In a world where people are struggling to make ends meet, where many are hungry and living below the poverty line, it might sound incongruous and somewhat fanciful to focus this month on the theme of ‘Abundance’.
The word ‘abundance’ typically conjures up an image of a vast cornucopia of riches – a basket of plenty over-flowing with all that we desire and need in life. However, we are not talking of amassing a surfeit of material possessions but, instead, entering the eternal search for the golden riches of a soul-inspired life. But why is this treasure always stored and hidden from view and how do we go about discovering its whereabouts?
For me, the mythical quest for gold started at an early age curled up in the armchair next to the fireplace reading fairy stories and tales of adventure. This timeless recounting of valor and daring called to a deep and dormant place within my young heart and spoke of endless adventures that awaited when I finally left the safety of my home to venture out into the world in search of gold.
My favorite stories were those in which a young villager innocently set out in search of fame and fortune in far off lands and invariably stumbled upon a cave in which lay priceless gems and piles of gold – the mouth of which was guarded by a fierce and fiery dragon. This ancient beast was the appointed keeper of the entrance and the only way to reach the treasure was by answering three riddles correctly to prove that one could not be tricked by the soporific allure of the language of its firedrake tongue. The hero had to prove they could see through the mists of illusion and glamour and possessed the required power of heart and mind to break the spell of temptation that promised false riches if only they would become subjugated to the ‘dragon’ of their lower nature.
It was later, while studying psychology, that I understood the implications of those epic sagas and how they employed archetypal patterns of human nature to weave their spells. Those childhood tales were, in fact, stories of the search for identity and meaning: the individual quest to find our soul while wandering the dark, temporal passages of Earth. I soon realized the dragon represented the coarse elemental nature of my personality that had to be faced, embraced and refined before the treasure of the soul was accessible. The tests and temptations of the cave entrance that stood between poverty and riches were specifically designed to test the worthiness and readiness of the individual to own the ‘treasure within’. To possess the gold, we have to earn the right to pass by the ancient ‘dweller on the threshold’ and into the inner sanctum wherein this treasure is housed and safeguarded from plunderers.
Carl Jung, when describing the human archetypes, also made mention of the alchemists of the middle-ages whose sole focus was to create gold out of base metals through a process of sublime transformation. Their quest was finding the Philosopher’s Stone that could transform lead into gold – the mystical process of the transubstantiation of matter into its highest and purest form. In these experiments, the element of lead was equated to the impurities of the human personality and the crucible in which the magical conflagration occurred, was the focused circle of spiritual intention created by the alchemist amidst arcane paraphernalia.
The resulting gold obtained by the earnest practitioner is synonymous with the liberated soul and the alchemical laboratory today is to be found inside the crucible of daily life in each and every moment and interaction. Modern-day versions of this ‘quest for gold’ can be seen in the Olympic movement where athletes compete to be the best in the world and to ‘bring home the gold’. It is no accident that Mount Olympus was proclaimed as the classical Greek home of the Gods. Today’s search for Olympic gold is a distant echo of the quest to scale the heights of Olympus but nevertheless, it is part of the same inner urge that has driven individuals to embark on quests and journeys of self-discovery since the dawn of time. It is our nature to search for the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.
Perhaps the gold we seek is already within us and is not an earthly metal or medal but a higher state of consciousness. This inner gold represents an enlightened state of wisdom and loving kindness that, in the scriptures, is referred to as ‘Solomon’s Gold’. The wisdom of Solomon was the true spiritual gold standard. Maybe, we have been looking in the wrong places for the legendary Eldorado.
The soul is ever waging a campaign – urging us onwards and upwards along the path of self-discovery and fulfillment. For some, this becomes a desperate search for fame and fortune – where money and position are seen as the sole indicators of success. As a bumper-sticker on a car in front of me once proclaimed, “Whoever dies with the most toys, wins”.
In May, 2001 a colleague and I were invited to facilitate a 5-day conference on ‘True Wealth’ in India that brought together spiritual groups, business people and social workers. We met in Dharamsala and a highlight of the gathering was a 2-hour audience with His Holiness the Dalai Lama inside his residence. We gathered to inquire into the nature of true wealth and were told by the Dalia Lama that in the quest for worldly wealth there is a definite limit determined by our true needs and not our greed. However, in the search for spiritual wealth, he declared that it was a limitless journey and we should accumulate as much of this inner treasure as possible in order to share it as a blessing with our world.
Thankfully more people are seeing through the hollow message of materialism and are beginning to discover that no amount of money or fame can satiate the deep inner hunger felt by the human soul. In the biblical sense, “We cannot live by bread alone”. The search for success is slowly changing to the search for significance – where living a meaningful and service-oriented life is valued more than material and emotional possessions.
So how rich and fulfilled do you and I feel right now and what happens when we feel empty and impoverished and believe we have absolutely nothing to give? Contrary to the rationale of the calculating mind, this is, in fact, the perfect time to give. For it is by giving that we reconnect with the fullness of life’s riches and re-enter the great circulatory system of Creation that nurtures, nourishes and sustains all beings.
Life is often referred to as a ‘give and take’. However, I believe that this approach to living is rooted in a transactional relationship with life and is played out inside a concept of limited resources – where the statement, “I can only give to you after you give to me” rules the day. I am finally discovering that life is actually a ‘give and give’ – for it is in the giving that we receive. It would appear that the secret to abundance is choosing to give from the goodness of our hearts to each other. When activated by this higher motivation, the flow of compassion and loving kindness is increased whereas self-centeredness, mean-ness and fear constrict and constrain this life-giving stream. Hoarding and withholding, likewise, cuts off the natural circulation of Abundance through the sentient system of the One Life in which we all ‘Live and move and have our Being’.
So, what would make a real and positive difference in the world today and help turn things around? I firmly believe there is a tipping point that occurs when the locus of living shifts from investing energy solely in the survival of the separated self and we make the needed re-investment of life-energy in serving and supporting the Common Good. Whenever we are afraid of not getting what we want, we can easily find ourselves trapped inside a scarcity mindset of limited resources and thus feel compelled to continue functioning in ‘taking’ mode.
Without a shift from ‘ego-centric’ to ‘eco-centric’ living, we will continue to behave as self-centered units competing with each other for scarce resources and fail to realize our Earth is an inter-dependent and sentient system of lives – a multi-dimensional abundant and benevolent eco-system of which we are each vital and integral aspects.
What if the real truth is that when we each give freely to the good of the whole system, the whole system naturally nurtures its constituent parts? What a powerful concept and working model for establishing a new society that guarantees the right circulation of chi, the right circulation of resources and the right circulation of loving kindness to create the perfect conditions for peace and joy to manifest on Earth.
There is a saying, “To those that give, more is given so they may give again.” This is how we can participate in the endless chain of Being and Blessing and partake of the riches of a soul-inspired life. The good news is that a world which is more just and joyful is possible when our society is based on caring and sharing – the underpinnings and prerequisites of an abundant life.
In summary, we could say that the Presence of a Greater Love in our hearts will open the portal to a ‘Life more abundant’ (as it is referred to in spiritual texts) because Abundance is the natural fruit of joyful giving that grows and flows from inside a heart-lighted place of Unconditional Love.
Michael Lindfield Meditation Mount Board President