This dedication to the blog is getting a bit uncomfortable. Everything I would prefer not to publish on the internet about myself is apparently exactly what I am supposed to publish on the internet about myself.
It’s best to give in. The tiny whisper you hear that says “Write down all your thoughts and impressions about money,” will not stay a whisper very long. As no doubt you’ve experienced, the voice will get louder until it’s a shriek.
And I am sensitive to sound. (That’s why I choose remote mountain hamlets in which to live and places like ashrams to visit.)
This trip is a good example of turning all my childhood lessons about money and security right on their head.
Instead of making a steady salary with excellent benefits, putting some into a profit-sharing plan and slowly accumulating enough to put down a payment on a house (which would come complete with large kitchen, garden and corgi), I am spending the last of my savings to gallivant around the world, mainly to watch my thoughts.
Needless to say (and to be fair, he’s been nothing but supportive), this is not the ideal vision my father had for his (I guess by now it’s true) grown-up daughter. It is not the ideal vision my completely self-made grandfather had for me either.
My mother and grandmother, as mothers and grandmothers tend to do, just want me to be happy. Preferably with a well-off man (who is also a Presbyterian church pastor).
Me? I want many things. But mostly, I want to be peaceful. I see being peaceful as a sort of golden glow that starts from within, and lights up your being. Then I see it spreading, in varying speeds, across to family members, and friends, and contributing quite a bit of light to an often grey-ish world.
As a business plan, this sort of thinking does not work. I realize that.
I learned Compassion (Meta) Meditation from a Buddhist Monk this summer at the Telluride Compassion Festival. Part of the meditation is to imagine that this is your last day on earth, that you will die today.
Then you imagine anything you might want to change. You ask yourself, “how would I do things differently?” You think of the Native American saying, “Today is a good day to die.”
When I am in this state, meditating, thinking about priorities, money thus far has not come up. My job HAS come up. How I spend my time. How I treat people. Also, what I’ve accomplished has come up. Have I used my creative strengths to their utmost?
To me, it is getting in line with this (ok, how have I written a yoga-related blog for three months and not used this term already?) energy, that is important.
If you become very quiet, thinking about your life and what matters, do you feel in tune with that silence? Or do you feel uneasy? If you feel uneasy, are you willing to change, to align yourself within the natural pattern of your own precious life?
That, in essence, is the my interpretation of Compassion Meditation toward yourself. (I have the full version for anyone who is interested.)
Here’s a good quote from Thomas Merton to round out my point:
Finally I am coming to the conclusion that my highest ambition is to be what I already am. That I will never fulfill my obligation to surpass myself unless I first accept myself, and if I accept myself fully in the right way, I will already have surpassed myself.
— Thomas Merton
The next step in Compassion Meditation is, of course, compassion toward others.
By accepting what I believe to be the natural course for my life, I expect money to flow in to support that course. I also need to be open for money to flow out again. (In Christian terms, tithes.) If the money I receive is naturally flowing in, it is not really mine. (I guess it belongs to the universe or something esoteric like that.)
As the wisest man I have ever met, my boss and friend Paul Spates, used to say, “Money is just there to grease the wheels.” Money is not the end, it’s the means.
It’s Elizabeth who’s gotten me started thinking this way. Hardworking Elizabeth, who needs $500 to pay off the partially-finished cave-like home where she lives with her hardworking son, his equally (if not more) hardworking wife, and their three impossibly clean, smiling girls that wear gold-colored bracelets.
To honor the way money works (it flows in; it flows out), I need to give. I don’t need to give to Elizabeth, but I want to give. Well, part of me wants to give. Part of me is afraid that I won’t have enough for the rest of my trip. I’m afraid I won’t have a job right away when I get back to the States. That I will be shivering and homeless, in the snow, on a bench in Town Park.
But this part of my journey, in India, has opened my eyes to the abundance I receive daily. The whole point is to pay into the cycle of abundance, in the same way that I receive.
That’s what I think anyway. Let me know what I said here if I come home broke and need to crash on your couch!