Undoing the Scarcity Belief

Like you, I have long been partial to the scarcity belief from which (A Course in Miracles points out) only error can flow (T-1.IV.3:3). Scarcity is a condition of bodies, really, because scarcity is a cornerstone in all the altars the ego erects for itself (T-13.VII.10:5). And the body is very much the ego’s church.

When we settle for a belief in scarcity, we embrace the concept that creation is limited and that what somebody else gets, we can never have. Scarcity is the belief in limits and the conviction that we have to literally fight one another for every last scrap and crumb.

This belief in scarcity is independent of the external world. It’s not out there but in here. It does not manifest as wealth and its many symbols nor does it manifest as their absence. Rather, it manifests as the sure belief that those symbols matter. Once we’ve taken that step, those symbols become idols and regardless of how much lip service we pay to God and awakening, function solely to distract us from holiness and wholeness.

I have a friend with whom I walk from time to time. Her salary is well into the high six figures, her house is as big as a small town, and her vacations are like what you read about in the New York Times travel section. In this respect, we are as opposite as opposite can be.

Yet in a deeper sense we are identical. Her relative wealth and my relative poverty are just different symbols of the same underlying problem: our belief that we are special bodies with special stories for which taking a stand with respect to money is essential. She believes that having a lot of money and investments and worldly goods will fill the God-shaped hole gnawing inside of her. I believe that going without those things will do the same thing.

We are learning together that we are both wrong . . .

In my experience, the longer one stays with Jesus, the more healing happens and – somewhat paradoxically – the more hatred, guilt and fear are revealed within us. We are never far from evidence of the separation: we are always slipping into the ego’s dark fairy tale of horror and grief. It is like Jesus urges us to keep digging, to keep falling . . . let’s peel another layer of the onion!

It takes a certain faith in Christ to roll with (ongoing) revelations that we are not perfect. It takes courage to see that perfection as we understand it will always remain at a distance, just out of reach. The ego has no intention of allowing us to know peace. It doesn’t matter how happy we are in our bodies, we’re still toast because we still believe we are bodies. I wouldn’t be writing this and you wouldn’t be reading it otherwise.

Seeing the truth of that – and accepting that all our old tricks and plans and beliefs and strategies are ineffective – what remains? What recourse do we have?

Clarity about the blocks that impede the free flow of Love in our lives is the first step towards healing them. Seeing our belief in scarcity in action is how the Holy Spirit gains access to it. Only in the light of our communication link with God are those blocks subject to dissolution. Indeed, that is the whole purpose of choosing to be a student of A Course in Miracles (In.1:7).

Recently, I was given an extraordinary gift. Its worldly scope is far beyond anything I’ve received before. It upends entirely the narrative of self-righteous frugality and lack in which I’ve been invested for decades now. As it got closer, I was aware of two things: on the one hand I literally craved it. On the other, I dreaded getting it. I felt that I had to decide: will I accept this or not? If I do, how will I justify it? And so forth.

That is what the scarcity belief does. It creates the illusion of choice: that some configuration of external circumstance will suffice to replace God. Until we get that configuration, we are bereft. The belief that we are forever without something and thus bound to always seek it: that is how we fall into the trap of accepting separation from God as the fact of our existence.

It doesn’t have to be that way.

When Jesus delivers us to a place of confusion: where down is up and the rivers all flow north: it’s good to just sit with it. Notice how things feel. Notice what you want to do vs. what you believe you need to do vs. what you wouldn’t do in a million years. The ego is never at a loss for suggestions: go here, do this, say that. But if we can hear its directives without giving into them, then we create a small space in which the Holy Spirit’s radiance will shimmer and shine.

In other words, I don’t have to solve the problem of this particular gift. I don’t have to personally undo my fixation with the scarcity belief. I need merely give it the space of attention, which is to give it over to the Holy Spirit. My liberation is not a solution in the worldly sense but a letting go of the problem, a rising above or going beyond it.

In a way, this is like going to Jesus and telling him we have this huge problem that needs fixing. And Jesus says, okay. Come sit beside me and we’ll figure it out. And when we sit with him, we’re so happy and peaceful that we forget we ever had a problem. After that happens a few thousand times something clicks. We realize that our only problem is that we forget to just sit with Jesus, to just be with God.

When we realize that all we have to do is find our way back to God – which is easier than it sounds because God is not separate from us – then every problem or challenge we have shrinks and fades and dissolves without any effort on our part. That is why Jesus can say to us quite sincerely that we “have no problems” (W-pI.80.1:1).

Your one central problem has been answered, and you have no other. Therefore, you must be at peace. Salvation depends on recognizing this one problem, and understanding that it has been solved (W-pI.80.1:2-4).

The ego will always tell us that there is a worldly solution to every problem and it is worth our time to pursue it. The Holy Spirit will gently shine the problem away, revealing the perfection it was designed to obscure. As it does, we learn that

. . . the purpose of the Atonement is to restore everything to you; or rather, to restore it to your awareness. You were given everything when you were created, just as everyone was (T-1.IV.3:6-7).

At present this perhaps remains an intellectual truth: yet Jesus is clearly on intent on rendering it at the level of experience. We are always being invited to deepen: to see yet another level of fear and guilt, the lightening of which makes our way to Heaven – whose eternal perfection is beyond form and so beyond words – all the clearer.

This is what happens then: we take His hand and we take a step. Then we take another. Then we don’t need a hand at all for we are – as we have ever been – home.

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