Spending from the Heart
Money can do so much good if we use it in a spirit of interrelatedness, acceptance, and love.
My Two Cents
I have not yet met a person who has said, “My happiest day was buying a new . . . ” You can fill in the blank. Our happiest days have to do with love and expressing love. We thrive, we grow, we feel sorrow and joy with human connection. Buying stuff does not connect us. Being together does.
When my dad was dying, I read stories about others with cancer, in the hope that it would help me understand. One story was about a woman with bone cancer who felt only pain when she was touched. Yet throughout her illness, she would continue asking her husband to snuggle and hug her. Even though it brought her excruciating pain, she needed the hugs, she needed the touch. She never told him how much it hurt; her need for connection was so much greater.
Relationships can bring us great happiness—and one of those relationships, for better or worse, is with money. Do we respect money by holding it in esteem and reverence, or do we treat it as a necessary evil and use it for ill? For many, money does not bring happiness— it brings grief, fear, sadness, addiction, and pain. That pain comes from a lack of respect, fear of losing our money, and an unbalanced sense of power.
Yet money can do so much good if we use it in a spirit of interrelatedness, acceptance, and love.
Balancing the Spiritual Ledgers
Q: I have been feeling overwhelmed and just crummy about the world, its greed and injustice. You live in the world of finance and see it all—how do you keep “peace of mind” with all the injustice you see?
A: Spirituality is all about loving, cheerful, engaged service. To keep myself centered, healthy, and humble I take care of my body and spirit. I meditate, pray, strive to demonstrate healthy habits, and cultivate nonjudgment so I can serve others better. I believe that Zen teaches us that suffering exists so we have something to do. So for peace of mind, accept that suffering exists; realize that you can do something about it; and to do something about it, live a spiritual life.
My wife, Amy, and I focus our giving on organizations that work with the most vulnerable in our world. We also look for groups that try to help where others are doing little. One inspiring organization, Sustainable Organic Integrated Livelihoods, or SOIL, recycles human waste into safe agricultural compost, bringing critically needed ecological sanitation, as well as soil enrichment, to some of the most challenging areas of Haiti—places where many other charities won’t set foot. For information, check out oursoil.org.