Spirituality and Money

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Not too long ago, within the span of a few days, several individuals spoke to me about 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 some of my remarks 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 you think: “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. Your thoughts have power to affect your 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 from your highest self whether or not to buy something or go to a workshop. This practice requires trust that the guidance you receive will come with the support you need to follow it. You can develop this trust by practicing asking for guidance and see what happens. You might notice that in light of divine guidance, you don`t really need something or that it’s really important for you to have something. When looking over our lives we can often see that we were always taken care of even when things were financially tight. In asking for Divine guidance we can free ourselves from worry, scarcity thinking, and ego desires.

(2) Many religious traditions advocate tithing–giving a portion of your income (often 10%) to charity or your spiritual community. In the Islamic tradition the suggestion is to give 2% of all your holdings (stocks, personal property, etc.) to charity each each year—a much harder task. When I first met Larry and was struggling financially as a single parent of two boys, he suggested that I tithe 10%. I looked at him as if he were crazy. I had barely enough to make ends meet. But I decided to try it. I couldn`t quite bring myself to give 10%, so I began giving 5%. I noticed a difference. More money came flowing in. I likened this experience to a pipe which is blocked when you hold on to money but flows when you give it away. Basically, such an action sends the Universe a message that you do have enough money to give away. This counteracts the thought that you don`t have enough and creates a life where you do.

(3) Many seekers on the path believe that being poor makes them more spiritual and thus they unconsciously create scarcity in their lives. True spirituality involves detachment from riches and poverty. If you are worried about having enough money, you are just as attached to money as someone who is wealthy.  I believe that money is energy and as you grow spiritually and energetically you have a greater feeling of abundance/radiance. This spills out into your material life in various ways: increased income, generous gifts received, needs being swiftly met. Opening to the energy of abundance benefits others as well. The more energy/money you have, the more you can be of service to others. This increases your spiritual influence in the world and is a way of honoring 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’s difficult to change deeply ingrained thought-patterns and actions, but it is worth the effort. In addition to ridding yourself of financial worries, such actions as watching your thoughts and asking for guidance about them are key practices for spiritual growth and the fulfillment it promises.

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