I am rich.
Sitting in a church pew a few months ago, a Pastor shared that message with those of us in the congregation. No matter what economic challenges we may be facing, he explained and then emphasized, having a relationship with God is the cornerstone to true wealth.
Reflecting upon the spiritual idea of true wealth, I am finding myself intellectually knowing this idea. Yet, I am also perplexed at the belief because there are bills that still need to be paid and I have whacked my budget with a financial machete.
Teetering on the slight fear that in order to explore the idea of whether or not a financial side exists in spirituality I may end up with an answer I don’t want to hear – like I have to give away all my earthly possessions and live in an Ashram with my energetic pre-schooler. I decide to decipher as best as possible what this all means.
The February 2009 issue of Spirituality and Health magazine begins the process. Paul H. Sutherland, the author of Zenvesting, highlights the emotions many people battle when it comes to money: power, greed and fear. Many of us who have either lost a job, the majority of our retirement savings or confidence in our financial system or government feel whipped, too. Some of us have either witnessed these emotions or situations or know them personally.
Sutherland explains “Fear seems to be in everyone’s voice lately. Like babies who are not fed fast enough, we adults have assumed that normal economic truths have somehow been derailed and we may never have sustenance. But from an adult perspective, we know that crises happen, markets go up and down and people get laid off.”
During times of an unhealthy economy, we may be like babies, crying for warmth and security. A sense of safety is absolutely yearned for when excess debts or financial malaise is on the rise.
Yet fear can be a disturbing emotion that causes a person to typically attack or flee when life really is okay. Sutherland’s suggestion is to know that “when we are full of fear, dealing with fear’s cause is the antidote.”
He further describes and challenges readers with several lines of the Tao that offers “Stop thinking and end your problems,” and questions, “Must you value what others value, avoid what others avoid?”
Perhaps what Sutherland is suggesting is to know that in order to feel truly wealthy, we must know and believe we are enough. Independent of a stock market collapsing or a temporary bleak outlook for a new job, we are enough.
After much thought and research, I found the definition of wealth by the Daily OM, an online spiritual newsletter, and it seems right on the money. We need to recognize that outward manifestations of wealth tell us little about the individuals enjoying the blessings.
Some people will always have more or less than we do. We, in fact, may have more or less than we used to. We must do our part and embrace radical acceptance and responsibility to our own situations.
Worrying, which is not even a natural human emotion, is a hindrance. Meditation practices, as American-born Tibetan Buddhist nun Pema Chodron explains, includes gentleness, patience and humor. Imagine using these emotions when paying our bills instead of worrying. Imagine showing our children how to be gentle, patient and humorous with our checkbook. Imagine writing “Thank you!” in the memo line when we send off our check to our utility companies.
This attitude of gratitude can conquer the fears, draw us closer to God, and affirm that we and our children are enough, just as we are.
Our perspective, perhaps, in shifting to a mindset of valuing what is really important to each of us – a long, hot bath after job-hunting all day, the smell of our children’s hair after an evening bath, twenty minutes of alone time on the front stoop, or finding quarters in the sofa so now you can use the washer and the dryer at the Laundromat – may enable us in the long run to free up the time and energy we spent worrying to instead create a long-term wealth unlike anything we’ve ever experienced before. A life in balance.
And yes, that’s what makes us rich.
Causes Christy Heady Supports
American Diabetes Association
Race for the Cure
Leukemia & Lymphoma Society