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Elanorgold's picture

Elanorgold

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Poverty and Spirituality

I've been thinking these two things seem to go hand in hand. Do you think so? Is it hard to be spiritual if yer rich? Is it hard to be rich if yer spiritual? Does spirituality naturally flow from poverty? Or poverty naturally flow from spirituality? I feel that my high thoughts do hold me back from getting well payed work. I'm just too darn idealistic!

 

On the other hand, true hunger and cold are anything but spiritual, as I discovered for myself back in '96 out in a tent with innadequate bedding or warm clothing in about 2 degrees and damp air, with only one raw potato and some milk powder. Yet, people go on spirit quests in just that kind of condition. Perhaps if I'd stayed out there I'd have felt some great insight, but all I could think of was food and shelter.

 

Anyway, what do you think?

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Mendalla's picture

Mendalla

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It is hard to be spiritual if your focus is totally on the material. This applies to both ends of the scale. If you are well-off or wealthy and your life is driven by a need to have more and more of that, then you aren't likely to be focussing on the spiritual. If you are in abject poverty and your focus is primarily on day to day survival (food, shelter, etc.), again you may not have much time to focus on the spiritual beyond calling on God to help you. Deliberately giving up wealth (or at least reducing one's standard of living) for spiritual reasons is a bit different from someone living day-to-day in poverty because such a person is already focussed on the spirit when choosing that path. And, equally importantly, they CHOSE that path whereas the truly poor generally didn't have the option.

 

Some random thoughts on the topic,

 

Mendalla

 

Elanorgold's picture

Elanorgold

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So the trick is to choose the poverty you allready have!

 

Good thoughts Mendalla.

Arminius's picture

Arminius

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I'd say simplicity is a virtue, but poverty is not. If more of us lived simple lives there'd be fewer of us living in poverty. I think excessive wealth necessitates poverty; I'd caution against both.

 

Socrates was asked by his pupils: "Tell us, Master Socrates, who among us is closest to the gods in happiness?"

 

"He who knows he has enough," answered Master Socrates.

 

Well, I'll happily shell peas. I picked two buckets of them this morning and they have yet to be shelled. Simple, meditative, happy and I'd say spiritual work: simplicity but a long ways from poverty.

 

Diana's picture

Diana

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I agree with Arminius - to have enough, and to be content with what we have gives root to spiritual growth.  (People say Jesus was poor, but he wasn't, really,was he?  He chose to be a wandering teacher, and seemed to have ample food, clothing and companionship through his society's practice of hospitality. )

Elanorgold's picture

Elanorgold

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Thanks folks. I'm workin on it. I had it before, but it slipped away from me.

Mendalla's picture

Mendalla

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Arminius wrote:

I'd say simplicity is a virtue, but poverty is not. If more of us lived simple lives there'd be fewer of us living in poverty. I think excessive wealth necessitates poverty; I'd caution against both.

 

Socrates was asked by his pupils: "Tell us, Master Socrates, who among us is closest to the gods in happiness?"

 

"He who knows he has enough," answered Master Socrates.

 

Well, I'll happily shell peas. I picked two buckets of them this morning and they have yet to be shelled. Simple, meditative, happy and I'd say spiritual work: simplicity but a long ways from poverty.

 

 

Pretty much my aim in life (the simplicity, not the shelling peas although I'd love to do that since it's been many years since I did). One of my takeaways from Greek philosophy has been the notion of the mean; that truth and happiness are not find in the extremes but in the middle. Having enough, not too little or too much.

 

Mendalla

 

trishcuit's picture

trishcuit

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 Give me neither poverty nor riches-

Feed me with the food allotted to me;

Lest I be full and deny You

And say "Who is the Lord?"

Or lest I be poor and steal,

And profane the name of my God.

 

Proverbs 30:9

 

 God understands how abject poverty can be detrimental to our spirituality.

Dcn. Jae's picture

Dcn. Jae

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Diana wrote:
I agree with Arminius - to have enough, and to be content with what we have gives root to spiritual growth.

 

Sometimes it is the struggle for contentment that brings about the greatest growth.

jon71's picture

jon71

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I would imagine that it's easiest to be spiritual if you aren't focused on wealth or material needs. If you don't know where your next meal is coming from, that will probably draw your attention heavily, and it seems like a lot of people who are wealthy spend a lot of time and effort in managing that wealth. I would guess that it's best (spiritually) to be doing o.k. but not rich.

We have the part in the Bible around the rich enter Heaven like a camel goes through the "eye of a needle" and long debates as to whether the eye of the needle is literal, a metaphor or a reference to something else (like a "service entrance" built into city walls that a camel could only get through if it was on it's knees and carrying nothing). I have also heard talk in church that when going to desperate places in the world that common sense and decency says you have to provide needed food and medicine before people will really be able to listen to you talk about the Bible. I think that's approximately what's taught in the Bible but I can't recall the specific passage.

revjohn's picture

revjohn

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Hi Elanorgold,

 

Elanorgold wrote:

I've been thinking these two things seem to go hand in hand. Do you think so?

 

Not necessarily.  I think that any relationship between the two is most likely correlation rather than causation.

 

Elanorgold wrote:

Is it hard to be spiritual if yer rich?

 

I think that would depend upon how one got to be rich.  Money is a tool to be used not a god to be worshipped.  One can have quite a bit of money lying around without being led around by it.

 

Eleanorgold wrote:

Is it hard to be rich if yer spiritual?

 

I don't believe it would be.  Of course, if you are spiritual it may be that you do not recognize having financial means as "richness."

 

EleanorGold wrote:

Does spirituality naturally flow from poverty? Or poverty naturally flow from spirituality? I feel that my high thoughts do hold me back from getting well payed work. I'm just too darn idealistic!

 

I think it is no to both.  There is no causal connection between the two.

 

Eleanor wrote:

On the other hand, true hunger and cold are anything but spiritual, as I discovered for myself back in '96 out in a tent with innadequate bedding or warm clothing in about 2 degrees and damp air, with only one raw potato and some milk powder. Yet, people go on spirit quests in just that kind of condition. Perhaps if I'd stayed out there I'd have felt some great insight, but all I could think of was food and shelter.

 

To be spiritual one must be able to focus on things spiritual.  If one's hunger or one's debt are obstacles to overcome then the ability to focus on spiritual things may be hindered.

 

Distractions of any kind make spirituality difficult to work on.

 

Grace and peace to you.

John

Elanorgold's picture

Elanorgold

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Lodestar: Your comment reminds me of the episode of Dr Who I just watched last night. VanGogh's stuggle brought about that marvellous art.

 

I think "rich" isn't allways a concious decision, to some it just works out that way.

chansen's picture

chansen

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I can see a connection between spirituality and poverty, but religiousity thrives in areas of little or no education.  Little education often means little food, and I can see the mechanism which would cause empty bellies to look to supernatural ways to bring about better luck and therefore more food.  But I think the strongest cause is a lack of education which would allow people to look for supernatural answers to their non-supernatural problems in the first place.

Diana's picture

Diana

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Lodestar wrote:

Diana wrote:
I agree with Arminius - to have enough, and to be content with what we have gives root to spiritual growth.

 

Sometimes it is the struggle for contentment that brings about the greatest growth.

 

Awesome point.  Thanks for my thought for the day!

RitaTG's picture

RitaTG

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Ummmm ..... here is the approach I use.....

Proverbs 30:7-9 (New International Version)

 

 7 "Two things I ask of you, O LORD;
       do not refuse me before I die:

 8 Keep falsehood and lies far from me;
       give me neither poverty nor riches,
       but give me only my daily bread.

 9 Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you
       and say, 'Who is the LORD ?'
       Or I may become poor and steal,
       and so dishonor the name of my God.

Seems to me there is a sensible balance suggested here.

Thanks for the thread!

Hugs

Rita

Pilgrims Progress's picture

Pilgrims Progress

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RitaTG wrote:

 8 Keep falsehood and lies far from me;
       give me neither poverty nor riches,
       but give me only my daily bread.

Gotta say, RitaTG, you have an absolute knack of saying something I need to read on the very day!

 

Thank you.   (and a big hug).

 

With regard to spirituality and poverty - as has been said, it's difficult to be spiritual when one is starving. But once one's basic material needs are met, our spirituality has the opportunity to flourish when we recognize the difference between needs and wants.

trishcuit's picture

trishcuit

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 Yes Rita and I see things the same way. (Note I also posted Proverbs 30)

Elanorgold's picture

Elanorgold

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I actualy agree with proverb 30 (and thanks for that), though obviously not in the same way. I think it is a good point. I think the basics need to be met before one can take the time to ponder the big questions. Hence why we have renaissances when the social infrastructure is going well, and why the ancient Romans were so organized and advanced, and why the Sumerians knew so much about astrology.

 

I also agree with you Chansen, though that is not the kind of spirituality I'm talking about, though it does play a part for many uneducated impoverished all over the world, and throughout history, including the Canadian back country. I mean more: philospophy, poetry, insight, new ideas, my kind of being spiritual. But you're totaly right of cource about supernatural-ism. I was just listening to something on the radio about children in Africa being acused of witchcraft for the illnessses in town, and witch doctors charging large amounts of money to perform painful exorsizms on these children, absolutely disgusting.

Neo's picture

Neo

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Elanorgold wrote:

I've been thinking these two things seem to go hand in hand. Do you think so? Is it hard to be spiritual if yer rich? Is it hard to be rich if yer spiritual? Does spirituality naturally flow from poverty? Or poverty naturally flow from spirituality? I feel that my high thoughts do hold me back from getting well payed work. I'm just too darn idealistic!

 

On the other hand, true hunger and cold are anything but spiritual, as I discovered for myself back in '96 out in a tent with innadequate bedding or warm clothing in about 2 degrees and damp air, with only one raw potato and some milk powder. Yet, people go on spirit quests in just that kind of condition. Perhaps if I'd stayed out there I'd have felt some great insight, but all I could think of was food and shelter.

 

Anyway, what do you think?

 

There's a big, big difference between poverty and living suffciently. Nobody should every be living a life where they are starving to death or living in abject poverty. That is crime against nature. Living a meager life, however, where possessions are not the prime goal in life, does or at least can lead to a spiritual life. 

 

Living in poverty and  living a "detached" life are not the same thing.

 

 

The_Omnissiah's picture

The_Omnissiah

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Wait they are getting witchdoctors to perform exorcisms on so-called witches?

 

Witch...do you see a flaw here?

lol

 

As-salaamu alaikum

-Omni

Elanorgold's picture

Elanorgold

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Omni, Chuckle, yeah! Crazy!

 

Detatchment, yes. And it can work. My main problem is inconsistent income, job insecurity and stress. Not sure I can spiritualize that. I do try. I'd be Goldberry with her Tom Bombadil in the forest if I could.

GRR's picture

GRR

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chansen wrote:

I can see a connection between spirituality and poverty, but religiousity thrives in areas of little or no education.  Little education often means little food, and I can see the mechanism which would cause empty bellies to look to supernatural ways to bring about better luck and therefore more food.  But I think the strongest cause is a lack of education which would allow people to look for supernatural answers to their non-supernatural problems in the first place.

Which would be a tenable argument if we allowed you to define "spirituality" as equivalent with "supernatural". Since that's not the case, then not so much.

GRR's picture

GRR

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Elanorgold wrote:

I've been thinking these two things seem to go hand in hand. Do you think so? Is it hard to be spiritual if yer rich? Is it hard to be rich if yer spiritual? Does spirituality naturally flow from poverty? Or poverty naturally flow from spirituality?

I think that poverty and hopelessness lead to a particular kind of faith- one that focuses on the "afterlife" and which usually bears a resemblance to the religion much maligned by folks like hansen. when you have nothing and there is nothing to look forward to for you or your family but more of the same, and an early and ugly death, "heaven" is about all that you have to believe in.

 

Millions of people who are not in poverty, however, are "spiritual" in the sense that they believe in something greater than themselves, whether they call it "God" or something else.

 

The challenge is to keep them from, out of a feeling of powerlessness, turning that spirituality solely inward, and to motivate them to bring about the transformation that will free those who can see no compassion of God in the world around them.

David

somegirl's picture

somegirl

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Someone living in poverty has very little control over his/her life.  It makes sense that they would ask God to intercede on their behalf when he/she don't have the resourses to make changes in his/her own life.

 

I don't think that there is very much room for spirituality when all of one's focus is on obtaining food and shelter.

Elanorgold's picture

Elanorgold

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There was a Jehova's Witness woman came to my house in the spring and wangled out of me what I would change about my life "more money", then, of cource, came back a couple weeks later sayuing she'd been thinking about me and had some quotes from the bible for me and some article sin her Watchtower for me. Great. Well I was respectful because she wasa nice lady and she'd had brain surgery and she needed her religion for her own reasons and I don't want to stomp on that, so I took the magazines, and briefly scanned over the relevant articles, inspired by WOndercafe to not be predudiced and to accept helpful information wherever I may find it. The articles didn't tell me anything I didn't allready know or that would apply to my case.

 

So she came back a third time just last week and we had a good conversation about God, the lack thereof, money, the afterlife all these sorts of things. SHe kinda put me on the spot really. She discovered though that she could not help me in the way she wanted, if anything I put her faith in jeapordy with my good nature and spiritual atheism. I hope that I gave her and her friend good food for thought, healthy food for thought, and that if I did offend them, they will over time, accept that I was onl;y being honest, and I hope helpful to them.

 

I know that this Jehova's WItness has gone thorugh some rough sdtuff and she's turned to that branch of religion as an escape. SHe doesn't accept suffering as acceptable, likewise she doesn'ty accept not knowing as acceptable, but I do. I revel in the Wonder. ANd I thought of WOndercafe when I used that word. Wonder. How wonderful.

 

Just some thoughts.

trishcuit's picture

trishcuit

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 I'd be Goldberry with her Tom Bombadil in the forest if I could.

 

* * * 

 

Yea I hear ya there!  A nice simple idyllic life.  I like reading that part of Fellowship.  "And Goldberry is waiting!"  

Elanorgold's picture

Elanorgold

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It's good in a way that that part was left out of the film, left just how it was in our imaginations. : ) Time to find that part of the book and read it again : )

 

Yes Beshpin. Fatalism is an interesting point and a convoluted, indepth psychological subject.

 

 

Neo's picture

Neo

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Elanorgold wrote:

Detatchment, yes. And it can work. My main problem is inconsistent income, job insecurity and stress. Not sure I can spiritualize that. I do try. I'd be Goldberry with her Tom Bombadil in the forest if I could.

I think the key to our problem, where the rich are getting richer and the poorer are not, comes down to a simple idea:  we need to live sufficiently.

 

By living sufficiently we would be exercising detachment, which is by far and bar none the root to all our problems. Selfishness and greed is killing this world. We have met the enemy and he is us.

 

By living sufficiently and being detached the world would be a much more stable and saner place because trust and sharing would come much more natural to us. If we didn't need as much and didn't put such a high value on the things we do have then what's left?

 

Easy words to say, aren't they?

 

 

 

jlin's picture

jlin

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Eleanorgold

 

I enjoyed your long post.  Soooo right on. I enjoy your sense of the world quite a bit.

 

I sometimes remember that in order to deal with the fact that sex slaves around the world and people dying of disease and starvation exist on the same plane as I do, I think that suffering is only a category of unfulfillment.  We are all as unfulfilled as a sex slave about to be murdered.  We are all that abused.  In this way we can not imagine a better place only to make peace and meditate on the internal space.  We pity the sex slave whose emotional space is so limited, but then, so is ours, limited by worry about bills and rooves and washing machines.

Elanorgold's picture

Elanorgold

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Hmmm. I think if I believed I was that abused, I would be impoverished indeed. If we pitty ourselves like that, we should shake some sence into ourselves. I'm not that unfulfilled.

 

Now I was once that happy traveller who lived in her car and ate only pb&j sandwiches every day and washed her hair in the cold lake. Oh yes, I've taken the happy bare essentials route, and I (hubby and I) value those experiences and memories very much. In fact I found our "wild man pit toilet" picture from our trailer in the forest days, if I could figure a way to post it I would...

 

I think I do fairly well, compared to some though, in the not wanting department.

 

This has been a good conversation with different perspectives and some food for thought.

Elanorgold's picture

Elanorgold

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And thank you Jlin, for enjoying my post and saying so, I appreciate that.

 

Arminius, I shelled the first peas of the season yesterday, and thought of you. They're so crisp and sweet! Thanks ; )

Elanorgold's picture

Elanorgold

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Here it is, the wilderness throne:

Arminius's picture

Arminius

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Hi Elanorgold:

 

Nicest outhouse I ever saw. Using it must have been a real pleasure.

 

(Like Stephen Fry said in Inanna's video: "We don't have to go to the lavatory—we want to! :-)

 

I finished picking and shelling peas on the 24th of July, and seeded the pea rows with endive and radiccio for fall and winter salads. I cover those during the fall frosts. If a severe winter frost holds off long enough, we'll eat them until Christmas.

 

We are just about finished with the raspberries and are starting with the green beans. Frozen peas and green beans are some of our winter staples.

waterfall's picture

waterfall

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Eleanor, it seems to me that the very rich and the very poor both seem to bear the brunt of the middle classes disdain. Not a blatent overt proclamation but just enough attitude and detachment to separate the classes according to material accumulation.

 

The poor and the middle class resent the rich. The rich keep the proper distance from the middle class and the poor. Our nieghbourhoods reflect this. It is rare to jump the fence.

 

Therefore I don't believe our spirituality should be defined by our lifes circumstances or our current position on the planet.

 

Our spirituality is determined from within and disregards the influence of the world.

Elanorgold's picture

Elanorgold

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Thanks Waterfall, good observations. I had been thinking of the class divide. I wish it weren't so, that's one of the things I love about Wondercafe. We are all equal here.

 

Arminius, glad you liked it! I was quite thrilled when hubby showed me it. He built it all by himself, the extravagant artist that he is! We have another batch of peas coming and the green beans are still pretty small. Raspberries were few this year. I'll be sure to manure them well and prune them properly, we've only had them for 2 summers and they're pretty small. Everything else seems to be growing pretty well! Cukes, carrots, turnips, kohlrabi, potatoes. : ) And we're having a fabulous rain today!

crazyheart's picture

crazyheart

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I have seen rich folk who have been spiritual and I have seen poor people and I have seen middle class who have been spiritual as well. I don't think it has to do with material wealth or none. It has to do with how one lives one's life. I also don't think spirituality is taught (MPO)

Arminius's picture

Arminius

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Hi Elanorgold:

 

In raspberries, this year's new canes become next year's fruiting canes.

 

This fall, cut down all of this year's fruiting canes and most of the new canes. For next year's fruiting canes leave only the strongest of the new canes and give them plenty of elbow room.

 

Rasberries respond well to nitrogen-rich manure such as chicken manure (well aged). Compost is also a good idea, and regular mulching with grass clippings and compost keeps the canes strong. Watering is also important. In a well maintained stand, new canes will grow up to 12 feet tall and need to be cut back to six feet for next year's fruiting canes. A good cane should be as thick  as a finger or even a thumb. A cane that thick will produce many fruiting shoots and big berries, and hold them up well.

 

I know, this thread is about spirituality, not raspberries. But growing as much good food as one can at home is, I think and feel, an act of spiritual responsibilty.

Elanorgold's picture

Elanorgold

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Thanks Arminius! I'll do that!

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