By Parveen Chopra
You will probably not lack anything, be it love, health, happiness, knowledge or money, if you understand that your outer, material fullness is not really separate from your inner spiritual wealth, that both together mean a lifetime of abundance
• Prioritize. One way to do this is to make a list of things you would do if you were told that you have only 24 hours to live. Then, find out what you need to do, set up steps to do it and set yourself deadlines.
• Use visualization. Cut pictures related to your goals, put them on your pinup board. Imbue what you choose with love. Enthusiasm changes the body chemistry, breaking down the chemicals connected with mental blocks.
• Be grateful to God, the universe or whatever, for favors granted, even when they are still waiting in the ether to happen.
• Be willing to receive, without doubting your worthiness.
• Now, ‘make it so’ (tathastu in Sanskrit) with your word. Take action. Center yourself and ask, ‘What do I need to do today to further my goals’. Then go out and do it.
• Finally, surrender. Surrender your little self to the True Self. Let go of the plan.
Two common misconceptions: A short cut to sainthood—renounce the world, drop all desires for material things and devote all your time and energy to spiritual evolution. A short cut to success—work hard, make a lot of money, neglect and negate the inner life.
Both these ways lead you astray. In India, of course, for many centuries people resorted to the first short cut, believing that materialism militates against spiritual goals. The end result was mass poverty in the country. Worse, thinkers in the West started labeling Indian philosophy as life-negative. As for the second short cut, the rising concern with making money and acquiring goods today is partly a backlash against the past and partly a result of modernization.
Our sages had, however, taught us the ideal of a 200 per cent life: fullness in the outer, material world, and fullness in the inner, spiritual realm, each complementing and supporting the other. When that ideal was followed, India was known as sone ki chidiya (the golden bird). Today, we are like that American millionaire who, when asked by a journalist how much was enough, replied: ‘Just a little bit more.’
‘Just a little bit more’ implies lack, which has become an inseparable part of our lives. Lack is what you feel while envying or trying to keep up with your neighbors. Lack is the message advertising drums into us. It almost appears as if society has a vested interest in keeping us discontented and unfulfilled, forever.
But rather than how much you have, it is your attitude to what you have that determines your level of abundance. And the lack in one area of life disallows success and fulfillment in all the other areas. These insights are again getting a hearing with the focus on abundance in New Age circles. Many books on the subject have been published. Seminars have also been developed, which are now available in India.
But what is abundance? And what are the ways to let it flow into our lives?
Abundance is certainly not something we can acquire; it is something we tune into. It is a state of being. Of feeling that ‘I have enough’—time, energy, well-being, loving relationships, wisdom, everything. Enough money too. It is not the ascetic’s way of dropping desires. Nor psyching myself into believing that I have enough, while, in fact, I don’t. It is about actually having what I need and want, or manifesting what is missing in my life. And believing that I will always have enough.
Although abundance is not confined to prosperity, a majority of people who sign up for abundance seminars are motivated by money. Quite understandable, because material well-being has become an all-consuming concern in today’s world. For many, money is the stumbling block in moving towards the higher things in life. So it is better to address this issue first.
At the outset, know that money has no intrinsic value. It is a means to get something else you want. But be clear about what you want. In one of his workshops, recalls Delhi-based Sukhdeepak Malvai, a reiki master who has worked with the Landmark Forum and has now evolved his own abundance seminar, this is the conversation he had with one participant: ”I want to be rich,’ said the man. ‘Why?’ I asked. ‘Because then I will be famous.’ ‘But why do you want to be famous?’ ‘Because people admire and love famous people.’ ‘You have chosen a very long-winding way, my friend, to get approval and love,’ I said to him.’
Malvai, who attended the money seminar conducted by est (the earlier avatar of The Forum) some years ago, states that to attract money and abundance in your life, you must complete monetary issues from the past and focus on the abundance that is already there in your life. All the negative, limiting beliefs have to be confronted and thrown out: ‘Money is the root of all evil’, ‘Too much money is bad for you’, ‘Greed is bad’, ‘You may get it but only after sacrificing something else’, ‘If you have it you will lose it’ ‘I don’t deserve it’… and so on.
Also mind your self-talk, continues Malvai. Seeing a fancy car or a bungalow, do you say with a sigh: ‘No, I cannot afford it’, or, ‘Only people with black money, earned by dubious means, can enjoy these luxuries’? Replace such thoughts with statements such as ‘Yes, I might have a house better than that’. Closing monetary matters, literally, also helps: therefore, settle old debts, update your bank books and so on. Declare for yourself what you want. Be specific in setting goals. Saying ‘I want pots of money’ doesn’t work. The millionaire benefactor of the protagonist in Mark Fisher’s The Millionaire’s Secret makes him fix a target of $2.5 million to be earned from writing a screenplay, that too within three months. Then, the millionaire prescribes to him repeating his goal morning and night like a mantra ‘to make your goal a part of you, to communicate it to your subconscious mind which, in turn, nourished by your commands, will set to work. You will be amazed at the power your inner wisdom will put at your disposal as soon as you give it clear and precise instructions’.
While setting goals, don’t undersell yourself. Be realistic, but be expansive, too. When Malvai started conducting reiki workshops, he targeted Rs 12,000 (about US$ 265) as his income from each weekly workshop. Now he finds that his average income in a month from these workshops is stuck at Rs 48,000 (about US$ 1065).
In his book Creating Affluence, New Age guru Deepak Chopra shares another secret of prosperity. Talking about Lakshmi and Saraswati, the Hindu goddesses of wealth and knowledge, respectively, he points out that if you pursue and pay more attention to Saraswati, it will make Lakshmi extremely jealous, forcing her to pay more attention to you. ‘There is power in knowledge, desire and spirit. And this power within you is the key to creating affluence,’ Chopra concludes.
Focusing on what is already there in your life and not on what you don’t have may sound like good old positive thinking, but it is an important principle. It relates to the Biblical promise: ‘To him that hath, shall more be given.’ For instance, if you have been married for a few years and start looking for the bad qualities in your spouse, you are likely to find them, but if you look for good qualities, you will find many of them too and can make them the basis of intimacy and harmony in the future.
After identifying a thousand things that you do have, be grateful for them. Express gratitude. A key teaching of reiki is to live constantly in an attitude of gratitude. The more thankful you are towards what you have, the more you will have. Also believe in the abundance in the universe. To begin with, think of the things we need to survive: air, sunlight, food. Is there any shortage? As a matter of fact, is there any shortage of money in our world? Once, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, known for his penchant for thinking big, started talking enthusiastically about a project costing a few million dollars to set up. In those early years, his transcendental meditation movement wasn’t that flush with cash. Naturally, his associates asked him: ‘Where is the money going to come from?’ ‘From wherever it is now’, was his simple, confident answer.
Truly, all material things circulate and re-circulate-nobody can own them. ‘If we internalize this notion of not being able to own anything, ironically it frees us to have anything that we choose, without being attached to owning or possessing it,’ writes Dr Wayne W. Dyer in You’ll See It When You Believe It. Paula Horan, the first foreign master to introduce reiki in India, has also brought her one-day Core Abundance seminar here. Based on her new book, Abundance Through Reiki, the workshop alludes to the raag-dwesh (craving and aversion) polarity highlighted in Indian philosophy. We desire what we think will bring us pleasure and happiness and resist its opposite. But both craving and aversion signal lack and block the creative forces that express abundance. The exercises in her seminar are aimed to make the participants empty themselves of desire and resistance.
Horan points out that through our desires and goals what we really seek is security and the approval of others. Insecurity propels the drive to make money. But, paradoxically, writes Stuart Wilde in his book, The Trick To Money Is Having Some: ‘Every thought one has which endorses your insecurity, affects your moneymaking ability.’ More importantly, you can never feel secure ‘as long as you are attached to your body,’ Horan adds.
To transcend the need for approval, one has to step out of society, psychologically at least, before returning with a new sense of freedom. Horan’s seminar is followed by a 42-day home plan. In the first 21 days, you dissolve all lack by focusing on your limiting beliefs and shifting to an attitude of gratitude. In the last 21 days, through direct self-inquiry, you access the Divine Presence which has been there all along—which is your true or Core Self. After accessing it the questions of abundance are no longer pertinent, as we have come to understand that we are that abundance.
Her longtime student and now co-teacher as well as reiki master, Upen Chokshi has also followed her lead in conducting abundance seminars. Chokshi, a chemical engineer and successful businessman based in Mumbai, western India, teaching Horan’s Advaita-like approach to abundance, started out over a year ago. Chokshi says that the lack in his life he once felt was knowledge and wisdom, which drove him to attend one personal growth course after another. He now shares the knowledge he has gained with others. Participants in his seminars, he reports, get a variety of breakthroughs. Some develop new relationships, others an expansion of business. But, most of all, the emphasis is generally placed on expanding your energy field to attract greater riches in all areas of your life.
Bangalore-based reiki master Rashmi Solanki links reiki with abundance: ‘The same consciousness through which reiki flows is meant to be expanded through abundance.’ Also inspired by Horan’s work, she has included meditations for the manifestation of goals, and her own creation, Cosmic Light Attunement, in her abundance workshops. Solanki remarks that mankind suffers from a collective consciousness of lack. ‘Life is a struggle’ is the belief we all inherit. Lack and struggle is what we project on our children, continuing the vicious circle. We should consciously try to break this cycle, and ensure a world free from scarcity consciousness
Sheeba Loganey, who along with her sister, Shalini, occasionally conducts abundance seminars in Delhi, emphasizes that we must ask for what we want and be specific about it. ‘God knows what I want. I don’t have to ask,’ a participant in one of her seminars insisted. In reply, she quoted the Bible to him: ‘Ask and it shall be given to you; seek and ye shall find; knock and it shall be opened unto you.’ Another participant, a factory owner, was feeling guilty for having too much money. Loganey told him to think of the many people he had given employment to.
Loganey concludes her seminars with making the participants do some physical action, no matter how insignificant. For example, going out and giving Rs 10 to a beggar or buying food for a street child. ‘It may be just a tiny bit,’ she explains, ‘but by letting money flow you are sending a message of goodwill to the universe. The universe watches and will provide.’
An increasing number of people are enriching their lives using abundance principles. Renee Brar, a Delhi businesswoman, says that although she has not felt any lack all her life, she consciously used the principles of creating abundance when she launched an ozonised spring water brand, ICE, a couple of years ago. She had faith that in this venture she would be supported by a higher consciousness because water is a life-giver and pure water saves us from disease. ‘I also visualized my product selling and people asking for my brand of water and carrying the bottles,’ she says. Brar believes that success is 10 per cent hard work and 90 per cent God’s grace.
The principles of abundance work, no doubt, but Harjit Lamba, a healer from Mumbai, suggests caution in manifesting things by using creative visualization and affirmations. She refers to a case cited in a book published abroad: ‘There was this woman who worked on manifesting money, $38,000 for some queer reason. She succeeded and how? She fractured her leg in a car accident and the compensation came to exactly the stipulated $38,000.’ So, never force anything. It is okay to use visualization and affirmations, but always add, ‘What’s due to me’, ‘Thy will be done’, ‘What’s in the highest good of all concerned’.
Lamba advises abundance workshop leaders to dissuade participants from focusing on money. ‘The need of the hour is to wake up people into higher consciousness. So, abundance should be directed towards harmony, peace, knowledge, spirituality,’ she says. She also gives priority to health, because without health, there can be no peace or harmony, nor can you meditate if you are sick.
Lamba adds that success in manifesting what you want comes only if three factors are aligned: destiny, right time and effort. You can, however, overcome bad karma by resorting to prayer, charity and forgiveness. Forgive yourself and others and move forward with confidence.
The importance of giving is, of course, accepted universally. Almost every religion prescribes some form of tithing, donating 10 per cent of your income to church or temple. ‘We must give back, considering how much we receive,’ elaborates Priya Agarwal, reiki master. ‘Just think of how bountiful nature is.’ Adds Vikas Malkani, Delhi businessman: ‘Giving loosens the bonds of the ego; it gives back to the source; it is good for society; and the more you give, the more you get. Besides, the more you have the more you can easily give.’
Has there been a shift in thinking on the subject since the time of writers such as Napoleon Hill and Norman Vincent Peale? For one, the word abundance is being used more than success. Hard work and perseverance are no longer considered crucial. Hill and others, says Malvai, remained confined to the mental level. ‘Today, we also look at what is available in spirituality.’
Dr M.B. Athreya, a consultant who has been promoting the use of shastras in modern management, adds that the writings of Hill and Peale are useful in helping people cope with the neurosis of market capitalism, but they are not deep enough to deal with the issues of total abundance and ananda. Even the New Age thinkers, he believes, largely aim at success in the secular world of day-to-day existence. Money is not the cause of abundance, argues Dr Athreya, but the result of abundance. ‘As you grow spiritually, aesthetically, psychologically, intellectually and physically, material wealth is bound to follow.’ More than money, he says, the criteria for measuring success should be: How was that money earned? How is it being utilized? Will it last?
Indian philosophy, he points out, lists six kinds of abundance: spiritual force, aesthetic richness, psychological energy, knowledge power, physical stamina and material prosperity. By developing these, you can create abundance in your organization and society. You can do that by:
• Sadhana or following a spiritual discipline;
• Being a rasika (connoisseur) of beauty in all forms—nature, music, dance, painting, talk, personality, behavior;
• Jigyasa (quest for learning), through reading, experience, travel and exploration
• Yoga and exercise, diet and mind control
• Karma (action) with kausalam (skill).
There is a Sanskrit word, according to Dr Athreya, that goes far beyond abundance. It is purnatpam (infinity, totality). We are, born in, live with, and leave behind purnam, totality. All that God has created in this universe is ours. We can enjoy all of it (bhunjitah), but with tyakta (renunciation).
Dr Athreya reiterates that Indian philosophy prescribes four purusharthas (cardinal activities) for man: dharma, artha, kamaand moksha. If you are obsessed with artha, prosperity, you are unlikely to experience true abundance. Artha will stay if it is earned through dharma or righteous, ethical means. Besides, moderation in kama (desires) is necessary to experience abundance. Finally, you must seek moksha. In other words, we can have all our desires fulfilled, all the prosperity we want, provided we live in dharma. Living life in this way, spiritual fulfillment inevitably follows. Clearly, far from being life-negative, Indian philosophy has showed us the way to true abundance.
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