The Twelve Steps as Shadow Work

December 12th, 2019 by Dave No comments »


Thursday, December 12, 2019

Step Four: Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves. [1]

Jesus said, “The truth will set you free,” (John 8:32) and I always feel compelled to add, “But first it will make you miserable.” There is no other way to describe the humiliation and grief that comes from seeing your own failures and weaknesses clearly, perhaps for the first time. Only in the presence of Great Love do any of us have the courage to attempt that kind of inventory. Today, Ron H., a beloved staff member here at the Center for Action and Contemplation, shares from his own experience how humility and honesty are needed throughout the Twelve Steps.

About five years into my recovery journey, I got to know a man in Los Angeles named Pepe. Like so many we get to meet in the rooms, he was a compelling character. His stories were spellbinding and masterfully delivered, his wisdom was simple and always rang of truth, and his heart was out there where you could see it, humble, genuine. When he told of how he took his wheelchair-bound teenage son Tony, dying of Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, to the river to go fishing, the entire room would hang on every word (no matter how many times we had heard the story). Completely bereft as he watched Tony painfully work to get his line in the water, Pepe began to cry. “Dad,” Tony said, “Why are you crying? There’s nothing wrong with me. It’s just my Earth suit that is having trouble. Nothing is wrong with me.” 

As you meditate for a moment on what must have been the seat of Tony’s identity, as the whole room would do each time Pepe drove home this line, notice the shift in your own heart and body. Pepe would look down for a moment and then bring it humbly and powerfully: 

“This program is a program of truth-telling,” Pepe would sometimes say and then pause to let it sink in. “Because it’s the truth that will set you free. The truth sets us free. The first step? We’ve been lying, distorting, denying, hiding from the truth. The first step is a truth-telling step. We admit who we are. The fourth and fifth steps are a huge exercise in finally telling the whole truth. [2] The tenth step? Learning to tell the truth on the fly, and to call ourselves out and correct it when we didn’t. [3] This program is a truth-telling program. That’s how it turns us into free people.”

That simple and profound description came to me years later when I heard Richard and others talk about Carl Jung’s concept of persona and shadow. Where my “persona” is the me that is presented for the world to see, my “shadow” is the undiscovered or undisclosed me (often unseen even by me). Shadow is a concept much like “denial” in the recovery context. It’s not even necessarily that I see it and deny seeing it, it’s that my mechanisms for protecting myself from seeing certain aspects of myself are so effective that I’m blind to them.

A Radical Surrendering

December 11th, 2019 by JDVaughn No comments »

Twelve-Step Spirituality: Part One

A Radical Surrendering
Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Step Three: Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood God. [1]

We each have our inner program for happiness, our plans by which we can be secure, esteemed, and in control, and we are blissfully unaware that these cannot work for us for the long haul—without becoming more and more controlling ourselves. Something has to break our primary addiction, which is to our own power and unworkable programs for happiness and security.

When Jesus taught, “If anyone wants to follow me, let them renounce themselves!” (Mark 8:34; Luke 9:23), I am pretty sure that Jesus meant exactly what Bill W. means in Step Three: a radical surrendering of our will to Another whom we trust more than ourselves.

A common substitute for renouncing our own will is “the myth of heroic sacrifice.” There is a love that sincerely seeks the spiritual good of others, and there is a love that seeks superiority, admiration, and control for itself, even and most especially by doing “good” and heroic things. Suicide bombers, resentful and manipulative people, and codependents are invariably sacrificial. “Codependency” is the disease of those who support and contribute to others’ disease by what we call “enabling” behavior. Sometimes the enabler is sicker than the alcoholic and does not know what to do when the alcoholic enters recovery.

Another way we avoid surrender is what Timothy McMahan King, one of our Living School alumni, describes as “the myth of redemptive suffering.” King writes:

Addiction is, by definition, a self-harming behavior. Increasing the amount of harm, through punishment and incarceration, for those struggling with addiction is a failing strategy. . . . When our view of the cross is that God demands blood in order to redeem, it is little surprise we have a country and culture that wants to see people suffer even more before help will be provided. But when we understand a God who enters into our suffering, we see that it is that kind of grace through which we are transformed. [2]

The absolute genius of the Twelve Steps is that it refuses to bless and reward what looks like any moral worthiness game, and it refuses to punish weakness and failure. With Gospel brilliance and insight, AA says that the starting point and, in fact, the continuing point, is not any kind of worthiness at all but in fact unworthiness! (“I am an alcoholic!”) Suddenly religion loses all capacity for elitism. This is what Jesus affirmed in prostitutes and tax collectors and what Paul praised when he said, “It is when I am weak that I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:10). When the churches forget their own Gospel message, the Holy Spirit sneaks in through the ducts and the air vents, which is what it has done in the Twelve-Step Program and other therapies.

Help from a Higher Power

December 10th, 2019 by Dave No comments »

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Step Two: Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity. [1]

Yes, we are carrying our own death warrant with us, but it is teaching us not to rely on ourselves, but on a God whose task is to raise the dead to life. —2 Corinthians 1:9

I’m told that often the people who are most in need of the Twelve-Step program have a very negative attitude toward God that was taught them by immature religion. This can be challenging since the essence of both the spiritual journey and the healing journey of AA is “a movement from self-centeredness to God-centeredness.” [2] Moreover, Bill Wilson insisted on the necessity of a “vital spiritual experience.” Here’s how Thomas Keating explained how AA can handle this challenge. Naturally, Keating, who was one of the original creators of Centering Prayer, would have liked to see contemplation introduced into the program much earlier than the Eleventh Step as an aid to relating to God.

People can harbor very negative feelings about God. For example, “God does not love me; God is a tyrant demanding instant obedience; God is a policeman always on the watch for my least misstep; or, finally, God is a judge who is always ready to bring down upon me the irrevocable verdict of guilty.” Most people in this category will develop corresponding emotions of fear of God. Since you don’t think about God at all in non-conceptual meditation, God has a chance to introduce God as God actually is. And in the silence of meditation . . . it gives the negative feelings or negatively charged thoughts about God a chance to calm down and to be moderated by the experience of a certain peace and calm that ordinarily comes from the interior silence of meditation itself. . . .

In AA you have a chance to get acquainted and there is no great rush. You are just open to the possibility that God is not the way you think God is from your particular cultural background or human experience thus far. In actual fact, God is existence and must be present in everything that is. So instead of thinking of God, you can think of God’s presence, which is the source of everything that is. It is this presence that supports the whole movement of AA. . . .

Many AA people are sponsors helping others in their effort of recovery. God is present in service. God is present in human love. God is present in conjugal relationships. God is present in the flowers, in the sunsets, and in the fields. God is present in all of nature without calling it God. Being open to the Higher Power actually opens us to the fact that all creation is penetrated by a presence that transcends our sensible faculties and introduces us to a world both of mystery and experience. [3]

Waiting in Darkness

December 6th, 2019 by JDVaughn No comments »

Darkness

Waiting in Darkness
Friday, December 6, 2019

The darkness of this world will never totally go away. I’ve lived long enough and offered spiritual direction enough to know that darkness isn’t going to disappear, but that, as John’s Gospel says, “the light shines on inside of the darkness, and the darkness will not overcome it” (1:5). This is our own belief in paradox and mystery, the Christian form of yin/yang.

We must all hope and work to eliminate suffering, especially in many of the great social issues of our time. We work to eliminate world hunger. We strive to stop wasting the earth’s resources. We peacefully fight to end violence. We don’t ignore or capitulate to suffering, yet we must allow it to transform us and the world. Suffering often shapes and teaches us and precedes most significant resurrections.

The power of suffering is surely our creative and courageous relationship to it. Most of us have not been given the “winnowing fan” of discernment that John the Baptist ascribes to Jesus (see Matthew 3:12). For the most part, hard and fast laws are not a winnowing fan. Laws rush us to judgment instead of the slow sifting of prayer, context, and motivation. The most common way to release our inner tension is to cease calling evil what it is and to pretend it is actually not that bad. Another way to release our inner tension is to stand angrily, obsessively against evil—but then we become a cynic and unbeliever ourselves. Everyone can usually see this but us!

Christian wisdom names the darkness as darkness and the Light as light and helps us learn how to live and work in the Light so that the darkness does not overcome us. If we have a pie-in-the-sky, everything is beautiful attitude, we are going to be trapped by the darkness because we don’t see clearly enough to separate the wheat from the chaff. Conversely, if we can only see the darkness and forget the more foundational Light, we will be destroyed by our own negativity and fanaticism, or we will naively think we are completely apart and above the darkness. Instead, we must wait and work with hope inside of the darkness, even our own—while never doubting the light that God always is, and that we are too (Matthew 5:14). That is the narrow birth canal of God into the world—through the darkness and into an ever-greater Light. It seems we must all let go of our false innocence to find that “God alone is good” (Mark 10:18).

Trouble Don’t Always Last

December 5th, 2019 by JDVaughn No comments »

Darkness

Trouble Don’t Last Always
Thursday, December 5, 2019

Today I share the writing of a modern mystic, Dr. Diana L. Hayes. She is an author and professor emerita of systematic theology at Georgetown University. I appreciate how her writing integrates her intellectual knowledge with her deeply embodied life experience. Hayes’ words are a testament to the deeper “knowing” that comes about through bleak times of suffering:

Reality for blacks in the United States has always been one of seeming paradox. “Trouble” always seems to be in our way, regardless of the form it takes, from forced migration, slavery, second-class citizenship, to the constant enervating struggle with proponents of racism and the lack of opportunity for education, decent health care, and a life of dignity and happiness. Yet, through it all . . . we have been a people with our eyes “fixed” on God, a people for whom “trouble don’t last always.” . . .

My own life has enabled me to follow . . . the struggles of my people and to experience the pain of being “different” in too many ways to make life in this world, with its stress on conformity, an unvarnished blessing. . . .

My growing up years were ones split between bursts of athletic energy . . . and times of reflective quiet spent in bed reading while I recuperated from one illness or another.

Paradoxically, it was those quiet times which always gave me the strength to go back out into the world again. God has always seemed to come to me in days of pain-filled darkness and disillusionment, to hold my hand, to counsel me, to prepare me to go forth renewed in spirit and body. . . .

I wrestled with God on my bed of pain as I do still today . . . I argue and shout and listen and pray and question and doubt and finally acquiesce, only to move further down the path to another fork in the road where the struggle begins yet anew. . . .

I believe I have learned, because of my own struggles, how to see, hear, and feel the struggles of others, voiced and unvoiced. This has led me to explore theology . . . a new and challenging way—from the bottom up. I know what it is like to be poor, to be discriminated against because of my poverty, my race, my gender, and my disabilities. These many years of struggle and pain [physical, mental, and spiritual] . . . have forged me in the fiery furnace of God’s love. . . .

My life, a seeming paradox of contradictions and odd twists and turns, has truly been one where troubles of many different forms have always been in my way. Yet I know now, deep within me, that “trouble don’t always last.” God is not through with me yet.

I am touched by the way that Diana Hayes shares the struggles that have brought her into deeper solidarity with all who suffer and have shaped her reading of Scripture “from the bottom up.” Surely that is the point of any descent into darkness—to share the new kind of light we have discovered within it. 

Life Goes On

December 4th, 2019 by JDVaughn No comments »

Darkness

Life Goes On
Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Sister Joan Chittister continues to reflect on what it means to suffer through times of doubt or unknowing when it comes to our faith:

The sense of being stranded in the midst of life . . . is enough to drain a person’s very personality until there is little left to recognize. Where did the joy go all of a sudden? Where did the feeling of self-confidence disappear to in the midst of this emptiness? Just yesterday life was clear and vibrant. Today it is endlessly bleak. The darkness is unyielding. Nothing helps; nothing takes it away.

There is no light here, we think. But we think wrong.

There is a light in us that only darkness itself can illuminate. It is the glowing calm that comes over us when we finally surrender to the ultimate truth of creation: that there is a God and we are not it. . . . Then the clarity of it all is startling. Life is not about us; we are about the project of finding Life. At that moment, spiritual vision illuminates all the rest of life. And it is that light that shines in darkness.

Only the experience of our own darkness gives us the light we need to be of help to others whose journey into the dark spots of life is only just beginning. It’s then that our own taste of darkness qualifies us to be an illuminating part of the human expedition. Without that, we are only words, only false witnesses to the truth of what it means to be pressed to the ground and rise again.

The light we gain in darkness is the awareness that, however bleak the place of darkness was for us, we did not die there. We know now that life begins again on the other side of the darkness. Another life. A new life. After the death, the loss, the rejection, the failure, life does go on. Differently, but on. Having been sunk into the cold night of . . . despair—and having survived it—we rise to new light, calm and clear and confident that what will be, will be enough for us.

And I, Richard, believe that even when we or someone we love does die, life has not ended; it is merely transformed. It takes great humility to admit we have suffered through this kind of darkness, because it often sounds like a loss of faith to those who have not endured it. But when everything we thought we knew has turned to “nada,” in the language of John of the Cross, we actually become more loving and compassionate human beings, for we no longer rely on our own light but upon the Light of the world living within us.

Darkness

December 3rd, 2019 by JDVaughn No comments »

Lightlessness
Tuesday, December 3, 2019

I have shared the writings of Benedictine Sister Joan Chittister many times. She is a tireless advocate for the poor and marginalized, and she is also a brilliant and prolific writer, with more than fifty books to her credit. She writes here of the effects of literal darkness or the absence of light:

Psychologists tell us that one of the most difficult conditions a person can be forced to bear is light deprivation. Darkness, in fact, is often used in military captivity or penal institutions to break down an individual’s sense of self. Once a person becomes disoriented, once they lose a sense of where they are . . . once they can no longer feel in control of their physical surroundings—a person loses a sense of self. Every shred of self-confidence shrivels. The giant within them falls and they become whimpering prey of the unknown. The natural instinct to be combative is paralyzed by fear. The spirit of resistance weakens. The prisoner becomes more pliable, more submissive, more willing to take directions.

It disarms a person, this fall into the sinkhole of sensory deprivation. It can drive them to madness. It is, every military knows, an effective technique. . . .

Simple as it may seem, when the lights go out, we simply lose our bearings. The density of the dark makes it impossible for us to fix our positions anymore. We find ourselves alone in the universe, untethered and unprepared. . . . Lightlessness leaves us no internal compass by which to trace or set our steps. Unlike [the] blind, few [sighted people] ever learn to develop our other senses enough to rely on them for information about the circumstances in which we find ourselves. Interestingly enough, it is those who consider themselves sighted who are most limited without light. And so, in the end, the [dimness] undermines the average [sighted] person’s self-confidence, affects their vision, leaves them totally vulnerable to the environment and out of touch with the people around them. And that is only its physical effects.

The darkness of the soul is no less spiritually punishing than is the loss of physical light to the psyche. We talk about faith but cannot really tolerate the thought of it. It’s light we want, not shadow, certainty not questions. The aphotic, the place without images, is no less an attack on faith and hope than those periods in life when nighttime brings nothing but unclarity, nothing but fear. Where am I going? the soul wants to know. When will this be over? the mind wants to know. How can I get out of this sightless place I’m in? the heart demands.

The spiritual darkness Sister Joan describes can be a truly difficult and terrifying experience, but all the saints and mystics assure us that darkness will never have the last word. The Scriptures promise us that the Light shines on in the darkness and will not be overcome by it (see John 1:5).

Reference:

Darkness

December 2nd, 2019 by Dave No comments »

Gaining New Traction
Monday, December 2, 2019

Experiences of darkness are good and necessary teachers. They are not to be avoided, denied, run from, or explained away. Even if we don’t experience clinical or diagnosed depression, most of us will go through a period of darkness, doubt, and malaise at some point in our lives. I hope during these times we can reach out to someone—a therapist, spiritual director, friend—to support us. And when we feel strong may we be the shoulder someone else can lean on.

There’s a darkness that we are led into by our own sin (the illusion of separation), and selfishness (living out of the false or separate self), and stupidity. We have to work our way out of this kind of darkness by brutal honesty, confession, surrender, forgiveness, apology, and restitution. It may feel simultaneously like dying and being liberated.

But there’s another darkness that we’re led into by God, grace, and the nature of life itself. In many ways, the loss of meaning, motivation, purpose, and direction might feel even greater here. Some call it “the dark night of the soul.” Yet even while we feel alone and that God has abandoned us, we can also sense that we have been led here intentionally. We know we are in “liminal space,” betwixt and between, on the threshold—and we have to stay here until we have learned something essential. It is still no fun and filled with doubt and “demons” of every sort. But it is the darkness of being held closely by God without our awareness. This is where transformation happens.

Of course, the darkness that we get ourselves into by our own “sinful” choices can also become the darkness of God. Regardless of the cause, the dark night is an opportunity to look for and find God—in new forms and ways. Neither God nor goodness exist only in the light but permeate all places, seen and unseen. It seems we have to “unknow” a bit every time we want to know in a new way. It is like putting your car in reverse in the mud and snow so that you can gain a new track and better traction.

United Church of Christ pastor and Living School “sendee” Mark Longhurst describes how both light and dark are essential for transformation. 

In spirituality . . .  we elevate the light over the darkness and praise the light and expel the darkness. Light conquers the darkness, the darkness will not overcome the light, John’s Gospel says [1:5]. . . . The more Genesis works its wisdom on me, though, the more light and darkness seem bound up together. . . . God separates light from darkness, but they both need each other, and they both bear the breath of God. This, too, I think, is the truth of our lives. The light and the darkness are bound up with one another. Spiritual transformation does not happen only on the light level. We have to do the inner work of facing the shadow, or repressed realities, of who we are, both the beautiful and the bad. Some of our most painful experiences in life—whether death, divorce, or disease—often turn out to create a capacity in us for greater love. What we think is light shows up in what we think is darkness—and vice versa. [1]

Periods of seemingly fruitless darkness may in fact highlight all the ways we rob ourselves of wisdom by clinging to the light. Who grows by only looking on the bright side of things? It is only when we lose our certainties that will we be able to deconstruct our false images of God to discover the Absolute Reality beneath all our egoic fantasies and fears.

Waiting and Unknowing
Sunday, December 1, 2019
First Sunday of Advent

Advent [meaning “coming”], to the Church Fathers, was the right naming of the season when light and life are fading. They urged the faithful to set aside four weeks to fast, give, and pray—all ways to strip down, to let the bared soul recall what it knows beneath its fear of the dark, to know what Jesus called “the one thing necessary”: that there is One who is the source of all life, One who comes to be with us and in us, even, especially, in darkness and death. One who brings a new beginning. —Gayle Boss [1]

I hope it isn’t difficult to understand why I’m beginning the Advent season reflecting on darkness. [2] I’m not trying to be a spoilsport, but once Thanksgiving is over, we in the United States are rushed headlong into the Christmas season. Yet Advent was once (and still can be) a time of waiting, a time of hoping without knowing, a time of emptying so that we can be filled by the divine Presence. Though you may be wrapping gifts, planning special meals, and spending time with family and friends, I hope you will also take time to allow the Advent darkness to do its work as well. 

Not knowing or uncertainty is a kind of darkness that many people find unbearable. Those who demand certitude out of life will insist on it even if it doesn’t fit the facts. Logic and truth have nothing to do with it. If you require certitude, you will surround yourself with your own conclusions and dismiss or ignore any evidence to the contrary.

The very meaning of faith stands in stark contrast to this mindset. We have to live in exquisite, terrible humility before reality. In this space, God gives us a spirit of questing, a desire for understanding. In some ways it is like learning to “see in the dark.” We can’t be certain of what’s in front of us, but with some time and patience, our eyes adjust, and we can make the next right move.

The Gospel doesn’t promise us complete clarity. If God wanted us to have irrefutable proof, the incarnation of Jesus would have been delayed until technology and science could confirm it.

Scriptures do not offer rational certitude. They offer us something much better, an entirely different way of knowing: an intimate relationship, a dark journey, a path where we must discover for ourselves that grace, love, mercy, and forgiveness are absolutely necessary for survival in an uncertain world. You only need enough clarity to know how to live without certitude! Yes, we really are saved by faith. People who live in this way never stop growing, are not easily defeated, are wise and compassionate, and frankly, are fun to live with. They have a quiet and confident joy. Infantile religion insists on certainty every step of the way and thus is not very happy.

Summary: Week Forty-eight

Economy: Old and New

November 24 – November 29, 2019

To understand the Gospel in its purity and in its transformative power, we have to stop counting, measuring, and weighing. We have to stop saying “I deserve.” Can we do that? It’s pretty hard . . . unless we’ve experienced infinite mercy and realize that it’s all a gift. (Sunday)

We are starving for spiritual nourishment. We are starving for a life that is personal, connected, and meaningful. —Charles Eisenstein (Monday)

The free market consumer ideology has produced a social disorder; people are no longer embedded in a culture that serves the common wealth, the common good. —Peter Block, Walter Brueggemann, John McKnight (Tuesday)

Ironically, the success of free enterprise capitalism depends upon moral values, such as honesty and compassion, that are borrowed from elsewhere. Without such supporting values, free enterprise (or any other economic system) would eventually self-destruct through its own excesses. —Arthur Simon (Wednesday)

Rather than scarcity’s myths that tell us that the only way to perceive the world is there’s not enough, more is better, and that’s just the way it is, the truth of sufficiency asserts that there is enough for everyone. Knowing there is enough inspires sharing, collaboration, and contribution. —Lynne Twist and Teresa Baker (Thursday)

Relationships are our most powerful and reliable 401k. I’m not saying I don’t believe in universal health care, social security, or other public services, but I do think Jesus is saying the real security system is how we relate, how we love. (Friday)

Practice: Activism as a Spiritual Discipline

Pope Francis often says, “This economy kills.” [1] The divide between the wealthy and the poor in the United States continues to grow. A handful of billionaires are literally “making a killing,” while millions who live below the poverty line are “making a dying,” and very few make a fair living. Just one tangible example: without access to affordable health care, roughly “40 percent of Americans [take] on debt because of medical issues.” [2]

How might we participate in co-creating a new economy that is more equitable for all? Jim Wallis writes, “While it is good to protest, having an alternative is better.” [3] And as you may have heard me say before, “The best criticism of the bad is the practice of the better.” More and more companies are practicing fair trade, reducing waste, using renewable resources, and investing in healthy communities and ecosystems. 

The title of Sharif Abdullah’s excellent book, Creating a World that Works for All, is an invitation to us all to participate. In the following excerpt, he invites us to a lifelong practice of the better, the art of being a “Mender” who consciously seeks out opportunities to practice interconnection and interdependence with other beings, which are indeed foundational to any new economy. Abdullah writes:

Being a Mender, an activist for an inclusive society, is a spiritual discipline. We practice a different kind of spirituality: the spirituality of turbulent times [what Barbara Holmes calls crisis contemplation]. Working to alleviate suffering is the way we practice our faith. We try not to act from anger or fear. We act because, in this life we have been given, we believe we can help make things better.

Acting out of compassion to lessen suffering and improve the lives of others is the way we celebrate the Spirit. Knowing that each of our acts, however small, builds the vitality of the Web of Life brings us joy, satisfaction, and power.

In the Spirit-driven model, it doesn’t matter whether a person is “successful” in changing the condition. While practical goals are important, the spiritual goal is to awaken the compassion that lies at the root of all change. “Success” doesn’t mean I’ve saved an endangered species or cleaned up a toxic waste dump or fed hungry children. Success means awakening myself in the Spirit that can help make a better life for others. Success means I have acted in the world as though I were a part of it, not apart from it. Success means becoming conscious of and faithful to my values and to my soul. [4]

We are Menders [when] we believe the Earth and our fellow humans need to be healed from the excesses of exclusivity, and we live our daily lives in accordance with this belief. . . . Our goal is to live as a consciously integral part of a living, conscious, and sacred planet. [5]

You can cultivate Mender skills by developing the following:

  • Your Mender self seeks to transcend the individual self, and desires transcendent experiences.
  • Your Mender self is holistic and ecologic, desires peace and sustainability, and thinks in terms of global realities.
  • Your Mender self desires to practice compassion—for self, others and the more-than-human environment.
  • Your Mender self celebrates and explores its differences from and similarities to The Other. [6]

How will you practice being a Mender today? 


The Gift of Sufficiency

November 28th, 2019 by Dave No comments »


Thursday, November 28, 2019
Thanksgiving in the United States

As long as we operate inside any scarcity model, there will never be enough God or grace to go around. Jesus came to undo our notions of scarcity and tip us over into a worldview of absolute abundance. The Gospel reveals a divine world of infinity, a worldview of enough and more than enough. The Christian word for this undeserved abundance is “grace.” It is a major mental and heart conversion to move from a scarcity model to an abundance model and to live with an attitude of gratitude. [1]

Lynne Twist, co-founder of The Pachamama Alliance, writes about the reality of abundance, which she calls “sufficiency,” in her excellent book The Soul of Money. The wisdom below might just nudge you over the line. Read with an open mind and heart.

We each have a choice in any setting to step back and let go of the mind-set of scarcity. Once we let go of scarcity, we discover the surprising truth of sufficiency. By sufficiency, I don’t mean a quantity of anything. . . . Sufficiency isn’t an amount at all. It is an experience, a context we generate, a declaration, a knowing that there is enough and that we are enough. . . .

When we live in the context of sufficiency, we find a natural freedom and integrity. We engage in life from a sense of our own wholeness rather than a desperate longing to be complete. We feel naturally called to share the resources that flow through our lives—our time, our money, our wisdom, our energy, at whatever level those resources flow—to serve our highest commitments. . . .

Sufficiency as a way of being offers us enormous personal freedom and possibility. Rather than scarcity’s myths that tell us that the only way to perceive the world is there’s not enough, more is better, and that’s just the way it is, the truth of sufficiency asserts that there is enough for everyone. Knowing there is enough inspires sharing, collaboration, and contribution. . . .

Grounded in sufficiency, money’s movement in and out of our life feels natural. We can see that flow as healthy and true, and allow that movement instead of being anxious about it or hoarding. In sufficiency, we recognize and celebrate money’s power for good—our power to do good with it—and we can experience fulfillment in directing the flow toward our highest ideals and commitments. When we perceive the world as one in which there is enough and we are enough to make the world work for everyone everywhere, with no one left out, our money carries that energy and generates relationships and partnerships in which everyone feels able and valued, regardless of their economic circumstances. . . .

No matter how much or how little money you have flowing through your life, when you direct that flow with soulful purpose, you feel wealthy. You feel vibrant and alive when you use your money in a way that represents you, not just as a response to the market economy, but also as an expression of who you are. [2]

On this holiday in the United States, when many of us pause to give thanks, let us consider how we can allow what we have in “sufficiency” to flow from us, no matter what it is—compassion, joy, humility, time, and yes, even money.

The Gift of Sufficiency

November 28th, 2019 by JDVaughn No comments »

Economy: Old and New

The Gift of Sufficiency
Thursday, November 28, 2019
Thanksgiving in the United States

As long as we operate inside any scarcity model, there will never be enough God or grace to go around. Jesus came to undo our notions of scarcity and tip us over into a worldview of absolute abundance. The Gospel reveals a divine world of infinity, a worldview of enough and more than enough. The Christian word for this undeserved abundance is “grace.” It is a major mental and heart conversion to move from a scarcity model to an abundance model and to live with an attitude of gratitude. [1]

Lynne Twist, co-founder of The Pachamama Alliance, writes about the reality of abundance, which she calls “sufficiency,” in her excellent book The Soul of Money. The wisdom below might just nudge you over the line. Read with an open mind and heart.

We each have a choice in any setting to step back and let go of the mind-set of scarcity. Once we let go of scarcity, we discover the surprising truth of sufficiency. By sufficiency, I don’t mean a quantity of anything. . . . Sufficiency isn’t an amount at all. It is an experience, a context we generate, a declaration, a knowing that there is enough and that we are enough. . . .

When we live in the context of sufficiency, we find a natural freedom and integrity. We engage in life from a sense of our own wholeness rather than a desperate longing to be complete. We feel naturally called to share the resources that flow through our lives—our time, our money, our wisdom, our energy, at whatever level those resources flow—to serve our highest commitments. . . .

Sufficiency as a way of being offers us enormous personal freedom and possibility. Rather than scarcity’s myths that tell us that the only way to perceive the world is there’s not enough, more is better, and that’s just the way it is, the truth of sufficiency asserts that there is enough for everyone. Knowing there is enough inspires sharing, collaboration, and contribution. . . .

Grounded in sufficiency, money’s movement in and out of our life feels natural. We can see that flow as healthy and true, and allow that movement instead of being anxious about it or hoarding. In sufficiency, we recognize and celebrate money’s power for good—our power to do good with it—and we can experience fulfillment in directing the flow toward our highest ideals and commitments. When we perceive the world as one in which there is enough and we are enough to make the world work for everyone everywhere, with no one left out, our money carries that energy and generates relationships and partnerships in which everyone feels able and valued, regardless of their economic circumstances. . . .

No matter how much or how little money you have flowing through your life, when you direct that flow with soulful purpose, you feel wealthy. You feel vibrant and alive when you use your money in a way that represents you, not just as a response to the market economy, but also as an expression of who you are. [2]

On this holiday in the United States, when many of us pause to give thanks, let us consider how we can allow what we have in “sufficiency” to flow from us, no matter what it is—compassion, joy, humility, time, and yes, even money.