" 'You mean there's nothing that money cannot buy?' This was Bill speaking. I didn't realize he had stopped snoring and was listening to us. Both Alyssa and I took his reentry in stride.
" 'What I think we're saying,' I answered, looking at Bill, 'is that in the world we live in now, money represents everything that man can actually do. Everything he can achieve through his mind and body as they function uninfluenced by a higher energy or power. There are strong unconscious influences that act on us under certain conditions, but these influences are not necessarily the higher forces. Art, science, ethics, even certain forms of religion, even many things we call love, are all things we can cultivate and perfect by our own efforts. Therefore they can be and in fact have become part of the marketplace. Thank God! It's all much clearer that way. By studying money, by understanding money, we can begin to understand all the things that are within our power and only then, after we really understand that, after we have really mastered the world of money, can we begin to grasp what it is that money cannot buy.'
"Bill was surprisingly lucid. 'That seems just plain wrong,' he said. 'We can't control life and death, we can't control our passions, we can't buy artistic inspiration. I don't see how you can say that!'
" 'I'm not saying that, exactly. I'm saying that there is and always has been a danger of attributing to God, or whatever we call the higher reality, that which is really within the world of the human ego. Just because the intellect cannot grasp something, or cannot control it, that doesn't mean it comes directly from God or the spirit. We're speaking about what the ancient Hebrews called idolatry attributing to God that which is an aspect of the human ego. Money is the present-day name for the world of the human ego. Money dictates how we deal with everything material, intellectual, and emotional things.'
" 'You can't buy love! You can't buy happiness! You can't buy truth! You can't buy loyalty. . . .'
"Alyssa interrupted, looking at me quizzically, 'You're not claiming that, are you?'
" 'No,' I said. 'You can buy love. You can buy happiness and you can buy truth and loyalty! But there is a love you cannot buy and a truth, a loyalty, and a happiness you cannot buy. But we will never know what they are until we've understood the love, the truth, and the happiness we can buy. We can do many things to find love and truth and happiness and, finally, to position ourselves so that we can receive as a gift the love and truth and happiness that do not depend on our efforts. We are meant to live in two worlds. It's very hard to swallow that, I tell you! Money is an instrument of what we can do: that is what money means. It wasn't always so in other cultures. There have been other sorts of instruments weapons, tools, all sorts of things that represented and served as a key to what man can do by his own efforts. Today, it's money. Health, war and peace, justice, pleasure and pain they are all decided on the basis of cost. . . .
" 'Money can buy everything,' I said, not being inclined to mitigate the paradox of human life on earth. 'Money can buy everything. The only thing it cannot buy is meaning. The ultimate source of every human activity, every human function, is something, some force, beyond the ego. Money can't touch that, but it touches everything else."