No Money Down Real Estate! Make Money Fast! Sure Fire Money Earner! They were everywhere in eighties. Anytime you would turn the television on after 11pm at night or first thing Sunday morning there they were extolling the virtues of their sure fire money making system. Real estate dealt, mail order sales, investment schemes, whatever. They all had a guaranteed way for you to make money.
Then there were the motivational speakers: the ones who could tell you how to feel good about yourself. It turned out that was all that stood between you and success: feeling good about yourself. Of course since I never bought one of the tapes or books I don’t quite know what that means or how to go about doing it. That could explain why I’m not living in a mansion yet.
You could almost find these guys funny. They were oh so serious and sincere. My favourite was a small Korean guy who was always surrounded by tall bikini-clad women. Look, he was saying, what money can give you. If a short funny-looking guy like me can score why can’t you? Didn’t say much for his opinion of North American women though.
Now book stores have a section specific to this type, Self Help. A whole new genre of writing was borne out of greed. These books range in topics from losing weight, getting more and better sex, perfecting your relationships, recovering from your last relationship, to withdrawal from Oprah (okay I made the last one up). Shelf upon shelf oozing advice and blame.
How dare you be such a mess when there’s all this help available? You only have yourself to blame if you can’t actualize some sort of positive realization to affect re-evaluation. Huh? They may not even understand what they’re saying themselves, but they don’t need to, all they have to do is explain it with catchy chapter titles. “The Real You Beneath The Fake You” sort of thing.
Most of these are pretty harmless. If someone wants to take them seriously they probably won’t get to badly hurt by them. But there’s a newer trend that makes me slightly more nervous. The combining of spiritual growth and material gain.
I’ve yet to figure out what one has to do with the other. But the new buzzword is “abundance.” You can pray for it, wish for it, and offer it to others. There’s even a guardian angel for each of you so you can achieve “abundance.” But you have to be positive and not think any negative thoughts, or it will pass you by.
Yep, you’ve nobody else to blame but yourself for your current lot in life. Just stop thinking those negative thoughts and watch the money start rolling in. Use the force Luke to ensure that you can live in a palace with your every need catered to.
I’m not a Christian but I still think that Jesus Christ had the right idea when he tossed the money lenders out of the temple. Maybe I misunderstood the meaning behind that action, but it seems to me an indication that commerce has no place in spirituality. I can understand how some physical churches need funding for their programming etc. But that’s not the same thing.
The whole idea that one needs material wealth to be happy runs against the teachings of all the great spiritual leaders of all faiths. Jesus, The Buddha, and others have all taught that what is important is intangible: faith for the sake of faith, not for any reward on this plane.
In fact don’t most teachings advocate a ridding oneself of worldly possessions so as to gain a greater appreciation for the divine presence? What kind of spirituality advocates the selfish practice of praying for goodies?
Whatever happened to being grateful for the gifts we have instead of wanting more? Maybe I’m just conservative and old fashioned, but I find the whole idea of striving to be more spiritual for the goal of obtaining material wealth nauseating.
I may not follow one of the major religions but that doesn’t prevent me from respecting and appreciating what each one of them has to offer: comfort and solace in time of need, direction and guidance in times of personal crises, and a credo to form a basis for important decisions seem to me the things most people look for in their spiritual practice.
The path I’ve chosen for myself, although different from the norm, fulfills those requirements for me. In none of my readings on any of the faiths, or studies with any of my teachers, has the subject of obtaining material gain from spiritual practices ever come up. Spiritual matters should be concerned with the nurturing of the soul and the heart, not the bank book.
What’s scariest for me is the number of people who I have thought to be sensible who actually talk about “obtaining abundance” while claiming to be devoting themselves to a spiritual life. They spend their days obsessing about money to an extent that would make a corporate stockholder embarrassed(apologies to any corporate stockholders, it was the only analogy I could come up with).
It’s a sad reflection on our society that a.) there are people who write books encouraging people to behave like this and b.) that there is a sufficient audience for these types of books that they quickly become bestsellers.
Prayer and belief no longer seem to be enough of a reward on their own. Instead people are demanding a return on their investment. How much more selfish can we get?