Perhaps you’ve seen a post or hundred that echoes these sentiments: We were created to be abundant. The universe is conspiring in your favor. Prepare to be the full you. And, my favorite: Practice and all is coming.
The latter is not my favorite because I practice yoga to accumulate merit and agree with its assertion. The overused Pattabhi Jois snippet, at least how I most often see it implied, perfectly captures this notion that at some point in the near or not-that-distant future you will have everything you’ve always desired.
Until you want more, of course.
The Ganesha in the room remains: Who exactly lets you know when you’re ‘there?’
What all the above statements promise is a better future, usually tied into some program or belief system being offered by the person peddling the goods. What none of the quotes address is the present moment. In fact, they all assume you are broken, not to mention unfulfilled.
Oddly enough, many of the same motivational ‘gurus’ who guarantee a better later on are responsible for spreading the idea that you’re perfect right now as you are. How is this possible? How can one be perfect yet have a better future ahead? How does one add one to infinity?
The non-answer usually has something to do with faith, but we’re smarter than that.
For much of human history our forebears had to plan for surplus in order to make it through lean times. Piling harvested grain into silos is one such example. Another is Lent, which was put into effect at a time of year when food supplies were low and had to be rationed. If you can invent a god who tells you that fasting is holy, your starving belly suddenly seems like a worthwhile sacrifice for the greater goal: ‘going’ somewhere better in the afterlife.
Or the next life, as the East has it, which is really another way of saying that where you are now is not acceptable for the greater glory you’ve been promised.
Yet, who promised you in the first place?
I’m all for being good with the present and having a positive outlook. In fact, that too is an evolutionary mindset that helped humans understand and work with our environment, that pushed us to create beautiful and lasting things. I’m an optimistic person, but I also can’t shake the fact that not enough critical thought is going into these self-ingratiating New Age shticks being tossed around like deep revelations of cosmic order.
This current ‘You were made to be abundant!’ idea assumes that humanity evolved for hundreds of thousands of years so that we, right now, could enjoy the fruits of this endless labor, as if billions of deaths from starvation and disease were really just leading up to us having as much of anything we want whenever we want it.
What this ideology does not take into account is that nearly one billion people were undernourished in 2010. What good is talking about abundance to an audience that can’t even get by? Better put, whose greater good are we really discussing?
The other issue—clear by the cliched ‘We are the ones we’ve been waiting for’—again points to the culture of I that takes up so much Self-Help blog space, leading back to our personal glory. We lack the confidence necessary to brush aside such gibberish because we haven’t faced the idea that we’re all going to die and that this just might be it.
Why then confuse ourselves with afterlifes and rebirths and this strange notion that we were ‘created’ to be abundant? How did these odd abstractions slip into conversations about helping one another out and living for the present moment? How much time are we going to spend seeking excess when there aren’t enough resources for everyone to get by in the first place?
America built itself up during the Industrial Revolution, which triggered the idea that we’re endowed with unlimited resources and could (and should) enjoy abundance. We know better now. We’ve dried up resources quicker than any of our ancestors. Spending your time in the Cult of Abundance does nothing to address the real issues we are facing, such as a fractured political system and a society in serious jeopardy of not being able to provide public services, healthcare and aid to the elderly.
The Age of Abundance is behind us. We can blame the last few centuries of industry, or we can work to change it. First we have to stop talking about our imagined destiny and actually create the reality we hope is just going to manifest itself. We need to get real about the challenges we’re facing in an economy built on financial tricks and the plundering of other nations.
Let’s be honest about how we collectively got here and quit trying to heal a fracture with a band-aid. Then we can have a discussion about who we are as a species and where our greatness lies.