Chapter 19: The Gifts of the Earth
You have a cow and more milk than you need, but you don’t have clothes. So you have to go around and find a person who has more clothes and is in need of milk. It was such a waste of time and energy, and it was not always easy. You want a horse, but you have to find the right person. You have to move from village to village to find the right person who can give you a horse in exchange for something that you have and he needs.
It was possible when there were very few people on the earth. Now the very idea of exchange is absurd. Just think: for any of your needs you may have to go around the whole country to find the right person. Money is one of the greatest inventions of man, to avoid this whole trouble. Whether you need milk or not, whether you have a horse or not does not matter; anybody who needs milk can pay in money and anybody who wants to sell a horse, you can purchase it. Money is a short-cut.
And just having a single rupee in your pocket. Have you ever thought about how many things you have in your pocket? If you want a man to massage you, he is in your pocket. If you want to smoke cigarettes, they are in your pocket. If you want to go to see a film, it is in your pocket. Of course you cannot have all the things for one rupee, but you can choose anything that you want.
Kahlil Gibran would have been supported by a man like Mahatma Gandhi, because he was talking of a world so primitive that except for barter. Money would have been impossible. And you will be surprised to know that it was not the West that invented money and currency, it was China. They have been using currency notes for three thousand years.
When Marco Polo discovered currency notes he could not believe it, because although money had come into existence in European countries in the West, it was in gold coins. If you were carrying ten thousand gold coins, either their weight would kill you or you would be robbed, because anybody can see that you are carrying ten thousand gold coins. And what is the need of carrying such a burden from one place to another? - it can be done with a small piece of paper, just a ten-thousand-rupee note, with the promise of the government that whenever you want gold you can come to the treasury, produce the note, and take the gold. The gold remains in the treasury.
Certainly those people three thousand years ago must have been very intelligent. In comparison, Marco Polo thought, because he had brought many things from China to Europe. The printing press was invented in China at the same time, because without a printing press how can you have notes? He brought notes to show to the pope, because at that time the pope was the decisive factor for the whole Western world. And the whole of the pope’s court laughed at him. They said, “You call it money? Do you want to deceive us?”
The pope took a gold coin out of his pocket and threw it on the floor - certainly it created sound. And he asked Marco Polo, “Now throw your note. It is just a piece of paper. You have been deceived.”
Marco Polo tried in every way: “I am not deceived; the whole of China, which is one-fifth of the world, is already using notes.”