I am finally in the village I’ll be volunteering in for the next month or so. I wouldn’t even call if volunteering because it doesn’t really feel like I’m ‘volunteering’ anything. I’m here; waking up to the beautiful valleys surrounded by the incredible snowcapped mountains of the Himalayas and spending time with lively, energetic, loving people. I haven’t even touched the surface of what’s going on, and I definitely haven’t even scratched the surface of these past 10 months in these blog posts. I don’t think any amount of writing will do it justice. What if we could record every moment of our life and replay it over again? I don’t know how special that would make each moment. It would make all those special moments, if we could look back, watch, and replay each memory over and over again just as it had happened. Just some random thoughts I guess.
Just a few days ago, I was sitting in Mahavirji’s car on my way to the village. I was crammed in the back because the SUV was packed and my large backpack took up too much space for the amount of room available in that car. Talk about things we don’t need- I guess I could do without some things that are in that bag. As we were winding through the mountains I was taken back to Vietnam once again. All I was missing was my beloved motorbike, Marie and some kids chasing my bike screaming ‘Xin Chao!’ I started thinking about what happens we have too much. Abundance. Excess. It reminded me of a recent passage that had come up in Awakin. I don’t want to put my own interpretation of the text, so you can read it and make your own:
Sufficiency is Not Abundance
by Lynne Twist
We can learn to invest the resources that flow through our lives in a new future for all of us. We can direct those resources, whether they are like a rushing torrent coming through our lives or a small trickle, to our highest commitments and ideals. We can move our money, or the money we are entrusted with, toward that which will serve us all from a sense of our own wholeness rather than a desperate longing to be complete.
I call this living in the context of sufficiency. This is not the same as abundance (abundance is more than we need—it is excess), and in the context in which I’m speaking, abundance is merely the flip side of scarcity. You strive to get more than you need because you believe or fear there is not enough.
Sufficiency is precise. It means that things are sufficient, exactly enough. There is a principle of sufficiency, and it is as follows: When you let go of trying to get more of what you don’t really need, which is what we’re all trying to get more of, it frees up immense energy to make a difference with what you have.
When you make a difference with what you have, it expands. This context opens the possibility of generating a new set of assumptions based in the principle of sufficiency for the 21st century. If we are willing to begin to commit to make a difference with what we have rather than putting all of our energy into getting more, then…what we have will naturally and organically expand.
This new set of assumptions or new context can create a whole new culture around money and around life. It can teach us how to be known for what we allocate rather than what we accumulate. It can teach us to be measured and measure others by our inner riches rather than our accumulation of outer riches. We can learn how to end charity as we know it and begin truly investing or being vested in a new future that will serve us all.
Although we think there are people with money and people without it, the real truth is, money is a part of everyone’s life from the poorest peasant to the wealthiest industrialist, the way we direct the money that comes through our lives defines us.
The American billionaire and the Guatemalan peasant farmer, the European industrialist and the Ethiopian grassroots leader can stand together in co-equal partnership and invest their time, energy and financial resources in a new future for all of us, in a future that will serve us all.
I’m in Nepal where they’re currently having an oil crisis. One day, this will be the rest of the world..if you want to look at it from the pessimistic point of view. When we have too much, we think we have nothing to give and receive. When we have too much, we seek more and are hungry for things we don’t need. Common sense, right? When why do we seek more? I’m guilty too, I’ll admit.
We hear about all of these issues we have around the world. A place where everything is abundant, everything including H & Ms and Zaras in one mall or the amount of SUVs you see lined in the street or the 100 varieties of the same pasta sauce. I guess I can include the excessive amounts of reading books I have in my book bag that I’m not even sure I will finish. All of this has truly enforced how serving internationally has taught me the severity of the social poverty we face in developed countries (Maybe more about that in the next month).
Of course, I don’t know if abundance can be all bad if you think of it in this context- These villages nestled between the valleys and mountains of the Himalayas with abundance…a natural abundance of fresh air and vegetation. An abundance of optimism for this moment and for the moments we have on this earth. A natural abundance of energy we have to expel forward into the darkest corners of the universe. Lastly, an abundance of the love and kindness all of us as humans are capable of cultivating and sending to each and every soul we encounter as we journey through this amazing thing we call ‘life'.