Seeing money with new eyes

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I’m so thankful for the privilege of aging. It’s giving me time to change my mind about money. I have to tell you it’s a change that is long overdue.

So here’s what’s going on. I have an old, well-used, hard-working, sometimes under-appreciated dollar bill laid out in front of me on my desk, kind of like the one in the picture, so I can look at it as I write this post. I didn’t have a dollar bill in my wallet, so I asked JoAnn if she could lend me one, and being the sweet wife she is she happily obliged.

For most of my life, the truth is I have looked down on money. It didn’t mean much to me. It didn’t have any value for me.

Once, when I was about 23, and working as a reporter on the Daily Colonist in Victoria, BC, I bought a handsome new car – a gleaming Ford V8 in very good shape that cost me $300. The car wasn’t new, but it was new for me, if I’m making myself clear.

It was a cool car and I enjoyed driving around in it for about ten days. But then, being an idealistic young man, in love with sailing and seeing the world, I got all excited when an opportunity came up quite suddenly to join a sailboat leaving California on a Pacific cruise.

I quickly decided my new car had to go. All I could see was the romance of this new adventure. The car was an impediment to my dream of being an ocean sailor.

I took the car back to the dealer and told him my plans had changed and could I return the car and get a refund? Of course not, he sniggered at me. What planet did I live on? But here’s what I want to share with you. I said goodbye to the $300 quite happily. It didn’t bother me at all.

All I could think about was this great trip I was planning to make – a trip that never worked out, by the way.

And so it continued. Money was secondary to my deep-felt longing – a longing I did not understand but which had been with me since my teen years – to find deeper meaning and purpose in life.

A year or two later I met a man who inspired me deeply with his wisdom and genuineness. I was so inspired that I gave up my job, sold my boat and gave up everything to join the spiritual community he had founded in British Columbia. I lived there for 36 years.

Once again, money was beside the point. Like everyone else in the community, I was part of a cooperative venture. We received room and board and a small stipend, but our time and labor was given freely to the larger purpose without any thought of reward.

But life keeps moving, as I’m sure you’ve noticed. It loves change. It nudges us continually toward greater balance and wholeness. It doesn’t matter how old we are or how young we are – if we are wise, we answer life’s call to change and grow.

And so it is that my approach to money is changing.

Here’s what I see now when I look at the old dollar bill lying on the desk in front of me.

Here’s what this tiny little slip of paper, with all its fascinating symbols, including the picture of Washington on one side, and the beautiful statement, “In God We trust,” on the other side, means to me now.

Money is not somehow a little bit sordid, as I used to think. There is nothing evil about money. And there is nothing evil about loving money either, although it is not, and never will be a passport to wealth and happiness as our culture tries to tell us it is.

Money is a faithful servant that makes possible the flow of energy in this world and in our lives. It is a symbol of the divine wealth that resides within each one of us – the wealth of our own true character, our own true nature – and it is to be honored.

Money makes it possible for me to express my true nature more fully, and to give my gift more fully. It makes it possible for me to fulfill my deepest longings and aspirations. Money is to be honored.

How could money be attracted to me if in my heart I think it is unimportant or unworthy?

And so I honor money and see it with eyes of love for the beautiful symbol it really is — a symbol of the energy, generosity and abundance of the universe that flows to each of us and through us continually.

Would love to share any thoughts you may have on this topic.

Picture credit: Copyright All rights reserved by jazer

 

{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

Marisa July 31, 2013 at 6:31 pm

What a magnificent, and thought provoking, post !

Just yesterday one of my younger students asked me how I got paid. I told him after all of the bills were paid, and the children had what they needed, if there was any left over I got paid.
He looked at me and said “but you say you are rich”. I told him I am ! His 8 year old response was “that’s because you love us!”. Truer words were never spoken.

When my husband was dying, out of state, his business partner filed false Power of Attorney forms, and depleted all of our accounts, savings, stocks. I lost our home. I did not lose my schools.

When the land developer filed bankruptcy both buildings for my schools were included. I started over. Albeit on a much smaller scale.

Money is a tool/gift we have been given to enrich our interaction with each other, our Universe, our beliefs, and all of humanity. It is not evil, nor good. All things granted to us on this realm are gifts we can utilize, not only for ourselves, but all living creatures. I believe all gifts have as an indicator their value by how we use them as a collective Universe.

Thank you Christopher for all of the wonderful thoughts / comments you share with us. A gift I treasure !!
Marisa

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Christopher Foster August 1, 2013 at 9:07 am

Thank you for your very touching comment Marisa. It is touching but it is also truly inspiring. I love the story of your 8 year old student and his wonderful realization that you are rich “because you loved” him and your other students. A lot of wisdom in that little child, wasn’t there?

I’ll be very frank. Readers like you and other people who read my posts make it all worthwhile, you really do. So thank you. It’s good to share this adventure of living with you. Blessings to your students by the way.

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Narelle July 31, 2013 at 7:57 pm

I like this post very much. Thank you. I too have “looked down” on money, and have been aware of wanting to see it differently. I’m going to borrow your context of it being the energy, generosity and abundance flowing to us and through us.

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Christopher Foster August 1, 2013 at 9:12 am

Good to hear from you Narelle and thanks a lot for sharing your own experience in this way. The very word ‘money’ stirs troubled feelings in a lot of people doesn’t it. Good to do what we can to see it in a more positive way. It seems to me that if we can see people “in a new light” perhaps we can do the same for money? Best wishes and love.

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Robyn July 31, 2013 at 9:31 pm

I also have held a similar life long belief about money, I felt that if I pursued money I sold out on my spiritual beliefs.
I am grateful for your post and its timely appearance for me.
I have my own small business and I have been trying to figure out how to see money differently, to learn how to embrace monetary prosperity in my life.
Thank you for sharing your understanding and insights ,

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Christopher Foster August 1, 2013 at 9:18 am

Thank you for sharing, Robyn. I want to wish you much success with your business and I’m happy if my words have helped even a little bit in changing that old belief about money that you mention. It doesn’t do any of us any good does it? But more important, as we change our attitude to money I believe we help others do the same. Thanks again for your comment.

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Charlotte Rains Dixon July 31, 2013 at 9:45 pm

Nice to get a new perspective on things. Thank you!
Charlotte Rains Dixon recently posted..On The Road

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Christopher Foster August 1, 2013 at 9:19 am

Lovely to hear from you Charlotte. Thank you for your comment.

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DiscoveredJoys August 1, 2013 at 2:02 am

I read somewhere, once, that money is ‘frozen time’. ‘Stuff’ you buy is free – what you pay for is the peoples’ time to mine/grow/manufacture/finance/manage/transport the free stuff to you. This is quite a different way of thinking about money.

It makes sense to keep a stock of money (peoples’ time) on hand to see you through thin times or when you need support in retirement, just like you would have stored your own ‘time’ in the root cellar as preserves, potatoes, apples etc. ready for the winter. Jamming your cellar full of produce that was too much to eat and would rot is just as useful as being a miser and finding your money rotted by inflation or depreciation.

Makes you think about charity and taxation in a different way too.

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Christopher Foster August 1, 2013 at 9:25 am

What an interesting line of thought you’ve shared with us all. Thank you so much. This is indeed a different way of thinking about money — and, as you say, other things like charity and taxation. Best of luck to you A.C., if I may address you in that way.

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Maureen Moeller August 1, 2013 at 10:52 am

Such an intriguing post Christopher! Money is a loaded and often maligned subject and once again you shine the light upon a mystery many of us are uncomfortable with.

I wonder if your European roots played a part in your “disdain” toward money as a young man; or perhaps it was the post WW II era, a time when youth began rejecting the traditions of the previous generation. After reading Karen Armstrong’s book “The Spiral Staircase”, the young men and women were coping with the rebuilding of their country the best they could; how difficult that must have been.

I can see that idealistic young man in his shiny new car, but in America that is where it would stop. No ideal was greater then HAVING that car, house, furniture, picket fence, etc…money was and is king, queen and prince in our country and this has always frustrated me. As young educators raising 3 children we went into deep debt to HAVE what was the American dream. I see our young families repeating the same scenario today. We watch corporate America continue to covet and hoard money, despite the harm it does to society as a whole. Those who have little or no money are looked down upon; seen as “less than”.

Chris, our country needs a new and fresh perspective on money and your philosophy is grounded in truth and love. The American dream needs to also be grounded in truth and love. We are all lovable and precious, despite what we HAVE. Wouldn’t it be lovely if we could take the “emotion” out of money and recognize it for what it is; just as you describe, an exchange of energy and a generous symbol of the abundance of life we can all experience.

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Christopher Foster August 1, 2013 at 4:21 pm

Maureen, thank you for sharing your thoughts. That is an interesting point about whether my English roots and experiences in WW11 played a part in my feelings of rejection toward society and money.

Well, I’m just glad that however I arrived at this stage of my life I do feel a healthy and caring attitude developing in me toward money. Such an essential part of our experience. It feels very good — at long last — to be taking a welcoming and caring attitude toward it. As my wife was saying, if a person is careless with money, what incentive is there for money to want to come anywhere near you? Again, deep thanks for your sharing. Blessings.

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Lee August 4, 2013 at 12:34 pm

Do not ‘love’ money. The love of money is the root of all evil.
This is true wisdom I am sharing with you.

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Christopher Foster August 12, 2013 at 9:55 am

Thank you for your comment Lee. It’s good to hear from you.

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Lorraine Pollay August 7, 2013 at 9:03 am

Dear Chris,
Loved your story about money! Have also deeply appreciated your spiritual input these past 40 years as I was also a part of the spiritual community that you were. My story is the reverse of yours. I’ve always had a wealthy consciousness and all my life money flowed to my like water through inheritances, gifts, trust funds. What I have been longing and searching for was spiritual awareness and it has always seemed to elude me…or I thought it did. I recently read “that where there is more light – there is more shadow.” I have since come to a place of rest and trust that the Light continues to guide me. Love and Light, Lorraine

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Christopher Foster August 12, 2013 at 10:01 am

How lovely to hear from you Lorraine. I’m so sorry for my slow response. I’ve been trying to finish up a new book I am working on.

I am delighted that your journey has brought you to a place of rest and trust, it surely is the true destiny of each one of us. There will be challenges to come, of course, but that beautiful Light of which you speak will not let you down. Good to be sharing this great adventure of life with you.

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Rick Barlow August 25, 2013 at 4:22 pm

I’ve never disdained money or the pursuit of wealth. Knowing that I wasn’t capable of doing a Thoreau, I always wanted my FU money, my independence. But independence is a state of mine. Wealth is a state of mind. And money can be a gremlin nibbling away at your daily serenity. Aging has allowed me understand that better. That and a little money. But your perspective provides a layer of enlightenment. Thanks for that.

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