Money and Self-Help

I have a little bit of a rant today.  I’m in one of my moments of being extremely frustrated with the self-help and spiritual movement or industry really.  I’ve mentioned The Secret a lot on this blog and in writing elsewhere.    That book helped me tremendously but also bugged me.  Every time I recommended it to someone, I did so with a warning to not get caught up in the materialism of it.

In the book and movie, when you looked past the people wishing for sport’s cars, checks showing up in their mailboxes, million dollar careers, and mansions, there were several spiritual gems there.  The thing is most people didn’t look past the cars, checks, money, and mansions.  In some cases it just fed the desire for more, more, more by convincing everyone they deserved it and would have it.

It is a tragedy that we think ourselves smaller than we actually are, but it is also a tragedy when put our own self-worth before the good of the people we are meant to be of service to.  I love to go to workshops and learn about new things, but I refuse to pay out the wazoo for something that is supposed to heal me and improve my life.  Shouldn’t we want everyone to be healed and improved?  Sadly, most of the teachers that offer these type of experiences make them unaffordable for anyone on a budget.  Those people who died at James Arthur Ray’s spiritual warrior retreat paid $10,000 to be there.  The last person I talked to about this said “Yep, that’s about the price of a funeral.”  From what I heard about the incident, James compensated the families of the victims by giving them $5000.  They didn’t even get the money their loved ones had paid to participate!

In everything I read there is a promise of abundance and prosperity to those who are awake and aligned with Truth.  I believe that, but I don’t believe that abundance and prosperity mean that if we connect with God and follow our hearts we will all get a million dollars and a fancy house.  I believe that actually the two are measured in love, not dollars.  If you love your work, are surrounded by people you care about, find joy in the small things, and allow yourself to be mindful in each and every moment than you are very wealthy indeed.

At some point we have to stop feeding this myth that money equals value.  Money doesn’t make people happier and healing/self-improvement should be accessible to even the poorest among us.  In the end it is what we offer to the world that makes us valuable…not what the world decides to pay us.

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I’m Teaching Again…

Over a year into my spiritual endeavors, I got the idea that I wanted to teach what I was learning to teens.  In my own life, I had been presented with Religion as a guiding tool to get you successfully through to your Judgment Day.  Whether it was valid or not my interpretation was everything that I do should be so that when I meet God, Jesus, or whoever one day they’d go through my list and it wouldn’t be so bad and I’d earn my ticket to Heaven.  Nothing I learned in Sunday school was applicable in my actual life.  If I wanted to do the many things teenagers tend to want to do, I was just supposed to NOT do them.  God didn’t want me to.  End of discussion.

What I learned as an adult on a Spiritual journey on my own terms is that God isn’t keeping a score card of my sins.  God isn’t even somewhere far off in Heaven watching over me.  God is actually an energy that moves through me and through everything around me.  If I am connected to and aware of that energy I am led to the best outcome for myself.  Instead of obsessing about what the God “out there” might be thinking of my choices, I simply pay attention to how I feel about my choices.  If I am on the right course I feel at ease, if I am not I feel stressed.  I am learning how to live now.  My spirituality has been the ultimate self-help.  Now, if I feel legitimate guilt I understand it is because I have done something that is not characteristic of who I really am.  I can let it go and remind myself of the goodness within me.

One thing I’ve said since I first found this path is if only I’d known this stuff when I was a teen.  I could have made better grades, been more organized, been better capable of dealing with conflict, and had more self-confidence.  But everything I did as a teen and young adult has brought me to the place I am now.  If I’d meant to “wake up” any earlier, the teacher would have arrived.

So back to the teaching thing.  Over a year ago I volunteered as the teacher’s assistant in the Uniteens (6-8 graders) program at my Unity church.  I did that for several months before the program fizzled due to teacher changes and low attendance.  Last Winter, our Youth Director returned after Maternity Leave and was ready to start a new program.  Again, I felt called to take it on.  I resisted for a while, but eventually stepped up and volunteered to lead the program starting August 15.  Since I made the commitment, I’ve been planning the year with my co-teacher.  During this time I’ve had a lot of feelings of uncertainty and fear.  It reached a peak the other day and I actually dreamed that 24 kids showed up for the class and not one of them was cooperating with me.  I woke up thinking what have I gotten myself into? And then I picked up the book “The Last Lecture” and read the whole thing over the day.  By the time I was finished I was reminded why I had gotten myself into this.  I want to help kids understand how valuable their dreams and ideas are.  I want them to know that they are divinely guided.  I want to give them the spiritual tools that will carry them successfully through middle school, high school, and into adulthood.  I want them to know that “God” isn’t an entity waiting to judge them after death, but a spirit that is within guiding them to live the most joyful and productive life they can.

Yesterday, I had 8 kids show up who are apparently ready to “awaken.”  And I’m going to do my best to teach them how….

Rated R

My 5-year-old daughter has recently become very interested in suspenseful movies and shows.  My husband has been letting her watch Star Wars(PG) for a couple of years now.  He usually fast forwards through the violent scenes, but as she gets older she is more interested in watching what the bad guys are up to.  This weekend he decided to let her watch X-Men(PG-13).  I was in and out of the room as they watched, but what I noticed was how many times she went running to hide from what was happening on the screen.  She told us that she really didn’t like to see people being hurt.

When she said that I realized that this is the way we all should feel.  It shouldn’t be about whether we are 7, 17, or 57.  The sad part is, the reason that it is ok for a 17-year-old to see a rated R movie is because by that time a person is usually so desensitized that the things that should disturb them, don’t.  Once we are adults we have seen or experienced so much violence and lewd behavior that we don’t even flinch at the sight of it anymore.  But I’m also sure there are kids whose real lives are so painful that a rated R movie’s got nothing on what they see everyday.  In my opinion, the ages assigned to movie ratings should be discretionary.  It doesn’t really matter how old you are, but how much your soul as been exposed to.

Over the past couple of years, I’ve tried to give my soul a break.  I don’t watch Law and Order, CSI or any other gratuitous shows about murder anymore.  I leave the TV turned off as much as possible, mostly just tuning in for laughs.  I read a lot of self-help and spiritual books that inspire me and I spend at least 30 minutes a day in complete silence.   I hope that I am becoming like my daughter and getting back some of that sensitivity I’ve lost over the years.