Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for February 28th, 2013

There are many lending practices which have been called abusive and labeled with the term “predatory lending.” There is a great deal of dispute between lenders and consumer groups as to what exactly constitutes “unfair” or “predatory” practices, but the following are sometimes cited.
Unjustified risk-based pricing. This is the practice of charging more (in the form of higher interest rates and fees) for extending credit to borrowers identified by the lender as posing a greater credit risk. The lending industry argues that risk-based pricing is a legitimate practice; since a greater percentage of loans made to less creditworthy borrowers can be expected to go into default, higher prices are necessary to obtain the same yield on the portfolio as a whole. Some consumer groups argue that higher prices paid by more vulnerable consumers cannot always be justified by increased credit risk.[7]
Single-premium credit insurance. This is the purchase of insurance which will pay off the loan in case the homebuyer dies. It is more expensive than other forms of insurance because it does not involve any medical checkups, but customers almost always are not shown their choices, because usually the lender is not licensed to sell other forms of insurance. In addition, this insurance is usually financed into the loan which causes the loan to be more expensive, but at the same time encourages people to buy the insurance because they do not have to pay up front.
Failure to present the loan price as negotiable.[7] Many lenders will negotiate the price structure of the loan with borrowers. In some situations, borrowers can even negotiate an outright reduction in the interest rate or other charges on the loan. Consumer advocates argue that borrowers, especially unsophisticated borrowers, are not aware of their ability to negotiate and might even be under the mistaken impression that the lender is placing the borrower’s interests above its own. Thus, many borrowers do not take advantage of their ability to negotiate.[7]
Failure to clearly and accurately disclose terms and conditions, particularly in cases where an unsophisticated borrower is involved. Mortgage loans are complex transactions involving multiple parties and dozens of pages of legal documents. In the most egregious of predatory cases, lenders or brokers have been not only misled borrowers but also actually altered documents after they have been signed.

Here is their entire article:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Predatory_lending

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

Date: Wed, 27 Feb 2013 21:21:56
Subject: Story: Incurring Debt Ruins Mental Peace And Friendship
From: Punya’tman Deva
To: am-global@earthlink.net

Baba

This entire email is composed of 3 parts:
(1) Prabhat Samgiita #3199;
(2) Posting: Story: Incurring Debt Ruins Mental Peace And Friendship
(3) Trailer Quote: Bengalis and Mahasambhuti

Each section is demarcated by asterisks (***).

**** Here begins the Prabhat Samgiita ****

“Jhar’er ra’te a’ndha’rete kendechilum van-ma’jhe…” (P.S. 3199)

Purport:

O’ Parama Purusa, on that very dark night when a big thunderstorm was raging, I was crying alone in the deep forest. Nobody was there to talk to – to console me – to understand the tale of my suffering. Nobody was nearby. Certainly You were there along with me, but I could not feel Your presence.

In the height of that wild storm big branches were breaking off from the trees and crashing down on the ground. And all those tender buds and beautiful flowers were also completely blown off from the limbs of the trees; those buds and flowers were wailing loud lamentations; the trees were crying bitterly. That very dark, horrendous night was so disastrous.

O’ Parama Purusa, after this dark, menacing storm passes, and a soft, gentle breeze is in the air, will You please come in the madhuvan [1] of my mind, in my mental garden, with Your sweet, attractive form?…

NOTE FOR PRABHAT SAMGIITA #3199:

[1] Madhuvan: Literally meaning “sweet forest”; But it refers to that remote, isolated, garden in the mind that is filled with spring blossoms, sweet fragrance, aromatic flowers, and a gentle & fragrant breeze. It is that tranquil mental abode where nobody is present except the devotee and the Lord. And there the bhakta and Parama Purusa sit together ensconced in that very divinely intoxicated atmosphere and they share the loving feeling of their heart in a very close, intimate, and loving way.

== STORY: INCURRING DEBT RUINS MENTAL PEACE AND FRIENDSHIP ==

Namaskar,
This letter contains an in-depth Baba story with His critical and detailed guidelines about borrowing and lending money. This is very practical knowledge for us all to have as we may find ourselves in this position one day soon.

Do we lend money to those in need, or not?

Read below to get Baba’s pointed guideline and convey His unique message to others in your unit and community.

ANANDA MARGA: OPPOSITE OF CAPITALISM

The present era of materialism preaches “instant gratification”: Enjoy the world by buying happiness. Credit cards and loans are readily available to the common person. Indeed lending agencies and credit card companies are standing by with astronomical interest rates in order to rip off consumers. It is a deadly cycle; already so many have been victimised.

In Ananda Marga, our view is diametrically opposite. We interact with this world for our daily needs and aim our mind towards psychic and psycho-spiritual pursuits. We seek happiness and peace in those upper realms, not in the instant gratification of worldly indulgences. We know this, we practice this, but even then some in our Marga have gotten bound by the noose of capitalism.

But there is no winning in capitalism. Only those top capitalists derive some selfish benefit. The common public just borrows and spends money on material allurements hoping to find happiness; but ultimately they find themselves upset, frustrated and in debt. All the while, the impoverished masses around the globe suffer from an extreme dearth of resources, which have been gobbled up by those capitalists.

So we should not fall prey to the capitalist cycle of borrowing and spending. Please read this following Baba story about this very subject.

BABA STORY:

GUIDELINES ON FINANCIAL DEALING

Baba was against people borrowing or lending money. One day He said, “You must know that lending as well as borrowing is undesirable and detestable.”

I had known Baba’s attitude and so had always tried not to borrow money. But I still had a question, “Was it so bad to lend money to someone in distress?”

Baba answered with an illustration. “Do you know why it isn’t desirable to lend out money? Suppose someone has come to you to borrow some money. Maybe his need is genuine and his appeal is justified. As you listen to his story of distress, you are likely to want to be kind to him. Even if it is beyond your own means to lend a big amount, you become so upset thinking of his dire need that you take pity on him. Your thoughts get interrupted as the gentleman says, ‘You need not worry, dear brother. Please help me wriggle out of my crisis. If your generosity can take me out the present crisis, I’ll repay the loan within a month. Meanwhile I’m likely to get some money soon, so you may rest assured that you’ll get back your money on time.'”

Baba continued, “There may be no reason for you to disbelieve him. Suppose you are soft-hearted, so you collect the money somehow and hand it over to him. And he, too, feels glad and goes away.”

“That man may not have any intention of taking you for a ride, but it may turn out that he can’t get hold of the money as he thought. It is not so unusual. But you go on nursing the hope that he will repay you at the end of the month.”

“A month goes by. He hesitates to see you out of his shame because he has no money to repay to you. Suppose you go to him out of need for the money. In all likelihood he will be ill at ease and may take offense at your uncalled-for-presence. He will think, ‘How disgusting! He has come to me straightaway.’ Understandably, he will tell you a long excuse about why he has failed to repay you. You will give a patient hearing to him and coming back home begin to wait for the deadline as promised. There will be times when you come across him on the street. Immediately, he will think ‘O, my God! Here he is again, he will certainly remind me of my debt!'”

“Of course it’s only natural such thoughts come to mind, interspersed with some inaudible abusive remarks. Maybe you didn’t go to him for money, but what is that to him? Your presence will be unpleasant enough.”

“So whenever you meet him, he will think, ‘I am lost! He has come again to pressure me for that money.’ At the same time he will hurl some unsavory remarks at you, albeit silently. Contrary to what is in his mind, he will say, ‘Welcome, my dear brother. I am glad to meet you. I am so grateful to you,’ and so on and so forth.

“Undoubtedly the moment he sees you, he will heap uncharitable remarks on you, but when you will come within earshot, he will be all praises an parade his respect for you. It goes without saying that you will be put into a dilemma from not getting your money back even at the time of your own dire need. It may happen that your need will drive you to his house and shout from outside, ‘Hello, Mr.—-, are you there?’

“He will think, ‘Oh! he has come again for the money. What will I say to him?’

“Thinking this, he will not only silently curse you, but also try his best to avoid an encounter with you. Instead of coming outside, he will tell his little son to tell you that his father is out. Accordingly, the boy will run to you to inform you that his father is not in.

“Looking askance at him, you will say, ‘Go inside and find out for certain whether or not your father is there.’ The simple-minded child will reply, ‘Why, I don’t need to check because father has himself said that he is out.’ In this way your relationship with that friend will sour and you don’t know where it will end.”

“Well, he certainly would have been offended that first day if you had not lent him money. Not only that, he would possibly have been shocked and have silently heaped some abusive remarks. Nevertheless, the unpleasant situation would not have spilt over onto the rest of your life. If you lend money, you will inevitably invite filthy remarks galore. That is why a person should think many times before lending to others.”

I asked, “Sometimes a really good man may fall into trouble and sincerely need help. In that case, what is to be done?”

Baba said, “Instead of lending him money, you should help him according to your capacity. Suppose he is asking for five thousand rupees. Tell him your attitude about lending money and let him know your financial condition. Then help him with an amount that’s within your means. It may not be as much as he demands, but he will get consolation that you tried to share his difficulties.” (“My Days with Baba”, Sarveshvarananda)

The above story is quite clear on the point of borrowing and lending. According to Baba, we should not borrow money nor should we lend it. If anyone truly needs financial help, then we should give them money according to our capacity, and not expect anything in return.

BABA’S FURTHER INSTRUCTIONS

Here are some of His further teachings about this very critical topic.

First Baba warns us that we should seek counsel and permission before (a) spending money on superfluous items and (b) before taking any loan.

Ananda Marga Philosophy says, “I am also giving one more advice in regard to aparigraha. If any Margis have to spend on anything in addition to the fixed expenditure (for example, expensive clothing, ornaments, articles of furniture, marriage, building, etc.), they should, before incurring such expenditure, obtain a clear order from their ácárya, unit secretary or district secretary, or any other person of responsible rank. Similarly, permission is to be obtained before taking loan from any businessman or money-lender. Where one’s own ácárya or any person of responsible rank is not easily available, consultation or rather permission is to be obtained from any other ácárya, táttvika or any right-thinking member of the Marga. Every member should follow this instruction strictly.” (1)

Secondly, Baba warns us how money lending itself is a filthy profession. We should keep such greedy persons at arms-length.

Prout says, “People’s means of liveliood should not depend on the quarrel of individuals, as in the case of lawyers. Lawyers usually set one person against another and in this way they serve their personal interests. Similarly no one should be a trader in religion, because in the name of religion, many people are exploited. Nor should one earn one’s livelihood by dealing with dead bodies because such people want more and more people to die, so that they may thereby increase their income. People should also not earn their livelihood by lending money and taking interest. Such persons want to lend more and more money to gain more and more interest, and they do not want the borrowers to refund the capital. The scriptures stipulate that people should not accept food from such people, because their occupations are despicable.” (2)

Over the course of history – in so many lands – money lenders have exploited people to the bone and taken all they had. This has happened not only with the farmers of Bengal depicted below but in so many regions and eras, including in the present day US where countless innocent families are losing their homes because they are unable to pay the money / mortgage they owe.

“Another group of exploiters emerged who took advantage of the poverty of the farmers. These were the moneylenders, who lent money to the farmers at exorbitant rates of interest. The farmers were forced to take loans which they could never repay, so they mortgaged their lands. Eventually the moneylenders became the owners of the farmers’ lands, and the farmers were thus converted into landless labourers… moneylending by private capitalists should be banned and provisions must be made to pay loans in advance to the farmers through the banks. This will eradicate the exploitation by moneylenders and political cadres.” (3)

SUMMARY

We should all exercise extreme caution in our financial dealings. This era of extreme capitalism has devoured the lives of many – leaving them as desperate beggars unable to regain their footing. We must not let this happen to us or anyone we know. We should remain out of debt and keep our mind free for psycho-spiritual endeavors. That is the only way. Remember, one in debt becomes mentally bound by this financial burden as well.

Thus no one in Ananda Marga should make a living by lending money and no Ananda Margii should go into any sort of debt without first getting clear-cut permission from respected members of our Marga.

By following Baba’s guidelines, we can maintain our psychic equilibrium. Going into debt and digging means losing one’s mental peace and becoming a lifelong tool of those greedy capitalists.

MORE ANANDA MARGA GUIDELINES ON THIS TOPIC

WHO IS REALLY HAPPY

“The person who is able to get some vegetables to eat at least once a day, who incurs no debt and who has no need to leave home to earn a living, is really happy.” (4)

DO NOT BORROW TO HOST FEAST

“A marriage feast is completely optional and depends upon the financial capacity of the people concerned. Arranging the feast by taking a loan or incurring a debt is prohibited.” (5)

“For the celebration of this ceremony the arrangement of a social feast depends entirely on the desire and the financial position of the guardians concerned. Taking a loan or incurring a debt for this purpose is forbidden.” (6)

AGAINST YAMA AND NIYAMA

“It is often noticed that individuals incur debt because of their violating the principles of Yama and Niyama, especially due to their extravagance – and as a result, they approach the society for relief. In this connection I must point out that just as the society is duty-bound to give relief to individuals by combined efforts, so also it must have control over the conduct of individuals, over their practice of the principles of Yama and Niyama, and also over their expenditure. Not to consult anybody at the time of spending money but to ask for help from all when in debt, is not a good practice. Such a mentality cannot be encouraged.”
“To purchase, by incurring debt, serge where tweed will do, or gaberdine where serge will do, is surely against the principle of aparigraha. Similarly, people should take food which is nutritious but not rich. They have to give up the practice of feeding others with money taken on loan. That is why social control over the individual’s conduct and expenditure is indispensably necessary. Hence, all Ananda Margis, when they see other Margis acting against the principles of Yama and Niyama, must make them shun this habit either by sweet or harsh words or by dealing even more strictly. Thus they will have to make the society strong. Henceforth I direct every Ananda Margi to keep strict vigilance on other Ananda Margi to make them practise the principles of Yama and Niyama and also to accept calmly directions of other Margis in this connection.” (7)

“SOMETIMES PEOPLE MISUSE LOANS”

“You might have noticed that there are many countries which suffer from financial stringency, so they take loans from other countries. These loans are then used for ventures like constructing large dams on their rivers.”
“The science of economics teaches that the rolling of money should never be blocked by any sort of non-productive investment. Sometimes people misuse loans to construct an unnecessary building or a new showroom for their business, and thus prevent the possibility of reinvesting the capital and increasing their wealth. Economics teaches that loans taken for business investment should always be utilized for productive purposes, and should never be utilized in any unproductive venture. Foreign loans, for example, should never be invested in constructing large railway stations instead of railway lines.” (8)

INCURRING BIG DEBT TO MARRY DAUGHTER

“Formerly, even poor families had to sell their property to arrange the obsequies of their departed parents. Nowadays normally such things are rare. In such cases, kriyálopa took place under circumstantial pressure. But the custom of incurring heavy debt and selling one’s property to marry off one’s daughters still continues. Of course, when women become a little more socially-aware and men become a little more conscientious, and if women become economically self-reliant by bringing about a change in the economic structure, this custom of kanyádána = [forced social obligations to marry the daughters with dowry and feasts] will die out. And when the caste system will fully die out, the marriage system will develop in a healthy atmosphere. Many unhealthy customs will vanish from society.” (9)

IMPORTANT ACCOUNT

“In the factories and the rural production centres, the capitalist exploitation of India continues unabated, and the landholders, as the last vestiges of a feudalistic social order, perpetrate their exploitation in the villages. The capitalists and landlords carry on their exploitation hand-in-hand. The survival and social security of the landless labourers depends solely on the whims of the landlords, who can expel the labourers at any time on any pretext.”
“The exploitation by capitalists and landlords is accompanied by the exploitation by moneylenders. In the rural economy they lend money to the farmers and rural peasants, and are present in nearly every village and hamlet of West Bengal. Where the landlords are not physically present, their loyal agents are very active. The moneylenders have nothing to do with the land – they merely give loans to the poor farmers at high interest. Sometimes poor farmers cannot afford to procure farming implements, hence they are compelled to take loans from the moneylenders. If a moneylender gives one hundred rupees to a farmer, the farmer will have to repay two hundred rupees with interest, but the moneylender does not take back the loan in cash. Instead he realizes the amount in kind in the form of paddy, potatoes, etc., at cheap rates at the time of the harvest. The poor farmer, under the pressure of circumstances, has to accept this unwelcome system. He is a double loser – first, he has to pay more than double the amount of the original loan, and secondly, this amount is paid in kind at the rate of the harvest price of the crop, which is naturally very cheap. This whole process is conducted through agents, who also take their profit. Thus, the peasants and farmers of India are deprived of all their agricultural produce in four to five months of the year to repay the moneylenders, so for the remaining seven to eight months they have to approach the moneylenders again for fresh loans. At first they mortgage their implements, and then they are forced to part with their land. When the amount of the loans with compound interest increases to the point where the interest and the mortgage is equal to the price of their land, the moneylenders confiscate the land of the farmers. Consequently, the farmers get evicted from their land and move from village to village, living on the streets as beggars.”
“The direct representatives of the capitalist exploiters in the rural economy are the middlemen. They take advantage of the poverty and distress of the farmers and force them to depend on the capitalists for their production. For example, in West Bengal, Calcutta is the main centre of the capitalists, but of course they have subsidiary centres in various parts of the state. For instance, they have centres in Siliguri in North Bengal, Sainthia in Birbhum district, Purulia town in Purulia district and Midnapore town in Midnapore district. From these centres the capitalists, through their agents and middlemen, control the rural economy of West Bengal. The farmers depend on these middlemen not only to procure farm implements, but also to sell their agricultural produce. They also take advantage of the illiteracy of the simple uneducated farmers, collect their signatures or thumb prints for a larger loan, and pay them less than the market value of their produce.”
“Indian society is basically capitalistic, and the administrative system is a capitalist dominated democracy. It is the capitalists who control and direct the social, economic and political systems of India. The problem of how to remain in power is the most important issue for every political party that comes to power in an election. When political interest is of paramount importance, naturally the government will frame laws to safeguard the interests of the capitalist exploiters. The responsibility of upholding the interests of the exploiters in the name of law and order devolves onto the bureaucracy and police. The political leaders merely engage in internal bickering over their share of the ill-gotten gains.” (10)

“MONEY LENDING, CHARGING EXORBITANT INTEREST” = EXPLOITATION

“There are various types of exploitation in society. The form and character of exploitation changes as per changes in time, place and person. In every era of the social cycle, there are various kinds of exploitation. For example, in the economic sphere there is feudal exploitation, colonial exploitation, capitalist exploitation, imperialist exploitation and fascist exploitation. Exploitation may also manifest in such spheres as the physical, psychic, economic, political and cultural spheres. In the past the slave system was prevalent in the Greek and Roman Empires. The rulers sucked the blood of the vanquished to bolster their own interests. In psychic exploitation, the masses are misled with the help of pseudo-philosophies which encourage dogma and narrowmindedness. Democratic socialism and the theory of peaceful coexistence are examples of the hypocrite’s psychology. In economic exploitation, vested interests deprive people of their minimum requirements. Money lending, charging exorbitant interest rates, compelling poor farmers to sell their produce through distress sales, etc., are examples of economic exploitation. Regardless of the type of exploitation used by the exploiters, when society is moving towards revolution, the role of the exploiters is exposed. The exploiters are unable to disguise their exploitation any longer.” (11)

Namaskar,
Sastaunga Pranam to Baba,
Punya’tman

REFERENCES:
1. Guide to Human Conduct
2. Subhasita Samgraha – 11, The Supreme Desideratum of the Microcosms
3. Prout in a Nutshell – 19, Economic Exploitation of Bengal
4. Shabda Cayanika – 1, Discourse 1
5. Caryacarya – 1, Marriage Ceremony
6. Caryacarya – 1, Infant’s Játakarma: The Naming of and First Feeding of Solid Food to an Infant
7. A Guide to Human Conduct
8. Prout in a Nutshell-12, Keep Money Rolling – Excerpt A
9. Shabda Cayanika – 11, Sati and Widowhood – Excerpt C
10. Prout in a Nutshell-19, Economic Exploitation of Bengal
11. Prout in a Nutshell – 21, Nucelar Revolution

Note 1: Predatory Lending

(courtesy of Wikipedia)

“Predatory lending is the unfair, deceptive, or fraudulent practices of some lenders during the loan origination process. While there are no legal definitions in the United States for predatory lending, an audit report on predatory lending from the office of inspector general of the FDIC broadly defines predatory lending as “imposing unfair and abusive loan terms on borrowers.” Though there are laws against many of the specific practices commonly identified as predatory, various federal agencies use the term as a catch-all term for many specific illegal activities in the loan industry. Predatory lending should not be confused with predatory mortgage servicing which is the unfair, deceptive, or fraudulent practices of lenders and servicing agents during the loan or mortgage servicing process, post loan origination.”
“One less contentious definition of the term is “the practice of a lender deceptively convincing borrowers to agree to unfair and abusive loan terms, or systematically violating those terms in ways that make it difficult for the borrower to defend against.” Other types of lending sometimes also referred to as predatory include payday loans, certain types of credit cards, mainly subprime, or other forms of (again, often subprime) consumer debt, and overdraft loans, when the interest rates are considered unreasonably high. Although predatory lenders are most likely to target the less educated, the poor, racial minorities, and the elderly, victims of predatory lending are represented across all demographics.”
“Predatory lending typically occurs on loans backed by some kind of collateral, such as a car or house, so that if the borrower defaults on the loan, the lender can repossess or foreclose and profit by selling the repossessed or foreclosed property. Lenders may be accused of tricking a borrower into believing that an interest rate is lower than it actually is, or that the borrower’s ability to pay is greater than it actually is. The lender, or others as agents of the lender, may well profit from repossession or foreclosure upon the collateral.”

To Read More Visit: http://am-global-01.blogspot.com/2013/02/more-on-debt-from-wikipedia.html

The section below demarcated by asterisks is an entirely different topic,
completely unrelated to the above letter. It stands on its own as a point of interest.

****************************************
Bengalis and Mahasambhuti

Baba says, “During the war between the Kaoravas and the Pan’davas, the kings of Bengal did not take part. They thought there is no benefit in it.” (Bam’la’r Itiha’s, Ananda Vacanamrtam-10 [Bangla’])

The advent of Mahasambhuti on this planet is a grand event. Of course He does everything according to His divine plan. Those whom He graces work according to His direction and follow the command of Mahasambhuti. Those blessed souls who have a good samskara and strong devotion – and ultimately His grace – work unitedly under His shelter. Whereas those whose samskara is not good or are in a different flow keep themselves away. That is what happened in the Mahabharat era. From Afghanistan and Pakistan to Sri Lanka, and each and every nook and corner of south and north India, all the states including Nepal joined in to cooperate with Lord Krsna’s divine plans and programs. While some like Duryodhana did not support. As Baba says in His above teaching, that time the leaders of Bengal did not support Mahasambhuti.

Something similar is going on these days also as some from Bengal are not supporting. They are disobeying Guru Baba: By their own whim they invented the dogma of mahaprayan and observe it annually. This was never given or approved by Baba.
****************************************

Read Full Post »

Date: Wed, 27 Feb 2013 21:21:56
Subject: Story: Incurring Debt Ruins Mental Peace And Friendship
From: Punya’tman Deva
To: am-global@earthlink.net

Baba

This entire email is composed of 3 parts:
(1) Prabhat Samgiita #3199;
(2) Posting: Story: Incurring Debt Ruins Mental Peace And Friendship
(3) Trailer Quote: Bengalis and Mahasambhuti

Each section is demarcated by asterisks (***).

**** Here begins the Prabhat Samgiita ****

“Jhar’er ra’te a’ndha’rete kendechilum van-ma’jhe…” (P.S. 3199)

Purport:

O’ Parama Purusa, on that very dark night when a big thunderstorm was raging, I was crying alone in the deep forest. Nobody was there to talk to – to console me – to understand the tale of my suffering. Nobody was nearby. Certainly You were there along with me, but I could not feel Your presence.

In the height of that wild storm big branches were breaking off from the trees and crashing down on the ground. And all those tender buds and beautiful flowers were also completely blown off from the limbs of the trees; those buds and flowers were wailing loud lamentations; the trees were crying bitterly. That very dark, horrendous night was so disastrous.

O’ Parama Purusa, after this dark, menacing storm passes, and a soft, gentle breeze is in the air, will You please come in the madhuvan [1] of my mind, in my mental garden, with Your sweet, attractive form?…

NOTE FOR PRABHAT SAMGIITA #3199:

[1] Madhuvan: Literally meaning “sweet forest”; But it refers to that remote, isolated, garden in the mind that is filled with spring blossoms, sweet fragrance, aromatic flowers, and a gentle & fragrant breeze. It is that tranquil mental abode where nobody is present except the devotee and the Lord. And there the bhakta and Parama Purusa sit together ensconced in that very divinely intoxicated atmosphere and they share the loving feeling of their heart in a very close, intimate, and loving way.

== STORY: INCURRING DEBT RUINS MENTAL PEACE AND FRIENDSHIP ==

Namaskar,
This letter contains an in-depth Baba story with His critical and detailed guidelines about borrowing and lending money. This is very practical knowledge for us all to have as we may find ourselves in this position one day soon.

Do we lend money to those in need, or not?

Read below to get Baba’s pointed guideline and convey His unique message to others in your unit and community.

ANANDA MARGA: OPPOSITE OF CAPITALISM

The present era of materialism preaches “instant gratification”: Enjoy the world by buying happiness. Credit cards and loans are readily available to the common person. Indeed lending agencies and credit card companies are standing by with astronomical interest rates in order to rip off consumers. It is a deadly cycle; already so many have been victimised.

In Ananda Marga, our view is diametrically opposite. We interact with this world for our daily needs and aim our mind towards psychic and psycho-spiritual pursuits. We seek happiness and peace in those upper realms, not in the instant gratification of worldly indulgences. We know this, we practice this, but even then some in our Marga have gotten bound by the noose of capitalism.

But there is no winning in capitalism. Only those top capitalists derive some selfish benefit. The common public just borrows and spends money on material allurements hoping to find happiness; but ultimately they find themselves upset, frustrated and in debt. All the while, the impoverished masses around the globe suffer from an extreme dearth of resources, which have been gobbled up by those capitalists.

So we should not fall prey to the capitalist cycle of borrowing and spending. Please read this following Baba story about this very subject.

BABA STORY:

GUIDELINES ON FINANCIAL DEALING

Baba was against people borrowing or lending money. One day He said, “You must know that lending as well as borrowing is undesirable and detestable.”

I had known Baba’s attitude and so had always tried not to borrow money. But I still had a question, “Was it so bad to lend money to someone in distress?”

Baba answered with an illustration. “Do you know why it isn’t desirable to lend out money? Suppose someone has come to you to borrow some money. Maybe his need is genuine and his appeal is justified. As you listen to his story of distress, you are likely to want to be kind to him. Even if it is beyond your own means to lend a big amount, you become so upset thinking of his dire need that you take pity on him. Your thoughts get interrupted as the gentleman says, ‘You need not worry, dear brother. Please help me wriggle out of my crisis. If your generosity can take me out the present crisis, I’ll repay the loan within a month. Meanwhile I’m likely to get some money soon, so you may rest assured that you’ll get back your money on time.'”

Baba continued, “There may be no reason for you to disbelieve him. Suppose you are soft-hearted, so you collect the money somehow and hand it over to him. And he, too, feels glad and goes away.”

“That man may not have any intention of taking you for a ride, but it may turn out that he can’t get hold of the money as he thought. It is not so unusual. But you go on nursing the hope that he will repay you at the end of the month.”

“A month goes by. He hesitates to see you out of his shame because he has no money to repay to you. Suppose you go to him out of need for the money. In all likelihood he will be ill at ease and may take offense at your uncalled-for-presence. He will think, ‘How disgusting! He has come to me straightaway.’ Understandably, he will tell you a long excuse about why he has failed to repay you. You will give a patient hearing to him and coming back home begin to wait for the deadline as promised. There will be times when you come across him on the street. Immediately, he will think ‘O, my God! Here he is again, he will certainly remind me of my debt!'”

“Of course it’s only natural such thoughts come to mind, interspersed with some inaudible abusive remarks. Maybe you didn’t go to him for money, but what is that to him? Your presence will be unpleasant enough.”

“So whenever you meet him, he will think, ‘I am lost! He has come again to pressure me for that money.’ At the same time he will hurl some unsavory remarks at you, albeit silently. Contrary to what is in his mind, he will say, ‘Welcome, my dear brother. I am glad to meet you. I am so grateful to you,’ and so on and so forth.

“Undoubtedly the moment he sees you, he will heap uncharitable remarks on you, but when you will come within earshot, he will be all praises an parade his respect for you. It goes without saying that you will be put into a dilemma from not getting your money back even at the time of your own dire need. It may happen that your need will drive you to his house and shout from outside, ‘Hello, Mr.—-, are you there?’

“He will think, ‘Oh! he has come again for the money. What will I say to him?’

“Thinking this, he will not only silently curse you, but also try his best to avoid an encounter with you. Instead of coming outside, he will tell his little son to tell you that his father is out. Accordingly, the boy will run to you to inform you that his father is not in.

“Looking askance at him, you will say, ‘Go inside and find out for certain whether or not your father is there.’ The simple-minded child will reply, ‘Why, I don’t need to check because father has himself said that he is out.’ In this way your relationship with that friend will sour and you don’t know where it will end.”

“Well, he certainly would have been offended that first day if you had not lent him money. Not only that, he would possibly have been shocked and have silently heaped some abusive remarks. Nevertheless, the unpleasant situation would not have spilt over onto the rest of your life. If you lend money, you will inevitably invite filthy remarks galore. That is why a person should think many times before lending to others.”

I asked, “Sometimes a really good man may fall into trouble and sincerely need help. In that case, what is to be done?”

Baba said, “Instead of lending him money, you should help him according to your capacity. Suppose he is asking for five thousand rupees. Tell him your attitude about lending money and let him know your financial condition. Then help him with an amount that’s within your means. It may not be as much as he demands, but he will get consolation that you tried to share his difficulties.” (“My Days with Baba”, Sarveshvarananda)

The above story is quite clear on the point of borrowing and lending. According to Baba, we should not borrow money nor should we lend it. If anyone truly needs financial help, then we should give them money according to our capacity, and not expect anything in return.

BABA’S FURTHER INSTRUCTIONS

Here are some of His further teachings about this very critical topic.

First Baba warns us that we should seek counsel and permission before (a) spending money on superfluous items and (b) before taking any loan.

Ananda Marga Philosophy says, “I am also giving one more advice in regard to aparigraha. If any Margis have to spend on anything in addition to the fixed expenditure (for example, expensive clothing, ornaments, articles of furniture, marriage, building, etc.), they should, before incurring such expenditure, obtain a clear order from their ácárya, unit secretary or district secretary, or any other person of responsible rank. Similarly, permission is to be obtained before taking loan from any businessman or money-lender. Where one’s own ácárya or any person of responsible rank is not easily available, consultation or rather permission is to be obtained from any other ácárya, táttvika or any right-thinking member of the Marga. Every member should follow this instruction strictly.” (1)

Secondly, Baba warns us how money lending itself is a filthy profession. We should keep such greedy persons at arms-length.

Prout says, “People’s means of liveliood should not depend on the quarrel of individuals, as in the case of lawyers. Lawyers usually set one person against another and in this way they serve their personal interests. Similarly no one should be a trader in religion, because in the name of religion, many people are exploited. Nor should one earn one’s livelihood by dealing with dead bodies because such people want more and more people to die, so that they may thereby increase their income. People should also not earn their livelihood by lending money and taking interest. Such persons want to lend more and more money to gain more and more interest, and they do not want the borrowers to refund the capital. The scriptures stipulate that people should not accept food from such people, because their occupations are despicable.” (2)

Over the course of history – in so many lands – money lenders have exploited people to the bone and taken all they had. This has happened not only with the farmers of Bengal depicted below but in so many regions and eras, including in the present day US where countless innocent families are losing their homes because they are unable to pay the money / mortgage they owe.

“Another group of exploiters emerged who took advantage of the poverty of the farmers. These were the moneylenders, who lent money to the farmers at exorbitant rates of interest. The farmers were forced to take loans which they could never repay, so they mortgaged their lands. Eventually the moneylenders became the owners of the farmers’ lands, and the farmers were thus converted into landless labourers… moneylending by private capitalists should be banned and provisions must be made to pay loans in advance to the farmers through the banks. This will eradicate the exploitation by moneylenders and political cadres.” (3)

SUMMARY

We should all exercise extreme caution in our financial dealings. This era of extreme capitalism has devoured the lives of many – leaving them as desperate beggars unable to regain their footing. We must not let this happen to us or anyone we know. We should remain out of debt and keep our mind free for psycho-spiritual endeavors. That is the only way. Remember, one in debt becomes mentally bound by this financial burden as well.

Thus no one in Ananda Marga should make a living by lending money and no Ananda Margii should go into any sort of debt without first getting clear-cut permission from respected members of our Marga.

By following Baba’s guidelines, we can maintain our psychic equilibrium. Going into debt and digging means losing one’s mental peace and becoming a lifelong tool of those greedy capitalists.

MORE ANANDA MARGA GUIDELINES ON THIS TOPIC

WHO IS REALLY HAPPY

“The person who is able to get some vegetables to eat at least once a day, who incurs no debt and who has no need to leave home to earn a living, is really happy.” (4)

DO NOT BORROW TO HOST FEAST

“A marriage feast is completely optional and depends upon the financial capacity of the people concerned. Arranging the feast by taking a loan or incurring a debt is prohibited.” (5)

“For the celebration of this ceremony the arrangement of a social feast depends entirely on the desire and the financial position of the guardians concerned. Taking a loan or incurring a debt for this purpose is forbidden.” (6)

AGAINST YAMA AND NIYAMA

“It is often noticed that individuals incur debt because of their violating the principles of Yama and Niyama, especially due to their extravagance – and as a result, they approach the society for relief. In this connection I must point out that just as the society is duty-bound to give relief to individuals by combined efforts, so also it must have control over the conduct of individuals, over their practice of the principles of Yama and Niyama, and also over their expenditure. Not to consult anybody at the time of spending money but to ask for help from all when in debt, is not a good practice. Such a mentality cannot be encouraged.”
“To purchase, by incurring debt, serge where tweed will do, or gaberdine where serge will do, is surely against the principle of aparigraha. Similarly, people should take food which is nutritious but not rich. They have to give up the practice of feeding others with money taken on loan. That is why social control over the individual’s conduct and expenditure is indispensably necessary. Hence, all Ananda Margis, when they see other Margis acting against the principles of Yama and Niyama, must make them shun this habit either by sweet or harsh words or by dealing even more strictly. Thus they will have to make the society strong. Henceforth I direct every Ananda Margi to keep strict vigilance on other Ananda Margi to make them practise the principles of Yama and Niyama and also to accept calmly directions of other Margis in this connection.” (7)

“SOMETIMES PEOPLE MISUSE LOANS”

“You might have noticed that there are many countries which suffer from financial stringency, so they take loans from other countries. These loans are then used for ventures like constructing large dams on their rivers.”
“The science of economics teaches that the rolling of money should never be blocked by any sort of non-productive investment. Sometimes people misuse loans to construct an unnecessary building or a new showroom for their business, and thus prevent the possibility of reinvesting the capital and increasing their wealth. Economics teaches that loans taken for business investment should always be utilized for productive purposes, and should never be utilized in any unproductive venture. Foreign loans, for example, should never be invested in constructing large railway stations instead of railway lines.” (8)

INCURRING BIG DEBT TO MARRY DAUGHTER

“Formerly, even poor families had to sell their property to arrange the obsequies of their departed parents. Nowadays normally such things are rare. In such cases, kriyálopa took place under circumstantial pressure. But the custom of incurring heavy debt and selling one’s property to marry off one’s daughters still continues. Of course, when women become a little more socially-aware and men become a little more conscientious, and if women become economically self-reliant by bringing about a change in the economic structure, this custom of kanyádána = [forced social obligations to marry the daughters with dowry and feasts] will die out. And when the caste system will fully die out, the marriage system will develop in a healthy atmosphere. Many unhealthy customs will vanish from society.” (9)

IMPORTANT ACCOUNT

“In the factories and the rural production centres, the capitalist exploitation of India continues unabated, and the landholders, as the last vestiges of a feudalistic social order, perpetrate their exploitation in the villages. The capitalists and landlords carry on their exploitation hand-in-hand. The survival and social security of the landless labourers depends solely on the whims of the landlords, who can expel the labourers at any time on any pretext.”
“The exploitation by capitalists and landlords is accompanied by the exploitation by moneylenders. In the rural economy they lend money to the farmers and rural peasants, and are present in nearly every village and hamlet of West Bengal. Where the landlords are not physically present, their loyal agents are very active. The moneylenders have nothing to do with the land – they merely give loans to the poor farmers at high interest. Sometimes poor farmers cannot afford to procure farming implements, hence they are compelled to take loans from the moneylenders. If a moneylender gives one hundred rupees to a farmer, the farmer will have to repay two hundred rupees with interest, but the moneylender does not take back the loan in cash. Instead he realizes the amount in kind in the form of paddy, potatoes, etc., at cheap rates at the time of the harvest. The poor farmer, under the pressure of circumstances, has to accept this unwelcome system. He is a double loser – first, he has to pay more than double the amount of the original loan, and secondly, this amount is paid in kind at the rate of the harvest price of the crop, which is naturally very cheap. This whole process is conducted through agents, who also take their profit. Thus, the peasants and farmers of India are deprived of all their agricultural produce in four to five months of the year to repay the moneylenders, so for the remaining seven to eight months they have to approach the moneylenders again for fresh loans. At first they mortgage their implements, and then they are forced to part with their land. When the amount of the loans with compound interest increases to the point where the interest and the mortgage is equal to the price of their land, the moneylenders confiscate the land of the farmers. Consequently, the farmers get evicted from their land and move from village to village, living on the streets as beggars.”
“The direct representatives of the capitalist exploiters in the rural economy are the middlemen. They take advantage of the poverty and distress of the farmers and force them to depend on the capitalists for their production. For example, in West Bengal, Calcutta is the main centre of the capitalists, but of course they have subsidiary centres in various parts of the state. For instance, they have centres in Siliguri in North Bengal, Sainthia in Birbhum district, Purulia town in Purulia district and Midnapore town in Midnapore district. From these centres the capitalists, through their agents and middlemen, control the rural economy of West Bengal. The farmers depend on these middlemen not only to procure farm implements, but also to sell their agricultural produce. They also take advantage of the illiteracy of the simple uneducated farmers, collect their signatures or thumb prints for a larger loan, and pay them less than the market value of their produce.”
“Indian society is basically capitalistic, and the administrative system is a capitalist dominated democracy. It is the capitalists who control and direct the social, economic and political systems of India. The problem of how to remain in power is the most important issue for every political party that comes to power in an election. When political interest is of paramount importance, naturally the government will frame laws to safeguard the interests of the capitalist exploiters. The responsibility of upholding the interests of the exploiters in the name of law and order devolves onto the bureaucracy and police. The political leaders merely engage in internal bickering over their share of the ill-gotten gains.” (10)

“MONEY LENDING, CHARGING EXORBITANT INTEREST” = EXPLOITATION

“There are various types of exploitation in society. The form and character of exploitation changes as per changes in time, place and person. In every era of the social cycle, there are various kinds of exploitation. For example, in the economic sphere there is feudal exploitation, colonial exploitation, capitalist exploitation, imperialist exploitation and fascist exploitation. Exploitation may also manifest in such spheres as the physical, psychic, economic, political and cultural spheres. In the past the slave system was prevalent in the Greek and Roman Empires. The rulers sucked the blood of the vanquished to bolster their own interests. In psychic exploitation, the masses are misled with the help of pseudo-philosophies which encourage dogma and narrowmindedness. Democratic socialism and the theory of peaceful coexistence are examples of the hypocrite’s psychology. In economic exploitation, vested interests deprive people of their minimum requirements. Money lending, charging exorbitant interest rates, compelling poor farmers to sell their produce through distress sales, etc., are examples of economic exploitation. Regardless of the type of exploitation used by the exploiters, when society is moving towards revolution, the role of the exploiters is exposed. The exploiters are unable to disguise their exploitation any longer.” (11)

Namaskar,
Sastaunga Pranam to Baba,
Punya’tman

REFERENCES:
1. Guide to Human Conduct
2. Subhasita Samgraha – 11, The Supreme Desideratum of the Microcosms
3. Prout in a Nutshell – 19, Economic Exploitation of Bengal
4. Shabda Cayanika – 1, Discourse 1
5. Caryacarya – 1, Marriage Ceremony
6. Caryacarya – 1, Infant’s Játakarma: The Naming of and First Feeding of Solid Food to an Infant
7. A Guide to Human Conduct
8. Prout in a Nutshell-12, Keep Money Rolling – Excerpt A
9. Shabda Cayanika – 11, Sati and Widowhood – Excerpt C
10. Prout in a Nutshell-19, Economic Exploitation of Bengal
11. Prout in a Nutshell – 21, Nucelar Revolution

Note 1: Predatory Lending

(courtesy of Wikipedia)

“Predatory lending is the unfair, deceptive, or fraudulent practices of some lenders during the loan origination process. While there are no legal definitions in the United States for predatory lending, an audit report on predatory lending from the office of inspector general of the FDIC broadly defines predatory lending as “imposing unfair and abusive loan terms on borrowers.” Though there are laws against many of the specific practices commonly identified as predatory, various federal agencies use the term as a catch-all term for many specific illegal activities in the loan industry. Predatory lending should not be confused with predatory mortgage servicing which is the unfair, deceptive, or fraudulent practices of lenders and servicing agents during the loan or mortgage servicing process, post loan origination.”
“One less contentious definition of the term is “the practice of a lender deceptively convincing borrowers to agree to unfair and abusive loan terms, or systematically violating those terms in ways that make it difficult for the borrower to defend against.” Other types of lending sometimes also referred to as predatory include payday loans, certain types of credit cards, mainly subprime, or other forms of (again, often subprime) consumer debt, and overdraft loans, when the interest rates are considered unreasonably high. Although predatory lenders are most likely to target the less educated, the poor, racial minorities, and the elderly, victims of predatory lending are represented across all demographics.”
“Predatory lending typically occurs on loans backed by some kind of collateral, such as a car or house, so that if the borrower defaults on the loan, the lender can repossess or foreclose and profit by selling the repossessed or foreclosed property. Lenders may be accused of tricking a borrower into believing that an interest rate is lower than it actually is, or that the borrower’s ability to pay is greater than it actually is. The lender, or others as agents of the lender, may well profit from repossession or foreclosure upon the collateral.”

To Read More Visit: http://am-global-01.blogspot.com/2013/02/more-on-debt-from-wikipedia.html

The section below demarcated by asterisks is an entirely different topic,
completely unrelated to the above letter. It stands on its own as a point of interest.

****************************************
Bengalis and Mahasambhuti

Baba says, “During the war between the Kaoravas and the Pan’davas, the kings of Bengal did not take part. They thought there is no benefit in it.” (Bam’la’r Itiha’s, Ananda Vacanamrtam-10 [Bangla’])

The advent of Mahasambhuti on this planet is a grand event. Of course He does everything according to His divine plan. Those whom He graces work according to His direction and follow the command of Mahasambhuti. Those blessed souls who have a good samskara and strong devotion – and ultimately His grace – work unitedly under His shelter. Whereas those whose samskara is not good or are in a different flow keep themselves away. That is what happened in the Mahabharat era. From Afghanistan and Pakistan to Sri Lanka, and each and every nook and corner of south and north India, all the states including Nepal joined in to cooperate with Lord Krsna’s divine plans and programs. While some like Duryodhana did not support. As Baba says in His above teaching, that time the leaders of Bengal did not support Mahasambhuti.

Something similar is going on these days also as some from Bengal are not supporting. They are disobeying Guru Baba: By their own whim they invented the dogma of mahaprayan and observe it annually. This was never given or approved by Baba.
****************************************

Read Full Post »