Can Money Serve Our Transition From Ego to Soul?
I was listening to an interview of Franciscan mystic Richard Rohr (https://bit.ly/493V9pi), where he was describing one of his favorite ideas, Carl Jung’s two halves of life:
“The first one (first half) you're building your ego structure where you're building your sense of self. You've got to have a few successes; you can't just be defeated, especially in your early pre-teen years and teen years.
But if you spend too much time creating your ego structure, you think that's the only task there is. This is our mania for being rich, for being famous, for living in the right part of town, for driving a big car, for having a trophy wife, that's all that's all first half of life stuff. It’s not wrong but it's not wisdom either, and it's not going to work to finally satisfy the soul or your need for meaning.
We're a society with a lot of elderly people but not a lot of elders because we have elderly people who are still living in the first half of life, still seeking ego affirmation, more money, more classy cars. And I'm not trying to be moralistic, I'm just talking in terms of the Soul. The definition of being an addict is when you want more and more of what isn't working. If your success was really satisfying your soul, you wouldn't need more of it all the time. You wouldn't need more climbing. That's the point of the spiritual journey: The Iliad, the Odyssey, Gandhi, Jesus, they always leave home. You've got to leave your normal definition of success given to you by your family.”
We’re a society with a lot of elderly people but not a lot of elders. That really caught me. Baby Boomers own 50% of the country’s $156 trillion in assets, and Gen X another 30%. What will happen to these assets if we never move from ego to Soul? What could happen if we did?
MEA is holding a workshop on the Soul of Money by Lynne Twist Nov 27-Dec 2. I went two years ago and encourage you to go. Actually, Father Richard was also a student in my workshop, an example of someone, even at 78, still eager to learn and grow. He is a hero of mine, so I was so grateful to meet him.
There were so many deep lessons from that week. Lynne’s life is an example of someone who uses money in service to her life force, not vice versa. Just being in her presence was a soul transmission of living truthfully in the material world. She taught us that if you have integrity with how money goes through your life, you have freedom. If you use money to live consciously and in service, no matter how much money you have, you have true wealth. How many of us yearn for this different definition of success?
Lynne taught us that money should serve the deepest longing of our souls. Money doesn’t have any content itself, it only transmits awareness and intent. Our world is in significant need of repair and she inspired us to think about our role in that. She told us that all change comes from change in narrative and we need to find new stories of ourselves.
The lessons weren’t only from Lynne and Father Richard; it was a cohort of deep wisdom and sensitivity. One of my fellow classmates, Doug Lynam, a financial advisor and former monk, asked about my money: “Is it deepening your love for everything?”
I ask that question in my financial choices today.
MEA is a place for those who want to do soul work. But if soul work doesn’t change our relationship to money, what exactly are we talking about? Has anything really changed? Or are we just spiritually bypassing the real work of transformation? It’s not wrong, but it’s not wisdom either. If you want to move from ego to soul and understand that your relationship to money is part of that, I encourage you to sign up for Lynne’s Soul of Money workshop.
This country needs new definitions of success and it has to come from eldership. This is the real spiritual journey.
This is the real spiritual journey.
Douglas Tsoi is a spiritual director specializing in financial issues and writes the newsletter Money and Meaning. He is a three-time MEA alum and has taught a MEA online course: “Soul Narration: Telling the Story of the Second Half of Your Life.”