The bible talks about usury in very negative terms. To commit usury is to take advantage of people through interest levied on borrowed money. In usury, individuals are required to pay back more than they have been loaned. Inflated rates of interest by credit card companies and banks can be considered a form of usurious exploitation.
This post, however, explores usury from a symbolic perspective. Such a perspective offers a more psychologically fertile approach to the concept than does its more conventional usage. In its conventional usage, usury often becomes an instrument of psychological projection and moral finger-pointing, obscuring consciousness rather than deepening it.
The psyche can be viewed as having its own monetary and energy system. The energy we have in life—often symbolized by money in our dreams—comes from the Self, the organizing center of the total personality. The ego, or conscious mind, is meant to be a servant and instrument of the Self. This means that we are meant to nourish and assist the unfolding of our deeper nature and destiny for the Self is the author of these. However, when our ego orientation is at odds with that of the Self, depression and a lack of energy and drive are the usual result. In fact, severely depressed individuals often develop the delusion that they have no money when they are actually financially secure.
The ego derives its energy from the Self and is expected to use that energy to facilitate our growth and maturity. But when we are egocentric, the ego uses that energy to serve itself—its own goals and interests. In other words, it skims and appropriates what it wants from the psyche’s energy for its own pursuits. For example, you may spend a lot of time on social media when life is prodding you to get out in nature, further your education, or prepare for a new career, etc. Looked at symbolically, such skimming is equivalent to usury.
Since we are all egocentric to one degree or another, we are all usurers. Yet sometimes we focus on the usurious behavior of others while remaining smugly oblivious to the usury we commit against our own soul. Some individuals who especially dislike usury criticize both lender and debtor on the grounds that if it is evil to charge interest, it is also evil to accrue it.
The more egocentric we are the more we want to call our own shots. We don’t want to feel indebted to anyone. We don’t want to feel beholden; we don’t want to owe. We like to imagine that we are self-made, self-sufficient, and entirely self-supporting. The egocentric ego wants to answer to no one but itself. Of course, this arrogant attitude brings it to odds with the Self and God. Life is a gift that we cannot repay. We can only respect it, protect it, and live it as intended.
It is a paradoxical fact that God and life expect a return on our lives. They expect progress, growth in consciousness, realization of potential, and a contribution to humanity in accordance with the gifts and opportunities we have been given. Are God and life usurers? It can be looked at that way. And if this is the case we should thank our lucky stars. Why? Because 99 percent of humanity wouldn’t be accomplishing an awful lot were it not for the periodic kicks in the butt that come from life’s demand of a return on its investment. In fact, life so seeks the development of your innate gifts and potentials that it may even require that you go in debt with your favorite usurer (i.e., lender) to achieve the goals you are meant to achieve. Life is paradoxical, and even usurers—like you and me—can sometimes be put to good use.
Copyright © Andy Drymalski, Ed.D.
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