The Nature of Money

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"Money is just dirty paper." 

I worked in a bank in my early 20's. Believe me, when you count bills all day and your fingers turn black from the counting, stacking and wrapping of different denominations of money, that is the experience of money. Dirty paper.

But if it were just dirty paper, it wouldn't take so much of our time and attention.

What is money, really? 

Money IS dirty paper. And it's also so much more.

Money is a construct, a tool - something that we collectively created and continue to agree to use. It is a testament to human ingenuity and creativity. Money is symbolic. But of what? What does money symbolize?

Money is a representation of nature.

Money is an expression of nature. A symbol that that we created (out of nature herself, I might add) to serve growing economies and populations - for ease of transportation, trade and use. Collectively, we've mostly forgotten what money represents.

Take a $50.00 dollar bill. This $50.00 bill can transform into anything: chicken, cotton, wood, electricity, water, plants, life force, medicine... you name it, this $50.00 bill can be exchanged for other forms of nature. Conversely, the chicken, the cotton, the electricity, the services of another person, the water, etc... it can all transform into money.

The origin of all abundance IS earth. 

When I close my eyes and I connect with the energy of money, I see nature at play. I see her shapeshifting between forms - I watch the birds, touch the trees, feel the sand between my toes, I see the creative expression of nature in money, just as I see it in us, and in all of nature's magical creations. I see a happy agreement made in good faith between earth and humans long ago. I see exchange of money for nature and nature for money. I see flow. The sacred nature of money as an expression of the abundance of earth. And I see our forgetting.

In our forgetting that WE are also nature - that earth is our natural habitat - we've taken money out of the her natural habitat as well. We fail to recognize the true origin of abundance which is nature herself. In our forgetfulness, the pursuit of money as a singular object of desire has become the sad story of the Buddhists' hungry ghosts: endless hunger for more, more and then even more.

Preta, in Buddhism, "These beings are "ghosts" only in the sense of not being fully alive; not fully capable of living and appreciating what the moment has to offer."

I know that feeling. I know it intimately around money. How painful it is to feel that way - how deeply unsatisfying it feels. To want money to provide something it simply cannot: safety, love, connection, power, control. Mostly for me, when I get graspy and hungry,  it comes down to safety.

This fundamental disconnect between what money really IS and what our society has made money mean is at the heart of our financial crisis at the individual and the global level as well as the health crisis of our earth. As is true with any painful set of circumstances, I experience this as an invitation - the call home to wild nature, mother earth, and the wild nature that lives and breathes within every one of us.

Putting nature in it's rightful place.

I'm not an expert in government or economics. However, when I tap into the nature of money, I am convinced that the solution must lie in coming into right relationship with ourselves and money AS nature - seeing and knowing ourselves as inter-dependent on the health of the ecosystems around us (or mother earth will go ahead and bring that lesson home for us - she already is). In seeing the beauty and the necessity of every part of the whole. The end of exploitation for the sake of cash accumulation. The healing of our earth and our economies. Knowing at a fundamental level that as nature, we are resilient, when given time to heal. That we have enough of everything we need to support and sustain life - a really good life - for all.

By embracing that money IS an expression of nature and that we are nature as well, it's clear that to maintain the value of money it is necessary to nurture and care for the wild ecosystems of earth and all beings.

The healing practice of devotion to nature.

A key turning point in my own healing with money happened outside. In the high desert of Colorado, at the foot of the Rocky Mountains. I began to spend time outdoors each day. I began to feel the support of nature, the abundance that surrounds and nourishes life. I stopped wanting so much. The hungry ghost in me faded into the background. I began caring for my money, being mindful and attentive - just as I was with the wild ecosystem around me.

Personally, I began to understand in a way I haven't since childhood that I AM nature. That we are ALL nature. Recognizing money as yet another vital expression of nature feels profoundly healing, inviting a new depth of truth to the devotion I teach my clients around money.

What could shift for you and your relationship to money and abundance if you spent time in your natural habitat (outdoors) each day? Just noticing the world around you and your connection to earth? What could change if you were to walk outside and acknowledge the origins of money and abundance in the wilds of nature?

Let the wild earth show you the nature of money. 

May you experience the power of nature in all of it's varied and beautiful forms rising up to support you and guide you. May your embrace of the true nature of money bring healing to your finances and ripple out to help heal our financial systems, our ecosystems and our social systems. 

12 comments

Sue Ann Gleason Aug 15, 2014 10:14pm

Exquisite piece, Nona. I have struggled with the "attention" to money in so many of our entrepreneurial circles because somehow our worth or the success of our business gets attached to how much money we make or how much we "aspire" to make. For me, money became an "aside" when I started pondering the very things you mention here: the quality of my life. I don't need a whole lot of money to enjoy the bird songs outside my window or dinner on the deck. I am in the process of discarding or donating all of the "stuff" I've accumulated in the first half of my life. It may take me the entire second half to get rid of it all. I love the idea that we can look to the wild nature of earth to show us the nature of money. Than you for a very refreshing perspective.

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Allison - Thank you for commenting... I have always felt it's separateness as well and it feels delicious and healing to me to feel into this new perspective of money as an expression of nature. I look forward to hearing more about your exploration of the nature of money. XO

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Pleasure Reading 08.17.14 :: Mara Glatzel Aug 17, 2014 10:01am

[…] Mmmmm…. The Nature of Money. […]

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Jill Farmer Aug 14, 2014 06:46pm

Wow. What a brilliant and powerful article. A total game changer. Love this!

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I love this, Nona. Nature grounds and inspires me. It is easy to see that the nature of creation is abundance -- sky, air, water, leaves, grass, insects, bird song! But I have always thought of money as separate: a cultural construct, not a natural one. But call it dirty paper and at once I feel its place in the chain and feel my kinship with it. That's a shift! I will meditate on that. Thank you!

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Dear Nona, What a beautiful, insightful, poetic look at how we can shift our relationship with money. The awareness to come full circle back to our natural roots, the wonder of the world around us is such a healing gift you offer to your readers. I am grateful to be so blessed by this post!

Bountiful Blessings, Kat

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Jennifer Shryock Aug 14, 2014 09:40pm

Wow, Nona, this is beautiful and surprising in its truth. Reminds me of my years guiding in Glacier National Park and how much trust I felt about money back then, though I had relatively little. I feel once again grounded to that trust through your message. Thank you. Also, I'm smiling as I wonder : does money grow on trees, after all?

XO

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It has been very healing for me Kat - may this awareness continue to bless you! Thank you for commenting. XO

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Jennifer,I love your recall that spending time outdoors brought a sense of deep and abiding trust with your money - thank you for sharing that.

And YES! Money doesn't just grow on trees, it's an expression of trees!

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Thank you Sue Ann for your comment - I've found that the more I bring my attention to the quality of my life and my connection to and with nature, the more innate wealth I experience flowing through my life. I, too, am getting rid of more and more things and choosing what I deeply value. XOXO

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I'm so glad it resonated deeply Jill. XO

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