Man, have I wrestled with this one over the years. Money has been my biggest teacher, mainly by kicking my ass, over and over. I’ve had periods of poverty and periods of affluence and have spent lots of time reflecting on evolutionary uses of money that truly serve us all.
Everyone has an experience of the center of the Venn diagram where these two circles overlap and many of these opinions are very loud.
Here is the standard rhetoric about money and spirituality – “it’s not spiritual to have money, to want money, to have things, to want things”. I’m going to go on public record here with my opinion. The standard rhetoric is bullshit.
In the West the religious landscape has been dominated by the Christian worldview. In traditional Christianity the body and this earth is seen as less-than, dirty or sometimes even evil. This world-view (while obviously not held by all Christians, especially now) is denying of the value of the body, and being a human enjoying the human experience, favoring rather, an exaltation of an idyllic version of heaven.
In the East, the Buddhist, Hindu and other religions seek to find the illusion of this gross physical reality. Money is one of the “evils” keeps our focus on the illusion of physical world. So, money should be denied in order to transcend our physical reality and become enlightened.
These not-dissimilar world-views are both partial and certainly problematic. The fundamental problem is that they are avoidant and escapist. They view this world, this earth as less-than and something to be cast aside as we climb the ladder of enlightenment and the subtle philosophical subtext is a contributor to the horrors of environmental degradation that we’re suffering from today.
What if, instead, we saw this reality as something not to be left behind as we grow, but to be included and cared for? What if we sought to grow in resourcefulness and capability in all aspects of our being and intended to be a steward of the good, the true and the beautiful? What if we lived by the bodhisattva vow – and sought to attain enlightenment to liberate all beings? This isn’t a liberation from our physical world, it is through and including our physical world.
My proposed solution is the Enlightened Multi-Millionaire. If you’re getting a little itchy, stay with me here. There are a few fundamental aspects this serves.
- A redefining of the terrorized and terrorizing relationship humans have with money. Money and its role in our life is one of the biggest stressors for the vast majority of humans. What if we were able to see through the illusory aspects of what we think money is or should be and see the truth of it – it is simply a unit of exchange for perceived value.
- Don’t we want role models of investing money in people and projects that are less inhibited by the illusion of the less-than-enlightened? Wouldn’t this completely re-arrange our experience of what “spending” might be like?
So, this is an invitation for you to come into right relationship with what money really is for you. Not the idealized version of what is or what it “should” be, but a reconciling of the way it is actually impacting you. As you climb in your journey of awareness, of entrepreneurial service, and making a difference in the world, know that it’s ideal that you have increasing resourcefulness so that you can be of exponentially greater impact.
I had to come face to face with this conversation as I started scaling the coaching work I did with my clients and starting inviting them to make larger and larger investments with me into the five and six figure range. I had to really check and see if I was doing it “for the money”. What I’ve found (in my experience and with my clients) is that creating investments that stretch them financially is what helps them stretch into the new version of themselves they must become to have a greater impact and more of the life they want.
My litmus test for this is how non-attached I can stay to the outcome. When a client and I are deciding if we are going to work together, if I have a “need” to work with them that they don’t have for themselves, I know I’m off course. On the other hand when I can gently hold the potentiality of an even greater reality being born, like and emergent property, from our work together, without attachment to it happening or not happening, I know I’m on the right track. This openness and allowing attitude pivots slightly after our relationship starts, as I metaphorically “plant my heels” to go “all in” for them, their vision and their business.
My outcome is the help the greatest number of people create the greatest good on the planet while simultaneously waking ever more fully to my own perfection. It is my hope that those with the same desired outcome continue to rise in wealth and influence as code bearers and code sharers of a new template of what can be for humanity. I truly believe it is available to all of us.