Ask anyone in the Western world how they define abundance, and you are likely to hear them talk about material riches and prosperity. And yet, true abundance is so much more!
The definition of an abundant life cannot be satisfied by the presence of material things alone. Jesus knew this when he said that man shall not live by bread alone, but by the living Word or Spirit. He challenged the common assumptions of his time by pointing out that true abundance cannot be confined to merely physical terms.
The common, limited assumption of abundance as a merely physical notion prevails even today. To find lasting fulfillment in life, it is essential for us to question and redefine such limiting social beliefs. We need to understand that true abundance applies at the levels of body, mind and spirit.
In my work, I am blessed to see the power of questioning assumptions every day. Once we become aware of limiting beliefs and behaviors, we can change them. Along the way, we learn to look deeper instead of blindly repeating the same old habits to getting the same old outcomes. By identifying the hidden determinants of our behavior, our lives often shift spontaneously!
One of the primary areas where limitation shows up is in our relationship to abundance – or its opposite, scarcity. In an era of unprecedented abundance in the western world, many still struggle with feeling that there is not enough: not enough to feel complete, not enough to feel safe or secure. We keep accumulating material things that cannot fill the deep emptiness inside our souls.
During feudal times, all wealth was tied to land ownership and material prosperity was a zero-sum game. Abundance was defined by material belongings because there was only so much land, and only so many people could own it. Land owners could build fortresses and tax travelers passing across their property, leading to more wealth. This system led to separation between those who owned land and those who didn’t, the haves and the have-nots.
This belief system is still active as a powerful undercurrent in modern society. With each economic cycle, millions of individuals over-extend themselves to acquire physical assets and wealth during economic booms, only to find their fortunes evaporate when the boom turns into a bust. In some societies, cycles of war and civil unrest strip people of all forms of physical security they may have painstakingly amassed over generations.
But does the loss of physical assets really make you a loser? And does the presence of physical assets alone define you as a winner?
Enlightened teachers like Jesus and the Buddha taught that true abundance is not based on physical assets alone. They proposed that true abundance includes qualities such as integrity, honesty, service, and loving kindness to all forms of life. These teachings pointed to a higher and necessary concept of abundance that still eludes general consensus today.
Talk to people around you and you’ll find many adhering to the outdated belief of measuring abundance by material displays of wealth. Besides that, you’ll find the limiting notion of having to compete against others to secure these limited resources for survival.
Western society is predicated on this outdated assumption that there’s only so much to go around, and that we need to compete with others for these resources on a basis of win/lose. I have to get mine first before you can get yours or the limited supply runs out (think black Friday shopping mobs!)… if you win, I will lose… and on we go, pitting our limiting beliefs against others in an effort to survive. We expand scarcity consciousness to every facet of life: believing that for my faith to be right, yours has to be wrong; for my political party to win, I have to sling mud and make yours look bad; and so on.
If I believe you must lose in order for me to win, or that you must be shamed so I can have value, or that you must be wrong for me to be vindicated, or you must be suppressed for me to feel free, then my sense of happiness becomes dependent on your lack thereof. My experience of life becomes fragmented into opposites, and I end up suffering estrangement from my fellow humans and my true nature. A life lived from such outdated beliefs offers very limited love, serenity and security.
Many forms of duality-based limitations such as these cause untold suffering in the world. Turn to the news and you will find numerous examples of this scarcity-based thinking in us versus them propaganda, xenophobia, social upheaval and marginalization that pervades society.
The Buddha taught his disciples to free themselves from the vice of duality-thinking; to liberate themselves from the opposites of desire and aversion which propel the cycles of scarcity and suffering. It is only when we let go of this misguided struggle for a bit of material security at the cost of happiness, that we are able to poise our minds in peace.
How do we uncouple from the vicious cycle of chasing after material security and finding scarcity instead?
The power lies in our thoughts. Our thoughts contain the seed forms of potential; making change possible in our consciousness, our belief systems and our world.
Physical reality manifests from our imagination and ideas about how things are. As humans, we are gifted with the ability to change the way we think, and hence create different outcomes. We can change the way we look at things and thereby change the outcomes!
Instead of seeing the world as a physical pie and ourselves competing against others for a slice of it, we can consciously change our view. Perhaps it is time to recognize that energy is never destroyed; it simply changes form. We can expand our definition of true abundance to include all its myriad forms: the material as well as the mental, emotional, psychological and spiritual. And perhaps we need to acknowledge that there is enough for all of us, and then share our resources from that perspective.
Changing old mindsets for more appropriate ones may not be as clean or predictable as we’d like. Evolution is messy and uncertain. A clear outcome is not always apparent. To the minds of westerners who like control, reliability and certainty, this can be nerve-wracking. Yet, the alternative is to allow greed to destroy balance in our world and to render humanity extinct.
Times of change call us to trust on a grand level. We need to trust in our Source, ourselves and each other as we redefine true abundance. When we do so, times of upheaval can give birth to new paradigms that better fit our needs.
About the author
©Copyright Ada Porat. For more information, visit http://www.adaporat.com. This article may be freely distributed in whole or in part, provided there is no charge for it and this notice is attached.