Artha- The Arm of Lakshmi that represents Material Wealth
by Rebecca Barry
Of Lakshmi’s four arms, artha represents money, career, financial security, and the ability to make a living. A broader definition is the material means through which you support yourself in the pursuit of a joyful, soul-aligned life.
I was very happy to dedicate this season to artha because out of all of Lakshmi’s four arms, this is the one that gives me the most trouble. I feel very wealthy in the other arms—I love my spiritual practices. I have altars all over my house and a practice of leaving little offerings to the water, and the plants and the trees. Dharma feels pretty good—most if not all of my work fuels my soul. And I am so rich in time, relationships, the gorgeousness of where I live, how much good food and music and good company I encounter daily. But artha? That’s where I always seem to come up a little short.
And the thing is, I love money. I have since I was a little kid. When I was nine I had a job working at a farm and I would carry the money I made with me everywhere in bags of quarters. Every so often I’d take it out and count it, just for the sheer pleasure of it. But over time my relationship with money shifted. When I was in my twenties I hoarded it, when I was in my thirties I made a lot and spent a lot. Then I got married and had children and started dedicating myself to soul-aligned work and the economy crashed. “And I have been asking that woman for money ever since,” I said irritably to my husband about Lakshmi a few months ago. “And she never. Ever. Gives it. To me!”
Which is not a very nice way to talk to a goddess,
And later I was thinking that that isn’t even true.
Lakshmi does give me money all the time. It just seems like it’s never quite as much as I asked for, or my husband took it to buy a toilet when what I wanted was a new party dress.
To be fair, I never really asked Lakshmi directly for a specific amount of money. It seemed rude and not very spiritual. I didn’t want her to think I was shallow, needy, greedy, or ungrateful for what I had. Or worse, what if she gave it to me, but it came in some unspeakably tragic way? That would serve me right for wanting so much. (I read The Monkey’s Paw, thank you. I know what happens to when people ask for too much.)
So I was very happy to discover that Lakshmi has no problem with people asking her for money–in fact, it’s what her artha arm is for. She understands that you can dream and meditate and dedicate yourself to following the path that lights up your heart, but without financial support, it’s hard to put those things into action. She knows that the householders need money to take care of their children and homes and the earth. She doesn’t judge you for wanting money, but you do have to ask her for it. And she does expect you to take what she gives you and be a good steward. Enjoy it! Buy things you love. Take care of your family and community. Be generous with people you love. Be a good host. And above all, care for the earth, which sustains us all.
So asking her for money is kind of like going to a nice but firm bank.
In the name of cultivating artha this month, I made a list of things I could do to increase it. (I love lists!)
- Set an intention to dedicate this time to increasing my financial wealth.
- Think about money the way Lakshmi does—as a wonderful golden thing that is essential for taking care of your family and community, something that is okay to want and ask for.
- Write Lakshmi a letter telling her how much money I wanted and how I was going to use it.
- Do a meditation on prosperity every night before bed.
- When money does come in, in any form, acknowledge it, thank it, and enjoy it.
- Start using this affirmation: I love writing and making things. Everything I write and make turns into gold.
- When I spend money, thank it, bless it, and enjoy what I’m receiving in return.
Even if it’s a toilet.
After two weeks, my artha has almost doubled. But mostly I have been enjoying a new relationship with money. It’s such a cheerful companion. So fun to go out with. So fun to share with other people. When I get it I’m so happy! When I part with it, I say, Good-bye! Thank you, have fun! When you come back, bring all your friends!
I keep thinking about something my son Dawson said to me once when asked him how a person could stop worrying about money. I don’t know why I asked him this, he was four—actually I do know why—it’s because he had a way at that age of channeling the universe. He looked up from the slice of pizza he was eating and said, “I think it’s when you have a $1000 in your pocket.”
“Go on,” I said.
And he said, “Well, you can buy anything. You can get some coffee or a piece of pizza or ice cream or the Millienium Falcon.” (This was a Lego set he’d been pining for.)
“It is pretty nice to feel like you can have whatever you want,” I said.
“That’s how much Jake has,” Dawson went on. “And he’s never worried.”
“Where did he get $1000?” I said.
“The Millenium Falcon is $400,” Dawson said. “You might like to know that.”
But it seemed like a nice tribute to Lakshmi. Keep enough in your pocket so you feel like you are lacking nothing, so you don’t feel deprived of your kama, can still go about your dharma and moksha, and above all, can get a good cup of coffee or a piece of pizza.
Or a new party dress.
I’m just saying.
Recipe for How to Increase Your Artha:
First, it helps to do a little brush-up on your dharma (or your soul’s purpose): Ask yourself what lights up your heart? How do you want to spend your time? What kind of people do you want to be working with? How will your work give back to Lakshmi, queen of the earth and the elephants and the moon’s pale beauty? How will you take care of the planet and your loved ones with the money that she gives you?
Then, ask yourself:
If you have money, but aren’t enjoying it, what you can do to befriend it?
What do you love?
Who do you want to give your money to?
How much money do you want? Can you receive it if you get it?
When you spend it, bless it. When you get it, thank it.
Create an affirmation for yourself: I love making money from x kind of work. The work I do to make money helps other people. The money I spend helps other people. The money I spend comes back to me tenfold.
I love happily passing this money around!
Read Next Article: Artha Part II: How to Deal with Trust