Ascetic Abundance and the Law of Subtraction

Abundance flows not only by the Law of Attraction, but the Law of Subtraction. Wealth is letting go of what we don't need.

Instead of deepening our desire for what we haven't got, let us deepen our gratitude for each need fulfilled, each tiny sacrament of the ordinary.

Abundance is never enough. What our soul really wants is not abundance, but enough. The wealth of simplicity and uncluttered spaciousness.

The problem is, we define abundance through desire, and desire is insatiable. A national economy based on desire harrows the earth. - even when we disguise our desire in new-age terms like "The Law of Attraction."

It is time for Americans to practice discrimination between desires and needs. When the intellect distinguishes need from desire, the heart rejoices in the ordinary. The simplest taste, sound and touch become sacraments. Dwell in perpetual gratitude for needs fulfilled, and experience the sustainable abundance of simplicity. True asceticism does not suppress life energy, but makes ordinary things sparkle. To be truly disciplined is not to deny oneself, but to listen gently as one asks the heart, "What do I really need?"

Here are some wealth-producing principles for sustainable ascetic abundance:
1. Breathe out, all the way down to the buried seeds: touch the earth with gratitude.
2. Breathe in: let every cell be filled with the blue sky.
3. Upon awakening, listen to the first bird at dawn.
4. Sniff the present moment like a hunting lioness.
5. Eat like an elk on arctic tundra, where each precious sprout contains a beam of sunlight.
6. Hug yourself like a sleeping cat.
7. Learn to say, "enough," as you would say a prayer.
8. Every now and then, take a break from your task to drown in pure love for yourself. 

Loving yourself dissolves desire and attracts the power of the universe to help you accomplish your work. Loving yourself is the shortcut to abundance.

No Reform

No re-form really works, because the creative solution lies in the form-less.
Just dissolve thinking into sparkling awareness, and stop worrying about it.
To welcome the task of the present moment, no matter how humble it may be,
with a light heart lightly surrendered to the infinite: this is the revolution.


Though it sounds like a stereotype, I've come to realize it is nevertheless true,
that most men I know tend to conceptualize their pain before they even feel it;
whereas most women I know do not put on the armor of thought to protect
themselves: they feel directly, being led by the Spirit of the Wound to a deeper
understanding never gained by leading with the intellect. And this is why,
presently, most of my true teachers are women. They don't even know it.
But I bow my heart to them.

Beyond Compare

You are complete. You are the crown jewel of creation. You are absolutely perfect this very moment. You have eaten from the Tree of Life and you are full - that is, until you compare yourself to anyone else.

The instant you engage in comparison, you eat from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, Us and Them. You have fallen into Sin.

What is Sin? To believe that any creature in heaven or earth could possibly be better, worse, or in any way comparable to You.


I can only anticipate the past. I can only expect the repetition of an old story. All I can plan is the safety of bygone images, not the Presence that animates them. That is why, to live in faith, I renounce hope.

No instance of creativity, no shock of ecstasy, no awakening of love, was ever planned. The living breath that floods my flesh comes from eternity, not from time. I learned this by watching the patient perennial explosion of apple buds, none of them ever one moment old, in the ancient ritual of inexorable surprise.

Two Long

Two long to be One, One longs to be Two. There is ebb and flow in the ocean of the void. Stillness is a dynamo. Silence resonates. Subject and Object are born of each other, particles of Matter emitted from waves of emptiness. You can rest as activity, you can act as rest. The worm under the stone in your garden is coiled like a galaxy, because it too is filled with stars. "Oh," cries the robin at dawn, "this is going to be tasty!" Don't overlook the message in the finest follicle of fur. Every pore in your skin is a doorway to the higher worlds.


The purpose of religion is to connect the earth and stars, microcosm and macrocosm, through the cruciform matrix of this human body, a holigram of energy-transformation whose cardinal points, the crown, soles of the feet and hands, embrace the four directions, four winds, four elements, integrating time and space into cosmic beauty at the center of the heart.

The crucifix, displaying the tortured body of a man in grief and pain, did not appear in Christian iconography until the fourth century. The cross is a pre-Christian symbol expressing the dignity of regeneration and divine embodiment. Of course there is no transformation and no birth without pain: but we do not need to make a cult of suffering. The second century theologian, St. Athanasius, wrote, "God became human so that humanity could become God." Have a blessed and peaceful Easter.

(Mandala by St. Hildegard of Bingen, 11th C.)

Remembering the Heart

When you are anxious or unhappy, remember your heart. Don't wait until you feel peaceful and content. At any time, particularly in the midst of stress, just rest your attention silently in the hridaya, the heart space. It's a practice as easy as a sigh, too simple for the intellect; yet it cuts through illusion with devastating power, awakening the breath of wholeness. Ancient masters of both Yoga and Christian traditions said, "Let the mind be in the heart." Resting the mind in the heart is the beginning and end of spiritual practice.