Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Scarcity Consciousness and Overindulgence

The developed world is going through a terrible financial collapse and economic  crisis, and I think it is no coincidence that we are also in the midst of an obesity epidemic.  I think that part of the cause of these problems is that so many people live in a scarcity consciousness.  But it manifested in strange ways.  If we think that there isn't enough, then whatever we have may not last, and we think that we need to gorge now out of fear of famine later - on food, drugs, material goods, homes, cars, planes, yachts, all kinds of stuff.  Voila: housing bubbles, Wall Street uber-greed, obesity.

Even more central, I think, we overindulge when we try to fill empty holes within our sense of ourselves.  These types of holes are bottomless and can never be filled with material stuff. However, if we think that a true sense of abundance comes from a sense of being full and sufficient as we are, with no need to stuff stuff into ourselves in order to feel safe, or prosperous, or enough, then we have no need to live a life of overindulgence.  This is no small task, of course, but it could be the real task we face as a part of growing ourselves into mature adults, being enough as we are, without being trapped inside a scarcity consciousness that is always trying to fill ever empty holes within.

At the heart of the housing bubble and obesity crisis in America and the West may be a psychological and spiritual crisis.  Psychologically, if we can be filled with a regard for ourselves based upon internal character strengths and qualities, we can sense ourselves as full rather than empty, and we won't be needing things from the outside.  Spiritually, if we sense that we are filled with the love of the Divine and have access to the Transcendent, we can know that we are complete and do not need to prop ourselves up with stuff to feel like we are enough.

Ultimately, I believe that the crises that the developed world faces are not political, but psychological and spiritual.  And as such, political solutions won't be able to get to the heart of the matter.  But, this might be really good news, because rather than having to rely on the political system to elect the right politicians, we can solve our own problems by growing psychologically and spiritually as individuals.  I expect that the real change we are seeing in the world is that we are in the midst of that process.