by Paramahansa Yogananda
(Excerpts from a talk "World Crisis")
A talk given by Paramahansa Yogananda
on May 19, 1940, in Encinitas, California
The analysis I shall give today is based upon common sense and experience. Common sense is simply intuitional reaction to one's environment. If you would develop your intuitive common sense, you would find the answers to all of your problems.
This is not a political talk. My domain is spirituality; I shall always live and act within that realm, and in the domain of Spirit I shall die. I speak only from that level of consciousness. … Sometime, after I am gone from this earth, you will realize all I have tried to do for you. If you follow the constructive advice I shall give today, you will one day be very grateful for it.
I had thought that through her good qualities America would escape the calamities of other nations.
But a great crisis is going to come, a crisis such as never before has hit this country, because the emphasis now is on spending and on increasing taxation. When the false prosperity collapses, what will you do? There will be millions unemployed. Most are now living in blissful oblivion, unaware of the impending emergency.
There is a world revolution going on. It will change the financial system. In the karmic firmament of America I see one beautiful sign: that no matter what the world goes through, she will be better off than most other countries. But America will experience widespread misery, suffering, and changes just the same. You are used to the better things of life, and when you are obliged to live simply, you won't like it. It is not easy to be poor after being rich. You have no idea how this change is going to affect you through the years.
Never before in the history of this land has there been so deep a contrast in living standards as will visit this country — the contrast between riches and poverty. ...
The Cause of the Crisis
Everything employed for exchange had to have some value. One metal used was iron, but it was too cheap and too heavy. Copper also was tried, then silver, and finally gold. These metals were chosen because their qualities and relative scarcity made them valuable. Not only were they prized for making coins, utensils, and ornaments, but for making medicines as well. Gold, for example, purifies the blood, and iron enriches it. No matter how the gold standard rises or falls, that value no one will be able to take away from gold. It was most highly treasured because of its scarcity and its beauty, and because it does not tarnish. For these reasons, it was used extensively for ornaments. But the present generation has tired of gold. Always seeking something new, they choose platinum now, which is of greater value than any of the other metals, yet looks like silver!
What has happened to gold as a medium of exchange today? Let us take the example of the United States. Under the gold standard, for every ten-dollar bill there has to be ten dollars' worth of gold in the U. S. Treasury. In 1934, there was no longer sufficient gold to cover the full value of the paper currency being issued. America faced a crisis. The country had to go off the gold standard. However, there appeared to be plenty of silver in the world, so the United States issued silver certificates, which made paper currency redeemable in silver. But when there will be more expenses for war and armament, the country won't be able to maintain enough silver reserve, either, to cover its paper currency.
What will happen if the United States goes off the gold and silver standard entirely, and prints bills of credit? We will have a barter system through the medium of certificates issued by the government. But these will not be acceptable in trade with the rest of the world.
I have heard that there are exchange clubs in which each member gives some labor and receives a credit of a certain value. In place of currency, credits are exchanged. A man goes to a doctor, and instead of paying the doctor with money, he gives him so many credits. The doctor then goes to the club and exchanges these credits for labor to have his house painted. My informant says that the system works. I am not sponsoring the program, just placing the idea before you.
Everyone wants money, but most people would rather not have to work for it. Man is always hoping to get something for nothing. Everyone should put forth effort for what he gets.
Unless all men work and appreciate the value of honest labor, there will be continuing inequities in the distribution
of the world's wealth.
Work is beneficial for all. Wealthy people who are lazy— the "idle rich"—lose concern for others and become insensitive to the difficulties of those who must struggle to make a living. They become rude and unsympathetic. Selfishness is sometimes a curse of wealth. But although the ambition to make money contains this potential for greed and selfishness, it can also be a noble impetus to self-development. The degree of development one achieves is in direct ratio to the service he gives to others, and to the world, as a result of his own personal success. The rich who have freely helped others in their need have used their wealth rightly.
Social Cohesion Depends on Fairness
In a competitive civilization there must be evolution of both brains and labor. Hands and feet, stomach and brains, all are necessary to keep the human body functioning. The hands and feet are the laborers, and the brain is the executive. By their mutual cooperation the body is maintained. Similarly, both capital and labor—the brains of management and the hands of labor—have made this country what it is today. Since both are necessary, they should work in harmony. ...
Labor and capital will both find they have no more money, and that the government cannot give it to them; what will happen then?
Businesses will be taken over by the government
to keep them from collapsing. You can still avoid this.
You have elected the administration
to help you,
not to control you.
The government should show the people how to make money, and give a freer hand to business to create prosperity and jobs.