Living one’s life from a sense of stewardship (i.e. that we are the stewards and not the owners of absolutely everything that life entrusts us with – time, money, possessions, relationships, our body and our vitality and health, etc), brings with it an infinitely precious sense of freedom and a joy. It has to be lived to be felt.
I have a friend who has reached this freedom to a rare extent with his money. He must give away between a quarter and a third of his income – and he is not a rich man. As a matter of fact, he is long past retirement age and continues earning his living because he has no company pension. ‘It is so freeing,’ he says, ‘to have given up any sense of ‘my’ money and to feel money as love-energy just flowing in and out of my bank account. Someone can ask me for a small sum in the street, and if I don’t feel it’s right, I feel no compulsion to give. Moments later, the need might be for a few thousand pounds for a worthwhile humanitarian activity, and I will have such joy just redirecting the money flow from a bank account, which for practical reasons still has my name on it, to the organization, meeting this expressed need. The question is never ‘Do I want to give this sum to X’, but, ‘Is it right to give it?’ (A good book to help you acquire greater freedom and joy in your handling of money is Siegfried E Finser’s book, Money Can Heal, along with Barbara Wilder’s Money is Love.)
Try developing this sense of stewardship in relation to the use of time. It is wonderfully liberating. Personally, since I have stopped trying to control life, it flows more and more effortlessly. ‘My’ time has become an almost comical concept. I have found that developing a very sharp sense of priorities, alongside a clear sense that every day I get a new gift of twenty four hours to use as wisely as possible to get closer to my life’s aim (which is a world that works for ALL), is wonderfully liberating and has completely freed me from time-stress. I also constantly live with the fourth agreement of that beautiful book and international best-seller of Toltec wisdom by Don Miguel Ruiz, The Four Agreements: a Practical Guide to Personal Freedom. Always do your best. It is so utterly simple and truly so freeing and completely does away with guilt, because no one can do better than their best! This too helps a lot in freeing oneself of time-stress.
I remember once reading about a Polynesian tribe which did not have personal pronouns in their language. No ‘my’ canoe, ‘your’ child, ‘our’ fish catch. What an absolutely fabulous tool for eradicating the ego! It is so helpful and freeing to see possessions as gifts that life temporarily entrusts us with. About 40 years ago, I bought the most beautiful Senufo mask in Ouagadougou, West Africa. For many years, I considered it one of the most precious ‘possessions’ I owned. Then one day, I suddenly realized that no one could ever steal it from me, because its beauty was part of my very being. The essence of the mask was no longer hanging on our living-room wall; it was in my heart, my consciousness. And I know that if today, I came home and realized that someone had burgled our apartment and run away with the mask, I would simply bless him in his true sense of wealth.
We live in a world where one of the most urgent needs is to create an economy and societies based on stewardship – of resources, of people, of the environment – rather than the pathetically flawed imperative of financial profit maximisation. And here I would like to tell you about the most wonderful magazine I know of in the world, period. It is a magazine devoted totally to creating a world that works for all, and that exudes a sense of stewardship from every page.
YES! – which used to be subtitled ‘a magazine of positive futures’ – is remarkable in that for eons it has been taking major social, political and other issues, and in every caseshowing positive ways in which communities have resolved them. It is now subtitled ‘building a just and sustainable world’.
Visit their website: www.yesmagazine.org – subscribe to it – tell all your friends and acquaintances about it.*
Our governments are not the key agents of change – YOU AND I ARE and we will make all the difference. As William James wrote: ‘I’m done with great things and with big things, great institutions and big successes. I am for those tiny invisible molecular moral forces that work from individual to individual. Creeping through the crannies of the world like so many rootlets, or like the capillary oozing of water, yet which if you give them time, will rend the hardest monuments of man’s pride.’
*Editor’s note: and visit www.positivenews.org.uk