HJ: True abundance comes from within — it is a reflection of your own consciousness, healing and service. The always wise and well spoken Sangeeta Bhagwat of Serene Reflections, does a brilliant job of illustrating the finer and more subtle points of this way of living and being. Enjoy.
Material Wealth, Abundance And Spirituality
By Sangeeta Bhagwat | Serene Reflection
Abundance, like age, is a state of mind. Too often, it is thought to be limited to the digits describing one’s material wealth. While in fact it is the space from which one operates. Abundance here refers to the experience of ease and flow in all aspects of one’s life. It is being anchored in a sense of wholeness and completion, a sufficiency that enables graceful flow, harmony and generosity. Where One is not inhibited by fears of scarcity. Trust in Self and life is effortless.
All of this is determined by one singular aspect – the degree to which one is in touch with one’s true nature. The ‘I’ that one refers to, and whose ideas of ‘mine’ and ‘not mine’ keep it locked in a sense of lack and insufficiency(whether it be of love, time, well-being or money), is in itself a false construct. It is the misled aspect that has identified itself with aparticular body-mind. This, despite experiencing that like the mind, our body too is noticeably changeable. Our embodiment in the womb, as infants, adults and then as senior citizens is far from the same. Even as we observe these changes, we continually, simultaneously re-calibrate our idea of ‘self’ and thereby continue to uphold the mistaken belief that there is a ‘constant’ or ‘consistent’ person here.
As a corollary to this idea of an individual and its sense of separation, we subscribe and contribute to a paradigm founded on transience, insecurity, competition, and nothing and no-one being ‘good enough’ (including our self).
To fully emerge from these self-imposed limiting beliefs, we need a radical change in understanding. Initially, we tend to work towards improving our idea of this individual through ‘self-development’. This provides temporary relief and we begin to feel we are winning. But remember that this game itself operates by the rules of changeability and insufficiency. Hence, the degree of suffering may change, but it continues to feel real. To rise above this game, something different is required.
More often later than earlier, we find ourselves questioning our very self-definition. We then notice that the only constant, consistent unchanging One is in fact our awareness of this experience. Relaxing our attention from a limited mind-body identification as ‘self’, to this universal, omnipresent, singular awareness changes everything.
Instead of a world defined by separation and its constant struggle for safety, adequacy and well-being, One now experiences the world from a space of not just sufficiency, but easeful plenitude. Instead of an isolated, solitary ‘me’ against the world, One operates from the knowing that being Consciousness itself, there is nothing One can possibly lack. The perception thus shifts from lack and seeking – to abundance and expression of what already Is.
This transformation does not happen instantaneously for most of us. Theoretically, it can be an instantaneous shift, but in practice, there is usually a gradual unpeeling of layers – involving a systematic unlearning and release of our conditioning, beliefs, habits and cellular memories. With every inquiry and release, a further deepening of peace, ease and flow emerges. The one question that can clarify our path at this point is,
Are you seeking self-development or Self Realization?
Remember that self-development looks to improve upon the idea and experience of the individuated, separate self that we have thus far identified with. It is the seeking of mastery in the illusion, and not its transcendence.
Self-Realization, on the other hand, is the seeing through the illusion of this separate self. As Adyashanti eloquently says, “Enlightenment is a destructive process. It has nothing to do with becoming better or being happier. Enlightenment is the crumbling away of untruth. It’s seeing through the facade of pretense. It’s the complete eradication of everything we imagined to be true."
The first choice, effectively, is looking for a ‘better’ dream. But in the world of duality, health-disease, success-failure, poverty-wealth, codependency-loneliness and so forth – all exist in pairs. One cannot eliminate a single side of the coin. As ACIM clearly reminds, “You cannot dream some dreams and wake from some, for you are either sleeping or awake. And dreaming goes with only one of these. The dreams you think you like would hold you back as much as those in which the fear is seen. For every dream is but a dream of fear, no matter what the form it seems to take."
The second choice goes beyond merely manipulating levels of suffering or happiness, to the classical Advaita inquiry, ‘Who Am I?’ As a side benefit of this, One tends to have a more easeful and joyful perception of life. Because whatever happens, it is seen to be a dream that cannot define or determine who you really are. How agitated would you be if the character you were playing in a drama underwent challenges, victories and defeats? As an Italian proverb says, “At the end of the game, the pawn and the King go back in the same box."
Much of today’s popular spiritual speak often blurs the critical distinction between these objectives. Added to this is the describing of material wealth as abundance and its thus sanctioned ‘holy’ pursuit. The result is any number of programs and teachings attempting to meet the insecure needs of our misled aspects (and strengthening them) while deliberately or erroneously presenting these to be means of Self Realization.
Yes, money in itself is not evil. But to substitute the judgments previously imposed on the co-existence of material comfort and spirituality with a focused emphasis on material attainment is simply the perpetuation of a different dream.
My own approach to ‘spirituality’ has been grounded in my experience. Being honest about where I am has allowed me to accept and adopt whatever practices were suitable for that point in time. For example, when my husband lay unconscious in the ICU (and all our hopes and savings had run out) it was the least abundant I had felt it in my life. I walked into the prayer room at the hospital and prayed, “You got me to this. You will get me through it." The next morning, out of the blues, a friend of mine came and gave me a copy of John Randolph Price’s “The Abundance Book". The Abundance Principals described therein are quite complementary to what I write here. But it was true that money seemed a life or death requirement at that point. I did the ’40 Day Prosperity Program’ described in it to honor my friend’s thoughtfulness. Even in the midst of what felt like a crisis, it completely shifted my perception of money and also transformed the situation. While I may have had many other layers and areas to work on, I have never worried about money since I did that exercise. It comes and goes smoothly enough. In case you were wondering – that was 15 years back. And most of the work I have done since is for free.
This post intends to help clarify any confusion that may be a consequence of simultaneously seeking diverse objectives. The superficial understanding, confusion and guilt caused by chasing all kinds of conflicting material offered under the universal umbrella of “spirituality" today can lead to feelings of self-judgment, stuckness, guilt and even depression. Deeply examining where you are and what choice you would like to make may release a lot of background stress. It could also help you move forward without procrastination or guilt. If nothing else, I hope this piece raises some useful questions for the reader to introspect on.