Scarcity or Abundance? — Center for Action and Contemplation

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Scarcity or Abundance?

Economy: Week 2

Scarcity or Abundance?
Thursday, July 5, 2018

God as Trinity reveals an economy of grace—overflowing love. The Gospel stories of “multiplication” clearly show a world view of abundance. When Jesus feeds a crowd with very little food, he’s revealing the nature of spiritual reality more than just performing a miracle (see Matthew 14:15-21). Notice that the apostles advise Jesus against it: “But how will two fish and five loaves be enough for so many?” They, like most of us, live in a worldview of scarcity. In every multiplication story, the Gospel writer emphasizes that there is always much left over, which should communicate the point: the universe always has more than enough of itself to give, if the portals of mind and heart are left open. Simply observe seeds, spermatozoa, and the lifecycle of rain and stars!

America’s unhealthy economics and politics persist because we largely operate out of a worldview of scarcity, which leads to actual scarcity: there is not enough land, healthcare, water, money, and housing for all of us, and there are never enough guns to keep us safe. Charles Eisenstein writes:

The money system is a game of musical chairs, a mad scramble in which some are necessarily left out. . . . It is an outgrowth of our attitude of scarcity—an attitude that rests on an even deeper foundation: the basic myths and ideologies of our civilization that I call the Story of Self and Story of the World. But we can’t just change our attitudes about money; we must change money too, which after all is the embodiment of our attitudes. Ultimately, work on self is inseparable from work in the world. Each mirrors the other; each is a vehicle for the other. When we change ourselves, our values and actions change as well. . . .

In our current money system, it is mathematically impossible for more than a minority of people to live in abundance, because the money creation process maintains a system of scarcity. . . . [This] rests on a foundation of Separation. It is as much an effect as it is a cause of our perception that we are discrete and separate subjects in a universe that is Other. Opening to abundance can only happen when we let go of this identity and open to the richness of our true, connected being. [1]

As many have said, there is more than enough for our need but never enough for our greed. In the midst of the structural stinginess and over-consumption of our present world, how do we change consciousness and operate from mercy and graciousness? The problem is exacerbated by the fact that the mind is apparently unable to imagine anything infinite or eternal. So it cannot conceive an infinite love, or a God whose “mercy is everlasting” (Psalm 136) as the psalmist continually shouts, or grace which builds upon grace (see John 1:16).

Transformation of consciousness will always depend upon a foundational and sustained Flow—that we must allow in both receiving and giving. Only a personal experience of unconditional, unearned, and infinite love and forgiveness can move you from the normal worldview of scarcity to the divine world of infinite abundance. That’s when the doors of mercy blow wide open! That’s when we begin to understand the scale-breaking nature of grace.

[1] Charles Eisenstein, Sacred Economics: Money, Gift & Society in the Age of Transition (Evolver Editions: 2011), 122-123.

Adapted from Richard Rohr, “Today Is a Time for Mercy,” December 10, 2015,

Inspiration for this week’s banner image:
It is a fundamental law of nature, that there is enough and it is finite. Its finiteness is no threat; it creates a more accurate relationship that commands respect, reverence, and managing those resources with the knowledge that they are precious and in ways that do the most good for the most people. —Lynne Twist
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