Saturday, April 3, 2010

Abundance

"If you keep a green bough in your heart, the singing bird will come."

The quote above comes from my daily desk calendar, feeling like it had a great message to convey I decided to google it.  And in doing such came across a wonderful article about cultivating a spirit of abundance.   It seemed perfect for this holiday weekend so I thought I would share it.

Laurence G. Boldt has spent almost two decades helping people achieve their dreams. In The Tao of Abundance, he charts a path to prosperity by applying ancient wisdom to modern life and he addresses a deeper experience of abundance than can be known simply by amassing material goods. ''Feelings of abundance are a natural state for humans,'' says Boldt. ''We just have to be aware of how we are resisting this natural state and learn to cultivate a spirit of abundance in our lives by celebrating the gift of life with joy and thanksgiving.''

The insight that Boldt shares comes out of a holistic approach that addresses the entire issue of the quality of life, and is not limited to financial success. ''You have to appreciate that the world is for you, if you're open and willing to receive it. It's for you, it is you, and with you.'' 

The true meaning of abundance. The word abundance is commonly used to refer to financial wealth, but when Boldt uses this word he is talking about overflow. ''If we have a rich inner life and we experience everything in life as inner fullness rather than inner lack, then we have abundance.''

Boldt sees that money can free us or it can enslave us. It cannot give us the spirit of innocence and wonder to help us appreciate the simple things in life. ''So often people who lack money think that their only problems are financial,'' says Boldt. ''At the time I wrote The Tao of Abundance, we were hearing about unprecedented wealth and yet so many people were not having the experience of abundance.'' And although it can give us the power to make a difference in other people's lives, money cannot give us the desire to do so. ''Money can just as easily make us more jaded, escapist, selfish, and lonely.''

If we are spending all our efforts in obtaining money, then we are paying too high a price. Boldt writes that we should remember that:

Money should not cost you your soul.

Money should not cost you your relationships.

Money should not cost you your dignity.

Money should not cost you your health.

Money should not cost you your intelligence.

Money should not cost you your joy.

The psychology of lack.
''People who believe in lack are more likely to become lackeys for those who would manipulate them for their own purposes,'' says Boldt.

Those who feel a sense of lack are often not struggling with the lack of material things. It is ''a lack of ease; a lack of energy; a feeling of powerlessness and blocked expression; a lack of harmony and connection in relationship; a lack of time to be, grow, and relate; and a lack of opportunity to fully appreciate and celebrate the beauty in life — that gives a sense of deficiency to our existence.''

This feeling of lack, Boldt feels, develops with the formation of the individual ego, which creates a sense of separation, and incompleteness. As a result, we develop a need for mental, physical, and emotional attachments. All this leads us away from a natural state of abundance, which flows naturally from the Tao, the way of life.

The Eight Principles of Abundance

In The Tao of Abundance, Boldt describes the eight principles of abundant living, using English translations of Chinese terms that express the essential meaning of the Chinese word but are not a direct translation. The Taoist principles that he examines provide powerful tools for understanding the psychology of abundance. He compares the way of the Tao to its opposite, the Way of the Ego, which keeps us in a state of lack.

Principle 1: Wu-ming — The Unity of the Nameless Tao

You start on the path of true abundance when you recognize the unity in all things. Separation of the ego from the Tao creates a lack of connection and alienation and keeps us from abundance.

To trust the nature or Tao of life does not mean that we should go around seeing through rose-colored glasses. It does not mean that we are to trust that people will always be kind, considerate, sensitive, and caring in their dealings with us. It means that we can trust people to be people, capable of the worst kind of cruelty, ignorance, and indifference as well as the most sublime beauty, compassion, creativity, and joy. ''To blindly trust in the goodness of people or to cynically trust in their badness — each is equally simpleminded.''

When we believe in the unity of all things and learn to trust the Tao, we believe that the universe wants to hold us up, not pull us down. This is because we are the universe and we can trust in the organic processes that are manifest in the natural world.

Principle 2: Tzu-jan — Nature/Receptivity of the Tao

When we learn to receive we open the door to our greatest good. Attachments, on the other hand, are the way of the ego and keep us from spontaneity and inspiration.

In order to receive the abundance of nature, we have to develop innate receptive capabilities. ''A skilled martial artist responds to what his opponent is actually doing, not to what he thinks his opponent will do. By fully receiving his opponent, becoming one with him in spirit, the martial artist effortlessly and spontaneously responds to his opponent's every move. In the same way, we respond spontaneously and naturally to life when we are fully open and receptive to it.''

Boldt notes that our ability to receive is just as important as our ability to give. But if our giving has ulterior motives, then it is a form of manipulation and is self-serving. When genuine giving flows naturally from us, then we have no sense of doing good or trying to be virtuous.


Principle 3: Wu-wei — Ease of the Tao

If you follow the path of least resistance you will have success with ease. If you follow the path of ego you will experience lack of ease, tension, and stress.
The Taoists advise us to be like water, which takes on the shape of all things, while keeping its own innate power. When we are free of attachments, we are fluid and flexible, and are able to respond with spontaneity. We can avoid using unnecessary energy when we visualize things in our mind, before we take action. When we let go of the past, and stop reliving old traumas or successes, we can open the gates for even greater success.

As the Chinese proverb goes, If I keep a green bough in my heart, the singing bird will come. Ease comes to us when we recognize the unity in all things, respect the way of nature, and honor the intuitive voice. It comes to us when we celebrate life and count our blessings.

Principle 4: Ch'i — Flow or Joy of the Tao

When energy moves in our lives, it creates wealth, improves relationships, and maximizes health. When the ego feels resentment, then there is a lack of energy, and little zest for life.

Boldt explores the attitudes and techniques that help keep energy flowing freely in our lives. ''Circulation is as important to financial health as it is to physical, mental, and emotional health,'' says Boldt. ''When you increase circulation you increase wealth.'' Material abundance comes by focusing on giving of our innate gifts. It is important to believe in our gifts and to have faith that they will be valued in the world. 

According to Boldt, there are ten steps to cultivating Ch'i.You must:
be cheerful,

breathe,

move your body,

rest your body,

master your emotions,

meditate,

simplify,

spend time in nature,

eat well, and

cultivate an awareness of your surroundings.


Principle 5: Te — Power and Dignity of the Tao

The way to authentic power is through actualizing our natural abilities. When the ego craves approval, there is lack of power and inner direction.

In his exploration of the natural power that results from living in the Tao, Boldt discusses the importance of following your destiny, which includes doing your life's work and maintaining a way of life that is naturally yours. Preserving our innate power is not easy in a commercial society, which encourages conformity and robs people of their innate dignity. ''For what will you sacrifice your Te?'' Boldt asks. ''Will you lose it because you fear offending others and find it easier to conform? Will you trade it for money or fame, for lust or ambition, for cheap thrills or empty promises?''

A passage from the Bhagavad-Gita says, ''A man's own natural duty, even if it seems imperfectly done, is better than work not naturally his own even if this is well performed. ... Therefore, no one should give up his natural work, even though he does it imperfectly.''

In Zen and the Art of Making a Living and How to Find the Work You Love, Boldt deals at great length with the subject of how to find our life's work and make a living out of doing the things we enjoy. He also provides useful charts at the end of The Tao of Abundance to help us understand the path we should take to realize our inborn destiny.

Principle 6: Yin/Yang — Harmony of the Tao

The way of the ego is competitive hostility and envy. Peace of mind is found through the balancing of opposites.

When we live in the ego, duality is a battle. ''The ego lives in a black and white world, marked by sharp divisions between right and wrong, good and bad, and so on.'' When we live in the Tao, we experience the world as a dance of the complementary energies that are called yin and yang. ''As we learn to reconcile the seeming pairs of opposites in our lives, we develop a new relationship with the duality of the universe.''

Synchronicity is the spontaneous realization of the underlying interconnectedness of all things. Boldt quotes Heraclitus, who wrote, ''The unseen design of things is more harmonious than the seen.''

Principle 7: Jen — Leisure of the Tao

Although we live in the most affluent country in the world, we are time poor. Abundant living has to include time for our mates and for our communities. It also has to include time to play, so that we can recapture the kind of exuberance for life that we may have known as children. We need time to experience a sunset or walk in the woods. We need the leisure to grow, since ''Leisure allows us to access parts of ourselves we might otherwise miss altogether.'' It also provides us with the time to sort through our personal and social conditioning so that we can begin to find our true path.

By exploring the social and psychological dynamics that contribute to a sense of ''time poverty,'' Boldt offers suggestions in how to increase our leisure time. In his work as a career consultant, Boldt found that by creating leisure time for creative self-expression, some of his clients were able to discover their true calling in life. Many people left old careers and segued into more fulfilling jobs as a result of utilizing their leisure time to find out more about their true desires.

Principle 8: Li — Beauty of the Tao

An abundant life is rich in beauty, which nourishes our souls and is necessary for our spiritual growth. There are daily opportunities to participate in the beauty of life, when we may recognize life as a gift. ''This feeling of gratitude can only come from identifying with the energy of life. If you try to force it from the mind — telling yourself that you should be grateful — you'll get stuck in the pair of opposites.''

We can become more sensitive to beauty by bringing touches of nature into our living space and work space, by putting increased care and attention into the details to the things we do and make, by radiating cheerfulness and love, and by sharing wisdom when it's appropriate. ''The way of art,'' writes Boldt, ''both in its perception and its expression, is the revelation of the transcendent Mystery.''

Visualizing our connection to the natural abundance of the universe.

Through the use of affirmations and visualizations, Boldt helps people set aside their limiting beliefs and embrace those that affirm our connectedness to all of life. Some powerful affirmations include:

The universe is for me and so is everything else.

The energy is now flowing freely in all areas of my life.

I am at one with the dual forces in nature.

I live in beauty and beauty lives in me.

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