Q: I want to be spiritual but I love shopping. I also make good money, but give a lot away. Is it possible to be spiritual and wealthy? It’s like the whole “camel through the eye of the needle” thing. I think I feel guilty for having so much.
A: You’ve just asked an age-old question. Can you have “things” and still be spiritual? I remember reading a long time ago about a religious order that only allows each member to own 200 items.
So, as a value check, every now and then I run through my possessions and make a mental list of my top 200. So what about the other 20,000 precious things in our house? It kind of makes you think twice the next time you see something you think you simply can’t live without.
This whole dilemma is more about your attitude. Is your identity wrapped up in your things? Are you nothing without them? Imagine losing everything in a fire. Are your palms sweating? That’s the key, attachment and intent.
It’s okay to love things, but more for the pleasure they bring you than for the status or identity they give you, or for the illusionary happiness they can bestow on you.
Things can’t make you happy, money can’t make you happy. However, at this point I’m reminded of something my 22 year old told me.
“But Mom, if you don’t have any money, your whole life is a struggle just to survive.” Point well taken.
So let’s assume that you have enough money to cover the basics—food, clothing and shelter.
Now we move into chopper waters. I think most of us agree that we can live on far less than we currently do. So what’s the problem?
Partly our society—keeping up with the neighbors, getting the latest (have you seen the new iPods? They’re sweet.), being bombarded with retail everywhere you look.
After a while you lose touch with the basics and are running frantically after every new thing, certain that it will finally make you happy.
But it doesn’t.
I know someone who has a lot of money, and I mean a lot of money. She doesn’t donate to any charities, she doesn’t give gifts, and she always wants more.
She finally admitted that it’s never enough, and she’s scared all the time that she may lose everything. Then she’d be nothing, I suppose.
She’s not especially spiritual, but it has nothing to do with money. It’s her.
Spirituality is about connection, love, caring and compassion. It’s about honesty and generosity and service to others.
And this particular woman? She’s not especially any of those things.
You can have money and do and be all of that good stuff, but money can be distracting. You worry about making it, keeping it, losing it. You worry about your things getting broken or stolen. You have to maintain your things, planning what you’re going to be doing with your money. You have to clean your things.
These are distractions, distracting you from what’s essential in your life (you decide what’s essential).
I think you are spiritual. I see you as kind, honest, generous, intelligent and funny.
Any problems? Well, it looks like you use buying to make you happy sometimes. It’s called retail therapy, and while it’s almost a laughable addiction, it’s still an addiction.
And it’s really not funny. Addiction crosses over the boundary of what’s necessary to what’s a substitution for something else—peace of mind, perhaps.
So I’d banish the notion that you can’t be spiritual and wealthy. You’re just fine.
Now I’d look at your spending habits. Do you notice any trends in your spending patterns? Do you shop when you’re stressed out, sad, restless? Does acquiring that “thing” make your life any better in the long run, or do you think it will?
If the answer is continuously no, then you might want to look at what else you can do when you’re feeling stressed out, sad or restless.
Meditate, call a friend, go for a walk, maybe? I challenge you to write down every penny you spend for the next month.
Just look at what you’re doing—shed some light into the darkness. Addictions love darkness.
Then vow to not spend more than a set amount a day for a whole month. This will give you an idea of how much extra may be going out the door.
Again, awareness is the key. Guilt has no place here.
Money is energy, and can grant you independence and freedom. Besides, it can be a lot of fun, can’t it?
I figure that this is my lifetime for abundance, so I help others as much as possible. Next lifetime I may need help; then I’ll rely on others.
It’s all about balance, and about feeling worthy to have.
You are worthy, so keep your money, enjoy it, and take good care of yourself—you’re a good person.
As for all those fabulous, shiny things out there, they’re just that—things.
Concentrate on yourself, your family, your friends, and leave the things alone.
You’ve got enough. Everything is perfect, just the way it is.
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