Ordinary people are outraged that the wealthy want to be given free money as a bailout, and at the same time they are frightened about losing their own money. Fear doesn’t live in a vacuum. To cope with uncertain times, many turn to morality. They blame runaway greed on Wall Street, even though, as a commentator wisely said, Wall Street without greed would just be pavement. They blame the financial world in general for being selfish and rapacious. They blame government for not looking after the average Joe, and finally, many people wonder if God isn’t blaming all of us for our sinful ways.
This flood of blame and judgment shows an impoverishment of spirit that is far worse than loss of money. Jesus was asking a serious question when he said, “What does it profit a man to gain the whole world if he loses his soul?” By the same logic he told his listeners to store up wealth in heaven, not on earth. This turns out to be good economics, because the more you attach your worth to money, the more harmed you will be in a crash. But there’s much more to it, of course. To be wealthy in spirit means that you are confident, tolerant and forgiving of others. If that seems too idealistic in hard times, then consider this. You are wealthy if you don’t need the things money can buy in order to prosper.
When we were young and didn’t have money, what motivated us? Enthusiasm, a vision of the future, the desire to follow a personal vision, curiosity about the world, a drive to fulfill our own potential, and love for those we wanted to nourish and support. All those things are tied to money, but they aren’t the same as money. They are the coins of spiritual wealth. Wealth of spirit gives you the ability to make a living. Having money in the bank doesn’t lead to love of others or a vision that motivates you to be better tomorrow than you are today. The way out of this financial crisis is for Americans to regain more inner wealth. How is that done?
— Reject fear and pessimism.
— Know what your vision is and act upon it.
— Don’t blame others and seek payback when things go wrong.
— Prosper inwardly through love, generosity, giving, and altruism.
— Stop identifying with your salary and possessions.
— Work for the common good whenever you can.
No country has ever had a Golden Age when people lived by all these things, but there are times when these things dominate social behavior and other times when they are forgotten. I think it’s foolish to try and calculate whether America is in moral decline. Individual lives are always full of promise and hidden potential. The rise of a corrupt ruling class and the huge inequalities between rich and poor aren’t a good sign, but even here there’s enormous will to pull back from the brink. The key to a turnaround isn’t financial or moral, for that matter. It comes down to understanding the difference between wealth and money, and then living as if that difference matters.
Lest people think an idealist vision does not translate into practical economics, let us consider some of the specific policy outcomes that the current crisis could lead to:
1. A de-militarized economy that does not equate security with the size of the Pentagon’s budget.
2. Investment in wisdom-based economies, including alternative energies, sustainable agriculture and ways to restore balance in the ecosystem.
3. A genuine re-investment in education that rewards excellence in science and creativity.
4 The building of infrastructure, including urban oil-free transportation, restoring our bridges, roads, parks, and forest.
5. Comprehensive health care coverage for everyone in the country.
Every crisis comes with opportunity. Knowing the difference between wealth and money provides the wisdom to seize these creative opportunities. A monetary bailout, on the other hand would merely serve as a band-aid, not a long-term solution.
Visit www.intent.com to read more from Deepak Chopra and other prominent voices.
An article in the Washington Post On Faith section in response to their question: Vice presidential candidates Joe Biden and Sarah Palin will debate this week. What would you ask them about their religious beliefs and why?
If Joe Biden and Sarah Palin aren’t asked about religion in their upcoming debate, that would be healthy. The fact that the right wing has profited handsomely from the religious issue doesn’t make it fair or even constitutional. Nor does it offset the harm they have done. The Constitution kept God out of politics in order to avoid the inflamed conflict that has mired this country since the Reagan revolution. But as long as religion does play a part, voters will keep casting ballots for their favorite brand of God. Therefore, I’d like to see the moderator for the next debate ask Sarah Palin if she gained the governorship of Alaska by exorcising witches at the behest of an African minister who prayed over her.
The YouTube video that shows that event is embarrassing enough, but my intention wouldn’t be to embarrass Palin further. My intention would be to point out the absurdity and wrongness of turning religion into politics. As a Catholic, Joe Biden is entitled to hold beliefs that would disturb practicing Buddhists, Muslims, and atheists. Whatever position he takes on Jesus as savior of the world should be private. Sarah Palin should also be allowed to throw chicken bones in the privacy of her living room. But Palin, riding the crest of right-wing fundamentalism, insists that religion become a litmus test. Having done that, it’s her own fault if she is exposed for her primitive beliefs. Being as far out of the mainstream as she is, the public should find out the truth.
Getting God out of the voting booth is a process, and hopefully that process took a step forward with the revelations about Palin and her belief that the Almighty awarded her the governorship as a kind of gold star for church attendance. The drawbacks of such a view are enormous, but most people don’t see them.
— If success in this world means that God loves you, then he must be punishing those who aren’t successful. Poverty, for example, means you have offended God. Armed with that logic, there’s no reason to pass social legislation to help the disadvantaged.
— Since many people are unsuccessful or have various troubles, they must need conversion. As a result, enormous pressure gets put on them to believe in God. Using this logic, the Bush administration has tied aid to Africa to an ulterior motive, making the recipients accept Christianity.
— It’s clear that many people do succeed without going to church or holding strong religious beliefs. These people become alien and threatening, because they expose a weakness in your belief system. Using this logic, the God-fearing condemn atheists and liberals as Godless. They war against Communism for the same moral failing.
Once intolerance toward unbelievers becomes God’s will, true believers can oppose and harm their opponents as much as they want. A loving God becomes a God of exclusion and social division. It goes without saying that we’ve been seeing a lot of that over the past few decades.
In the end, my innate desire to leave Sarah Palin in peace is something she wouldn’t accord to others — Communists, Muslims, atheists, probably Catholics — if she had her way. Should she land in the White House, she’d have her way as never before. The bottom line is that we have been tolerating her ilk, including George Bush, for a long time, and yet they proudly march under the banner of intolerance. If we can back away from using God as a political propaganda, we will also see a decrease in the number of intolerant religionists who manage to reach the corridors of power.
Visit www.intent.com to read more from Deepak Chopra and other prominent voices.
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month in the United States. While I have met many women going through treatment, or those who are survivors, I actually had my first intimate experience with the prospect of breast cancer only a week ago. My daughters’ nanny, who is an integral part of our family, was called by her doctor after a mammogram and told that she needed to have an immediate follow-up due to a suspicious lump. The 48 hours between the call and the results of the check-up were two days filled with angst, swinging emotions, uncertainty, and questioning for her and for those of us who love her. We thank God that the results were not a diagnosis of the disease.
There are so many questions that we, as individuals and especially as women, have about breast cancer: How can we prevent the disease? How do we support those we know who have gotten this dreaded diagnosis? For those who have breast cancer, how can we better manage the medical process, our health, our happiness, and our recovery?
To commemorate Breast Cancer Awareness month, Intent is devoting the next 31 days to presenting some of the best thinking out there on an integrative approach to the disease. Every day this month we will run a new post on breast cancer, with provocative thoughts and solutions from Dr. Deepak Chopra, celebrities (and survivors) Fran Drescher and Olivia Newton John, designer Donna Karan, renowned cancer surgeon Dr. Kristi Funk, and the founder of breastcancer.org, Marisa Weiss, plus authors, fitness and nutrition experts, and cancer survivors who’ve shared poignant stories of their own bravery – and the days when they didn’t feel like warriors. Each person has written about his or her own knowledge or experience of the disease. Because cancer is personal: We’ve all been touched by it.
Visit our homepage every day of October to read the coverage, or go directly to Breast Cancer: Healing the Whole Woman to read everything we’ve published on breast cancer to date. Please also pass the word on to women who may be in the midst of treatment, to family and friends supporting their loved ones, and to survivors — we are eager to share this content and create a comforting space of support and knowledge.
Our hope is that together we can realize the intention of reducing the number of breast cancer cases around the world, and in our healing process, focus on the whole woman: physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual.
Continuing the daily themes for peacemakers, today’s peace practice is:
Sharing for Peace
Today, share your practice of peacemaking with two people. Give them this information and invite them to begin the daily practice. As more of us participate in this sharing, our practice will expand into a critical mass.
Today joyfully celebrate your own peace consciousness with at least one other peace-conscious person. Connect either trough e-mail or phone.
Share your experience of growing peace.
Share your gratitude that someone else is as serious about peace as you are.
Share your ideas for helping the world move closer to critical mass.
Do whatever you can, in small or large ways, to assist anyone who wants to become a peacemaker.
Please support my intention for peace by going to Intent.com. Then create your own intention to add the power of your intention toward peace in the world. Share this message with all your friends to create a tidal wave of peace for the planet right now.