12.. 12..! 12..!...Testing - Are we awake?
The fiscal dilemma that we face is certainly real. If we have bought into believing hook, line and sinker, that more is better, and we continue to demand the status quo and insist that everyone but us should be impacted by the tough decisions that are required to “fix” this problem, then maybe we should accept responsibility for our role in contributing to this problem.
Perhaps the policy makers are merely trying to sustain the lifestyles and comforts that we desire as a nation and appease our philosophical views about the proper role and responsibilities of government. This fiscal challenge may in fact be a spiritual challenge which requires self-reflection and some deep soul searching to explore who we are and where we are heading in life.
To truly “fix” the budget challenges that we face as a nation will require personal sacrifices and accountability by all. We must examine the lifestyles and comforts to which we have become accustomed. Do we really need more? What is enough? Here is where we must add a spiritual component, or if "spiritual" takes you far out there, how about a “more thoughtful and observant approach” towards the way we view ourselves and the way we use money to define who we are. When things get to a point where no one wins, the only direction we can turn to is one from within. Perhaps, the “fiscal cliff” is offering us a prime opportunity to begin investing in the most important commodity at hand - our thoughts, and to view the intentions behind our thoughts, and the way we live our lives. Do you think this is valuable? I sure hope so.
There are two dimensions at play - “reality” and “illusion.” What is real lasts forever, what is not real cannot sustain itself. Illusions are simply entertainment, but they are not the real reason why we exist, actually they are the reason why we move so far away from a real existence and quality of life. Let's look at the soul. Mystics call it “energy.” And, when we have a lot of it, we can use more of it or do more with it. When the energy of the soul is less, we do less and in many cases we ask for more. Asking for more is a signal that something is lacking, i.e., energy.
The source of soul energy is forged by having thoughts based on good wishes, pure feeling, love, understanding, compassion, and peace. An absence of these creates thoughts of lack, fear, worry, self-interest, and eventually leads one into self-deception. This is a state we call, “peacelessness.” Decisions based from this place can only generate more peacelessness.
Although history has sent us many messengers and books that tell us, do this, don't do that, have we truly listened? Have we become better folks? Are we at peace with our conscience? So, does this mean we really have not been listening? Who is to say? One thing for sure, in meeting folks from all genres of life, everyone has expressed similar concerns about: 1) finances, 2) relationships, and 3) health ....Let's look at them spiritually…
What if our finances represented energy? How much surplus do we have accumulated in our spiritual bank account? And does this drive how much wealth we ultimately have? How much I have would mean the amount of energy in the soul by means of how I relate in relationships. Do I ask more from my relationships or do I offer more to relationships? Based on the way I feel, I feed the cells in my body and the vibrations of those feelings subsequently determine my health. Did you know that usage of anti-depressant medications is the highest it has ever been?
If money represented the way our soul uses energy would I be more responsible? “ALGAE” (Anger, Greed, Lust, Attachment, and Ego) is wasted energy. It spends more than is needed. It easily gets influenced by advertisers who say that to look at or have certain material things means you are special. The influence of ALGAE causes us to break relationships that really matter and moves us to support relationships that are not beneficial in the long run for ourselves. It's the cliff! I call it raising the debt higher. But, there is another way of looking at this. When we go inwards, we begin to check ourselves and acknowledge that perhaps, we have more than enough. Then, the way we choose to spend is not from an outside perspective of instant gratification, but more from an inside out perspective of what is needed to sustain and support our future.
Going inwards is like striking oil in a deserted region or the middle of the ocean. Even though there is no grass, or person in sight, if you go deep enough, you will find your riches. This fiscal cliffhanger is asking the world to begin to go inwards and step into real thinking and being. To move from Anger to Peace, Lust to Purity, Greed to Contentment, Attachment to Love and Ego to Wisdom. If we can learn this much from the fiscal cliff, then it was beneficial for us to have reached such a state where it woke us all up to remember that virtues, qualities of character is the real wealth we all seek.
Please join us on January 10, 2013, (6:30 pm – 8:00 pm), at the Meditation Museum located at 8236 Georgia Avenue, Silver Spring, Maryland, for a discussion on the fiscal cliffhanger from a spiritual perspective.
Background to the Fiscal Cliff
The President and Congressional leaders continue to debate alternatives to the mandatory across-the-board cuts (known as “sequestration”) between defense and non-defense spending (with a few major exceptions such as Medicaid, Social Security, and benefits for veterans), totaling $1.2 trillion over the next decade. These cuts are scheduled to be implemented unless an alternative agreement to achieve $1.2 trillion in deficit reduction is reached by January 2, 2013. Various political leaders, business owners, labor unions, special interest groups, and others are weighing in with their perspectives on how cuts should be taken and how revenue should be increased. However, the facts remain that as a nation, we are living far beyond our means, the national debt is presently over $16 trillion and interest payments on the national debt continues to consume a significant portion of the annual budget.
There are essentially three alternatives : 1). raise the national debt ceiling, which will further compound our fiscal challenges; 2). increase revenue by means of further taxing some segment of the population; or 3). implement spending cuts which means reducing government funding for programs which benefit segments of the population. Any of these options, or a combination of these options, will impact some segment or segments of the population as well as the state, national and global economies. One has to wonder, how did we get ourselves into this predicament?
There are many theories and extensive explanations for all this, but the bottomline is that, over the years, we have raised taxes and lowered taxes, raised interest rates and lowered interest rates and continually increased the national public debt to a point where it is spiraling out of control. According to the U.S. Department of the Treasury, the fiscal year 2012 interest expense on the outstanding debt was approximately $360 billion.
Could you imagine operating your personal household budget in this manner? This is equivalent to running up your household expenses for costs such as your mortgage/rent, utilities, food and water, maxing out your credit cards buying luxury items or “necessities” and then asking your credit card companies to increase the limit on your line of credit to help you to survive or sustain your lifestyle. At some point, this will create a real problem. This is kind of where we are as a nation.
Most Americans agree that something must be done, but as the old saying goes, “Everyone wants to go to Heaven but no one wants to die.” For every tax increase or decrease that is proposed or every spending increase or cut that is proposed, there is a constituency or special interest group that may want things to stay as they are. We individually want to maintain or improve our standard of living. We feel that taxes should be increased for some, but not my taxes and programs should be cut, but not those that benefit or sustain me. We propose increasing taxes and cutting programs that affect others. This is a key component to the problem of “fixing” the economy and the federal budget.
We argue about the proper role and responsibilities of the federal government versus state governments; the role and responsibilities of the federal government versus individual responsibilities; our responsibilities to provide for the elderly and disadvantaged in our society; and the merits and consequences of “entitlement” programs. We have 535 members of Congress advocating for programs and projects of benefit to their constituencies and special interest groups, resulting in a stalemate and need for compromises. But, how do we reach a compromise that is beneficial for all or most?
No one can really make the playing field equal and those who feel that their needs have not been provided for will feel disempowered.