How many times have you heard the advice, Live from a perspective of abundance, not scarcity! It’s a rainbow truth, a call to renewal, the lodestar of many a spiritual teacher. One of my favorites, Wayne Dyer, spent a lifetime liberating people from limited thinking. As he famously said, “Change your thoughts and you change your life!”
The art with any powerful guideline is to apply it daily. This may require a period of painful deconstruction, a dismantling of familial/cultural conditioning that was siphoned into our minds and heaped on our shoulders. In my own life’s trajectory, I have had to unburden myself from two heavy influences.
A HISTORICAL (AND STILL POPULAR) FORM OF CHRISTIANITY: I know many Christians whose theology begins with the essential goodness of Creation. They believe we are created in “God’s image” with an inner core of goodness. Sure, it’s easy to view our world and see how human goodness has mutated – obscured by greed, power, lust, and self-centeredness. We can even say that our planet is poisoned by the presence of our species.
But does this negate the essential nature of our souls? Does it deny the inner presence of healing light within each of us? Don’t we need spiritual leaders who remind us of our inherent beauty, not our ugliness?
The Christianity I grew up with—a faith practiced by millions—focused on “the fall” of humanity, repeating its incessant mantra that we are born sinners, we remain sinners, and that we need a savior for our redemption. Many churches claim to celebrate victory—the past is gone, the new has come—but it is only because an external character, Jesus of Nazareth, “paid the price” for their freedom.
My daughter calls this an “outsourcing of authority.” I agree with her. It’s a clear message that we are fundamentally flawed, lacking the inner fountain of life that will set us free if we take the time to release it. Too many institutions (including historical Christianity) have trafficked in doctrines that prescribe, control, and limit. We ALL know what can happen when we cede our power to others.
I raise a different banner. We are unique and wondrous beings! We hold within us the keys to our enlightenment. It may take many years to peel back the layers of acculturation that mask our divine identity. It may require herculean focus to overcome and release our self-destructive habits. But the effort is worth it!
Bestselling novelist and feminist theologian Sue Monk Kidd, who did the hard work of emerging from theologies of scarcity, says it beautifully with her own set of metaphors.
“Here is where our real selfhood is rooted, in the divine spark or seed, in the image of God imprinted on the human soul. The True Self is not our creation, but God’s. It is the self we are in our depths. It is our capacity for divinity and transcendence.”
THE DISEASE MODEL OF RECOVERY. A Twelve Step group helped me rise from the ashes of addiction. For this, I am eternally grateful. I enjoyed the no-bullshit atmosphere of people who had experienced the bottom and were now increasingly grateful for life.
However, there’s a moment at the beginning of each AA meeting that makes me cringe. A member reads from their “Big Book,” including this phrase: “We are like men (sic) who have lost their legs; they never grow new ones.”
Read that again. Whoa! What a crippling declaration of scarcity and woundedness! I have a heartfelt response to this cursed phrase.
I am not an amputee. I am not a prisoner of my disease. I am a man who has realized a stunning new power and freedom. I am flawed, certainly, but the spiritual process of my daily growth has revealed this metamorphic truth: I am not only growing new legs; I am growing new wings.
I urge you to transcend ANY familial, societal, or religious notion of scarcity that is holding you down. If a person or institution is communicating that “you are not enough,” shed those lies starting now.
A friend, colleague, and co-author of mine – Heiwa no Bushi – offers these words in our collaboration entitled The Six Medicines of BodhiChristo (downloadable here).
“What were you before you were told everything that you are now? Can you uncover the sacredness of your own humanness? Many of us never have the chance to discover this. We are born with a name that is not our choosing, then christened or baptized into a tradition that makes us one of ‘them.’ We are told that ‘this is what a real man does,’ or ‘this is how a real woman should act.’ The problem is that many of us have been so deeply assimilated into ‘the code’ that we don’t know we have become part of the problem.”
I pray we will ALL learn to extricate ourselves from any code or conditioning that weighs us down or obscures our essential identity. I pray we will ALL learn to soar!