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Commodity Culture

Spirituality of Letting Go: Week 1

Commodity Culture
Thursday, September 1, 2016

All great spirituality is about letting go. I say this as an absolute statement. Francis of Assisi profoundly understood that. He let go of his life in the upper class and joyfully lived in solidarity with those at the bottom, the sick and the poor. But you and I have grown up with a capitalist worldview, not a Franciscan worldview. That doesn’t make us bad or entirely wrong. But it has blinded our spiritual seeing. We tend to think that more is naturally better. Spiritual wisdom reveals that less is more. Jesus taught this, and the holy ones live it. I want to invite you to experience the liberating power of this perennial discovery.

The Gospel, truly interpreted, wants everybody to win, to live in a world of freedom and joy. There is an alternative to our consumer, commodity, market mentality. We might call it the personal, relational, or being mode. It is a worldview in which all of us can succeed on some real level. It isn’t a win/lose model where only a few win and most lose. It’s a win/win worldview, but only if we’re willing to let go of our need to be the primary or exclusive winner. The trouble with the dominance of the competitive model is that it needs lots of losers so that one can be declared the best.  Maybe this is good for the market, but it is bad for the soul.

You see, if something is working, you don’t need another one or a higher one or a better one—which is what a consumer culture builds on. If something is already making you happy, you don’t need more of it. The fact that you need more and more and better and better of almost everything tells me that the commodity culture isn’t working. Of course, the key is to find what really makes you happy, which finally has to be on the level of your naked being, not any doing, achieving, or performing. Oh, I hope you do a lot of good things, but let them come out of your good being, and then you can be happy whether you succeed or not.

The task of healthy religion is to communicate to you your inherent dignity and the dignity inherent in everything else too. If you do not discover that deep inherent meaning, then everything else will finally disappoint you, driving your obsession with more. As the Twelve Steppers wisely say, “You only need more and more of what is not working.”

As a Divine creation, you have an intrinsic meaning, an irreplaceable worth. Once you can fully accept that inherent dignity in yourself, your happiness is henceforth an inside job, and you will naturally hand it on to others too, because the Source is now infinite and you are finally connected to your Source.

Gateway to Silence:
Let be. Let love.

Adapted from Richard Rohr, The Art of Letting Go: Living the Wisdom of Saint Francis (Sounds True: 2010), disc 2 (CD).