Thursday, February 5, 2009

Wealth

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I see I am confused about wealth, and I think we all are.

Mankind has become obsessed with the imaginary proposition that wealth consists of little numbers on sheets of paper. We've created vast institutions based on this premise, and the entire world economy, with all of its power and so-called "growth" revolves around it.

In the midst of this delusion, we have completely forgotten what real wealth consists of. Last night, I was in the kitchen with my wife, and I looked at her and said, "The real wealth in the family is here in this kitchen, right now."

Real wealth has nothing whatsoever to do with digits and paperwork. It lies in relationships with other people. Our wealth lies in having clean air to breathe, and fresh water to drink. It lies in a connection with ourselves that acknowledges our organic nature, our connection to the rest of the planet. Generally speaking, however, the enterprises we engage in value sheer fantasies, which collapse under their own weight in spectacular ways.

One poor person who is able to feel a real inner gratitude for a bowl of rice knows more about wealth than all of the financiers on the planet put together.

In the same way that all of the universe is perpetually at prayer, so we all dwell perpetually within the body of God. We are not apart from this body; we are not apart from the eternal act of prayer that takes place within this universe. Yet by the misuse of our imagination, and the stubbornness of our own will, we set ourselves apart from that body and believe ourselves to be both powerful and important. We lose both our sense of value and our sense of scale.

Because we are so addicted to "doing," that is, following the dictates that arise from ego, we never allow the will of God to be done in us. Two vital phrases from the Lord's prayer indicate the condition we must seek: "Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done." We have an opportunity to allow the kingdom to dwell within us just as we dwell within it, but we don't leave any room for that to happen. If we did, the will of the Lord would be done within us, that is, we would eliminate the separation between us and the universal state of prayer.

My possibility for the discovery of real wealth lies in rediscovering the fact that I inhabit this universal act of prayer, that my organism itself has the potential for reconnecting with the body of God, which my ego has separated me from. And it's very important for me to remember that the intellect cannot accomplish this work.

In fact, absolutely nothing I can "do" can accomplish this work. The very belief that I can work stands in my way. This is a case where to be active actually means to attempt to learn how to do nothing at all, since everything I "do" is a source of interference.

An active state, for me, consists of learning to become very quiet and still, and to wait.

Perhaps earnest and introspective prayer is a part of that quietude and stillness, but only if it arises spontaneously from the depths of my being as I acknowledge my insufficiency, and see that I lack.

In the depths of my prayer, I come to the altar with a tiny offering of this tiny life; it is nothing. Yet this life is all I have to lift up unto the Lord. Even though my offering is small and worthless, there is the potential that I can be forgiven, if my remorse is real and I find a way to offer unconditionally.

And in every act of submission, every effort at surrender, I move myself a little bit closer to a deeper understanding of what wealth is.

May our hearts be opened, and our prayers be heard.

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