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Money and Trust
This was an article I wrote in Australia and, given the current financial chaos – I thought I could just bring a smile and some optimism at this time!
Money and trust
I write about money from a personal perspective, as someone who has lived with lack, with abundance, and all places in between. From 1975 to 1956, he was a disciple of Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh (now known as Osho), and had decided to take the step of moving to his new commune in Oregon, USA. Osho simply saying: “Trust in Allah, but attack your camel first”, it was like a banner that I finally learn to read! During my life, there has been a lot of trust and not enough tethering. My initial meeting with Trust was not balanced with good custody.
When all the money I had left (from my savings and the sale of my house and car) was given to the Rajneesh Foundation in 1982, I joked it was because I wanted to know what life was like without money. . Of course, I was lying (to myself). This was not a real experiment of “not having money”, it was just playing to my vanity, to my image of being “holy”, self-sacrificing in some way. Here I was, with Dickon, my youngest son, who moved to the commune where, as far as I knew, we would be cared for for the rest of our lives!
Our community was building a town there called Rajneeshpuram. So I did, in truth, I had no money other than my $10 monthly Rajneesh Humanities Trust card. This was given, to those of us who were residents, as pocket money to spend as we pleased.
When the final breakdown of that experiment came, there was, of course, great regret for not having been more practical. However, it was also the beginning of learning about Trust. Once, in the early days in Poona, I had asked Osho the question, “What is the difference between non-doing and laziness?” He answered that when he does not, one is very awake and alive; when he is lazy he falls asleep quickly. This just about sums it up! In those years from 1985, I managed little by little to start living the answer he gave me.
Three times since then, I have found myself penniless, or very close to it. However, somewhere deep down, Trust held out its hand, tentatively taken at first, but gradually grasped more firmly as experience showed me its beauty and reliability. This growing familiarity with Trust has allowed me to continue to grow, move, leap, and live as healthy. Trust does not encourage passivity, but courage, gentle positive action and enterprise. She is always there, in the background, supporting, not directing. If you go to sleep, Trust will not help you.
An example: In 1988, in Australia, my partner Jonathan and I decided to build/create a retreat center in the country. We have behaved “like”: buying a hundred hectares of land with his small house, starting the necessary zoning, they behave with certainty, “knowing” (trust) that everything we need to complete the dream will be provided. Have been. Jonathan made a clear decision that the only way we were going to raise the money for the necessary building was to play the lottery. I was totally skeptical, but he played every week on a random draw type ticket. After three months, he earned around AUS$700,000 from two wins, five weeks apart – a staggering amount of money. I firmly believe that this has come to us because he trusted that it would be, and put his trust firmly in the form of regular lottery tickets, while continuing with all the preparatory work that was necessary for the center. There was a great deal of practical action – the other half of the balancing act between trust and doing. Of course, we do not sit on our ends and wait!
Five years later, we find ourselves penniless and in debt. No, we didn’t spend big, gamble, or fry the money. A beautiful center had been built, finished, much loved by the people who came.
However, we were both inexperienced in business and were not good custodians of our income, or the money we had in the bank.
I, in particular, wanted the center to be perfect and I did not listen to the quiet voice that said: “Your task is to build the buildings, not to decide what they are for.” Of course he knew what they were for! He knew how to manage growth centers, right? Didn’t I help create one of the most beautiful growth centers on the planet?
This was a profound lesson in what can happen when pride leads to overspending, and, in our case, extravagance. We both weren’t willing to cut corners anyway – so of course we ended up in debt.
Well, pride comes before a fall – it really does. We have fallen far, having to sell – to look after Jonathan’s son back in Perth – in the middle of a recession. So, what had cost AUS$680,000 to build and equip, we sold for AUS$200,000! We left soon after.
When running a business, I forgot that it is not always a good idea to let the heart rule the head, to leave the emotional problems before the practical ones. This is difficult sometimes, because it is often more fun to listen to the heart! The emotional content of our centre, Wandoo Hills – its beauty, the care with which it was provided and presented – was a large part of the reason for our downfall. Our love for the place, wanting it perfect, closes the voice of good custody.
Almost 60 years old and alone, I started all over again. The miracle was that “losing” all that money was actually okay. I knew the money came for a purpose – a sincere purpose, to enhance life. We had honored that – the buildings had been built, had been, and are still appreciated. A much-loved group room was always available for my retreats, even though I had to pay rent for the place, and these were all blessings as far as I was concerned.
Funny, as I write these words, I can see for the first time a parallel with my feelings about the Rajneeshpuram (or Ranch as we nicknamed it), on which a few thousand of us helped to build an extraordinary city. The buildings in Oregon are still there. They are always used for a life enhancing purpose. The fact that it is not the purpose for which most of us assumed that they will be used, is irrelevant. The miracle that is that place, it is still here and alive, it still helps to raise young people.
While living in Australia, I went from unexpected wealth to what most people would call poverty. On that swing, I made an important discovery. Inside myself, my deepest self, there is no difference: I am still who I am – exactly the same – rich or poor. I have the same fears, the same feelings, the same desires. I still laugh and cry. Only the external manifestations change – nothing changes at all.
I have learned, through my pride, that if money is not respected, money does not remain in friendship. He will go somewhere else! Allowing myself to be afraid when poor, I learned that if money is tight, it will run away and not come back. Money taught me to look at my laziness, my unwillingness to take responsibility. There’s also that old chestnut – blame (financial advisors and real estate agents)! How easy it is to blame others for my financial difficulties.
There is a middle path, a path of common sense, a path of action and intention. It is not a blind trust path (as I had thought before). It is a road of adventure and surprises. It should not be a struggle. It is said that “research” is an active process, not a passive one. My attitude to my life and its wealth is an active one, not a passive one. However, these days, really, there is no attachment to the result – the journey is enough for itself. I may not always get what I want, but I know that what is needed will always be there.
Now a much older, white-haired woman, I find that eating and living is simple. There is no holding. I am generous, smart and honest with my finances. Even, sometimes, still stupid – the difference is that now they are more aware. Patience must be learned, which is difficult for an Aries person! Sometimes I have to ask for help, and it’s not easy. There is a delicate path to be walked between consciousness and unconsciousness – so hard to stay in the former, and oh so easy to fall into the latter.
I am not suggesting that this is “the way;” not at all. This is intensely personal to me. Any experimentation should be in the spirit of exploration. Work is no longer “just for the money” or from a survival attitude. At my age I am blessed to still be able to create. There is no difference between work and play, and this is a tremendous blessing. Any stress I feel is definitely self-generated!
Here is Trust, who showed me that everything that happens in my life is for me, not against me. The trust was with me during my return to the UK. Fare savings and pocket money were all I had when I left Australia. However, I have no doubts at all that it was on track. I was offered a lovely temporary accommodation, work, and the opportunity to move to the countryside, to finally create a real home again. This time, I have been a better custodian of the little I own. Trust has been with me every step of the way – smiling and holding my hand. Money has been one of my greatest, most faithful teachers and Trust a close and loving companion.
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