Saturday, July 05, 2008

poverty is a choice, money is a burden

It's interesting that monastics must take a vow of poverty. Catholic nuns do it verbally, and Buddhist monks are only allowed few possessions.

Living in a capitalist society, the choice to be without money seems backwards to the way things should be, but our spiritual heroes, like Mother Teresa and the Dalai Lama, must do this in order to enter their chosen profession.

The Bible teaches that one cannot serve both money and God. Buddhist philosophy teaches that money can create unhealthy attachments, which are a way to run away from one's self. Yet society fills our mailboxes with sale papers and credit card pre-approvals, enticing us to shop ourselves into financial ruin.

I recently made the decision to leave my job to pursue employment that was more along the lines of what suits my creative nature. Working at the food stamp office was difficult and dealing with despair on a daily basis finally took its toll after two long years.

I plunged headfirst into self-employment and the poverty that ensues, vaguely aware of the looming recession and the price of gas climbing towards the outer reaches of heaven. And though homelessness seems to be looming in my future on an almost daily basis, somehow the rent gets paid.

To tell you the truth, I don't miss the choices that money brings. Life may have been full of options back then, but the pursuit of buying more nice things kept me from appreciating what I already had. It was a never-endng cycle, consuming and acquiring but never feeling fulfilled. And even though paying bills and dealing with the occasional shut-off notice from the electric company are not very enjoyable, somehow all my needs are met.

God provides for me what money cannot. I never knew I was trying to serve two masters, and my attachment to money was keeping me from enjoying what life has to offer. And though the choice of poverty is most definitely the hard road, the burden of money has been lifted, for now.

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