Spirituality and Money

Recently, within the span of a few days, several individuals mentioned their struggle with lack of money and wondered if I had any insights into how to deal with this problem. Quite a bit has been written on this subject and I draw my remarks somewhat from these sources but most particularly from my own personal experiences. Three basic principles have helped me to grapple with this problem.

(1) Watch your thoughts about money. Do they go along the lines: “I can`t afford to buy that; I can`t do that workshop because it is too expensive; I have to be careful about the groceries I buy so I can keep to my budget.” All of these thoughts send messages of scarcity to the Universe. Often these messages become a self fulfilling prophecy. Our thoughts have power and do effect our life. (An explanation of why this is true must be reserved for another time.) A better way to proceed would be to ask for guidance on whether to buy something or not, or to go to a workshop or not. An element of trust is needed with this practice that the guidance (if it is coming from your highest self vs your ego self) will not leave you on the lurch. This trust can be developed by practicing asking for guidance and see what happens. You might notice that in light of divine insight, you don`t really need something or that it is really important for you to have something. Most of us when looking over our lives see that we were always taken care of even when things were tight. In asking the Divine for guidance we are spiritualizing our thoughts, which helps free us from worry, scarcity thinking and ego desires.

(2) Many religious traditions advocate tithing–giving (often 10%) of your income to charity or one`s spiritual community. In the Islamic tradition the suggestion is to give 2% of all your holdings (stocks, personal property, etc.) to charity each year–a much harder task. When I first met Larry and was struggling financially as a single parent of 2 boys, he suggested that I tithe 10%. I looked at him as if he were crazy. I had barely enough to make things meet. Yet I did begin to tithe. I couldn`t quite bring myself to give 10% but I did try to do 5%. I noticed a difference. More money came flowing in. I likened it to a pipe which is blocked when one holds on to money but flows when one gives it away. Basically, such an action sends the Universe a message that one does have enough money to give away. This counteracts the thought message that I don`t have enough and thus has the reverse effect.

(3) Many seekers on the path believe that to be poor is spiritual and thus they unconsciously create scarcity in their lives. Spirituality in actuality is detachment from riches and poverty–not getting hung up on either one. If one is worried about having enough money, it is just as much an attachment to money as someone who is wealthy and worries about his/her possessions or what to do with the money. I do believe that money is energy and as one grows spiritually and energetically there is a greater feeling of abundance/radiance. This spills out into the material world in various ways: increased income, generous gifts received, needs being swiftly met. The more energy / money one has, the more one is able to be of service to others. This increases one`s spiritual influence in the world and thus honors the Divine. There is a sense of openness and expansion which benefits self and others. These three principles can be simply stated but require lots of practice. It is difficult changing deeply ingrained thought patterns and actions, although worth the effort. In addition to ridding oneself of financial worries, such actions as watching one`s thoughts and asking for guidance are key practices for spiritual growth and the fulfillment it promises. We wish you an abundance of blessings in 2004!