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Center for Action and Contemplation

Can Money Serve Our Transition from Ego to Soul?

May 13th, 2024
Can Money Serve Our Transition from Ego to Soul?

Douglas Tsoi is a Franciscan spiritual director who offers financial-spiritual coaching. He writes about the intersection of personal finance and spirituality on the Substack newsletter Money and Meaning. He can be found at www.douglastsoi.com

By Douglas Tsoi

Recently, I listened to an interview in which Fr. Richard Rohr talks about Carl Jung’s two halves of life: 

[In the first half] you’re building your ego structure, …your sense of self. You’ve got to have a few successes…. But if you spend too much time creating your ego structure, you think that’s the only task there is. This is our mania for being rich, for being famous, for living in the right part of town, or for things like driving a big car. 

We’re a society with a lot of elderly people but not a lot of elders, because we have elderly people who are still living in the first half of life. I’m not trying to be moralistic. I’m just talking in terms of the Soul. 1 

“We’re a society with a lot of elderly people but not a lot of elders.” That really caught me. Baby Boomers own 50 percent of the country’s $156 trillion in assets, and Gen Xers own another 30 percent. What will happen to these assets if we never move from ego to Soul—and what could happen if we do?  

Like so many Boomers and Xers, I hold onto “my” money to protect my ego. My internal not-enoughness is my resistance. It’s easy to say that an ego wants more money, rank, privilege, wealth, and status. For me, these are simply strategies to fulfill a deeper need: to feel OK, to feel safe. To be an ego is to live with a deep insecurity.  

I give to the CAC because giving to the CAC is a small step toward letting go of “me” and surrendering to a bigger “we.” Spiritual teacher Adyashanti puts it this way: “Most people want to remain separate and in control…. They want to remain separate more than they want to wake up to the perfect unity… which leaves no room for any separation from the whole.”2 

Separateness is the very thing a first-half-of-life culture promotes. And spirituality is a journey of surrender, dying to yourself and everything you thought was you, to be reborn to something greater, a “we.” It’s learning that this life is a team game. 

If our journey of surrender doesn’t change how we relate to our money, what has really changed? Are we like the rich young man in Matthew 19, so earnest yet so afraid, still living the first half of life and declining the real work of transformation?  

The world is in significant need of repair. It needs us to move from ego to Soul, from me to we, to become instruments of God’s grace. It needs the elderly to become elders, stewards of a more beautiful world we know is possible. I believe that we Boomers and Xers can use our trillions to create a world where there is enough for everyone. We need to start now. 

To build this world of enough-for-everyone, we must let go of our fear of not-enoughness. This is the soul work of transformation, grace, surrender. It’s trusting in the slow work of God, of becoming “we.” 

We start with a change in narrative, a change in how we see ourselves. I believe this is the work of the CAC, inviting us into a story of a more beautiful world that will happen if we surrender me to we. Then there is no scarcity. There is no shortage. If we let go of our tight grip on money, there is more than enough for all. Only fear makes us think otherwise. Let go.  

We are instruments of God’s grace. From me to we, as good of a definition of God as I could imagine. Baby Boomers and Gen Xers, $120 trillion. What now? Can our money serve our transition from ego to Soul?  

Surrender is hard. I’m trying. You too? There is joy in this.  

All spirituality, a team game. This life, a team game.  

[1] Richard Rohr, “Leading with Love with Richard Rohr,” The Leadercast Podcast, July 11, 2023.

[2] Adyashanti, The Impact of Awakening: Excerpts from the Teachings of Adyashanti (Markleeville, CA: Open Gate Sangha, 2002), 118.


This reflection appears in the Spring 2024 issue of the Mendicant, our quarterly donor newsletter.

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