in that case, he will become, according to his character, avaricious or prodigal, selfish or generous, and will make a noble use of his wealth, or waste it on vanity or sensuality; but this does not imply that he will be compelled to run the gauntlet of all the evil tendencies that may be fostered by the possession of riches.”
Notice, when temptations are mentioned, the spirits use the life of riches as an example of multiple enticements. For with wealth comes a horde of people, all ready to give you what you want, no questions asked. Opportunities arise for corruption because the payoff is significant for those who are attempting to gain leverage. There is more discussion about wealth as a trial in Allan Kardec’s book, The Gospel According to Spiritism;
“Undoubtedly, wealth is a very slippery trial, more dangerous than poverty because of its allure, the temptations it creates and the fascination it exerts. It is the supreme arouser of pride, selfishness and lust. It is the strongest tie that keeps humans bound to the earth and diverts their thoughts from heaven. It produces such giddiness that we often see that those who go from poverty to wealth soon forget their former condition, those who shared with them in it and those who helped them in it, and they become insensitive, selfish and vain. However, even though wealth makes the journey difficult, it does not follow that it makes it impossible or that it cannot become a means of salvation in the hands of those who know how to use it, just as certain poisons can restore health if used purposefully and carefully.”
“Supreme arouser of pride, selfishness and lust” is the money quote. Such a base truth. When the riches come pouring in, you want more. Those who honestly gain feel satisfaction, while those who profit by deceit may feel a slight moral twitch, but it is quickly suppressed. Those in the large financial institutions who participate in the selling of goods packaged for the express purpose of unloading dubious monetary instruments on unsuspecting and trusting people know well these emotions.
If you feel at all ashamed at your actions in your pursuit of wealth, that is your conscience talking to you. You certainly have free will to ignore that advice. Just be aware that you doubt your actions for a reason; because it is morally wrong and you shall pay a price.
What to do with your Wealth
Now that you are wealthy, and aware of the downsides, what are you supposed to do with it? In the Gospel According to Spiritism, you are told exactly what you should be doing;
“The truth of the matter is that humans have the mission of laboring for the material improvement of the planet; they must reclaim it, cleanse it and make it suitable to someday receive the entire population that its range can bear. In order to feed this ever increasing population, production must be increased. If one country’s production is insufficient, it will have to be sought elsewhere. For this very reason, relations between nations become a necessity. In order to facilitate such relations, it is necessary to destroy physical barriers that separate nations and render communication more rapid. For such endeavors – which are the work of centuries – humans have had to extract materials from the bowels of the earth; they have sought in science the means to execute their endeavors more safely and rapidly. However, to accomplish them, resources are needed; necessity drove humans to create wealth, just as it drove them to discover science. The activity required by these endeavors has increased and developed their intelligence, and this intelligence, which they have concentrated primarily on satisfying their material needs, will help them later on to understand the great moral truths. Since wealth is the primary means of executing these tasks, without it there would be no more great endeavors, no more activity, no stimulus and no research. It is with good reason therefore that wealth is considered an element of progress.”
The advice above is completely in-line with what any prudent investor would consider. Money invested in enterprises which provide a benefit to society bring the best surety of outcome. There are other hints in the paragraph above. First, given that the Gospel According to Spiritism, was published in 1868, the statement that we must “cleanse” the earth, sounds perfectly reasonable to our ears, but at a time when the industrial revolution was just beginning and environmentalism was unheard of, what was written is relevant today. This is a good illustration of the timeless aspect of Allan Kardec’s books. One can read the vast majority of Allan Kardec’s five books and not determine the time period in which they were written. Although, I have read one section about dueling!
Secondly, the statement to “render communication more rapid”, has been partially accomplished, first by the telegraph and telephone for more than 100 years, but only within the last 20 years has the revolution truly permeated throughout the masses of all countries and all classes. All has been accomplished via the aggregation of wealth, via our capitalistic system and its associated rewards for risking capital.
Therefore, capitalism isn’t evil, while there may be scoundrels using it for their unfair gain, the free transfer and accumulation of assets to fund worthy projects are vital to the earth’s future. Leaving all decisions in the hand of a few government functionaries, as in the failed communist states, has proven to be a less efficient method of advancement.
Your wealth and you
OK, so now you know the market or other jobs building enterprises are worthy places to invest, but what about your reward? After all, you worked hard and should enjoy some of the perks? Yes, you should and I have not seen anything written where you shouldn’t enjoy that large house, new car, or the latest fashions, if you can afford them. Hence, utilizing your wealth for your own comfort is a just reward for hard work and shepherding your assets for societies gain.
The question is how do you use them? Did you buy that car to show your advantage over a friend? Are you afraid that if you don’t own at least three cars others will think you are poor? Do you drive around feeling superior to everyone else? All good activities to get out of the habit of doing.
The difficult part is maintaining your humility and respect for others. What many people do not realize is that a wealthy person is constantly being attacked, not physically, but monetarily, by persons or organizations that are trying to siphon off money. This leads to a wall between the affluent and others, and a defensiveness that may come off as rudeness. All this may lead to a less kind and polite approach to persons around you and in your control. Be careful to treat all with respect, for people tend to be insecure around those wealthier than them.
Know that those who are trying to manipulate your money out of you will get their day of judgment. Eventually, those who tried to take advantage will learn the error of their ways. While the majority, who are sincere and hardworking, deserve respect and guidance from those who are better off.
The Transmission of Wealth
The question many ask, is since wealth is given to me as a trial, do I have a right to pass it on? The answer is yes and the reasons are covered in The Gospel According to Spiritism;
15. Does the principle according to which humans are only trustees of the wealth that God has allowed them to enjoy during their lives take away their right to transfer it to their descendants?
After their death, people can rightly transfer what they have enjoyed during their lives, because the effect of such right is always dependent on the will of God, who can prevent their descendants from enjoying it whenever he wants. That is why we see apparently solidly established fortunes crumble. The will of persons to keep their wealth in the hands of their descendants is therefore powerless, although this fact does not take away their right to transfer the loan they have received, since God will take it from their descendants if he deems it appropriate. St. Louis (Paris, 1868)”
For those of you, who are rich, consider yourselves challenged. You have been given a complex trial, a trial that can be successively completed, but will take an extraordinary sense of patience and noblesse oblige. Noblesse oblige isn’t a word you see often anymore, it means the inferred responsibility of privileged people to act with generosity and nobility toward those less privileged, but it is an attitude that is often lacking in today’s nouveau riche, who often believes that with wealth comes an automatic sense of superiority and entitlement. Try to fight this inclination and ground yourself in the humility found in the examples of among others, Socrates, Confucius, Buddha and Jesus.
A more detailed explanation of the process of reincarnation and how you fit into it is in my book, The Case for Reincarnation – Your Path to Perfection.
Brian Foster has a BSCS degree and a MBA. He has worked in R&D for medical device corporations and in IT for large financial institutions. Brian Foster has a blog at http://www.nwspiritism.com.
Kardec, A. (2008). The Gospel According to Spiritism. Brasilia (DF): International Spiritist Council.
Kardec, A. (2010). The Spirits Book. Guildford, UK: White Crow Books.
 Kardec, A., The Spirits Book, Guildford, UK, White Crow Books, Ques. 261
 Kardec, A., The Gospel According to Spiritism, Brasilia (DF), EDICEI, Chap. 16, p. 266
 Kardec, A., The Gospel According to Spiritism, Brasilia (DF), EDICEI, Chap. 16, pp. 267-268
 Kardec, A., The Gospel According to Spiritism, Brasilia (DF), EDICEI, Chap. 16, p. 280