Abundance. To be sure, there’s no shortage of talks, seminars, and books about it, both in pop culture and contemporary spirituality circles. An abundance of people trying to point the way towards abundance. However, there’s a Zen saying – do not mistake the finger pointing at the moon for the moon itself. All of the “talk” about abundance has fascinated me. What are so many people so drawn towards? And/or so yearning to avoid (i.e., “non-abundance”)?
So what is the abundance that is talked about? Generally, the talk is about more stuff. New car, larger house, money, et al. Even the talk about non-physical-stuff (that is, non-material desires), such as jobs and relationships, has the quality of discussion about things – how big, how long, what colour, taste, and smell. Is this true abundance in life?
There is no doubt that material items improve the quality of life – and can be lots of fun. I am not speaking to you from the pulpit of austere spirituality. Any doubt about that would be erased if heard me extol the virtues of my extremely warm down sleeping bag at 10,000 feet in the mountains or my new backcountry ski poles with the really nice flick-lock design. And that’s not to mention how much a safe (fuel-efficient!) car, good health care, and a comfortable home adds to the enjoyment of life on Earth.
These aspects of abundance are important and valuable – but I am proposing that talking about abundance in terms of stuff (material and non-material) is really missing the mark on what, in our hearts and spirits, we are truly seeking to experience. It’s not the noun of abundance that is sought, but rather, abundant living.
I describe abundant living as creating a structure and a space that can contain and facilitate the flow of the greatest and deepest energy in order that we may create that which has never been before. This sentence requires some unpacking …
Through my eyes, abundant living is about a state of being, a condition that we cultivate, that allows a flow through of energy and intent from a deep place in our hearts. This is in contrast to talking about abundance as something static – a thing, stuff, items to be acquired. Abundant living is dynamic. It takes on forms (manifestations), but it is not those forms. The forms come and go, depending upon our focus (desire) and the movement of the forces in the world with which we co-create. I refer to abundant living because it is a continuous flow and a way of being in the world rather than a discrete item.
The practice of abundant living applies not just to the physical or energetic body, but how those bodies are mirrored in the larger context of our life. Manifesting abundance is about opening, nurturing, and expanding the river – the structure and the space – through which the energy of Life can flow through and in you. Connection to that energy – in collaboration with clear intent– is what brings the stuff of abundant living to fruition. This river has two aspects: structure (yang) and space (yin). Both are essential and interdependently support each other.
One way to describe the structure of abundant living is the concepts, beliefs, expectations, and ideas that we have about Life itself. Again, structure is not material stuff – in this case, it is the “stuff” of the psyche. What framework “invisibly” underpins your life and relation to abundance? In fact, it really is not so invisible — it is already manifested in the world around and within you. Structure creates the space within which forms “appear.” It then follows that …
Big structure => big space => big pathway for the energy of creation => big potential => big manifestation.
From this perspective, then, it is possible to think of space as potential. It is the place or staging area that the structure permits to exist. Forms (manifestations) do not arise out of structure – they arise from the space that the structure creates. Furthermore, the quality (potential energy) of the space is dependent upon the quality of the structure. A spacious, open structure creates spacious, open space. A convoluted structure – cluttered with contingencies, restrictions, bargains – creates narrow spaces into which manifestations can only squeeze themselves. Reflecting as I write, it is probably not an accident that I have always chosen a house or apartment with open beam or cathedral ceilings.
From these perspectives, I would like to suggest that rather than undertaking the creation of abundance, we are actually undertaking the practice of abundant living. The focus, then, is not upon the stuff that is desired, but upon the crafting of the structure and the space into which manifestations are born. The structures and spaces are dynamic, expanding and contracting with our hopes, fears, beliefs, and expectations. And, just like a physical house, a large part of the structure is not visible to the naked eye – it is underground – that is, in our subconscious. One of my favorite quotes comes from Carl Jung: “what does not become conscious manifests as destiny.”
Simply stating or willing a new set of beliefs or expectations is not going to make those come into physical form: what you think is not always consistent with what you believe in your deeper psyche. Almost always, there is another level of expectations about self, reality, life, and possibility that is operating and directing the energy of creation. From this arises the opportunity – or depending upon your perspective, the necessity — of the deep journey towards manifestation and abundant living.
To change your visible life (the manifestations), the paradox is to seek and transform the invisible structure (subconscious beliefs and expectations).
Yet another compelling question is still unspoken. It is not just a question of “what is abundance” and “how to create abundance,” but “why seek abundance”? I believe that “why” is intimately connected to “what.” Simply stated, why do you want what you want?
As I explained earlier, I have no categorical resistance to wealth or material well-being. But if the creative process is not rooted in conscious and purposeful intention, it is more like feeding an endless craving than receiving sweet fulfillment. After the wrappers have been sent to the (physical or emotional) landfill, we are in the same room even though the furniture might look a bit different.
So why do we want abundant living? Is it truly an external condition that is craved? Or is it an internal place of peace, satisfaction, and well-being? In my experience, an action or outcome is a reflection of the internal space from which it arose. I have not seen choices arising from untransformed anger or fear yielding much beauty, peace, and freedom. Similarly, the fruits of manifesting that have not come from deeper purpose have either not come to fruition or have not been long satisfying. The river (structure and space) runs dry rapidly when its source is shallow.
So, then, what is it that one truly wants? I find it inconceivable to proceed with the practice of (conscious) manifesting until there is a degree of clarity and heartfelt resonance with this question. Clearly, there is no short response to the query and it is an ongoing quest to answer. An external answer – from media, advertisements, books, friends, family – is very likely to be someone else’s answer. Which may be a helpful finger to guide attention to your own heart’s moon, but your finger might direct you beyond to a different place on the moon, or even, to a more distant and sparkling star.