What are We Saving?
reflection is from a spiritual daybook by Mark Nepo, entitled, The Book of
Awakening, available from amazon.com]
the love I have isn't working, what good is money?
often we put externals first. Out of worry, out of fear, out of obligation, we
think we're being good Puritans by saying no to what stirs us.
the sixties, it was the well-known psychologist Abraham Maslow who conceived of
a hierarchy of needs, in which he established that human beings must provide for
basic physical needs, such as food and shelter, before they can attend to inner
needs such as self-esteem and right relationship.
this is in part true, I believe there is a dimension of the inner life that is
as imperative and equivalent as food and shelter. Without these basic inner needs
met, we are just fed and sheltered bodies void of life. Without love, truth, and
compassion, all the comforts of modern life don't matter, because we are simply
reduced to biological machines, not even as present as animals.
this understanding, we often defer the risk to love: I need to establish myself
before I can get involved. I need nice clothes first. I'll become physically desirable
first. I'll eliminate all my problems first. We also defer love once it is before
us, under the guise of safeguarding our future: I won't call long distance now,
because I'll need the money when I retire. I won't meet them at this concert now,
because I'll need money for a new car in six years. I can't afford to enter counseling
with my partner because we need storm windows. Certainly, we have to balance and
make choices, but with no love in the house, there is no need for storm windows.
I was ill, I faced the very real possibility of dying, and suddenly the little
money I'd saved, however prudent I was, didn't matter. It was all worthless. It
became immediately clear that the only true purpose of money was to help make
love work. When ill, I didn't hesitate to make all those long distance calls I
always put off. I met friends at concerts and bought albums and sent flowers instead
of waiting for the perfect occasion. I bought plane tickets to the Caribbean for
those closest to me -- and we went!
well, I couldn't go back to deferring my life under the guise of saving. I still
save some, but now I feel compelled to use whatever money I can afford to make
love work, to bring truth into being, to allow generosity and compassion to flourish.
This is more than altruistic. It is necessary in being fully alive. It's part
of the wood that keeps the inner fire burning.
am now forced to ask, beyond rent and health insurance, for what are we saving?
If the love we have is not brought to life out here in the world, we risk saving
for a future that may never come, or which, in fact, may find us just ghosts of
spirit, unable to live it, because we've squandered our chances to love along
Sit quietly and meditate on the love you carry for someone dear.
deeply and allow yourself to feel that love and how it wants to express itself
hurting yourself -- without borrowing on your rent or spending money you don't
have -- act on the love you feel now.
not defer its expression. Call. Send flowers. Gas up the car and go...
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