What does it mean to live from the point of view of abundance? For me, an orientation in abundance implies the certainty that I have everything I need. I have enough. I have enough food, possessions, money, opportunity, love. I have so much, in fact, that I can give away food, possessions, money, opportunity, and love. The more I give away in confidence and gratitude, the more I will have. That is the immutable law of the universe, sometimes expressed as: What goes around, comes around.
Abundance means that I believe in the inherent good intentions of those around me. I am convinced that people want to do well; they want to succeed, they want to do their best. If people make mistakes, they do because, despite their best efforts, things can go wrong. Errors just happen, attributable to inexperience, ignorance, forgetfulness, fatigue, lapses of concentration or judgment, but rarely to sabotage, willfulness, or malice.
Abundance also means gratitude. As Meister Eckhart says, "If the only prayer you ever say in your life is 'Thank you,' that will suffice." Convinced that I have all I need, that I lack for nothing, I am grateful.
Level 1: Gratitude.
An orientation in abundance is transformative. Its personal by-products are joy and contentment. Abundance transforms individuals who, in turn, inspire others to acts of generosity. The miracle of the loaves and the fishes is a classic example. Five thousand people have come to listen to Jesus. The disciples want feed that crowd, but cannot manage. A young boy offers his five loaves and two fish. Jesus blesses the food. This one act of generosity, this one act of confidence, inspires others to uncover the food they have brought with them for the journey, and to share it with those beside them. Soon, everyone is fed, and there are baskets of leftovers. Abundance underpins the Random Acts of Kindness that motivate people to pay for coffee for the people behind them in line, or pay for a few extra cups of coffee that the coffee shop can then give to anyone in need. Abundance is powerful.
An act of kindness, a positive orientation, that's still level 2: Generosity.
Abundance is transformative, and powerful, yes, and it is also counter-cultural. It challenges our notion of fairness. Jesus once again provides a disconcerting parable. Workers arrive for work at a vineyard early in the morning. The owner greets them, offers them a daily wage to which they agree, and they get to work. More workers arrive at noon, and they get to work as well. Other workers arrive later in the day. At the end of the day, the vineyard owner pays his workers. Now, crunch time. All workers receive the same wage. I can imagine the delight of those who arrived late in the day, and the indignation of those who came early. In response to their outrage, the owner reminds the latter that they agreed to a wage for a number of hours of work, and they received the wage. His choice to pay others the same wage takes nothing away from them. It is his prerogative.
This is level 3: Self-possession.
Just think of the ramifications. Another person's opportunity takes nothing away from me. I can rejoice and be glad. Another's talent does not diminish my own strengths. I can rejoice and be glad. Another's success does not limit mine. I can rejoice and be glad.
I struggle with level 3 every day. I want to live in gratitude for the ease of my life and be able to bless fullness in the lives of others. I know that abundance produces more abundance, not just of food, possessions, money, opportunity, and love, but of joy, contentment, and peace. Not just for me, but for everyone. As for living out the parable of the vineyard owner, that's a work in progress.