I think this is appropriate here for several reasons. First, because my own history with money is so dysfunctional and so painful that it is something I fully know I must face and deal with, even though I can hardly bring myself to.
Also because the Money Paradigm is one of the HUGE obstacles that prevents us from stepping forward into the New Life Paradigm. Our attitudes to it, the things we cling to about it and where we place it in the hierarchy of our lives all factor into our reality both as individuals and in our group mentality.
Money is many things. You want a long, tiring, contentious thread besides the Sex one? Here it is, if we choose it. I do not. I think we are capable of doing better than we have on the sex thread, and I think we are capable of doing better on this topic, too.
One of the things money represents to us at a most basic level is commitment. It is behavior codified into value in the most arbitrary and cruel way, but also essential to cement relationships. I don't hear this addressed directly often, but you hear it when someone explains why they won't simply give you the information you need, but will sell it to you: You must give value to receive value, otherwise you will not appreciate what you get. True enough. The pitfall is that when that value is defined solely as money, the doors that are opened and the doors that get closed do not necessarily serve the greatest good. The honest statement would have been: Because this is how I make my living.
The money/commitment/value paradigm shows up in unexpected ways. It shows when we leave the deeply satisfying job for one that pays more, even though we know we will be sacrificing something precious. It shows when the woman rejects the good, poor man for the less-good one with money. She knows she has diminished something within herself. She may have very good reasons for her choice. And it's the money that allows her to smooth over that kernel of disappointment in herself. We've all been there.
I ran into this recently when my wife desired to embark on the Transformation Course. I wished to guide her through the course not just because of our deep bond but also because of her disabilities, which I understand better than anyone. What I discovered is that one becomes a guide for others in the Transformation Course by buying the privilege. That's right: the Guides are the ones who have paid to be. In case you missed the sign on the wall as you came in.
I want to say first and foremost that this is something I can live with. I think it reveals something about the way the Course is set up that is fundamentally flawed, but I honor my guide (Fred) and all the others. I do not think less of anyone because this deal has been structure this way. Because I also think what has been offered, what is happening as a result of the Course existing at all, is beyond quarrel.
Also, I understand that Fred has invested his life savings in this, and that this is now his livelihood. I get it. That kind of commitment required courage, vision, and planning. I fully support it and understand how important it is for each of us to get behind this in every way, including financially.
The problem for me isn't the money. It's the definition of my commitment. Fred stated that if I wasn't willing to forego the price of dinner, I plainly wasn't sufficiently committed to the cause to be considered as a guide candidate. End of discussion. I hadn't expected the door to swing wide. I just didn't expect it to be slammed in my face, and for that reason. But I get it. It's history. I want to address the price of dinner and the price of my commitment.
Dinner for me and my wife typically costs between $2.50 and $4.00. For both of us, not each of us. Part of that is because we are smokers...another form of commitment and an expensive one, and I have addressed that many times and will again. Just not now. We are poor in money, if nothing else. My wife's medical bills are pretty steep. Otherwise, our lives are abundant and joyful. But we are not prosperous, not even solvent. There is no life savings: it was spent years ago, just trying to live. Recently I have changed jobs and made other changes that have resulted in a temporary loss of income. I ask for no sympathy and no donations, but....You want four bucks from me? I was trying to set things up so I could give you four hundred or four thousand in time. You just made me wish to put that future money where it will serve the greater good more effectively. My four bucks will pay for your orange juice in the morning. There, are we even? Do I need to point out what a stupid question that is and what a stupid way to get income from me?
I run into this at work. There is a particular fellow, whom I actually like, who has an entirely different way of approaching our work than I do. What we do, is work in the vitamin and nutrition department of a large natural-foods grocery. It's a large department. We are part salesman, part walking encyclopedia, part helper and guide when people seek ways to own and improve their wellbeing.
We're both named Dave. We're both Dave L. It gets confusing. But Dave's goal and his paradigm is bumping the numbers. He sells. He upsells, He baits and switches. He doesn't lie. He is not evil. He is a salesman. He sees a guy with fifty bucks in his hand, and he sends the guy home with a hundred bucks worth of stuff.
I see the same guy with the same fifty bucks. I understand that that is how much he has to invest in his quest for wellbeing, this month. If I can show him how to save thirty bucks and make the other twenty work harder for him and produce better results than the fifty he was spending before, then I have added value to his life and mine. We still make a profit. Yes, we want more...that's how you grow your business. But that guy with his newfound thirty bucks will be back next month, and the month after that. When he has a concern he will come to me, and not the guy who he knows will try to sell him more high-profit merchandise. And if I don't know the answer, I will take him to the same books I use.
Which one of us - Dave L. or Dave L. - adds more value to the business? Well, it's a tossup, isn't it. It depends on your paradigm, doesn't it. You know where I cast my vote.
For me, my time and dedication are the ultimate commitment. Those who receive it and benefit from it are those who dance with me. They are the ones who think I matter with money or without it. And I have found, they are the ones who have helped me change my ideas about money, value and commitment.
What I have learned I did not pay for in money. I paid for it in life. I offer it free to anyone who wants it, but they have to show me they want it. I'll take money, damn right I will! But what I really, really want isn't for you to send me smiling to the bank. What I want in return for my time and my commitment is YOUR commitment to something. Something noble, something true - not necessarily anything I would choose for you. This isn't a store. You don't talk about commitment when buying a lamp.
That is my value paradigm. I have swelled my brain trying to work out new money paradigms for the new age. I think I, for whom the old money paradigm has been a disaster, am as qualified as anyone. But anything I come up with won't be implemented by me. I would pay and pay again for the knowledge I have received from the Transformation Course. But I should have been told up front what the real cost was.
Here Comes The Peace Train
You don't have to buy a seat on the Peace Train. If you can't afford the ticket, you can help drive. If you can't drive, you can empty the ashtrays, stoke the boiler, tend the coal, man the caboose, or pass out drinks. You can sweep the floor. You can make sure people are comfortable. Some of them paid for their seats with their lives. It is my honor to sweep the floor beneath their feet. There is a place for me on the Peace Train and there is no dollar sign on it.
Thanks for listening.