Prosperity

From a sermon given June 1999 at the Summer Solstice Worship Service:

Prosperity is a very hot topic these days here on Planet Earth.  Many people seek it, even in these days of dwindling resources when people are increasingly aware that there is a limit to what is provided by the Universe free of charge to those of us playing the game of life.  So I thought I’d spend a few minutes this morning talking about my views on what prosperity is and more importantly, what it is not.  Usually it’s easier to find something when you understand what you are looking for.

Until lately, the topic of prosperity hasn’t interested me much.  Like many of us, I was raised in a family and a community that was built on a foundation of scarcity, despite outward indicators of abundance.  There was always food on the table and money for basic necessities but there was also the unspoken sense that the outward stuff could disappear at any moment.  Both my parents had barely survived the Great Depression in the United States, so they were uneasy with their new-found economic advantages.  But as a kid, I was more focused on their uneasiness than the source of it.  I had many basic questions such as why my father worked so hard he didn’t have any time for his children, even though he clearly loved them; and why my mother didn’t seem to enjoy anything about her life, even though she seemed to have everything moms were said to need.  Although I didn’t have the words for it as a child, I was tuned into the poverty of spirit around me.  In a sense, I have been dealing with prosperity, or its alter ego poverty, all my life.  I just haven’t been very interested in the monetary aspect of it until more recently.

I first began to look more deeply at the concept of prosperity about fifteen years ago when I was going through the seminary.  At that time I belonged to a church full of very insightful, interesting and powerful people who were teaching me the basics of working with energy–my own, other people’s and the energy of the universe.  At some point a workshop on Prosperity was scheduled that I was not planning to attend but about which many of the people around me were excited.  And then, expectantly, it was canceled.  And the word came down through the ranks that the church leadership were not able to handle the energy from the workshop.  Now THAT got my attention.  Here were some of the bravest, most talented people I had ever met who were doing amazing things, performing miracles on a daily basis, but who were saying that they did not have what it took to deal with the topic of prosperity.  It was then that I realized that prosperity is a concept of great depth.

Since that time I have paid attention to how prosperity gets played out in our shared world.  I am here this morning to tell you about three conclusions I have reached in the last fifteen years, three principles if you will, principles that I believe are true.

prosperity2

First of all, Prosperity is about wealth of the spirit, not wealth of the body.

This is very important to understand.  Perhaps you have run across one of the thousands of courses, classes, workshops, study groups, organizations, or whatever, that exist in the community that purport to teach people how to create monetary wealth.  Sadly, there are even entire “prosperity churches” that are dedicated to this goal.

If you are in need of money, taking a class on such physical aspects as how to play the stock market, set up savings plans, buy real estate or whatever, may be a good idea for you.  Just don’t delude yourself into thinking that what you are doing is increasing your prosperity.  You may be increasing your monetary resources, which may or may not be a good thing for your overall spiritual development.  But this has little or no connection to your real prosperity level.  People can have a lot of money and no prosperity.  Conversely, people have little or no material resources but an abundant and dynamic prosperity.

Prosperity is about inner wealth, a sense of richness in one’s lived experience.

What I call “true prosperity” is having the experiences that you as spirit want to be having in your life to learn what you came here to learn. . .and if it takes money for you to have those experiences, so be it.

prosperity3

Second of all, Prosperity comes with a price.

We don’t like to hear that.  Indeed, this a message that is almost entirely absent in all those thousands of courses, classes, workshops, study groups, organizations that are often so happy to take your money to teach you how to be prosperous.  We prefer to think of prosperity as a free lunch.  It’s not at all free.  What is the price of prosperity?  Responsibility, of course.

“True” prosperity is a manifestation of energy, like everything else.  If you have a lot of it, you are necessarily gong to be dealing with a lot of energy.  The more you have, the more you must take care of, must work with responsibly. . .or you lose it.  The universe gives freely to those who wish to receive, but it also takes back–eventually if not right away–what is misused, taken by those who cannot handle the gift, or otherwise received ungraciously.

If you can’t handle the responsibility of increased prosperity, you will find that people rush in to take it from you or control you through it.  control

Or you may develop an illness that uses up all those resources, or whatever.  I’m reminded of all the lottery winners who end up dying of a heart attack or something shortly after their win.

It’s not a question that somehow you didn’t “deserve” that increased level of resources.  The universe is much more fair than that.  It’s only a question of the energy flowing to where it ultimately can best be utilized.  Think of true prosperity as a raging river.  You can dam it up or try to divert it to something other than its natural causeway and sometimes, if you’re in sync enough with nature and you’ve taken the time to do the necessary engineering and environmental studies, that may work.  If you haven’t done your work or you’re trying to force something unnatural onto the Earth, the river will overflow its new banks, become stagnant, or otherwise have problems.

In this case, “doing the work” means spending the time getting to know yourself and your spiritual purpose; and if you truly require a large amount of material resources in order to serve that purpose, being prepared to pay the price of living life on a raging river.

prosperity1

Third of all, All prosperity comes from God, and all true prosperity is in the service of God.

The creator knows no lack.  Nonetheless, that infinite wisdom allows us to create scarcity because of its endless love for us and perhaps its greatest gift to us:  the gift of free will.  People ask me all the time:  isn’t abundance limitless?  God has no limits; but we do.  And sometimes we impose those limits on ourselves for reasons that make sense even to us, if we were honest with ourselves.  And sometimes we impose those limits on ourselves for reasons that we are not yet willing and/or capable of understanding.  And sometimes we impose those limits because we are lost.

It’s all up to us.

We get to be rich in spirit or impoverished, depending on our soul’s desire and that choices we make in trying to bring that desire to fruition.  Not coincidentally, we get to be rich in physical resources or impoverished, depending on what we are trying to learn, want to experience and the choices we make in creating that experience.

Only you can examine your consciousness, and discover what your prosperity needs to be to accomplish your purpose in life.

I’d like to end my sermon this morning with the words that I was drawn to last year after praying for several days for insight about the name of this new church that we were about to incorporate.  I woke up one morning knowing the name was in Luke, Chapter 10, Verse 2:

The harvest truly is great, but the laborers are few.

Pray thee therefore to the Lord of the harvest.

That he would send for the laborers into his harvest.

Copyright 1999  Rev. Resa Eileen Raven

Prosperity

From a sermon given June 1999 at the Summer Solstice Worship Service:

Prosperity is a very hot topic these days here on Planet Earth. Many people seek it, even in these days of dwindling resources when people are increasingly aware that there is a limit to what is provided by the Universe free of charge to those of us playing the game of life. So I thought I’d spend a few minutes this morning talking about my views on what prosperity is and more importantly, what it is not. Continue reading

The Economy I: Where We’re Coming From

This article was written by the Rev. Resa Eileen Raven and published for the first time in March 2010 in a blog entitled “Ravings from the Rev”:

Last month Newsweek contained an interesting article that was called “May the Best Theory Win: How Economists Are Competing to Make Sense of Our Failed Financial System.” Basically the article was about how none of our existing belief systems can account for the current economic climate. They all are short of the mark, leaving those of us trying to weather the economy massively confused and frightened, and decision-makers clueless about how to get us out of the slump.

I always like it when the powers-to-be can honestly admit their ignorance, but the thing that really caught my eye was the article’s characterization of economists as doing a lot of “soul-searching.”

“Soul searching”–what an interesting choice of words. Maybe it is a stereotype of mine but I don’t think of economists as having much interest in or knowledge about soul. And yet. . .soul really is what is going on right now in regard to the economy.

To be fair, I don’t think those of us who have interested in soul for our part have had a lot of interest in the economy. There is a reason why Jesus of Nazareth talked about it being harder for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than a rich man to get into Heaven. . .and why, when he threw his one and only hissy fit of record, it was directed at a marketplace. Spiritually, you can lose yourself very easily if you get caught up in the exchange of money for goods and services. For many of us truly committed to our spirituality, focusing on money hasn’t been worth the risk. But I believe that this is the time for those of us who value the spiritual path to also learn to pay attention to economic issues, if for no other reason than to put them in their proper place.

For nearly two million years, human beings were tribal, nomadic, and completely preoccupied with survival in an immediate sense. It was primarily with the rise of early human civilizations some 8000 years ago, when we transformed from hunters/gatherers, that we developed the first “economies.” Farming the land, domesticating animals, constructing salt mines to preserve food, all these allowed people to have more than they needed at times, to accumulate “wealth.”  Folks could then trade with people outside of their own family/clan/tribe. Agricultural-based societies always eventually created a marketplace where people could swap things they did not want or need, with other things their neighbors offered.

marketplace

This production of “wealth” came with advantages and disadvantages. It had the obvious benefit of accumulating enough to meet the basics of life and a little extra to make life sweeter. It allowed individuals to exercise their God-given creativity. But it also provided opportunities for some to exercise greed, and/or exert control over their neighbors through the granting or withholding of resources, in a way that would not have been as tolerated in a more collectivistic hunter/gatherer society.

Anthropologists tell us that hunter/gatherer societies are almost always egalitarian in structure, whereas agricultural/industrial societies organize their members hierarchically. Counsels of elders and clan leaders eventually gave way to leadership by warlords and theocratic/civil governments who had the authority to intervene in human life but were often far removed from the real consequences of those interventions.   Whoever held the political reins could advance their economic interests to the detriment of others not in power, and they could do so without having to see, feel or hear from the people affected by their decisions.

For example, in 200 BCE, when the feudal kingdoms of China were united into one country, making China arguably the most advanced civilization on Earth at the time, its rulers could declare that all the iron and salt in the land belonged to them because they had to build a Great Wall to keep out the Huns. Businesses that needed iron had to pay exorbitant prices for it, forcing hundreds to lose their livelihood; and thousands of people who couldn’t afford the salt tax and therefore had no way of preserving food for the winter, were left to starve. This is one of the first of many examples of price-fixing and government monopolies leading to real suffering by those not at the top of the hierarchy.

salt pix

So what has this got to do with the economy today? Understand that there is a lot of history here, a lot of energy that has gone into our current economic dilemmas. We’ve been lost for a long time. For thousands of years, 8000 more or less, we’ve increasingly based our lifestyles, our political structures and our marketplaces on the acquisition of wealth and the physically-based needs that it can feed: glory, power, status, and hedonistic pursuits. Fair exchanges of goods and services in order to share with each other, has been an increasingly rare experience.

We’ve largely squandered the Earth’s once abundant resources, and have tried God’s patience enormously. During this time of great balancing, there is a lot to put right. And a lot of new ways of thinking will be required.

Copyright 2010  Rev. Resa Eileen Raven

The Economy I: Where We’re Coming From

This article was written by the Rev. Resa Eileen Raven and published for the first time in March 2010 in a blog entitled “Ravings from the Rev”:

marketplaceLast month Newsweek contained an interesting article that was called “May the Best Theory Win: How Economists Are Competing to Make Sense of Our Failed Financial System.” Basically the article was about how none of our existing belief systems can account for the current economic climate. Continue reading