“Money is a lot like water- it flows. Money is a current, a carrier, a conduit for our intentions. Money carries the imprimatur of our soul.”
-Lynn Twist, Author of The Soul of Money
One Sunday I was watching Super Soul Sunday on OWN. Oprah had Lynn Twist on the show talking about her book “The Soul of Money”. I was riveted. Completely riveted. I had never heard money discussed in this way. Let’s start with a Lynn Twist Story—one she relates in a Tedx Talk.
(I paraphrase from her talk.)
I was a young fundraiser in the 70’s working for “The Hunger Project”. I received a call from the world’s largest food company wanting to talk about donating. They asked me to come out to Chicago for a breakfast meeting. They had received some bad press and I think wanted to see if they could counter it by donating. That same evening I had a 7:00 pm meeting at church in Harlem. I felt I had plenty of time. Upon arrival in Chicago I took several elevators to get to the penthouse suite for my meeting with the CEO. I had 15 minutes to discuss the Hunger Project. In his office were large floor to ceiling glass windows with the rising sun back lighting him. I never did see his face.
I quickly discussed The Hunger Project. After seven minutes, I asked if he had any questions. He simply opened his desk drawer and pulled out a pre-typed yellow check to The Hunger Project for $ 50,000. He handed me the money which I put it in my briefcase and I walked out the door. In the elevators on the way down I became nauseous. The check was very heavy in my briefcase. It was the largest donation we ever received and I felt sick about it. The intention, the commitment was all wrong.
There were storms in Chicago and the NE. I was two hours late getting to the church in Harlem. The meeting was in the church basement where many buckets were catching water from the leaking ceiling. There were 75 African Americans in the room waiting for me. As I began to speak I could clearly see each face.
I talked about the Hunger Project and when I was done I made the fundraising call. I felt badly about it because these people did not seem to have money. There was silence.
Then a tall, slender, black woman in her late 60’s early 70’s named Gertrude stood up in the back of the room. She wore a maid’s uniform. She said “Girl, I like you and I like what you said. I have $50.00 in my purse and I am going to give it to you. I made this money doing white people’s wash and I am proud of it. See, I believe money is a lot like water, it flows. It comes through some people’s lives like a raging river. Money comes through my life like a trickle. But I want to do the most good for the most people that I can.”
This was followed by the people coming up and making donations in fives, tens and coins.
I went to my hotel and counted the money from the Harlem Church. No more than $500.00. However, the money Gertrude gave carried the energy of her commitment. Her commitment to make a difference. I realized her $ 50.00 would do more to help World hunger than the $50,000. The next day I mailed the check back to the CEO. I told him to choose an organization he felt committed to and thanked him for considering us. I didn’t hear back from him.
Money when flowing can purify, cleanse, create growth and nourish. But when it is blocked it becomes stagnant and toxic to those hoarding it. It is a carrier of blessed energy, possibility and intention or it can carry control, domination or guilt. We can be flooded with money and drown in its excess.
Five or six years after returning the check to the CEO I received a letter from him. A year after meeting him he had retired and received a lucrative package. He was struck by the return of the check many years before. After retiring he began to think about his commitments and he started to follow The Hunger Project. He had more money than he needed. He said that making a meaningful contribution could help solve World Hunger. He wanted to contribute from his soul as he viewed it as something that had been left uncompleted. His personal donation was for $250,000.
When money moves towards things you care about your life lights up. You never know the seeds you lay. As Lynn did honoring her own integrity by returning the money. By doing so it caused the CEO to reflect on his intentions. Years later, moved by the letter Lynn sent him he donated from his heart.
If you really want to know how your money flows just look at your checkbook and your credit card statements. This is a clear picture of what you are committed too.
“Money has power but only the power we assign to it. And we have assigned it immense power. We have given it almost final authority. Humans have done and will do horrible things in the name of money. They have killed for it, enslaved other people for it, and enslaved themselves in the joyless pursuit of it. In the name of money humankind has done immense damage to mother earth. We have destroyed rain forests, damned and decimated rivers, over fished rivers and poisoned our soils with chemical waste from industry and agriculture. We have also exploited whole nations to get cheap labor.”
“Rarely is money a place of genuine freedom, clarity or joy yet we let it dictate the terms of our lives. It becomes the single most important factor in the decisions we make about family, work, love and friendship. There is little we accept so completely as the authority and power of money. “
“Money doesn’t buy meaning if you’ve bought into the false promise of conspicuous consumption. Use money to fuel your dreams and lead you on a life of adventure and inquiry. Use it to help others and make the world a better place. Meaning isn’t bought, it is home grown.”
-Pedram Shojai, The Urban Monk
Back to Lynn’s point of returning the check to the CEO, it matters where the money comes from, how it is earned or acquired. There is an Energy to everything including Money. If the money is exploitive, making products using child labor, making money poisoning our soil and environment then I personally am not interested in those products. This is where you have a choice. A choice to possibly inconvenience yourself by paying more or supporting companies that have integrity for you.
A couple personal examples. A couple years after I got out of college I applied for a job at RJ Reynolds. The job entailed driving around stocking cigarettes in convenience stores. I made it to the finals for candidate selection. It felt wrong. I called my Dad and said if I get this job I can’t take it. I can’t stock cigarettes. (if you’ve met me you know I abhor smoking-I actually care about people being healthy). I withdrew from the process. I said no to something that could have led to promotions and opportunity because it wasn’t me, it didn’t have integrity for me.
A more recent example is I use an organic lawn service for the health of the grass and to protect the animals in the yard. (cost more- a choice I made) I have many weeds all around the lawn beds in the shrubs etc. It got a little out of hand. I pulled out an old bottle of Roundup. My lips started to burn as they always do when I touch Roundup. It would be so easy to use Roundup. I was torn. Then I thought of Monsanto and how much I despise their business practices and lobbying efforts. I went inside got the natural weed remedy off the internet. One Gallon of 30% vinegar, one cup of salt and a dash of dish washing liquid. I went to Lowes and bought a sprayer made in the USA and sprayed those weeds. Guess what? It worked! It worked well. I felt calm, I felt positive, I felt like I did the right thing. My intention is to support organizations/products that do good for the whole of humanity who honor the earth. These are tiny examples of the choices we make every day.
Listen to your life and live it intentionally, live it consciously.
The Lie of Scarcity.
We live in a culture of not enough. We get up in the morning and say, Man I didn’t get enough sleep, I don’t have enough time, I don’t have enough money.
Three legs to The Lie of Scarcity.
Not enough: Sleep, exercise, food, work, money, time, vacation, interests, love, support, opportunity, friends and material things.
More is better: More gadgets, clothes, money, time, phones, social media, food, vacations, contacts, friends and opportunity.
That’s just the way it is. That’s how our world works, that’s just the way it is.
When really, Sufficiency is the Surprising Truth. “Once the constant automatic conversations about scarcity are swept away, what is there waiting for our attention is the surprising truth of sufficiency. Sufficiency is distinct from abundance. While abundance refers to an overflow of resources or having more than enough, Sufficiency is about declaring “This is enough.” It is an act of trusting that you have all the resources you need, and the universe is here to meet you. Our cultures focus on more, more, more is too the point that we often go right by “enough” and don’t realize we missed it. When you let go of trying to get more of what you don’t need it frees up energy to make a difference with what you already have. When you make a difference with what you have it expands.”
Sufficiency is not just with money. You already have resources in your talents, materials or relationships. Contribute them make a difference with them. One act at a time.
Lynn says, “What you appreciate appreciates.” There is nothing more powerful than appreciation, acknowledgment and gratefulness. When you choose to express gratitude and appreciation, you will see the people around you bloom and your life will blossom before your eyes.
There is the Spiritual Law of Use or sometimes called the law of increase. It is important to realize anytime Spirit gives us something; an ability, resource, insight, revelation and such, we are held accountable for what we do with it. If we don’t use those resources effectively, we can lose them. If we apply them effectively we can multiply them. “What we appreciate appreciates.”
"If you want money more than anything, you will be bought and sold. If you have a greed for food, you will become a loaf of bread. This is the subtle truth. Whatever you love you are."
Until Next time,
About Lynn Twist
For more than 40 years, Lynne Twist has been a recognized global visionary committed to alleviating poverty, ending world hunger and supporting social justice and environmental sustainability. She is the co-founder of the Pachamama Alliance, and founder of The Soul of Money Institute. She has guided the philanthropy of some of the world’s wealthiest families and has brought her deep understanding of people’s relationship with money.
-The Soul of Money Institute