Tuesday, December 2, 2008


Most people think of faith as something you have in a deity. However, faith applies to all areas of our lives. One can have faith in other people, in the future, nature or in technology. We can even have faith in our routines and the routines of others who interact with us in our daily lives. More often than not, we don't even think about our faith in such things as long as it isn't shattered by some event. The lack of faith in many of the aforementioned things, incidentally, results in cynicism.

For a person who has grown up under far less than optimal circumstances (i.e., me), sometimes it's very difficult to have faith in anything. Lately, I've been trying to build faith in some things in order to calm my all too frequent fears about the future. One of the things I want to have faith in is the idea that my financial life is going to be fine. When you grow up poor, it's easy to fear financial ruin, especially when your parents were constantly living at the brink of ruin and made no effort to hide their anxiety about money when you were too young to rationalize that anxiety and could only internalize it on a pure emotional level.

Since the nature of my work situation is unpredictable, I have to actively work at keeping my faith in financial security alive. I try to boost this idea with an underlying faith in two other things. One is that karma will eventually repay me for the kindness and generosity that I extend to others. The other, much greater faith I'm trying to nurture is in the idea that there is "enough" work, money, opportunity, etc. for everyone and that, if one does not try and grab more than one's necessary share of such things, these things will naturally flow one's way. I try to see jobs as a river that sometimes flows hard and strong my way and sometimes weak and slow, but I want to have faith that there will never be less than I need. However, I also have to be careful not to confuse what I "need" with what I "want".

Recently, I referred someone to my former company who I knew without a shred of doubt would be good at the job. Before making this referral, I had the nagging idea that doing so might end up resulting in my getting less freelance work because I had benefited in the past from the fact that my successors had been troublesome employees. However, the person I was referring deserved the security and my former boss deserved to work with someone who I knew would be a delight to work with. Initially, it looked as if setting aside my fears and doing "the right thing" was also going to end up rewarding me as I was told I'd be asked to do a lot more work than usual. In fact, one of the Japanese staff members and my former boss came by my apartment and this appeal was made in person.

Over the last several days, changes to the plan have been made due to the ambitions of a particular Japanese staff member. Most, if not all, of the work that seemed to be on the horizon is evaporating rapidly and it is somewhat depressing. To cope with this (very likely) letdown, I've been trying to convince myself that I may have merely wanted this work rather than needed it and that things are coming together as they are to make sure more important needs than mine are being met. That is, possibly the new staff that were hired needed the jobs they're getting more than I needed the extra income. Still, my faith that good acts go rewarded and in the ebb and flow of that river of opportunity have been rattled a bit. However, I was incapable of making any other choice. My values would not allow me to protect my own interests at the expense of another and I still have faith that those who do so ultimately do not prosper.

Sometimes I wonder if my attitude about taking as much as I need rather than as much as I want and making the choices which are "right" rather than selfish is what separates me from people who society views as truly successful. That is, if I were the type of person who protected my own interests first and foremost, I might have been wealthier and/or risen to a higher position in my work. I'm sure that one element of ambition, besides a need for status and the approval of others, is a certain drive which compels you to get as much as you can, even when it is far more than you actually need.

The CH has often said that we should live our lives bearing in mind what the world would be like if everyone lived the way that we do. If everyone grabbed as much work as possible so they could be a little more financially comfortable and others had less opportunity than they needed because of that person's desire, then the world would be an imbalanced place. Of course, this applies to all thing from material possessions to food to energy to work. When we take what we need rather than what we want, we leave more for others to take what they need as well. If everyone lived that way, I'm sure the world would be a better place. I have pretty solid faith in that idea.


Kelly said...

I'm sorry to hear you had such an upbringing and had to worry about money so much.

Maybe because of that you turned out to be such a warm, friendly, caring, giving person.

I tend to believe our experiences shape us as a person. I grew up in a poor family myself, my father died of a heart attack when i was 2. I was abused by my elder brother (12 years older than me) and my mum raised 3 kids by herself on a part-widow pension.

I finally escaped my brother when i met Yasu and got married. Looking back on things over time i realised i'd had a crappy childhood but at the time, living though it, i thought it was normal.

If i hadn't of lived through such things, i wouldn't be the person i am today. I feel as if these experiences gave me compassion to feel for others in my situation, and i feel for the underdog. I can't even resist stray animals because i know what it feels like to be lost and alone and i can't let another living thing feel the same. Or i don't want to.

Your experiences, no matter how bad they have been, have shaped you into a wonderful human being Orchid. You should be proud of who you are.

I'm glad you are thinking positively about your work. Have you ever read The Secret, or are you familiar with the concept? There are many books out there that touch on the same idea, and they are all about abundance. I have tried it myself and it worked.

Those books also tell you that the more you feel happy and grateful for what you have, the more you will receive. The key is not to focus on what you don't have, but what you do have. If you focus on what you don't have, you will have more of that.
If you focus on what you *do* have, you will have more of that.

I try to say at least once a day, what i am grateful for. It also gives me a bit of a lift when i feel despondant about a circumstance in my life.

Orchid64 said...

Thank you for your kind words, Kelly. I try to be the best person I can, but, like everyone, I have my failings. Fortunately, one of those failings isn't being coldly self-serving. ;-)

You certainly have endured more than your share of hardship though. I daresay that your situation sounds like it was harder than mine. I was not abused (well, except verbally). As you say, however, we always believe our upbringing is "normal" and often don't know how destructive things were until later when we realize that not everyone grew up as we did.

What you say about the lives we lead making us the people we are today is something my husband and I have often discussed when considering my past. In a way, I think that hardships are "meant to be" not only as a way of shaping us to be the people we need to be, but also to provide learning opportunities we are meant to have. Whether we rally or crumble in the face of hardship is a matter of the choices we make. My sense of how fate works is that it only opens or closes doors and how we handle them is up to us.

I haven't read "The Secret", though it appears that I naturally have ended up on a path that is in accord with what you say it writes about to some extent. I am grateful for what I have (and feel my life is abundant with good fortune in all areas except good health). Mainly, the thing I strive to work on is not listening to or acting on my fears a that tends to be what undermines my ability to appreciate what I have.

I don't really think I need any more than I have of anything. I just sometimes struggle a bit with my insecurities when I see the possibility of less on the horizon, but that's always my fear whispering in my ear. I would be okay with less and I think that's an adjustment I need to make.

Thanks for your interesting and thoughtful comment (as well as your very generous words!).