I recently saw a documentary about financial inequity in India. One segment highlighted Indian billionaires in Mumbai who are building skyscrapers as personal residences. Their view? Hundreds of acres of slums. When one of these billionaires was asked by the film’s commentator how he felt about the inequity while driving around the slums in a $250,000 Lamborghini, he changed the subject.
So many feelings and thoughts flooded through me about the nature of money, financial equality, wealth and abundance. It occurred to me that I see people struggling financially here in the US, in South America, Africa, India—there is poverty and struggle in many places. Why is this the situation and how might we change it by shifting our own perspective to one of true abundance?
- The Tribal Beliefs of Your Culture
The country and family into which we are born deeply imprint our earliest relationship to money. For most people, these tribal beliefs follow them to their graves.
In India, there is a caste system, with the Brahmins at the pinnacle and the 'untouchables' relegated to the slums. This is seen as a divine plan—the order of the Gods. Although they are striving for democracy, this caste system gives a Brahmin entitlement he or she was 'born with' vs. an 'untouchable,' whose chances for advancement are slim. This is in stark contrast to the pursuit of life, liberty and happiness. My fantasy? Some of these billionaires decide to rebuild the slums and upgrade the economy by creating jobs, lowering health costs and creating reams of other benefits. They'd be considered modern-day Gandhis! I have this same fantasy worldwide. Private money has benefited people all over the globe in so many ways already—new libraries, health clinics, schools, hospitals, etc.
My awareness of the power of private money is why I regularly give to charity. It makes a difference.
What are the tribal beliefs about money in your family and culture? Do they serve you?
For example, in the US, here are some of our money beliefs:
- If you're poor, it is totally your own fault. If you weren't so lazy, you wouldn't be it this situation. (This is a common line used by unethical bankers, mortgage brokers, student loan collectors and credit card companies to badger and guilt customers who have no way to pay back their loans on their current salaries.)
- You can trust people with your money.
- You can't trust anyone with your money.
- Poor people are lazy. Rich people are hard working.
- Poor people are hard working. Rich people inherited it, stole it or overtook all of their competitors.
- Poor people are noble and rich people are deceitful, immoral, mean and manipulative. This theme is very popular in US-made movies.
- Don't try to keep up with the Joneses.
- You'd better keep up with the Joneses because you simply aren't pretty, thin, rich, or smart enough. Now, buy this product and all your problems will disappear!
- Money is sexy.
- Money is evil.
- Money is energy.
- Money is made up.
- If money is made up, how come I can't pay my bills?
- Money isn't real.
- I love money.
- You have money because you think abundant thoughts. (Um, lots of celebrities, including many who died avoidable early deaths had money. I would argue that an aspect of 'abundance' means valuing your life more than a gram of cocaine, a bottle of whisky and the time to overdose.)
- The amount of money you have measures your worth.
- No amount of money can measure your worth.
Obviously, I could fill thousands of pages with these contradictory beliefs. This is where it starts get interesting.
- Your Relationship to Money is Actually a Reflection of Your Ability to Value and Share Your Creativity
In the West, there is popular talk of 'creating your own reality' and 'attracting abundance.' There is some truth to this. The thing is, what most people create is the 'reality' of the dominant culture or dominant institutions.
We could argue that India is perfectly creating its financial reality with its caste system.
In the US, for example, if you buy into the tribal belief that your government is going to take care of you, your health and your retirement, you are likely to not pursue more lofty goals. As long as you keep the mentality of a scared child, you can't become a free-thinking adult.
And your true abundance is in the unique expression of YOU as a free thinking adult. Money, acquired ethically, is the result of putting your creativity out to the right audience and that audience giving you money in return. Simple.
Money can also be saved and invested, so your creative efforts can create value for you long-term. Beautiful.
Money isn't something that you deserve. Money is something that you generate, create and attract. You might inherit it or win it but luck isn't a long-term financial strategy.
You can think and believe whatever you want about money. Your relationship to money is as unique as your DNA. It's your relationship to value, build and understand.
- True Abundance is Simple
Abundance isn't just material accumulation; abundance is an EXPERIENCE of LIFE.
Abundance might include:
- A clear conscience.
- Good health.
- Loving family and friends.
- Clean air, water and food.
- Satisfying work.
- Being of service to others.
When I have a money issue come up in my life, I simply remember my four-month trip to India and Nepal. Images of open sewers, endless slums, and people literally dying in the streets easily come to mind. It puts my issues quickly in perspective. This is why I think that every US student ought to travel abroad to an impoverished nation to gain new perspectives. Yes, there are slums in the US, but I have never seen a slum—even in the Ozarks or Detroit or NYC—that comes close to the mass of desperate humanity that is Mumbai, India or the African nation of Congo. It is a level of poverty that is beyond poverty—it is destitution. They have no money whatsoever and no shoes on their feet. Meals are a rare occurrence.
Struggle, for all human beings, is relative and covers a large spectrum. You do create your own reality—the reality you believe in, that is. For most people, that reality is the dominant culture, not their own pure creative abundant thoughts.
My abundant thought is that poverty can be ended in my lifetime, but that would mean that it would become illegal to invade countries for their raw materials and our addiction to oil would be tempered, among other things. I think the loving path to this transformation happens inside of the heart and mind of every man, woman and child who realizes that they are the instrument of their future.
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