Lynne Twist is the founder of Pachamama Alliance, and author of Soul of Money (from which the above story is excerpted).
SEED QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION: What does looking at money like water mean to you? Can you share a personal experience of a time you felt money flow in a way that served your highest ideals? What practice helps you engage with money in a mindful manner?
I think this comparison of money to water is very true. In many respects, money and water are alike as Gertrude points out. Both are resources and very valuable when used right. Both can be dangerous just as well when they are not used right.
wow, I thought sure the writer was going to say something like "I knew then that the $50K in my pocket would go a long way toward repairing that church and thus improve the lives of Gertrude's community."
Great lesson, true Money is like water and it should flow rather then stagnant.
I am in such deep agreement with this. I like to think of it as a village in which we all get to contribute what we are good at and receive what we need from what others are good at, whether creating goods or sharing services. Money is meant to be a convenient transactional system for that exchange. But the problem with money is that you can horde it in a way you can't horde apples.
You know those apples are no good to you if you don't go ahead and exchange them, because they have a shelf life. And though depreciation can chip away at the value of money over time, it doesn't "decay" nearly as quickly as say apples. And the fear of depreciation actually drives even wealthy people to horde even more, among other problem behaviors born of a distorted relationship with money.
Similarly, those who could do so much more good in the world, including adding one more happy, relaxed person (themselves) instead fight an inner battle with money, and so cut themselves off from the flow of abundance that would empower their dreams and help them deliver their gifts.
The convenience of money has confused everyone. It has created too great a distance between what is contributed and what is received for people to see the relationship. The village doesn't understand it is a village anymore, one in which all are needed, valued, able to make a contribution, and worthy of security in every sense of the word. So let's keep reminding each other -- and creating systems that make this connection explicit.
Money, like any other thing such as nuclear energy, is a reality of life and living. It is not what we have but how we use it.People do charity for a variety of reasons. The best is doing it from our heart and feeling the fullness of giving.It is like a selfless service or loving someone unconditionally. This is spirituality at its best. However, there are going to be people who do acts of compassion and kindness, small and big, with a mixed or selfish motivation.Should we feel guilty for giving money or food or clothes or other things with selfish motivation and or should we feel guilty for receiving it? I donate my skills,knowledge , time and things as gifts with no ulterior motives.And when I do it, giving feels like receiving. This is what I call my heart acts. But when the ego comes into picture, what is also for me, it taints the act of doing.I am a human being and there are times when I have acted like this. It is not the money, time or knowledge that we give makes our acts spiritual. It is the motive, what is behind my doing, makes it spiritual.
And we had and we will have these two streams of giving in all parts of the world, rich or poor, the first world or the third world countries. I believe in counting our blessings and not judging others who have different motivations for doing what they do.Maybe, the more industrialized and urbanized and materialized we become, we lose heart to heart connectedness. I would like to continue evolving from from self-centered consciousness to transcendental state of consciousness. That makes my life journey a pilgrimage.
May we cultivate empathy, compassion and kindness for all who need our help.
Jagdish P Dave
In "Hello, Dolly!", Dolly Levi says:
Really? A surprisingly generous old black woman who takes in white folks' laundry? Your "Magical Negro" storyline is condescending, racist, and tired.
As a retired minister of the U M Church as well as a successful business man that works daily in the stock market, I want to establish a group that uses money to generate income called the T L V (the Lord's Vineyard) where every dollar generated belongs to our creator and helps through charitable giving to teach others and donate to those charities a growing percent of the profit to help people at any level of society to manage their money, possessions, valuables as if (which is true) as all belonging to God and are our trust to manage as stewards of all we treat as our own but really belong to God. As a minister that has officiated many funerals, I have never see a house, a farm, a car or a savings account disappear from this earth when someone departs this life. Our entire economic system treats money as something to be received, spent on whatever we want and we are left impoverished by our lack of responsible stewardship of all of God's creation and as a result we are so impoverished that we cannot (in our minds) "Love our neighbor as ourselves" as Jesus suggested is the greatest commandment of all.
The article was powerful to change my belief about money.
As I read this I find so many opinions that are personal looking around a room where everyone is black ............ I did some washing for a white woman.....neither of these things were necessary to mention.....your dislike of people with money shines through much stronger than your charitable nature........please don't project your thoughts onto a situation and expect back up. It won't come from me. Yes some people have more money than others but money is never the problem how the person behaves with or without it is more important. The sooner we cease to separate our experience through race the better for me.... we are human beings all of which came our of Africa at some time so all faces in all rooms are actually black to some degree...........seek to help others with a positive view of life.........love each other...........charity has not worked in the way it was meant to because nothing appears to be changing and that's not because you can't get enough money out of people its because you don't choose to spend it in the right way. Money is constantly flowing like water don't cause blockages with your own negative thoughts. Love one another without separation we are as one in the end why not remember we are fragments of the whole now. I am you and you are me................x[Hide Full Comment]
Wow. Powerful. I have looked at other aspects of life like water; the ebb and flow of energy, the ebb and flow of our work, the ebb and flow of our emotions. Thank you for adding the view of money this way, it makes perfect and beautiful sense. As someone who sold her home and most of her possessions and uses her money as often as possible to serve others (no matter how little money it may be) I 100% resonated with this post. I have also been on the receiving end of funds for literacy and Storytelling projects throughout the world; serving others through sharing their own traditional or true stories to break stereotypes. The money most easily received has always been from people like Gertrude, those who give from their hearts. This post reminds me to always give/receive from the heart and soul, never from guilt. Hugs to the writer, thank you for sharing a very important reminder for us all. <3
Wow! This is a powerful story.
Particularly in times when we are plugged into the monetary system, I find myself divided about money. On one end is prosperity and abundance - of being content with what is, and allowing for abundance to flow
On the other is seeing the lack that many people experience, and feeling a sense of discomfort with how our labour gets valued differently, and my brothers and sisters at the other end of the bargain get so much lesser for theirs.....isn't me buying into this system also buying into its flaws?
Incidentially, I picked The Soul of Money by Lynne only yesterday...am hoping to rediscover my relationship with money....
As God's Spirit hovers over the waters of earth in early Genesis, God's Spirit ought (ideally) hover over each dollar we so tightly hold.
Let go I can hear Him say . . . Amen.
I like the author's analogy that money is like water. Both are resources that can do great good and great harm. Money, like water, can flow gently and be used to nurture and foster life. Money and water can move so fast that they cause damage and destruction. Too much money, like too much water, can destroy and kill lives. I've heard that winning the lottery has been blamed for ruining the lives of many winners to the point that they wish they had never won the money. Money and water can be held back, hoarded, and become stagnant and toxic, being used for no productive purpose by anyone. Water and money have beauty when they stay in their proper channels and are used productively. People have gone to war for money and people may soon be going to war over water. When I contribute money to a cause that I feel positive about, I feel good for using the money in a way that served my highest ideals. What helps me engage with money in a mindful manner is to remind myself that money is a two edged sword that can be used for good and evil, and to remind myself to use money to live and not get caught up in living to make money.[Hide Full Comment]
Thank you, Gertrude. I'm in N.C. right next to S.C. where people were killed while they thought they were safe in a church. I've been to several groups who want to talk about ending racism. Mostly white folk up here in the mountains, and I hear guilt, anger and sadness. People want to end racism, but don't really see the connection to them. I see it in me when I hold on to money and other illusions of security. When I let go of money, my idea of safety and comfort, cross the street, sit with others, the poor, the disenfranchised, and the hurting, I give up some privilege I was born into. And, I discover as our friend in the article did, that human to human, from the heart, giving will change our hearts, transforming fear and anger, the root of hate into compassion, empathy - love. Gertrude knew the value of money - it's worthless in your pocket or bank. Stagnant, like water, it will begin to rot, attracting the mosquitos of fear and greed. Open our hearts and hands and let the sharing be an airing in the sunshine of love.[Hide Full Comment]