Friday, September 25, 2009

Learning a Better Way to Integrate Faith and Money

I'm rereading Shakti Gawain's classic book Living in the Light: A Guide to Personal and Planetary Transformation right now. Most of it seems like ho-hum, old news now but the chapter on money felt new. Guess I wasn't ready for it back some time ago when I first read it. I think it's still an edge I'm in the midst of working with in my spiritual growth right now. I've read the chapter twice in the last 24 hours and know I'll be reading it again tonight. I still haven't integrated it enough to share what it's all about exactly. What I'm attempting to work with is the idea that I needn't / shouldn't hold onto my resources so very tightly that I'm constantly acting in the fear/belief that I'll never see it again. That's like intending poverty. It's certainly a poverty mindset.

Last week Paul and I were in New Mexico to meet a brand new Facebook friend in person and deliver a framed photo. We got paid for that and then promptly spent every penny plus what was left of our "Pie Fund" to visit Taos and Santa Fe. It was well worth it but I started to fret on the way home.

Paul wasn't fretting so much. He said "Lucky for us, there's more where that came from!"

"What?" I said. "How do you know?"

"It would be a terrible thing to believe otherwise!"

And he was correct. Almost as soon as we got home we had two sessions set up and an order for my Mama Love perfume. Another inquiry about Mama Love was in my email today.

Now I'm looking at upgrading my/our most important computer software in order to take advantage of a really great gift I got of a brand new computer. It has a built in graphics tablet instead of a normal screen and has four times the amount of RAM than my current laptop which is way too slow to happily do my next flower essence-related projects on. It would be a great gift to be able to fully receive. . .  but I can't use my current software on it. You see, it's been too long since I updated my version of Creative Suite (Photoshop, Illustrator, In Design, Acrobat and Bridge combined) so the upgrade costs $700 plus I need to upgrade a couple of less expensive programs, too and get a new mouse and keyboard! $1000, essentially, all in one shot and that hurts.

In my old mindset it would feel more than a bit scary, too! But Paul has insisted that I spend what felt like too much money before on tools of our trades and that's what has enabled us to do the work we have accomplished. I design and we both maintain several websites for our businesses, we promote entirely online now, and both the photography, my artwork and both of our writing (all done with tools we've bought in the last few years) has been an integral part of our income and the things we most need to do next. I wouldn't hesitate to buy bubble wrap and boxes to package and sell my Mama Love Perfume in and at one point I had to take a leap and invest $1500 in essential oils and flower essences and bottles without really knowing they would sell.

But you never really know. You just have to believe that, of course, there's more money and resource where that came from. Shakti Gawain talks about money as not belonging to us. She says it is like energy. There's a universal supply that can flow to all in just the proportions they can handle at any given time.

Handling money has to do "deservingness" -- do I feel like I deserve everything I need just because I exist? Does anybody?

Guilt holds most people back in our society, guilt, not believing we're good enough, thinking we have to "pay our dues." How many dues are dues enough? What if that's not what it has to be about? There's someone we know who got very wealthy on the basis of nothing more than good looks. No special talent that we know about yet, and not by doing anything near the amount of working hard and climbing the mountains the rest of us might have been taught to expect. Yeah, we sometimes feel envious and like it's more than a bit unfair. But get this: the most amazing publicity we ever got for our spiritual counseling and healing work -- a huge splash in a local newspaper in Santa Cruz and months of sessions and referrals afterwards -- came as a result of one of the very least impressive sessions we had ever done. I didn't even think it was very good (comparatively speaking that is). What does that say about how the universe works?

I think the message was and continues to be that we don't have to be perfect, we don't have to jump through higher and higher hoops to make a living. We can be who we are and that's good enough. A counselor I know from India used to tell people that they were of enormous value to the world just lying still and breathing. When we were newly born our parents (if they were like most happy new fathers and mothers) were so happy that we were born alive with all our fingers and toes. Some little children are born with so many handicaps they never achieve anything at all besides making their closest loved ones smile. Most of us believe we have to prove our worth to be alright. That wasn't true in this counselor's country. She believed that it was an enormous insult to our sanctity as human beings that almost all able bodied Americans think otherwise and she made it her mission at one point in time to help people move through that-- to value themselves even if they were sick, down and out financially, or just worn out. To value themselves as being worthy of being on the planet and having exactly what they need.

Ironically, Paul is listening to a song by Jonatha Brooke on Pandora.com right now with lyrics that go "I have everything I wanted for a change and I'm not ashamed. I'm not to blame. I'm not ashamed." That's pretty much what Shakti Gawain's chapter on money is all about. It's okay to have everything you need and allow yourself to have and go after what you want.

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