quote from the Bhagavad Gita. "On this path no effort is ever wasted, no gain is ever reversed; even a little of this practice will shelter you from great sorrow."

“On this path no effort is ever wasted,
no gain is ever reversed;
even a little of this practice will shelter you from great sorrow.”

Attributed to the Bhagavad Gita 2.40

It may seem odd that I’m big into personal finance. Even weirder that I am taking the time to write out a series of posts on practicing good financial habits and getting your money life in order.

Ten years ago, when I was cobbling together a living by hustling art commissions, trying to sell my art, and piecing together adjunct teaching contracts, I had an epiphany along the lines of:

“If I ever want to make art in total freedom, I am going to have to finance it myself.”

In other words, I don’t want to rely on a commission or selling a painting to pay my bills. I don’t want to have to lean on friends to donate to a Kickstarter or a Patreon. I especially don’t want to be swayed by supposed ‘art market’ influence, or feel like I should make a certain kind of work to please a supposed ‘audience’. Screw all of that!

Total freedom means total freedom. I want to do the work I feel called to do, and the work that I enjoy, because I enjoy and delight in it.

If friends and companions want to come alongside me, enjoy my work with me, and even purchase a painting once in awhile, that’s great! I welcome all of that. But, I don’t ever want to depend on it.

If I have a studio open house and invite a bunch of people over to look at art I’m making, it’s because I want to celebrate with friends, not because I want to sell a bunch of stuff.

If I post an artwork on social media, I hope it’s because I’m happy with what I’ve made and am interested in sharing, for the sake of sharing. This is probably a naive thought that social media can still serve in this capacity and hasn’t been completely co-opted by capitalist forces and turned us all into ‘brands’. Whatever.

Total freedom ALSO means doing a lot of inner work, particularly on the ways the ego informs and affects the outcomes of my work. The ego interferes a lot and I have an overactive one that tells me lots of lies 🙂 This requires working with a spiritual companion, most likely also working with a therapist, and doing my daily practices of meditation, journaling, walking, and quieting the mind.

Freedom for me also means being freed from fear of money. Fear of debt. Being an indentured servant to credit card companies. Being beholden to a job that drains us of our life energy. And, eventually (I hope!), freedom means being able to live off the assets I’ve saved, do the work I feel truly called to, give generously to others, and be of service to the world and the Universe.

Ultimately, it’s about putting money in it’s right place, in right relationship – serving us and our spiritual journeys, and not the other way around.

Most people I know probably feel the same way. You may feel the same. You may also, as you read this, feel some of the fear and anxiety over things like a credit card debt, not having a sense of how money is being spent, feel like you don’t have enough money. How about whether you’ll ever be able to ‘retire’ (a word that I think should be meaningless to anyone on the spiritual journey, as there’s always right work in the world for you to do).

So for the past ten years or so, I’ve read all the books I could find on personal finance. During the pandemic, I would check one out on e-book from the library and read before going to bed (and sometimes in the middle of the night if I woke up from insomnia slash ‘wolf hour’ ruminating), and plowed through several books in this way. I figured out how to account for every dollar, save, and invest. I made mistakes and learned from them. I am by no means perfect with my money, and strategies for financial freedom are just that – strategies. There are many strategies and many paths to take, with many choices to make based on who you are – your age, your current financial situation, where you need to get to, and your values. I have determined my own strategy based on my own research, my own money experiences, a sense of where I want to be and where I want to go, and my own values. Yours will differ and that’s OK.

So that said, there are some things everybody should be mindful of with their money. And some things that are personal choices based on my values, which will differ from yours. I’m going to write a few articles here on the topic of financial health as spiritual health, with some practical advice I’ve gleaned for myself. You may find it helpful. Take it or leave it! I am not a financial planner or certified to give financial advice in any way, so don’t take this as advice. These are things I’ve found helpful for my own journey, and by writing and sharing, I hope you find them helpful too.

If you are brand new to this topic, you can begin where I began, and read Your Money or Your Life. This book has practical wisdom, but more valuable it has spiritual wisdom on why you might want to get your financial life in order, that you might live a more fulfilled, more aligned, more whole and holy life.

OK, with that all laid as our foundation, lets explore a path to financial health, for the sake of our spiritual health.

Coming soon, Part 2 – First Steps to Financial Health

p.s. if you want to come at me about the evils of Capitalism, greed, privilege, exploitation, poverty, and the false notions and myths around individualistic bootstrap getting rich 1 percenters etc, there’s no need. I am quite familiar with all of these evils, and am continually learning and educating myself on my own privilege, and continually try to do better. We can (and should) try, but cannot ever completely extricate ourselves from the evils of the world. The way I see it, we live in the belly of the beast and do the best we can, to bring about a more loving, more just, more compassionate world. We do not exist outside of these evils and nobody is perfect, and to suggest otherwise is grossly naive. But I do believe by getting our financial health in order, we can work towards this more just society and do greater good in the world. Lets all work towards the flourishing of all beings, which begin with ourselves.

Leave a Reply