One of the challenges I have observed in the acceptance of New Thought by those unfamiliar with the core teachings is a suspicion that this is just another “health & wealth” spiritual scheme. Most of us can name at least one TV evangelist who allowed the LOVE of great wealth to cloud his/her vision of truth and message. They, of all people, should have been forewarned (and forearmed) against this slippery slope if for no other reason than Paul’s* admonition in 1 Timothy 6:10
10 For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.
* biblical scholars don’t agree 100% that Paul wrote this epistle
Add to this the preponderance of “Prosperity” classes, teachings and programs and it’s easy to see how the uninitiated could be wary of the spiritual foundations of New Thought.
In the same way that scores of Christian churches teach vastly different approaches to poverty and wealth, there are many different perspectives within New Thought. I’ve seen a few divergent perspectives in my own short tenure in these teachings and have studied Prosperity with several different New Thought scholars. My interpretations differ slightly from each of theirs, and reflect a healthy mix of New Thought along with some influence from Christian doctrine that I experienced early in my life.
As we consider the heavy Christian cultural influence on our perceptions of money and wealth, here’s something worth noting. The concept of money as the end goal being negative did NOT originate in Christian theology.
“The love of money, if unjustly gained, is impious, and, if justly, shameful; for it is inappropriate to be miserly even with justice on one’s side.”
This quote is attributed to Epicureans – those who followed the teachings of Epicurus (341–270 BCE). Epicurus was a scholar and is regarded as the father of one of ancient Greece’s major philosophic bodies of work. His writings contributed to an intellectualism that we find at the core of modern science as well as to the continued evolution of thought that led to a new paradigm on the human individual (e.g. secular individualism).
Binary (black/white) thinking rarely serves us well. When we are knee-jerking away from something that we find distasteful (or embracing its opposite) – especially in spiritual teachings – it is helpful to turn to the pages of history to gain a larger context. The wisdom of the ages is not confined to one teaching or spiritual tradition, and I have found the best way to tease out real Truth from doctrinal manipulation is to read: history, philosophy, ancient cultural writings and more.
So as it turns out, Paul (or whoever wrote the admonition in 1 Timothy), Epicurus, and surely many others observed that when we do what we do for the sole purpose of getting RICH , it’s a zero sum game. The GOOD NEWS is that we can now separate out the long-assumed 2nd piece to this which has conflated our thoughts about money for years: that having wealth is wrong.
There is nothing whatsoever wrong with having money/being wealthy. Nor does our individual wealth push us farther from our Source. We commit an error as it relates to our wealth when our intention to acquire more originates from a place of greed: money for the sake of money above all else.
As it turns out, a statement I penned in my 1st Prosperity Class about giving and tithing resonates with the wisdom of the ages: “in your giving – the position of your heart is more important than the position of the decimal point!”
Rephrased to address generating wealth in our lives, it might read like this:
In matters of money, the position of our heart is more important that the number of commas on our paychecks, consulting stipends or honoraria.
Look at the WHYs in your life. Is your end-goal a certain amount of money, status or fame, or would you do what you do regardless of the amount of money? True abundance comes when we follow our internal compass, and not the world’s scorecard for success.