Money – What attitude to take to it?

Spiritual Questions & Answers

Discovering inner health and transformation

Morocco is a country where a lot of people live on the bread line. It is common for a picture of the king and his wife to be hung in people’s homes and from some outsider’s viewpoint it would appear that the royal family is often idolized.  Yet, we cannot help noticing the way the rulers of this and some other Arab states like Qatar and Kuwait — not to mention Saudi Arabia — have been amassing money for themselves. Mohammed VI of Morocco has been said to amass a fortune of $2.5 bn from the phosphates found in the Western Sahara which account for half of world reserves. Other rulers have based their wealth on oil.  Are such rich people happy and contented with the opulence they can afford?

moneyDo we feel indignation or perhaps a secret envy towards them? What attitude should we take to money?

Dreaming of money

When one is hard up, buying a lottery ticket and thus dreaming of untold wealth has its attractions, even if in one’s heart of hearts one knows there is virtually no chance of winning. A bit of harmless fun. Or is having a pleasing fantasy any different from coming out all guns blazing to make money and lots of it?

It is widely thought that the current economic recession in the United Kingdom — at least in part — has been brought on by reckless bankers still enjoying bumper bonuses. It may be just ‘childish foot-stamping’ but these say they want to move abroad because of the 50% top rate of tax they are paying.  Money seems to be a more powerful lure for them than the attraction of living near family and friends and one’s own community let alone the notion of banking integrity. Perhaps this is why they were attracted to working in the financial industry in the first place.

One could ask provided one earns enough money for one’s basic needs, why should it bother one if another person happens to be earning more?

Money and social status

I, for one, feel uncomfortable where the private affluence of the few is flaunted in the publicly seen poverty of the many. Can this not be seen in the ostentation of the ‘nouveau riche’ compared with poorer housing, medical and educational facilities available in the public services?

On the other hand, arguably unless they had a profit motif where would our entrepreneurs come from; where would our start-up businesses develop?  Just how money orientated can one be without it amounting to grasping opportunism? For how many of us is the amount of wealth we have of more significance than the use to which it could be put or by what means it was acquired in the first place?

Love of money

You do tend to get a lack of human warmth where people are too busy making money to make themselves agreeable. How could such people accept the notion of heaven which is one of sharing and doing things for the sake of others? This could never be comprehended by those who love themselves more than others and who are greedy for gain.

Swedenborg describes a group of people who had died. They had expected the happiness of the heavenly paradise to consist of magnificence, splendour and boundless wealth. They were allowed to experience exactly what they had imagined heaven to be like until they were sick of it and begged to leave!

How much better if people were prepared to be untroubled by any lack of possessions. The tradition of those from isolated rural areas can be to restore their energies by spending time living simply without expensive modern conveniences close to nature and far from the maddening crowd.

Often people say that it is a fallacy that the way to happiness is the acquisition of more and more money. Money itself may be a good thing, but no wonder we remember that the love of money is said to be the root of all evil.

Copyright 2011 Stephen Russell-Lacy
Author of  Heart, Head & Hands  Swedenborg’s perspective on emotional problems

http://www.spiritualquestions.org.uk/

30th March 2011Categories Ethics, Private EthicsTags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , Leave a comment

What Do Your Cravings Say About You?

Swedenborg Foundation

by Morgan Beard

It’s human nature to crave things. Sometimes it’s as simple as, “Hey, I could go for some ice cream right now.” Sometimes it’s a deeper desire, like craving money or fame. It may not seem like anything unusual—after all, who doesn’t like something delicious to eat, and who couldn’t use a little extra cash? But Emanuel Swedenborg says that what we crave might reveal more about us than we think.

blog_craving

What we crave sometimes tells us what we lack. If we’re craving specific types of food, our body might be telling us that we need more vitamins or other nutrients. A desire for sweets could mean that we need a pick-me-up from the jolt of energy and the feel-good chemical serotonin that comes with eating something sugary. On an emotional level, craving items that we don’t need might indicate stress or negative feelings—getting some new luxury can give us a little rush of pleasure. Or, on a less tangible level, craving attention can mean that we feel unloved or unappreciated.

Swedenborg writes, “Craving is love reaching out. Whatever we love we constantly crave, and it is our delight, since we feel delight when we get what we love or crave. There is no other source of our heart’s delight” (Heaven and Hell 570). From the context, it’s clear that love here means something broader than love for another person. He’s saying that when we love something, it fills us, and we seek out more of it.

This can work in good ways or not so good ones. For example, let’s say a woman grows up without a lot of money, goes to school, gets a good-paying job, and is suddenly able to buy herself all the things she never had. Her self-esteem goes up; she feels better about herself. She works to get more and more money until all she can focus on is making money so that she can keep feeling better. Swedenborg calls this “love of the world”—a situation where people keep chasing material pleasures and are never satisfied with what they have. That love of wealth, power, or whatever it is we’re chasing becomes a fundamental part of ourself, the core of our identity. And no matter what, we always crave more.

Let’s say that same woman who grew up without a lot of money but got educated and became a wealthy professional puts love of others over love of self. Now she donates money back to the community where she grew up and mentors kids growing up in limited circumstances to help them achieve career success. This is what Swedenborg calls “love for one’s neighbor”—when we focus on using what we have to help other people rather than helping ourselves. And again, he says, the more we do good, the more that we want to do good. We crave opportunities to help others.

People are complicated. All of us are capable of being selfish one day and selfless the next, and it can be hard to know if we’re on the right track, spiritually speaking. Are all of our actions adding up to a positive inner state or a negative one?

When Swedenborg writes, “craving is love reaching out,” he’s letting us know that just as our physical cravings can be an indicator of our body’s health, our emotional cravings give us a barometer for our spiritual state. Those little impulses, itching desires, and outright compulsions that strike us throughout the day are indicators of what is happening within us. The things we are pulled to do tell us which way our inner status—or our “ruling love,” in Swedenborgian terms—is leaning. The things we crave most often are the things that dominate us mentally and therefore spiritually.

But what if we find that we’re being drawn toward these selfish types of desires? Swedenborg says there’s a remedy for that: regeneration, the path to spiritual growth. You can read more about it here, or for a really in-depth discussion, check out this compilation of Swedenborg’s writings on the subject.

http://www.swedenborg.com/

Looting America And God’s Gifts

 

Money has a cultural hold on all of us. It is quite hypnotic. Money has put us into a trance so profound that our cognitive ability has diminished to the point of simply knowing the price of things at the expense of being able to discern the true value of things.

Like modern physics, we have divorced ourselves from a life of meaning and values. In America, money is how one keeps score.

Money thwarts our search for meaning yet it exerts a powerful pressure on us that is constant. It is hard to become spiritual when our stomachs are empty and we have no roof over our heads. Even worse, spiritual growth has been almost completely abandoned as a means to finding happiness. Instead, we will not be happy until we keep up with and finally surpass the Joneses.

We better ourselves by bettering someone else. This economic philosophy is contrary to God’s great commandment of loving the neighbor.

Do not get me wrong. Money is important. But more and more, it is being made from cunning and cleverness rather than from a sincere desire to be of service to others. In most cases, we seek to help ourselves rather than to improve the well-being of others.

The big problem is that we have separated the acquiring of money from the enrichment of our innermost being. Making money enters into everything we do EXCEPT for our spiritual growth. But making money should be intimately involved with our spiritual growth as well!

Why? Because, making money should be the “fruit” of our God-given talents. These talents are lost in the corporate scheme of things where one is swimming among sharks and looking to gain some advantage.

We are in our current financial crisis because greed, envy, and self-identity have taken the cockpit in the acquisition of money. Rather than happiness, any success at making money leads to fear in keeping it—to the point that nothing can be really enjoyed anymore.

Surveys often show that many of the most “successful” people feel they are missing something in their lives. Acquiring riches can dull us to the richness of life and love. Such individuals have not paid attention to their souls. This type of success poisons everything.

All wars, all forms of social injustice, crime, and the destruction of the environment, emerge from this blind striving towards wealth and power.

How we acquire money and spend it shows WHAT WE ARE. We are looting America and God’s gifts.

How do we escape this financial and social captivity?

First we must not live above our means. Next we should work on our relationships with friends and family (before we find ourselves making this discovery on our deathbeds). Finally, we must either do the jobs we have from a sincere principle of mutual love and service, or find new ways to make a living that offer us true self-worth and deep satisfaction.

Follow this simple path and you will begin to experience heaven itself.

Posted on October 10, 2008by thegodguy

http://www.staircasepress.com

Posted in god, Inner growth, love, Reality, religion, spirituality, unity | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

How to be happy from a deeper perspective.

How to be happyYou may be wondering how to be happy — happy in a way that will last. We have only to read the newspapers or watch the television to observe a lot of unhappiness in the world.

“I grew up as this very carefree, happy kid then things turned darker for me. Maybe it was because I saw that the world wasn’t as happy a place as I had hoped it would be for me.” (Angelina Jolie)

They all sang ‘Happy birthday’ to you and wished you ‘Happy Christmas’ but they didn’t tell you how to do it.

“It’s a helluva start, being able to recognize what makes you happy.” (Lucille Ball)

Plenty of theories about how to be happy

So important is this question of how to be happy, there is even a branch of science looking at it. But would you trust science to discover the answer?

“I went to a happiness conference; researchers looked very unhappy.” (Nassim Nicholas Taleb)

There are plenty of theories. They vary from bodily pleasure, social status, power, achievement, loving relationships, a sense of belonging, absorbing interests and more. All often thought to be the answer to the question how to be happy. You might be wondering about the money that is needed for these.  Yet:

“Money doesn’t make you happy. I now have $50 million but I was just as happy when I had $48 million.” (Arnold Schwarzenegger)

Being rich is probably not the answer.

Misguided notions on how to be happy

Emanuel Swedenborg the 18th century philosopher claimed to experience a hidden world of spirit. In an altered state of consciousness, he observed spirit people doing what they thought would make them happy.  Each group thought it knew how to be happy. One lot assumed this would be engaging in witty and intelligent conversation, another in enjoying the delights of a garden of paradise, another in feasting on excellent food and drink, and  another in having unbounded wealth and power.

Swedenborg said he was aware of following one group into a large house. In each of the many rooms a different topic was eagerly discussed — politics, morality, business, sexual relationships, religion. At one point he noticed individuals leaving to go out. Following one of them to the door where several sad-faced people sat he asked. “Why are you so sad?”

“After three days in here we cannot bear the sound of talking! We were told that one may enter this house but never leave! We must remain and enjoy the activity we had chosen how to be happy. Now we are desperate.”

He recounts that another group were led through a lofty gate and along winding paths from one lovely garden to another where they could stay among the beautiful flowers, fruit trees and fountains. Some played games, others enjoyed conversation and jokes. Some gathered and ate the many delicious fruits, sang or relaxed in small delightful summer houses. They wandered through grove to grove, through a maze of hedged avenues. All thinking they knew how to be happy. At last Swedenborg came upon a number of people sitting in a rose garden, their faces drawn and sorrowful.

“This is our seventh day in paradise. At first it was wonderful, but now we’ve had enough. We tried to find a way out, but have only gone deeper into this maze. We were told we must stay here for ever because this is our idea of heaven, but we are sick of the sight of it.”

You might think that it might be easy for any of us to fall for a fool’s paradise.

How to be happy spiritually speaking

Swedenborg comments that a happiness that lasts does not come from external pleasures of the world which of themselves are lifeless and soon dull the senses. Instead how to be happy comes from doing something useful for oneself and to others. Unless this is part of one’s life, pleasurable leisure alone becomes empty and wearisome.

In his ‘Sermon on the mount’ Jesus Christ spoke about states of inner happiness. To my mind his message is that happy contentment, peace and joy comes to those when they acknowledge their poverty of spiritual understanding, are sad about times when they have acted selfishly, are humble enough to appreciate that of themselves they lack inner goodness, and when they hunger and thirst for what is good and right, try to be concerned and caring towards others, turn away from what is seen to be impure in thought and work for the active presence of goodwill and peace.

In other words chasing happiness is like trying to grasp a shadow. You can’t find happiness, no matter how hard you look: it finds you. Like the Buddhists say, how to be happy comes as a by-product when you aim instead at the inner life — its values, principles and virtues rather than craving after the things of external life.

“Men can only be happy when they do not assume that the object of life is happiness.” (George Orwell)

Copyright 2013 Stephen Russell-Lacy
Author of  Heart, Head & Hands  Swedenborg’s perspective on emotional problems