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Question: Does the god of wealth (财神) exist? Is there an equivalent in Buddhism?

Answer: In Chinese culture, there are some characters believed and worshipped as gods of wealth, some of whom might be mythological, and some based on historical virtuous persons. Thus, it is hard to say if a single representative wealth god exists for sure, while many Chinese do pray to a general concept of a god of wealth, especially during the Chinese new year season.

In Tibetan Buddhist culture, there are the five Jambhalas (藏巴拉), who are wealth deities linked to Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. However, physical wealth in Buddhism is seen just as essential support, for accumulating and sharing the actual wealth needed for enlightenment — spiritual wealth — as blessings and wisdom (福慧) gathered through learning and practice (修学) of the Dharma, including generosity (布施). The wealth is never for feeding greed and excess.

The simplest way for Pure Land practitioners to streamline what might seem to be more complex practices is to remember this taught by the Buddha in the ‘Sūtra In Which The Buddha Speaks Of Amitā[bha] Buddha’s Fundamental Esoteric Spiritual Mantra’《佛说阿弥陀佛根本秘密神咒经》—

‘If there are sentient beings, who hear Amitā(bha) Buddha’s inconceivable meritorious virtues, rejoice enthusiastically, with utmost sincere minds recite his name (i.e. Āmítuófó: 阿弥陀佛), with profound faith and without laxity, thereupon manifests on their bodies, the receiving of incomparable bliss. Perhaps transforming poverty and lowliness, to obtaining of wealth and honour.’ (若有众生,闻说阿弥陀佛不可思议功德,欢喜踊跃,至心称念,深信不懈,于现在身,受无比乐。或转贫贱,获得富贵。)

To complete the picture of worldly and spiritual well-being, the below was also taught — ‘Perhaps attaining the fruit of being spared from being pursued by the suffering of sickness from past karma. Perhaps transforming short lifespans, to attaining lengthened lifespans. Perhaps with enemies transforming their hatred. Attaining children, grandchildren and prosperity, peace and bliss of body and mind, and fulfilment according to their wishes. Such meritorious virtues, cannot be named or calculated completely.’ (或得果免宿业所追病患之苦。或转短命,得寿延长。或怨家变恨。得子孙繁荣,身心安乐,如意满足。如是功德,不可称计。)

Other than facilitating birth in his Pure Land, sincere mindfulness of Buddha (念佛) can work in the ways above as Āmítuófó’s immeasurable meritorious virtues (功德) are also able to manifest as worldly blessings to support our spiritual life. Since he represents all Buddhas collectively, sincere practice definitely brings about the greatest blessings. In this sense, he is the greatest physical and spiritual wealth bestower possible.

Related Article:

阿弥陀佛即是无上咒
The Name Of Āmítuófó Is The Supreme Mantra
https://purelanders.com/2011/12/16/the-name-of-amituofo-is-the-supreme-mantra

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