|Just How Is Money Spiritual?One of the spiritual teachers I appreciate the most is named Adyashanti. He wrote an excellent book called The Way of Liberation: A Practical Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment. He describes the book this way: “This is not a book about spiritual betterment, self-improvement, or altered states of consciousness. It is about spiritual awakening-going from the dream state of ego to the awakened state beyond ego as quickly and efficiently as possible.”
What is the dream state when it comes to money? Well, in my opinion, if I’m willing to hurt my self or another, then I’m in a dream state. If I’m in a panic, and missing the sweet essence of just being alive, that’s also a dream state. (Nightmare, more like it.) Can you think of ways people double-cross each other when money is involved? Can you think of friendships lost due to financial disagreements? Do you ever worry yourself sick about there being too much or too little of anything around financial resources?
Adyashanti’s “Five Foundations” from the Liberation book, I believe, apply extremely well to how we are with money. To be clear, he wrote these for general spiritual practice. They just work so well for gaining a vantage point for how specifically to go about getting a clear mind and heart when it comes to relating with money.The Five Foundations (the phrases are by Adyashanti, and the explanation text is by yours truly)1. Clarify Your Aspiration
Sometimes people say, “I want to save more.” To that, I have more questions. That in and of itself is a great start, and then, how will you know when you’re satisfied? Also, what will motivate you to save, instead of spending on fun things now? Why do you personally believe you want to save more? When I do things because other people told me to, I will either rebel or lose interest. One of the beautiful things about money is that is it by nature easily quantified. Designed to work well when handled specifically and precisely.
2. Unconditional Follow-Through
I feel sad when I see people fall into that trap of starting to relate well with money, and then wanting just the start of it to substitute doing the whole process. Having a spending plan or a budget is a magnificent, and in my opinion, necessary start. However, a tremendous number of people lack follow-through. When that happens, really what you have is numbers on a sheet of paper and probably some residual guilt in the back of your mind.
Another challenge I see, and in this way food and money behave so darn similarly, is how discouraged people get when they “fall off the wagon”. I still need to catch myself from slacking with tracking my money, and I do this for a living! These are high-volume spiritual practices. We repeat eating several times a day every day. I argue that on most days we have more money decisions to make than even food decisions. Especially if you count the number of times we are presented with stuff to buy, even subliminally. I know I am humbled in the face of all the options the world offers me for how to get my money out of my bank account. It just makes probable sense that I will give in to the pressure sometimes. At that point, it is so loving to be kind internally, and just step back on the path. We may do this a million times. (Then we have a million times to demonstrate our dedication to health, sustainability, and integrity in all matters.)
3. Never Abdicate Your Authority
Do you know that you are in control of your financial life? Certainly, there are major players that influence the heck out of it, and yet, ultimately you decide everything when it comes to your money. It is so easy and tempting to want other people to be the Authority figures. Yet, how tricky it is when those Authority figures are relying on what they sell you to make their own living.
Some specific examples of potentially abdicating your authority….obtaining a loan (especially without knowing the details), co-signing a loan (especially without knowing the details), signing a contract with someone else (especially without knowing the details). Certainly, most all of us will choose to do at least one of these things in our lifetimes. I’m not saying to not do these things; I am suggesting that being clear on details has you maintain possession of your natural authority in the situation.
4. Practice Absolute Sincerity
It’s interesting to me how shady people can get when it comes to money. I definitely notice strange emanations from the brain and emotions when I perceive my survival is threatened. This may be the most difficult of all the foundations to practice around money. In that way, I’d suggest it is THE most important one.
The thing about sincerity is that it has a long shelf life. I don’t believe it’s possible to be absolutely sincere 100% of the time. We are just too complex for that. I do believe, however, that I build my courage and connection muscles by doing my best to clean it up when I discover I’ve been insincere.
Can’t think of an example just yet? I have some possibilities to ponder. Have you ever made a catty comment to someone who you perceive to be wealthier than you are in some way? Is it possible you spoke hurtfully out of envy? How about if you get back more change than you were owed at the cash register? Or, one of the juicy ones, how would you feel about what you reported on your taxes, were you to get audited by, say, Jesus, or Gandhi?
5. Be a Good Steward of Your Life
I know it can be tough to deal with this stuff. The money topic encapsulates just about everything: family history, identity, tribal choices, status, options, resources, desires, discipline, mental and emotional intelligence, world affairs, on and on.
If nothing else, being responsible for one’s life and security and pleasure is absolutely a noble pursuit. If you don’t do it, then either someone else needs to do it for you, or the avoidance is costing you more and more daily. I like the just doing it choice.
There are many ways to practice this one. You can breathe a sigh of relief knowing just how many fabulous ways there are to be a good steward of your life, especially when it comes to money.
A great start would be to write down your worry list. What are those things that repeatedly show up in your mind? An example…”life insurance…I know I need to get it…but the kids are so young do we really need this yet?…I should probably go ahead and get it….I don’t feel right that I haven’t gotten it yet…shoot, I meant to call today about getting life insurance…what is wrong with me that I don’t just go ahead and get the life insurance?”
The more Good Stewards on the planet, the better off the planet is. Taking care of your finances is radical self-love. For all of us.