Monday, August 16, 2010

True Abundance Begets More

I've been thinking about the concept of abundance lately. We just passed Lammas (August 1) which, in the old European calendar, is the date of first harvest. Abundance is often a theme at harvest-time, and it's quite a concrete concept to those of us who have gardens overflowing with produce right about now. But then I thought, is that what abundance really means?

Well, to pre-modern peoples, it sure was. A huge harvest with plenty of grain sheaves, lots of fruits and vegetables drying in the rafters, meant a comfortable winter and the knowledge that you could make it without worry until the first spring greens pushed up out of the earth. Until recently in human history, abundance was food, pure and simple. The Irish goddess Tailltiu teaches us this; she was the foster-mother of Lugh, the god of light, and she provided her people with incredible abundance so they could be secure.
But over the course of the past century or two we've weaned ourselves away from the land and developed a complicated system of food production and delivery; few of us feel the power of row upon row of filled canning jars, the glory of a field full of wheat sheaves, any more. So what does abundance mean today?

I remember one of the first lessons my parents taught me about abundance, and over the years I've come to realize how wrong it was. It was simple, really: I wanted a big piece of cake and my mother demonstrated that if I chose a larger piece of cake, that meant my sister would get a smaller one. A cake is finite and concrete; its division follows the basic laws of classical physics.

Throughout my childhood my parents reinforced this concept over and over, the idea that if one person got more, other people got less. As I grew older I learned to feel bad when I did well financially because I was sure that meant that some nebulous 'other person' somewhere was doing worse because of me.

When I became an adult, I did reasonably well for myself. I worked hard, I behaved responsibly and I ended up with a lovely family and a beautiful home on a big piece of land, right next to a farm. And one day I found myself feeling bad that I had such a nice home, because that surely meant that someone else, somewhere, had to take something lesser.

And then Tailltiu thumped me in the head, and I realized how inaccurate that point of view is. I understand where it came from; my parents both grew up in poverty-stricken households. I'm sure everyone in their families looked at the wealthy and thought, "Look at how much they have. That's why we have nothing. They took it all."

But that's not really how it works, is it? Because that's not what real abundance is about. Abundance isn't a measure of concrete objects, whether it's piles of pumpkins or stacks of dollar bills. It's not a function of 'taking from others' - true abundance can't be like that, because it is a divine gift. A gift is not something you take; it is given, and you accept it. With gratitude.
Slowly, over the years, I've learned Tailltiu's lesson. It doesn't obey any of the 'laws' of physics or mathematics that we puny humans have invented, but I find that it is true nonetheless: When I open my heart to true abundance, I receive incredible gifts. And so do those around me. Everyone I touch, who also opens their heart to true abundance, receives more. Abundance pays itself forward generously.

We're not taking away from anyone. The underlying lesson of true abundance, its magic if you will, is that it is very closely akin to love: True abundance always begets more for everyone. It is infinite, and ever-increasing.

May you be blessed with true abundance in every aspect of your life, and may it radiate outward from you, like the divine love of which it is a blessed gift.