Namaste. Abundant love in me greets limitless love and abundance in you. When we meet in this expansive space, there is no fear and there is nothing of any significance that is lacking.
What matters most to you? If you had just a few short days to live, how would you spend them? If you had one phone call you could make before your life ended, who would you call and what would you say? If you had two minutes to gather what would fit in a small carry-on bag before fleeing your burning house, what would you pack?
During these moments of crisis, or even when reflecting on another person’s crisis, you often come to a sudden realization that you wouldn’t miss your finest possessions, or your hardest won financial security. You realize that what really matters are the human moments of care and connection.
The most amazing thing about these crisis or perspective moments is that you realize how rich you already are. You realize that you have been taking your abundance for granted. You have been starving in the midst of plenty, drowning in the calmest ocean of love.
An Abundance of What Matters Most?
A professor stood before his philosophy class and made a profound point. Let me reconstruct his demonstration. I take a large and empty jar and fill it with tennis balls. Is the jar full? It certainly appears to be. I then take a series of pebbles and pour them into the jar. After shaking the jar, the pebbles roll into the open spaces between the tennis balls. Is the jar full now? It seems to be. I then pour sand into the jar. The sand moves into the empty spaces between the balls and the pebbles. Is the jar full? Evidently. Lastly, I pour some green liquid into the jar. The liquid spreads around the jar, moving into the empty spaces between the balls, pebbles and grains of sand. Now is the jar full? Yes, finally.
This full jar is like your life. The tennis balls are the things that matter most. They are the big things in your life. They are your family, your inner peace, your friends, your creative spirit, your health. If there was nothing else in the jar, your life would be abundant and joyful. The pebbles are important, but not essential. Maybe the pebbles include your job, your house or your car. The sand is the really small stuff; the petty grievances that claw away at your inner peace, the anxieties about things that may or may not be problems. Like sand in your mouth, the petty things in life aggravate you and get in the way of your appreciation of the big things.
If you put the sand in first, then there’s no room for the tennis balls. It’s the same in life. If you fill your life with things, jobs and petty grievances, you have no room in life for what matters most. So the point is to allocate your time according to what matters most. The rest of life is sand.
What then is the green liquid? Its my only special blend of vegetable juice, an elixir of health. It goes to show that no matter how full your life; always make time for vegetable juice.
Jesus Parables about Scarcity
There is a reason why we so easily spend our lives focused on the pebbles and sand; scarcity and fear. In Luke 12, Jesus tells two parables about scarcity. One is the parable about an extremely rich person who hordes their wealth and shares none of it. They never have enough. The other is a parable Jesus tells his disciples who are not at all wealthy. He says, “quit worrying about stuff, about food and clothing.” Tomorrow will take care of itself. How can your worry help anyone?
They are both examples of living in fear, and they share the same root cause. There is too much attachment to a fearful identity. Who would the rich person BE without their hordes of stuff? Who would the disciples BE without their anxiety about tomorrow?
Jesus says to both of them, live abundantly. Jesus once said, “I have come that you might have life and have it in abundance.” Jesus came that you might have tennis balls and have them in abundance. He also says, “Where your treasure is, your heart is. Seek the kingdom and ALL things will be added to you.” The beauty of abundance is that when you recognize that you already have what matters most, there is no such thing as lack in your life. You have it all already when you take hold of the treasure that is your life’s purpose. Finally, Jesus uses the curious phrase, “be rich towards God”.
What Does it mean to be Rich Towards God?
1. You are rich towards God when you claim your abundance of inner peace. (God within)
2. You are rich towards God when you share your abundance with others. (God between)
3. You are rich towards God when you live in the abundant flow of life. (God beyond)
1. The Abundance of Inner Peace
Consider what it means to be rich towards God during a recession. What does it mean to live with abundance when so many people are feeling anxious and fearful about the future?
The world of first century Palestine was experiencing a new kind of scarcity. It was a time of unprecedented growth for the Romans. They were building extravagantly. Carpenters, such as Jesus may have been, were kept busy in low paid work. The poorest people were moved on to farms where they toiled under slave like conditions to produce crops for the urban rulers. The farm workers were held in bondage to wealthy land owners, who loaned them money that they could never possibly repay in order to keep them in bondage for a life time. This on top of the extravagant Roman taxes created a society of insecurity and bondage. Like the two parables of Luke 12, the wealthy Roman rulers could never get enough, and the poor workers lived in fear of tomorrow.
Currently, we are experiencing our own form of societal bondage. The advent of free money from banks has meant that people toil their whole lives under the illusion of ownership and prosperity, but in reality are in life long bondage to banks. With the media telling us ” you can have it all”, and with the banks making the illusion possible, so many people are in debt over their heads.
We have it so backwards. We think our abundance is made up of our possessions, when all the time our possessions are like the sand in the jar distracting us from what matters most. Get life in the right order. To live abundantly, feed that which gives you inner peace.
2. Sharing Your Abundance
I read of a wonderful example of abundant giving. The Society of St Andrew believes that there is enough food in the world to feed every hungry person. Around 3000 pounds of food are wasted in the United States every second. Meanwhile 35 million Americans, including 12 million kids, are going hungry. The Society follows the idea of gleaning that is referenced in the Bible. They gather left over crops after harvest and slightly spoilt produce from distribution centers, and distribute the food to hungry people. They take their name from the apostle Andrew who is best known for the Bible story about feeding the 5000, a wonderful story of abundance. The Society of St Andrew makes a huge difference and best of all they are distributing good and wholesome food. In 2007, they distributed over 20 million pounds of fresh and nutritious food to hungry Americans. http://www.endhunger.org/
They understand the difference between generosity and abundance. There is often too much ego in generosity. I can be generous to you. I might expect your gratitude. I might even become a martyr in order to be generous to you. Generosity is better than stinginess. Even better is abundance that recognizes that there is enough to go around, and others should experience the same abundance that I experience.
How might this principle of abundance relate even to your relationships? Try this as a spiritual practice. Next time you are feeling that something is lacking in a relationship, for example you may feel that your partner is not giving you enough attention. Try giving exactly what you are hoping to receive. You will be amazed at the results. It will transform your relationship, as you realize that there is enough love for both of you. It’s just lying dormant, blocked by the anxious sands of life.
3. The Abundant Flow of Life
What is the connection between abundance and competition?
There is a Hasidic story about a shop-keeper who came to his Rabbi in a state of panic. “Rabbi, I am ruined. Do you know what is happening across the street from my shop? Someone else is opening another shop. He will take all my business. I will lose my livelihood!”
Rabbi said to the frantic man, “Sit down. Now, remember what you yourself have told me before. You have sometimes taken your horse to drink from a pool of water, have you not?”
“Yes, Rabbi. But….”
The rabbi continued. “Have you ever noticed how the horse stamps in the water before drinking?”
“Yes, of course.”
“Good. I will tell you why the horse stamps his hoof.” The rabbi leaned forward in his chair. “The horse sees his reflection in the water. He doesn’t know he is seeing himself; he thinks there is another horse at the pool. The horse is afraid there won’t be enough water for both of them. So he tries to chase away the other horse by stamping.”
The rabbi paused.
“But you and I both know that there is plenty of water for many horses. God’s abundance flows like a river.”
The rabbi leaned back in his chair and smiled. For the first time that day, the shop-keeper smiled back. They both delighted in the truth of abundance.
There is nothing wrong with competition, as long as competition is undertaken with an understanding that one person does not need to fail in order for another to succeed. Life offers abundant opportunities for everyone. Life is full of limitless potential.
Abundance is Getting What You Are
Abundance is not about getting what you want, or even getting what you think you need. Abundance is about getting what you are.
Fill your life with tennis balls. Prioritize what matters most to you. Seek what is essential, and nothing of any significance will ever be lacking.
Abundance is liberating. With a spirit of abundance, all that divides us will merge. In abundance, there is no poverty of spirit.
All are rich and free and content. The greed of some will give way to the needs of many. The fear of many will give way to communities of abundance. All will love in harmony with each other and the Earth. And then we will understand by experience what it truly means to be rich towards God.