Why lottery winners so often lose all their money – the reasons no-one ever talks about

You’ve probably head the strict Law of Attraction-based explanation for bankrupt lottery winners, which is that they were in subconscious resonance with winning the lottery, but not with having money. They are stuck in a poverty mindset, so even when a gigantic wad of money lands in their lap they feel the need to subconsciously rid themselves of it to make their programming come true.

While there may be some truth in that, it doesn’t adequately explain how they got the money in the first place if they’re not in resonance with it. In fact their good fortune seems to rather contradict this theory. Nevertheless, while not denying the possibility of it contributing, a more detailed explanation is needed. Here is mine.

G.K. Chesterton once wrote that a balanced life must involve a certain amount of dissatisfaction as well as satisfaction, because without the dissatisfaction it’s impossible to appreciate the moments of satisfaction. If you quit your job, you’d better make sure you’re pursuing some deeply edifying, fulfilling purpose in your free time. If you spend every day at the beach instead, you’ll soon get bored of it. This explains why many older people voluntarily return to the workplace a year or two into their long-awaited retirement.

In short, there’s no Friday without Monday. It is possible to live a deeply enjoyable life, but it needs to be a life of purpose, not a life of endless leisure. Chesterton’s observation does not apply to people in states of advanced enlightenment, but to the average person living a purely natural human existence and relying on natural experiences for fulfillment, one cannot live forever in a state of untempered ease. Counter-intuitively, it leads to a state of ennui and a desire for greater thrills – because basing your satisfaction on purely natural, physical stimuli instead of the deeper, more fundamental desire to evolve spiritually can never satisfy us deeply or permanently.

Furthermore, most of us feel a certain sense of excitement when contemplating the future because we expect that our future will hold many exciting experiences. These experiences may be spread thinly over a long period of time, but the anticipation of exciting things to come tends to give most people a sense of optimism and hope for the future. Most of us have things we want to experience and achieve, and knowing that the happy day will eventually come reassures us that our time here isn’t wasted. Lottery winners may find that they have reached the end of their entire list within the space of six months or a year. What’s left to look forward to? Why are they no longer living in daily ecstasy like they were immediately after their win? Why have their unhappy souls – yearning for true spiritual fulfillment – reasserted their true miserable state?

This is when the spending often starts to escalate. Bigger houses and cars, more luxurious holidays and more lavish food and drink are all common ways of attempting to plug the god-shaped hole in their souls. I needn’t bother to tell you the success rate of such attempts. Suffice it to say, the desire to be reunited with our true infinite nature can only be satisfied by cultivating a deep connection with the infinite. Attempting to satisfy infinite desires with money would make a person spend an infinite amount of money, if it were available. Alas, the money eventually runs out and the desire remains unfulfilled.

While many lottery winners hold the belief that spending an infinite amount of money is the answer to all of life’s problems, many billionaire businessmen seem to think that making an infinite amount of money is the answer. Why else would they spend their entire lives in the pursuit of more money, despite having more than enough for 10 lifetimes already? With that amount of wealth, any conceivable life path is open to them – they have the means to spend their lives doing literally anything they’re physically capable of. But out of all the available options, they choose to spend their lives sitting around in boardrooms making more money. This demonstrates that we love the thought of money and the dreams that it brings much more than the reality of it. The dreams represent that ineffable something that our soul yearns for, and the more money we have, the more we get to share in that dream. But most of the time the chase is better than the catch, because money can only make us happy if it is used to cultivate our purpose. If it is used purely for self-indulgence then it has the ability to distract us from our purpose, destroy our bodies and even destroy our lives.

I like to think that winning the lottery has absolutely nothing to do with luck, and everything to do with learning these precise lessons. Perhaps at some stage in our evolution we all win the lottery, or inherit a fortune, or amass millions by starting a business. If you’re already on a spiritual path, you’ve probably already learnt that lesson. So save your money by not buying lottery tickets. Don’t be fooled into thinking you can attract a lottery win with your thoughts, and don’t fall into that trap of thinking “But I have so many wonderful ideas I could carry out with the money! I could help others and pursue my worthwhile passions. Why should others get millions just to waste it, when a more worthy recipient like I misses out?”

Worthy as you may be, people with these ideas never seem to be the people who win the lottery. Perhaps they are and we just don’t hear about them, but I suggest that people with bigger ideas are ready for the bigger lessons. Chief among these lessons is to plan the big ideas first, then trust in the infinite intelligence of the universe to bring them to fruition. Dream big and wait for the money to arrive when it’s needed – rather than chasing money with some vague pretenses of good to justify it. When we do the latter, what we’re really seeking is a life without lessons. A life where everything comes easily and without effort is a life of stagnation, not evolution. If that were the best thing for us, we would never have come here in the first place.

How misusing the Law of Attraction creates suffering

This is part 3 of a series discussing some of the misconceptions about the Law of Attraction which have been caused by the explosion of publicity it has received in the wake of the movie The Secret.

In part one I discussed the Law of Growth, and why we should always consider the spiritual impact of any attempts to manifest. In the second part, I discussed the need for consciousness in the manifesting process.  In this third part of the present series I will discuss what I believe to be the true meaning and purpose of the Law of Attraction, as distinguished from the magic formula for material gain that it has become through modern popular teaching.

Let me begin by stating that although I find certain core tenets of Buddhism hard to swallow, I cannot find one word to argue against the Buddha’s core teaching that desire results in suffering. Contentment equals having everything we want; while its opposite – desire – always implies that something is missing. The same principle is stated in verse 20 of the Tao Te Ching, where Lao Tzu teaches non-striving as the way to contentment. Similar teachings are repeated elsewhere in the Tao.

Therefore, the whole Law of Attraction premise would seem to be flawed from the very outset. It’s based on an egoistic concept of happiness that says “you are unhappy because you do not have what you want. Let me show you the way to get what you want.” If the process happens to succeed, the ego will simply ask for more – because attaining some material success will not change our mindset and the energetic pattern created by our mindset. The moment you create a specific worldly goal, you are energetically saying “I am here, but I wish I were there.” The implication of the energetic message is: “I need to be there to be happy. Here is not good enough. Being here is the cause of my unhappiness.”  I am loathe to even say it, because it’s one of those oft-repeated yet rarely appreciated truths that sounds like little more than a slogan on a motivational poster, but here it is, in all its apparent triteness: happiness comes from within.

Unfortunately, we all empathise with Ashleigh Brilliant’s famous quote about money (sometimes falsely attributed to Spike Milligan): “All I want is a chance to prove that money can’t make me happy.” We think we can be the single exception to the rule. Others aren’t happy because they’re using their money foolishly, we say. I would use it wisely, or for purposeful pursuits. Or we pin medals on our chest by saying we’d use it to do good in the world. Despite all our fantasies, no-one has ever found lasting happiness through money per se. When Sylvester Stallone was asked by an Australian TV show whether money and fame had brought him happiness, he answered:

“Well, you can afford a better grade of psychiatrist – that’s about it. No, I mean money certainly gives you a chance to be independent, but it doesn’t buy happiness at all. No it doesn’t.”

His reference to independence may set off another train of thought within us – “that’s all I really want – independence. I want to be free from my mind-numbing 9-5 job, or free to move away from my irritating housemate. If I had a source of easy income, I’d be free to dedicate more time to work on myself and develop my spirituality.”  Again, it is one of those ideas that seems so true in our imagination, but is immediately disproven when it is tried. Removing ourselves from noxious influences can help, but if we do not remove the real source of the influences then we will simply attract more.  Furthermore, if we are unhappy working a 9-5 job, we will be unhappy without one. There are some advantages, for sure – but there are disadvantages in equal measure. I can assure you from personal experience that if you quit your 9-5 job before you’ve developed your true spiritual understanding and calling, your life will not improve one bit. You may be free from certain irritations like early starts and team meetings, but other difficulties like loneliness, isolation, lack of direction and frustration with your spiritual state will arise to take their place.

Your ego may argue with this and remind you how great your last overseas holiday was. What if you could live that way all the time? It may remind you how great it was for the first week after you quit your job – and how peaceful it made you feel when the pressure was released. It may remind you of the first few months of being in love. If we could only grab hold of those fleeting pleasures and make them last, it says! Of course, we can’t – a change in circumstance only ever makes a temporary change in our happiness.

You simply cannot find that magical place called ‘ease’ and attempt to use it as a base camp from which to live the rest of your life and develop yourself spiritually. Not only is it energetically impossible, but it is not what we’re here to do. Reaching a state of ease through material security and nothing else would put us a state of stagnation. We came here to evolve, and to ultimately manifest the Uncreated Formless in created form. That doesn’t mean our lives are fated to be hard, but if our dominant thought pattern and its resulting energetic signal is one of discontent, the result can never be different – although we artificially change the circumstances around us.

I stated just before that no-one has ever found happiness through money per se. However, some rare individuals have found meaning after having money, and this meaning has led to their happiness. A still smaller number have found spiritual peace after having money. But these people are the rare exception – the vast majority of people who pursue money first, either fail to attain it or get ensnared by it.  I mention this only because if I don’t, someone will pull out the rare example of a person who made millions on the stock market, then gave it all up to become a yogi hermit.  Please don’t assume that the very rare exceptions disprove the whole premise.  The only course of action that will infallibly lead to true peace and happiness is the one Jesus gives to us in Matthew 6:33: “Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and all other things shall be yours without the asking.”

I said that artificially changing the circumstances will not make a discontented person happy, and the opposite is true too – a change of circumstances will not make a truly contented person unhappy. There have been truly enlightened souls who have retained their happiness in prison, because happiness comes from within. We need not look for examples of this – we know it to be true, because many people on the highest spiritual paths voluntarily choose to “imprison” themselves in monasteries or even hermitages.  The outward circumstances simply do not matter, and have no correlation to our happiness or unhappiness. So let us begin any analysis of the Law of Attraction with the assumption that its true purpose is not for us to attract wealth and status into our lives in order to create our dream lives and attain happiness.

In fact, I don’t even agree with the term “Law of Attraction” – it implies that we are striving to pull something we do not have into our reality. But the law simply does not work when we strive to attain something. It only works when we are something. It is much easier to understand if it is referred to as the Law of Resonance. What we are will grow and increase, because our energy is resonating with it. What we are not will never come to us. Standing at point A and attempting to attract things from point B will never work – you are resonating with point A, and what you resonate with is what creates your reality.

All of us will pass through a phase of evolution where our goals and our achievements are based primarily on worldly gain – whether it be attainment of power, wealth, fame or all three. Such people do not need to strive to attain anything – by virtue of their present state of evolution, they are already are the kind of people that will succeed in worldly affairs. They are already being successful people. They are already at point B from the moment they’re born, if you like. They do not need to fight deeply against themselves to muster up the motivation to achieve worldly things. By the very fact that they are at point B, they are resonating with worldly achievement, and thus worldly achievement flows naturally to them.

The great mistake that modern Law of Attraction teaching makes is to try and teach people at different stages of evolution how to get to point B. Thus, the young soul which has not evolved beyond money discovers something about the spiritual workings of the universe, buys his first Ferrari, then jumps on YouTube and attempts to teach everyone else how easy it is for them to do the same. But the audience may be at point C or point D already. Attempting to take them back to point B is just going to contravene the Law of Growth and create resistant energy. We’ve all felt the disappointment, the struggle for control of our thoughts and feelings – the painful struggle that ensues when we try to change ourselves into something we’re not. The Law of Attraction teacher will tell you that you’re getting there, and you just need to persist, or try harder, or buy their book to create the right mindset where abundance and success can flourish. But your soul will tell you you’ve been there already. Now is the time for something greater. A bitter truth for our ego, which seems to steadfastly refuse to acknowledge the truth that external circumstances cannot make us permanently happy.

Some will argue that feeling resistance over our attempts to attract money is purely a sign that we need to clear our past traumas and money blocks. Perhaps that is so – but what does the clearing process entail, anyway? Does it entail years of releasing trapped emotions and energetic saboteur patterns? Years of tapping on meridian points to clear old traumas? Years of positive affirmations, and clearing of the negative patterns that sabotage those affirmations? It’s possible to go through all of this healing and more, and come out a great deal the worse for it, because you’re taking on the vibration of someone who is broken and needs fixing.  On the other hand, if everything goes right, the soul is then free to easily attract their millions and discover for themselves how much it will not bring them happiness. Success at last! But it wasn’t quite as easy or as fulfilling as YouTube made it out to be, was it?  Thus, a soul which may have been destined for higher things gets sucked back into the money trap. Instead of clearing its energetic baggage by raising its consciousness through spiritual practices, it gets to a certain stage of spiritual power through artificial means, and doesn’t know the true use for the power.

Even Neville Goddard – historically one of the great Law of Attraction teachers – eventually moved on to a deeper spiritual phase of his career. This chapter of his life has been all but forgotten, since his Law of Attraction lectures and books hold far more mass appeal – but Goddard eventually declared that the Law of Attraction was merely one phase in the process of spiritual development. A spiritual bait and switch, if you like – to turn our minds heavenward and then bring us to something greater, which he called “the promise.”

So what is the true use for the power of spiritual attraction? Let me answer it by quoting a far greater mind than my own. Genevieve Behrand, student of the great New Thought writer Thomas Troward, imagines a conversation between herself and Troward, in her book Attaining Your Desires. She asks him the following question:

“Then one’s efforts should be wholly directed to the attainment of a higher degree of intelligence, rather than to the acquiring of material things?”

Note that intelligence was the word Troward used to indicate a soul’s level of evolution. He answers:

“Such a purpose is the very highest, and aspirations along this line would surely externalise corresponding things. Under no circumstances should you allow yourself to form the habit of idle dreaming. The material side of life should not be despised, for it is the outside of a corresponding inside, and has its place. The thing to guard against is the acquiring of material possessions as your ultimate aim. However, when certain external facts appear in the circle of your life, you should work with them diligently and with common sense. Remember that things are symbols, and that the thing symbolised is more important than the symbol itself. ‘God will provide the food, but He will not cook the dinner.’

Pupil: My part then is to cook the dinner, so to speak; to use the intelligence with which I have been endowed, by making it a power to attract, from out the universe, ideas that will provide for me in any direction that I may choose to go, according to law?

Sage: Yes, if you choose to go with life’s continual, harmonious movement, you will find that the more you use the law of harmony through progressive thinking, the more intimately acquainted you will become with the law of reciprocity. This law corresponds to the same principles which govern physical science; that is, ‘nature obeys you precisely in the same degree as you obey nature.’ This knowledge always leads to liberty.

Pupil: How does nature obey me?

Sage: Nature’s first and greatest law is harmony. You see the results of harmonious law in the beautiful world around you. If you obey nature’s suggestion, and follow the law you will be the recipient of all the benefits contained in this law of harmony that nature has to offer, such as health, strength, contentment, etc., for all of her laws bring freedom and harmony. You will find nature responding along the same lines, to the extent that your thoughts and acts are in accordance with her perfect laws.”

To distil it all down – the true purpose of the Law of Attraction is to bring ourselves into perfect resonance with life itself. To make our every thought, word and deed resonate with life and love.  When we attain this, we experience a deep, lasting happiness and peace that a change in material circumstances can never take away from us. We experience health, love and happiness. We desire nothing, yet seem to have everything; and necessary favours are granted almost before we ask for them. In short, we attain heaven on earth.  Says Sydney Banks: “The Kingdom of Heaven is a state of consciousness.”  Says Christ: “For lo, the kingdom of God is within you.” Luke 17:21.

I will conclude this series in part four with some final thoughts on how to put this all together through non-striving and surrender.

The Law of Attraction and the absolute necessity of consciousness

This is a continuation of last week’s blog post, One crucial question to ask before using the Law of Attraction, where I argued that many people fail when attempting to use the Law of Attraction because they ask for things that are opposed to their own spiritual evolution. This, I argue, is contrary to the universal Law of Growth, and thus their efforts will be frustrated by the universe. If you have not yet read it, I recommend you begin with that article rather than jumping straight into this part.

Some will object to me subjecting the Law of Attraction to the Law of Growth by saying that this is a return to the old paradigm where our prayers are only answered if approved by the erratic will of some capricious god. However, this concept is vastly different for a number of reasons – the first being that we do not need to grope in the dark to understand the motivations of the Universal Mind; it will only frustrate our desires if they are opposed to our spiritual evolution. Furthermore, the old paradigm turned us into helpless pawns with no recourse against the final judgement of the Great One – whereas we now know that our power is absolutely limitless once we have attained a sufficient level of consciousness.

So the basic New Thought assumption that thoughts and beliefs are the only true limitations is correct, when understood correctly. Christ was not lying when he told us “All things whatsoever you shall ask in prayer believing, you shall receive.” (Matt. 21:22). But note that he said this just after he had performed an incredible miracle by cursing the fig tree and having it immediately wither away. In verse 21, just before the famous verse above quoted, he says: “If you have faith and stagger not, not only this of the fig tree shall you do, but also if you shall say to this mountain, Take up and cast thyself into the sea, it shall be done.”  This gives us some idea of the level of consciousness required to manifest a lottery win or a free Lamborghini. If you can’t imagine yourself throwing mountains into the sea with your mind, then perhaps it is best to give up all other ideas that are presently beyond your reach and focus on the smaller things.

So how come your favourite Law of Attraction teacher drives a Bugatti Veyron? If, as I implied in part one, he hasn’t yet evolved beyond money, then how did he have the consciousness to manifest that?  Firstly, we can’t make assumptions about other people’s level of evolution. I stated earlier that I could not think of any spiritual lessons that could be learnt by lottery wins or luxury cars other than knowing the hollowness of riches and their inability to give us true happiness. I also stated that there may be other lessons that do not immediately come to mind – so we cannot assume that any particular person is still in need of the first lesson. But it is certain that such people do exist – so how do they have the consciousness to manifest expensive luxury items? It’s simple: because it is broken up into smaller chunks, no tremendous level of consciousness is required, because nothing truly improbable has happened at any step of the way.  Motivation for worldly gain lends itself to belief, action follows belief, and results follow action.  In other words, their achievements are primarily the natural consequences of their own actions, rather than the result of some inexplicable coincidences miraculously orchestrated by the universe.

For example, firstly the person believes they can succeed at business school, so they do. Once they’ve graduated with honours, the next obvious assumption is that they will soon be making a six-figure income. This is easy for an already successful person to believe, so it soon comes true. Once the money is coming in, that luxury car really doesn’t look so improbable after all.

Nothing miraculous has taken place, but rather a simple series of causes and effects. There were mental forces and spiritual laws at work all throughout the journey, for sure – but nothing truly improbable happened at any step of the way. In fact, while they claim they manifested a Lamborghini, the majority of the world would see it as simply buying a Lamborghini. Try and get the same people to manifest a lottery win, and see what happens. They simply will not have the consciousness to produce anything so improbable.

Most Law of Attraction teachers are aware of the need for high consciousness, and correctly point to it as being the missing link that causes many attempted manifestations to fail. The trouble is, they then claim to be able to remedy it in the course of a five minute YouTube video. One teacher claims all you need to do is a morning ritual of yoga and meditation, then immediately following you’ll be in such a state of high-vibration that everything you visualise will come true. This may be true for a small monetary windfall or some other trifle, but it will not give the life-changing results such teachers tend to promise.  Another YouTube guru claims that all she has to do to raise her vibration is indulge in a weekly champagne and bubble bath ritual with some of her favourite magazines.

However, the reality doesn’t lend itself to YouTube click bait. Raising your consciousness to the point where you can successfully manifest big, improbable things is the result of much hard work and dedication. Instinctively I want to say that it’s the work of a lifetime, however it does not have to be the long, gruelling process that phrase implies. But there are no shortcuts.

And yes, the person in such an advanced state of consciousness could simply turn on the Lamborghini tap and attract as many of them as he wished – because he would be above the temptations of vanity that souls in lower levels of consciousness are prey to. In other words, he would not be transgressing the Law of Growth by doing so. But a person in such an enlightened state would instinctively see a Lamborghini as a useless distraction, and would almost never want such a thing – unless there were a very specific, unique purpose for it. So now we see that there truly are no limitations other than our level of consciousness – but as we ascend up the scale, our thoughts and desires become so intimately connected with the Universal Mind that whatever vain fancies we now suppose would give us happiness, would cease to entice us at all.

In part 3 I will discuss the higher spiritual uses for the Law of Attraction, and how misuse of the law creates suffering.

Abundance vs. avarice, or why money sometimes really is the root of all evil

How many times have you heard some sparkly-toothed new age guru step off his private helicopter into a packed-out stadium and declare that “money is spiritual”? Or how many times have you heard that age-old nugget of wisdom “money is the root of all evil” trampled and spat on by some new age “gospel of prosperity” hawker?

One of the sacred dogmas of the New Thought movement is that money is a fundamentally positive commodity, which – exactly like health – we should all strive to obtain as much of as we possibly can. It was inevitable that eventually there would be a reaction against the sometimes excessive aestheticism of Christianity and other belief systems – however, by categorically rejecting the idea that there should be any sort of limits on our pursuit of wealth short of outright dishonesty, it appears that our views on money have gone from one extreme to the other.

Firstly, money is not spiritual. Prayer is spiritual. Works of charity are spiritual. Meditation is spiritual. Mindfulness is spiritual. All of these things raise a person’s consciousness and lay the foundations for further spiritual ascension, when they are undertaken with the correct dispositions. Money does neither of these things. Taken purely of itself, it is completely neutral – it can be used for either good or bad. However, money has a strong tendency to inflame desires and distract from the spiritual path.

The spiritual man seeks his happiness by seeking to raise his consciousness, by loving others, meditating on the good, contemplating beauty and finding inner stillness. When deeply cultivated, all of these things lead the soul to a place of unassailable peace and enlightenment where temporal and physical matters are of virtually no concern next to the greater truths of eternity.

Conversely, the man with access to great wealth will almost always follow his weak human nature by seeking the more easily accessible and tangible route of physical pleasure. However, because we are spiritual beings, nothing on Earth short of spiritual ascension can possibly satisfy our deep-seated desires to be reabsorbed into our true spiritual natures. A soul who uses physical pleasure to satisfy what is really a spiritual desire will find the desire insatiable – and as the enjoyment of existing pleasures fade with repetition, a gradual desire for more and greater physical pleasure will result.

Hence, we see the plain truth of the ancient phrase (which is taken from 1 Timothy 6:10), when it is rendered correctly: “The love of money is the root of all evil.” The correct phrase clearly implies that money itself is neutral, but the love of it has the tendency to cause great harm to ourselves and others. Love of money leads to love of luxury, which leads to the supplanting of spiritual desires with physical indulgences.

Just like money, food is also a neutral commodity and is even necessary for life. In fact, food is actually good for us if it’s healthy – but stuff yourself silly with it and even a wholly organic, macrobiotic diet becomes poisonous to the body. Hence, food is necessary and even good; but it must be consumed in accordance with the principles of the natural order. Money is no different in this regard.  Hence loving money is toxic to the spiritual path. On the other hand, loving the spiritual path and having money – well, that’s an entirely different bucket of fish! But it’s a crucial distinction that seems to be missing in the New Thought attitude towards wealth.

Virtually all major religious teaching and most enduring philosophical teaching holds these truths. We are of the stars, but we are temporarily confined to Earth; exiles seeking our way home. Living lives of excessive indulgence or comfort binds us to the Earth plane and inhibits our soul’s ascent into higher levels of spiritual understanding.  Buddha taught that desire equals suffering.  The Tao Te Ching teaches moderation, non-striving and living beyond worldly pleasures.  Christ’s words about riches are well known and perfectly plain, despite being subject to so many deliberate misinterpretations.

Amen, I say to you, that a rich man shall hardly enter in the kingdom of heaven. And again I say to you: it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of heaven.” (Matt 19:23-24). See also Mark 10:24-25, Luke 18:24-25.

Lay not up to yourselves treasures on Earth, where the rust, and moth consume, and where thieves break through, and steal. But lay up to yourselves treasures in heaven: where neither the rust nor moth doth consume, and where thieves do not break through, nor steal. For where thy treasure is, there is thy heart also.” (Matt 6:19-21).

Reading some of the early New Thought tomes like Wallace D. Wattles’ Science of Getting Rich, you get a sense of where this all came from.

Increase is what all men and all women are seeking; it is the urge of the Formless Intelligence within them, seeking fuller expression. The desire for increase is inherent in all nature; it is the fundamental impulse of the universe. All human activities are based on the desire for increase; people are seeking more food, more clothes, better shelter, more luxury, more beauty, more knowledge, more pleasure – increase in something, more life.

Every living thing is under this necessity for continuous advancement; where increase of life ceases, dissolution and death set in at once. Man instinctively knows this, and hence he is forever seeking more. This law of perpetual increase is set forth by Jesus in the parable of the talents; only those who gain more retain any; from him who hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath.

The normal desire for increased wealth is not an evil or a reprehensible thing; it is simply the desire for more abundant life; it is aspiration. And because it is the deepest instinct of their natures, all men and women are attracted to him who can give them more of the means of life.”

This is a simplistic, nay an animalistic doctrine that denies the basic knowledge that not all human desires are healthy, and misses the deeper spiritual understanding of the parable of the talents – rendering it as a purely material tale.

The desire for abundance is a natural human inclination, for sure – but so is revenge and lust for power. The canon of great thought holds that no human desire is to be indulged without some degree of tempering – and in fact, some human desires ought to be utterly repudiated. Thus, the desire for food should only be indulged to the point of satiety, not further. The desire for power should only be indulged with the intention of helping others to better their lot. The desire for reproduction should either be confined to marriage or at least not indulged to the point of promiscuity. And the desire for comfort and wealth ought to be indulged only to the point that we don’t become attached to them.

And therein lies the rather sticky key to this all – it’s perfectly spiritual to live in a twelve bedroom mansion, as long as you’d be just as happy living in a rented attic. If you don’t detach yourself first, you’ll find material diversions taking the place of spiritual aspirations. Or worse, if your material possessions are somehow taken away from you, you won’t have the spiritual foundation to accept it with resignation.

Please be assured that this is not a dig at any particular person, nor a mass dig at all wealthy new agers. All the obvious suspects currently being evoked in my readers’ minds may be completely detached from all their vast wealth, for all I know – I have no right to judge otherwise. I am merely pointing out the pitfalls of having wealth without first detaching ourselves from it.

Of course, I’ve been dealing so far with the extremes of this matter. Readers with simpler needs might currently be thinking: “What about me? Is it too much to ask that I earn a bit extra to cover my car loan and not be struggling to put food on the table?”

Of course it isn’t. Such readers may simply wish to consider whether they’re going about it in the most spiritual way. Christ tackles this question directly in the sermon on the mount, where he says:

Therefore I say to you, be not solicitous for your life, what you shall eat, nor for your body, what you shall put on.  Is not the life more than the meat: and the body more than the garments?  Behold the birds of the air, for they neither sow, nor do they reap, nor gather into barns: and your heavenly father feeds them.  Are you not of much more value than they?”  “Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his justice, and all these things shall be added unto you.”  (Matt 6:25-26  and 33).

In other words, by making our spiritual development our number one priority, we learn to trust in the providence of the universe. The money may come as an unexpected windfall or promotion, or it may come as the result of some inspiration to undertake a particular business transaction or start our own company. By seeking spiritual things first, we allow the universe to take the reins with full faith and trust that all our needs will be supplied in one way or another.

The soul that is always seeking new ways to make money at the expense of spiritual development – and who is always hoarding it when he does make it – is actually demonstrating the true meaning of the scarcity mindset. This soul is essentially saying “the universe has limited supply, so I need to grab as much as I can and stockpile it before it runs out – make hay while the sun shines!”

Paradoxically, people in this mindset may eventually find themselves in complete financial ruin – thus explaining the odd but common situation of millionaires who go bankrupt. On the other hand, those who truly resign themselves to the providence of the universe often find themselves at the thoroughly comfortable end of moderate living. In this situation, all basic needs are met and many additional “wants” are supplied but spiritual progress is not weighed down by the attachment to luxury and indulgence.

The truly spiritual soul is at peace, and knows that the universe will always supply for his needs. He does not need to chase money because he knows there is no lack of supply – whenever the money is needed, it will come. He freely gives, because he knows the universe will repay him many times over for his charity.

This, my friends, is the true abundance mindset.

Honesty is always the best policy – in life and in business

Multimillionaire Australian businessman Jim Penman, founder of the Jim’s group, attributes his success in business to his policy of applying scrupulous honesty in all his dealings with his franchisees, and always doing his utmost to look after their interests. In his book Selling without Selling, Jim tells the following story of his early days selling lawn mowing franchises, his first (and still most recognisable) foray into the business world:

“I had no people skills, I couldn’t take rejection, and I absolutely hated selling. I was a thoroughly awful salesman. But now, for my business to succeed, I had to sell mowing rounds consistently, month after month. I struggled with this problem for a couple of years and tried many ways to overcome it. I approached business agencies, experimented with different forms of advertising, even hired others to sell rounds for me. It came to the point where a professional salesman, on commission, sold rounds for me in my office while I either looked on or sat with my back to the scene, pretending to be involved in something else. If this sounds absurd, it was. It was also ineffective. I asked a family friend what I should do. ‘Be your own salesman,’ he said. ‘No one can sell your own business as well as you can.’ Easy for him to say. He had the charm and confidence that went with many years as a business manager. Not much help to a social incompetent like me.

But he was right, and one day I did learn how to sell. Which opened the door to a business far beyond anything I could have imagined. It happened because I was looking for advice on advertising, and went to see someone I knew who was partner in an advertising firm…

Eventually he invited me in and spent half an hour answering my questions. Advising me on media, how to word ads, anything he thought might help me out. And at the end of the interview, advised me that I really could organise and control my own advertising, and that at this stage I didn’t need an agency. I remember leaving the office feeling very impressed by this man and his agency – but then wondering why. He had not told me about his clients nor shown me any promotions. In fact, he had advised me not to use him. Yet I knew that if I ever did need an agency, I would use his without hesitation, without asking about price, and without considering any competitors. (Which I did a few later when we decided to run TV commercials). He had done nothing to sell me on his business, yet he had given me the most effective sales pitch of my life.”

Jim then decided to apply this approach when seeking his own clients. He continues:

“What if their best interests lay in not buying from me? I faced this challenge about a month later when a young man who had been to see me rang back for advice. He had been offered another round in the same area. Which did I think was better? I asked him all the relevant questions: the cut, the number of clients and how widely scattered they were… Then I did my sums. The other round worked out about ten per cent better value than mine. What to do? I was taking this approach to try and grow my business, but if I advised him fairly he would buy the other one. At this point what came to the fore was something that had been a standing joke in my family for years: my complete inability to tell a lie. There are a number of stories of me blurting out some inconvenient truth in response to a question, a symptom of my extreme social awkwardness. So in this case I just told the truth. I said the other business was better and advised him to buy it. He thanked me and hung up.”

The same thing happened with two other clients. Jim was feeling quite virtuous but a little discouraged, until something amazing happened. All three of them rang him back and bought from him!

“Amazing as it may seem, from that time on I had no more problems selling lawn mowing runs. And weirdest of all was that my own social ineptness, my biggest obstacle to successful sales, had become my greatest asset! I forgot about all other principles and focused on making my buyers into fans, a job which only just began when they bought the business. I would give them advice over the phone, provide free training seminars, be scrupulously fair in replacing lost clients, and buy back their businesses at the best possible price if they wanted to sell.”

Any reputable sales or marketing guru would say that Jim was crazy for telling the prospects not to buy from him. Yet his phenomenal success in business proves a very profound spiritual truth – when you go with the flow of the natural order, everything works out better. Honesty is in alignment with the natural order – dishonesty, sleaze and coercion are not.

Although readers may point out that the many of the richest people on the planet have not earned a reputation for resplendent scruples, if we exclude the top-tier wealthy (i.e. people with the ability to manipulate the system in their favour), I believe you’ll find that honesty is actually a powerful asset in business, as well as being an absolute must for anyone on a serious spiritual journey.

One of the problems with modern life is that everything has been over-studied and over-analysed to the point where it has been reduced to a formula. Everyone’s so busy trying to get the upper hand by manipulating people’s emotions that some very basic principles have been lost – principles which used to be fundamental to the majority of people’s lives.

Sales is one of those over-studied and over-formularised areas – hence why you can’t buy anything online these days without being subjected to a torrent of aggressive sales bullying. You know the drill, because you see it every time you buy anything online – upgrade to the luxury package within 24 hours to claim your exclusive discount, and if you choose to spend ten times more than what you originally intended to, you’ll get a never-to-be-repeated 90% saving on the extra products! Stocks are strictly limited so order now!

There’s no doubt that someone employing these kind of techniques would have much more impressive weekly sales statistics than Jim. But how many of these people go on to build lasting multi-million dollar international empires? How far can sleazy marketing really take you before people cotton on and refuse to do business with you? How many businesses have had meteoric rises on the back of these kind of tricks – then have spectacularly crashed and burnt? You’ve all heard the stories.

Politicians are another example of things being studied and formularised to the point of ruination. The idea may have made some sense in the beginning – after all, why not put your best foot forward and deliver your message in a way that resonates with voters? And because the initial strategies worked, politicians assumed that more must be better. Now everything that comes out of their mouths has been focus group tested and spun to within an inch of its life. Somewhere along the line, all authenticity and honesty was lost from the equation and virtually all politicians became loathsome walking focus groups, despised by all and sundry. If a politician appeared who actually spoke honestly and directly to the public, he’d be a shoo-in at any election.

So be honest with others, and above all else – be honest with yourself. Not only are you developing and cultivating your own integrity by doing so, but you’re setting a good example. You’ll never be caught in lies and your reputation as an honest person will precede you. Live an ordered life in unison with life and the universe, and the universe will look after you beyond your wildest expectations.