This week my husband and I did our annual budget. With two kids and barely-above-the-poverty-line salaries, this might be a terrifying experience, but for us it is not. For us, our budget is a tangible experience of the Divine; an ongoing testament to the truth that, “a consciousness of abundance, attracts abundance,” as Swami Kriyananda taught.
This year we were trying to figure out how to nearly double our monthly donations, so we could contribute to build Ananda’s Temple of Light. We weren’t sure how we would do it, but as we filled a spreadsheet with expected expenses and income, sure enough, the money was there in black and white. It would take some discipline, a camping vacation instead of something more exotic, a little less impulse-shopping on Amazon, but it was all there…That same night, we got an invitation to a nearly all-expenses paid vacation to Mexico. Um, thanks Divine Mother!
My journey to abundance began with my parents, ministers at Ananda who have dedicated their lives to serving others and Self-realization. Research shows that giving is a learned behavior and boy did I learn it! Generosity doesn’t even begin to capture my parents consciousness around money. Nothing is theirs. NOTHING. Everything is a gift from God and everything is meant to be shared. Even with this attitude, they are supremely thoughtful about money; bringing awareness and light to all the aspects of it (especially those things we might prefer to leave in the dark). They budget for new tires, for illness, for vacations; they budget for aging and taxes. I should note that they are ministers AND accountants, so yes, they love budgets. Yet, as every line item fills an Excel spreadsheet, they never panic, they never contract.
When my husband and I decided to take the leap of faith and both work for Ananda, effectively slashing our household income by 80%, my parents were the first people we called for help. They set us up with a spreadsheet and a plan, but when I began to panic that we would run out of money, my mom stopped me by reminding me that, “this is about faith. We do our part and Divine Mother will do Hers.”
I am a living breathing testament to that truth. I went to private school, university, graduate school. As a child, I traveled through Europe several times, vacationed in Hawaii, had a car at 16 years old, had a pony. I had everything a kid could want. As an adult, the prosperity continues. Every time I need something, or even want something, it is provided. Not without hard work, but it comes.
Here I sit, with a life I could only have dreamed of and I make nearly nothing (for American standards). The lessons my parents taught me were directly based on the ancient yogic teachings of prosperity:
- Money is energy. Energy is God. God is limitless.
- The more you give selflessly, the more you receive.
- Happiness is found through simple living, not the accumulation of stuff.
- Security cannot be bought; true security is found only in the Divine within.
- Abundance is a spiritual attitude, not a bank account.
- Giving is a tool for building faith.
I didn’t need research to teach me that the example of generous parents is essential to raising generous kids, but the research is out there; it is a fact. If I can offer anything from my experience as the child of two very generous yogis dedicated to Self-realization, it is the advice:
- Make generosity a central part of your family life.
- Include the kids in giving.
- Help them to experience gratitude by letting them experience working hard for what they want.
- Raising generous kids begins by embracing the opportunity to deepen your own faith through giving.
- Anytime fear enters your finances, give, even a little bit, to something bigger than yourself.