Money and dealing with spirituality – part X

About 5 years ago, when I decided to give up on teaching math, I took a vow of poverty. Not formally, just as a resolve. That seems weird now, as my next tax return will declare me one of the better earning people in The Netherlands.

I don’t really remember what I meant by that vow any more. Perhaps I meant that money would be less important than studying religion and spirituality and thinking about life. Perhaps it meant that I would not let my lack of funds bother me.

Now that worldly success has definitely come – though the internet is the kind of place where one can never be sure it stays – I find myself remembering the determination I had as a 19 year old NOT to go into ‘religious studies’. I wanted to do something practical. I wanted to live in the world, contribute something useful. Having a scientist as a father had it’s roundabout effect, I suppose, even though at 19 I could not really imagine a life in which I was NOT a scientist. Weird what a 19 year old can imagine about her life. Looking back it’s also clear I was more definite about what I did NOT want, than about what I did want to be or do.

Looking back on the long roundabout road I took to where I am today, 19 years later, I see that I was very determined to take care of myself. It took a lot of failed experiments for me to cut the cord of expecting myself to take some job and to choose instead the insecurity of running my own business.

On my father’s 67th birthday yesterday I toasted ‘being richer than most’ to my family. My spiritually inclined artist younger brother frowned at me. What are we celebrating? Just that you’re making lots of money? Yes. Just that I’m making more money than I need.

He lives in a squatted school – legally squatted, which is possible in The Netherlands. He is nearly finished studying Mime and will start a life with his wife this summer based on the ‘most stay nearly destitute’ economics of being an artist.

He’s my financial conscience, I guess. He lives what part of me expected to end up as when I decided to take that vow of poverty. He’s also 7 years younger than I am. That’s the part that’s always hard to remember about younger siblings.

However, I honestly rejoice in having enough money to contemplate buying a house. Part of me is capable of relaxing a bit more, knowing that I make enough not merely to make ends meet – I always made ends meet somehow – but to buy a dress on a whim as well.

In an old Tricycle Magazine from 2004 I read an article by Noelle Oxenhandler, a babyboomer about how there are two kinds of baby boomers: the kind that stuck to their principles without worrying about money and the kind that ended up rich and successful, re-discovering spirituality in their 60s.

In a way I am both. I started studying religion and spirituality at 19 and never stopped. But I also started meditating (on a cushion) somewhat seriously only when I made enough money to not have to worry about it any more.

5 thoughts on “Money and dealing with spirituality – part X”

  1. This was a post that touched something in me. Just enough money to allow me to focus on my spirituality. That is what I call going to the core of what money is about.(at least for me) Thank you. Referred here from one of your squidoo lens. Good reading.

  2. One of my mentors says, Money is not the most important thing in the world, but it touches everything that is. That is true wisdom.

  3. Thank you, I really enjoyed this post, in particular the last line – that’s real honesty! On the other side of the world in Australia I’m seeking my own spiritual development, and I’m also working hard to become financially free. People get confused about money – they believe the old adage about the “root of all evil” when in fact, money is just a flow of energy. It isn’t good or bad, it just is. When we have enough to be comfortable and to live a life of ease, we are in a better position to do good – we’re freed up in many ways to stop worrying about making ends meet, and to think about how we might make a difference in the world. So my goal is to create a life of ease and prosperity, one where I can really enjoy myself AND help others.


  4. This was an interesting post. I think that the world of money and spirituality is always in some respect an internal struggle that those that live at a higher consciousness tend to deal with. We don’t want to care about money because those of us living in this “place” know that it is all in essence an illusion and that we are above this whole “money thing”. However being still earth bound, we are forced to care and do well enough and make enough that we are not living on the street. Giving up all of our belongings and living off the land which is what some of the spiritual teachers of the east have done (ex. Sri Ramana Maharshi) is just not practical in this day and age. I do believe their is a way to be successful (in the general sense of the word) yet not be bound to the ties of materialism. You can be very successful and have great wealth as long as you do not attach your identity to it, and you know that you are much more than your career, your achievements and your daily life, you are the eternal presence within. If you can become in a sense detached to all of these external factors, you will naturally be a success because you will be living in alignment with the universe and success will be drawn to you.


  5. I think spirituality is higher than religion. Money earning lead us towards more money earning. It is great to earn money enough to live without suffer for necessities I think only JK teachings can lead us towards spirituality.

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