Everything reflects our consciousness,
and there is little value in staying in the consciousness of poverty.
Prosperity has had only one connotation for too long -- money. The subject of money has a powerful emotional charge, equivalent to the subject of sex. Yet, we will usually talk about it only like the weather -- in general economic terms. In this age of open discussion on homosexuality, menstruation, and incest, it is interesting that we are still very closed in what we reveal about our money. The subject of our inner feelings concerning money is one of the last things to come out of the closet. Why?
When we think of having money, we think of opportunities for independence, leisure, privacy, time to do and act as we wish. Unfortunately, a lack of money translates into yet another reason to put ourselves down.
We have built a complex of myths and voodoo around the idea of money as an entity -- an end in itself. We have personified it, and attributed characteristics to it as if it were a savior. How many times have we said, "If only I had enough money!" At the same time, we have created a concept of money as an active, negative agent. We have done this through our conscious and unconscious myths which support a negative morality system about what money does to people. We end up both desiring and fearing money.
Uneasy When Talking About Money?
I can remember a time when I didn't want to talk about money, or even think about it. I felt squeamish asking for money due to me. And in establishing a price for anything, I always hoped that somehow the other person just "knew" how much was fair so we would not have to discuss it. I even fancied what it would be like to live in a community of total barter so no money would have to be exchanged.
It wasn't until later that I found out I wasn't alone -- many people are uneasy when they must receive, ask for, and speak of money. Fortunately, there are different ways of looking at money what it is and isn't, what it can and can't do. Examining our concepts of money can open up issues concerning giving and taking that are important in all aspects of our lives.
Self-Esteem and Money
The basis for understanding and being comfortable with money is just one more aspect of our self-awareness. For example, from repeated studies in human behavior, we know that one of the factors by which we judge ourselves and others is money -- how much we make, how we make it, and how we spend it. This constitutes part of our market value. To many of us, then, speaking of income is really speaking of our value in society.
When we have a low self-image, we sometimes try to compensate for these feelings both by trying to increase our value and by trying to keep this value hidden. We want to avoid facing a low opinion from others if our value figure is not as high as we think it should be.
An example of wanting to hide our value is deciding not to invite people to dinner because we have only mismatched glasses and china. When we are devaluing ourselves because of a lack of money, we may feel ashamed at gatherings of friends of family who talk about travel, shopping, or prestigious colleges for the kids. We may put ourselves down because we don't have the money to shop or travel, or because our kids are only going to work, instead of college.
The Morality of Money
The self-esteem and money issue is further confused by the rather shaky image of what having that green stuff means. Although everyone wants more money, the idea of having wealth is tainted. On one side of the coin, money is thought to be highly desirable; on the other side, it is considered bad and almost dirty.
Most of the cultural arguments that make prosperity a moral issue are never made out loud. The ideas that we can't or shouldn't be financially prosperous are projected subliminally in the form of myths or beliefs. Whether we live it or not, one of our strong beliefs is that hard work and toil are rewards in and of themselves. It is also part of our tradition that poverty is a virtue. Certain religious teachings from the Bible have even been interpreted as confirming that poverty is somehow holy.
For example, the biblical passage, "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven," has been frequently quoted to condemn wealth and praise poverty. With better understanding of the old Arabic translations, however, new interpretation among biblical scholars shows that the original intention of this and other passages was positive.
With new research, we now know the word poor originally meant humble and receptive, not poverty-stricken. To receive is to open oneself to one's vulnerability -- to let go of control. The message seems to have been that the world is full of givers; what we need to learn is to receive -- to open ourselves to our vulnerability.
Other biblical passages, such as, "It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven," have been used to prove that being wealthy is morally wrong. According to modern-day scholars, this passage originally referred not to having money itself but rather to the difficulties inherent when we are controlled by our possessions rather than being in control of them.
Everything reflects our consciousness, and there is little value in staying in the consciousness of poverty. Someone has remarked that the best thing we can do for the poor is not to be one of them. This is not being unloving. It is a statement of not accepting poverty as inevitable. Poverty helps no one.
Other biblical passages point out another, more prosperous attitude toward life:
Ask and it shall be given you
Seek and ye shall find Knock, and the door shall be opened unto you.
Environmental support for the negative attitudes we hold about wealth is found in cliches we often hear repeated:
Money is the root of all evil.
Money won't buy you happiness.
Easy come, easy go. I may be poor, but I'm happy
I'm sure you can recite many more. They imply that not only is there something wrong with money, but, by implication, there may be a lot more wrong with you if you have it!
What is Money Really?
Money is commonly defined as a medium of exchange. What we are exchanging is energy. Money is a concept symbolizing the exchange of potential energy. It is stored energy made visible.
It is obvious that, like everything else, money is in itself neither good nor bad. It is neither moral nor immoral. To look at money as a moral issue is as absurd as it is to decide that airplanes are good or bad. We feel differently about airplanes when they are used to drop napalm bombs than when they are used to drop food supplies for starving people. Yet they are the same planes. The moral issue is in the intention of the user -- not in the plane itself. Money can be used to promote life and love, and can be a blessing for many, or it can be used to destroy the life force in a million different ways.
Accumulation of wealth has long meant having more than one's share, and gaining at the expense of others. We are reminded of the Robber Barons of all ages -- companies and individuals whose assets are the result of exploitation. The get-rich-quick'ers with a "to hell with the means" attitude have poisoned our minds about money with the beliefs that (1) what one has to do to gain wealth is to steal, and (2) wealth (i.e., greed) ruins the human soul. When we point to those who misuse money selfishly as proof that money is bad, we are confusing the pirate with his ship.
A ship is indifferent as to who is at its wheel. It responds just as swiftly to a scoundrel as to a saint if both are equally skilled in the laws of sailing. Carefully loaded, its hull will carry contraband arms to thieves just as safely as it would emergency medical supplies to a disaster area. Ships, like money, are just there to be used as resources. How some people in the past have used them does not change their value.
When we are prospering naturally, we are using a holistic approach to achievement within a "win-win" position. We do not need to rely on taking from or exploiting others. With this kind of prosperity, loving money is loving the good it can do for us, and for everyone else. Prosperity in this sense is appreciating money as a means for exchanging good for all.
Money as Power
Money brings power. Money has no power in itself, but having control over how it will be spent gives us power. The more money we have, the more potential power we have.
The eighteenth-century German poet Goethe said, "Nobody should be rich but those who understand it." His point is that many can become prosperous quickly, but not always develop awareness, scruples, or concern for others. They can lose their money just as quickly, or in some way pay dearly for it, if they do not develop their prosperity consciousness.
If we are going to ask for power in great amounts, we had better be prepared to handle it. An example of what happens when we are unprepared for the power of money emerged during a recent follow-up study of the million-dollar lottery sweepstakes winners in Canada. The vast majority of them were broke within five years. Their prosperity consciousness was not developed to the point where they could benefit from the money for very long.
You will either control or be controlled by money. Awareness of the power of money and of how to handle it makes the difference. It is the conscious choice to use money benevolently that puts you in control.
Money as Responsibility
The stored energy that money symbolizes is there to help us grow. This energy must keep moving. Effectively directing this movement of energy requires an understanding of how the laws of prosperity operate in giving, receiving, spending, and saving. Responsibility of money is knowing where we want to go with this energy.
Prosperity Key (#3)
To receive more, we must be willing to give more.
Money doesn't grow by being hoarded. Hoarding is for beggars. It doesn't benefit anyone to grab as much as possible and keep it stashed away in vaults or coffee cans. Trying to prosper by bottling up money through accumulation will result in the opposite negative effect. We hear tragic stories of those individuals who die each year in poverty with their "wealth" stuffed in their mattresses. It served no one, least of all them.
In all of life, receiving depends upon giving. There are no separate rules for money. All spending is part of the circulating flow of giving -- when done in the right spirit. Try it out. Next time you spend, see yourself as giving to benefit others as well as yourself. Spending with love can be a new experience. Just as work can be love in action so, too, money can be love expressed. When we give in this spirit, our return is multiplied many times.
Spending is no problem for some people. It can be too easy, in fact. After a few experiences of succumbing to the temptation of unlimited credit, leading eventually to unlimited debt, they quickly discover the pain of overspending, of being out of balance at the other end of the spectrum.
Part of the responsibility that goes along with the power of money is knowing how to save and invest for a purpose. Poet Ralph Waldo Emerson, for example, saw money as a "stewardship" or challenge. To him, each person with money has a mandate to use that money to "carve out" work for others.
How do you use money? What plans or direction do you see for your money? What seeds are being planted with your money?
If the farmer has no plan, and throws her seeds hither and yon, she not only wastes her resources, she has only a small crop in return. And she cannot tend her crop if it is scattered. Start planning for your future now by investing in yourself. Spend some time today thinking about how you feel about money. Ask yourself:
Are you willing to create the money your life dream would cost?
What does "being poor" mean to you? How does that feel?
How do you feel about wealthy people?
How do you feet about earning "a lot" of money?
How do you want to receive your money?
How do you want to help others with your money?
How are you uncomfortable around money? What do you want to have achieved with your money when you die?
Far too many people never sit down and think concretely about these kinds of questions; yet, for prosperity, it is vital to know your feelings about money. How do you feel when you spend money? Pay attention the next time when you pull out your wallet or checkbook -- are you spending from a sense of loss or giving? Listen to what you are saying to yourself as you hand out money.
What is your attitude about giving? When is it easiest to give? When is it hardest to give? Listen to the clichés ringing in your ears during your transactions with money. Our attitudes toward money are often indicative of our attitudes toward life itself. Do you give freely of yourself? Is it hard for you to receive?
In order to achieve prosperity on a continuous basis, we must develop balance. Momentary desires will have to be balanced with long-term goals; savings, spending, and investing plans will have to be devised. Prosperity requires planning, clear intent, and commitment. Becoming friends with money and recognizing what it can and cannot do for us is an important preliminary step.
Money in itself cannot make us happy, but with intention it can provide the means of unlimited good for ourselves and others.
©1995. Reprinted with permission of New World Library, Novato, CA 94949. 800-972-6657, Ext. 52. http://www.nwlib.com
About the Author
Ruth Ross, Ph.D. (1929-1994) was the daughter of a tenant farmer, and lived a childhood life of poverty. She decided at an early age that she would never be poor again. Ruth was a spiritual person, an ardent supporter of women's interests, and a creator of self-awareness seminars.