When you read or hear the word “money” do you cringe just a bit? And when you hear it in conjunction with spirituality, does it make you uncomfortable? Well, this month in Spiritual Growth Monthly, Kevin Schoeninger explores our beliefs about money, using the book Conscious Millionaire by bestselling author, entrepreneur, and business coach JV Crum III, as our guide.
I doubt if there are many people on the planet that don’t have some sort of emotional reaction to money. It can make us feel happy, extravagant, powerful, giddy or a little sleazy. And the lack of it can take us from mildly stressed to scared to death about how we’ll survive. If we have it, we can fear losing it. If we don’t have it, few of us can ignore its lack.
To make matters worse, no matter what we believe about money, we’re never really sure we are right. This is especially true if we are trying to follow a more spiritual path in our lives. Many religious traditions, Kevin reminds us, set money and the spiritual life at odds with each other. Whether it is Jesus’ teaching about how hard it is for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven, or the Buddha’s guidance about being free from desire.
Yet even within a single faith tradition, we can’t seem to agree. While avarice is condemned by most, there are also attitudes of wealth as a proof of God’s acceptance, or in the extreme, that God expects us to make lots of money, in order to build a divine kingdom on earth, (no doubt on some leader’s lavish personal estate).
Victorian literature is full of the notion that poverty is a sin, and that the less fortunate among us are poor either because they have somehow strayed from the path of righteousness and incurred God’s wrath, or they are simply too lazy to do sufficient work.
This attitude was the perfect background for what author Crum calls “First Stage Capitalism,” which allowed early industrialists to build their empires on harsh labor practices, all the while congratulating themselves on being upright, heaven bound citizens.
In our modern, more secular world, this First Stage Capitalism still lives on wherever profit takes precedence over people, or over “doing the right thing.” Wherever companies cut corners by abusing the environment, endangering the safety or security of their own customers, or gambling with their employees’ futures, they are practicing First Stage Capitalism. Only this time, it isn’t to appear godly. They do it because they can.
Happily, not all businesses work that way. There are business people all over the world who set out to improve people’s lives, and by doing so became quite wealthy. They also created healthy work environments, and expanded the economic security of the people they employ. Crum calls this “Second Stage Capitalism’, and it is here that we can reconcile our mixed feelings about money and our desire to live a more enlightened, spiritual life. In other words, “making money by making a difference.”
Of course, you don’t have to be a CEO to be trapped in the First Stage dilemma. As Kevin describes, many of us are raised with the essential goal of devoting our lives to a job, whether we like it or not, until we can afford to “retire” and do what we wanted to do in the first place. This is part of being a grown-up. Part of being responsible and mature. Only a few who drop off the grid can actually survive.
To ensure that most of us still buy into this idea, our economies frown upon living the simple life. There is not a day that goes by that we are not bombarded with enticements to buy more and more, which makes us work longer and harder, or collapse in our quest for the perfect storehouse of material goods.
We are so driven to consume and acquire that, ignoring Jesus’ words to “store not up treasures on Earth,” we rent storage spaces to pack in more junk than we will ever use, and still never feel secure that we have enough.
To change our attitudes about money, Kevin asks us to take a look at what our perfect life would be like. What would we be doing that we really love? (He doesn’t mention it specifically, but I bet the perfect life does not include overstuffing some storage garage.)
When you see someone with a passion for what they do, they sometimes seem to lose interest in accumulating stuff. They are simply too fulfilled doing what they feel is their purpose. But ironically, the more they love their work, the more wealth they are apt to gain.
Kevin asks us, “what if” we were able to escape the rat race and do what we love? Would our attitudes about money change? What if we felt our lives had real purpose, and were not just an endless grasping for what we can earn. “What if a shift in consciousness around money and purpose was the key that opened the door to this whole other way of being?”
Kevin will explore answers to these questions throughout the rest of this month’s messages. Even if we fully believe in an abundant Universe, these old, deep attitudes about money are hard to escape. It should be a fun journey to see if we can open that door.
For Kevin’s entire article, visit www.spiritualgrowthmonthly.com.
P.S. Want to be part of a community of like-minded souls committed to applying spiritual practice in their lives? Well take a look at Spiritual Growth Monthly. This is our members only community where we share insights, tips and group coaching to support your continued growth.
What’s do you get as a member of SGM?
You get a weekly audio message from me to encourage you and give you more insights into your practice. Membership gives you private email access to me should any questions come up for you. You also get access to our members discussion, plus much, much more.
Go here to get a 3-week trial for just $1.
Check out the weekly messages on Spiritual Growth Monthly today!