Filled to Overflowing


“If you approach the ocean with a cup, you can only take away a cupful; if you approach it with a bucket you can take away a bucketful.” Ramana Maharshi

Scarcity, a shortage of, insufficient, inadequate, not enough.
Abundance, plenty, a profusion of, bountiful, oodles.

Scarcity and abundance
Antonyms, two different sides of the same coin.

Scarcity tells us that there is not enough, never has been and never will be.
Abundance is the fullness of all that is.

Scarcity claims barrenness, emptiness of spirit, and lack of Love.
Abundance reveals the opposite – there is more Love than we can possibly comprehend.

To use Maharshi’s notion, scarcity is using a teaspoon to gather water from the ocean while abundance is setting up the pipeline directly from the source.

Scarcity and abundance.
Is there enough? Am I enough?
There is so much. Love overfloweth!

The concept of scarcity has been a thread in my life. And my fear of it drove my actions for many years. The majority of my life has been spent in some state or another of self-loathing. As a young person attempting to come out as lesbian and finding condemnation and isolation far more prevalent than support and community, as a young adult rejected by my faith community and being forced to renegotiate my call to ministry, as a social worker giving of myself until there was nothing left to sustain me mentally or spiritually, my fear of scarcity was very real and ever present.

In my mind, there was simply never enough to go around. Not enough love. Not enough acceptance. Not enough solid ground on which to metaphorically stand. It was kind of like an earthquake, where you find yourself riding the instability of the ground shaking beneath you, or maybe a better description is that of trying to traverse quicksand. Each movement, each struggle results in more entrenchment in the doomed situation. The more you fight against it, the more you sink, and the more difficult it is to extract yourself from that system. That’s what fear of scarcity was for me – a continual spiral into there never being enough, into me never being enough.

I share this story of my own struggles because it wasn’t until a few years ago that I discovered self-love, that I came to a place of loving who I am and believing that I am enough, that I am worthy of Love. And it was in that revelation, (and I use that word intentionally, revelation!) that I began using the language of the “fear of scarcity” and the “abundance of Love.”

I came to understand that a deeply seated fear of scarcity had ruled my life. If I didn’t act a certain way, if I didn’t love a certain way, if I didn’t give and give and give until I had nothing left, then there was no way I was going to be loveable, no way that I would be loved. There was simply not enough love to go around, and I was one of those people who just didn’t deserve Love. I wasn’t worthy and I figured I’d spend the rest of my life struggling to find and hold on to any bit of Love I could get.

What I discovered though, through a long process of discernment and reflection, was that Love is, in fact, bigger than anything I could possibly imagine; that Love is indeed abundant, and I am completely loveable and endlessly loved.

The fear of scarcity was a concept I kept repeating to myself over and over, and so I believed in it. I had focused my attention and energy on deficiency, so everywhere I searched, that’s what I found.

When that shifted, I began to discover abundance all around me. I came to believe: “The only thing upon which my loveability ultimately depends is my existence itself.”

Laurence Boldt writes in “The Tao of Abundance: Eight Ancient Principles for Abundant Living”
“It is the psychological commitment to separation and the attachments of the ego that give the feeling and appearance of lack.”

When you acknowledge your oneness with the universe that separation ceases to exist and you realize there is no lack, no scarcity of Love. It’s in receiving, in bringing about awareness where you find abundance.

Boldt goes on: “Receptivity is the ability to merge in consciousness with whatever your awareness is focused on. You can hear a friend talking; you can listen to a friend talking, paying careful attention to each and every word; or you can be at one with a friend, listening not merely to her words, but to the whole of her being.
Hearing is a sensual experience; listening, a mental one; receiving, a spiritual experience. Ultimate receptivity is the ability to be at one with the process of the universe.”

Be at one with the process of the universe.
Focusing your awareness on Abundant Love removes scarcity from the equation.

Now I want to make clear a distinction here. There’s a difference between the scarcity and abundance we find in our spiritual lives and that of the material, physical, and financial resources we may or may not have. The fear of scarcity I’m referencing is not to be understood in terms of physical wellbeing and prosperity. The very real scarcity that many experience –
not knowing when (or if) the next meal will come,
sleeping outside in the rain,
living paycheck to paycheck praying the dominoes won’t fall due to illness, injury, or layoffs –
this is not the scarcity I’m talking about.

I’m talking about the fear of not being loved, not being worthy of love. The scarcity that comes with not meeting your spiritual needs. Those around us and those among us who are in financial or physical need, may also be in spiritual need. That isn’t to say; however, that those who are more financially stable are somehow more spiritually grounded, but rather, noting that we start at different places when certain needs are met or left unmet. It can be extremely difficult to focus your attention on the abundance of Love when your physical needs are not being met.

Having said that, I learned much of what I know about Love from friends on the streets in Tacoma and Seattle. The homeless communities in which I was blessed to serve, were overflowing with abundant Love and a real, gritty sense of awareness of it.

Many of the folks I met in the shelter struggled to meet their basic needs, and yet, so many of them maintained a deep consciousness of abundance despite the physical scarcity. Lack of food, stable housing, or mental health care did not necessitate scarceness in community or in faith.

This was never more prominent than when we held memorial services for folks who had died on the streets. During the services, participants were invited to share stories and memories of their lost friend. Without fail, each time several people tearfully shared funny and heartfelt anecdotes, consoling one another, and continuing their reminiscence long after the service ended. The sense of connection and abundance of Love in those communities was, and no doubt still is, profound.

Scarcity. Abundance.
Is there enough? Am I enough?
There is so much. Love overfloweth!

Recently, as I was contemplating these abstract concepts of scarcity and abundance, an idea for a more concrete example emerged. It begins with a confession. When I graduated from seminary earlier this year and suddenly found myself with some free time on my hands, I downloaded and began playing Candy Crush. (I feel pretty certain I’m not the only one here who plays this game.)

For those who are not familiar, it’s a strategy game, kinda like Tetris, (which is probably why I like it so much,) where you have to clear pieces of candy by matching patterns of three, four, or five of the same kind. As you move along in the levels, obstacles make it more difficult to complete each one. Also, as you advance in the game, you are given the opportunity to collect bonuses that help you clear the candy more efficiently. One of the bonuses lets you clear all the blue pieces at one time, another bursts open clearing all of candy directly around it.

While playing Candy Crush the other day, it dawned on me the parallels to living in awareness of abundance. I was clearing candy and passing levels, and each time I passed a level on the first try, I gained an extra bonus. It was pretty easy to clear the board with all the bonuses I had. A few short plays and boom, next level.

Then I’d miss a beat and time ran out before I could complete a level or I simply didn’t clear all the candy I needed to. When that happened, I had to forfeit my bonuses. I was still able to progress through the game, but it took a lot more work. Then, after a few more successful turns, I was once again building up my reserve of bonuses.

It struck me how my awareness of abundance works similarly. Abundant Love is ever-present, all around us. And yet I’m not always attuned to it. Just as each level in this game is passable without bonuses, playing the game skips right along when I have them and slows way down when I don’t.

When I’m aware of the abundance of Love, I possess the bonuses that help ward off fear and the perception of scarcity. When my awareness is off, I have to work harder to pass the level and reject the fear.

And for me, building up my reserve of bonuses, my awareness of that abundance, is key. I use regular spiritual practices to deepen and reflect. I embrace loved ones who care for me. I trust in my faith, committing to turn my values into action and to live Love into all I do.

Scarcity. Abundance.
Is there enough? Am I enough?
There is so much. Love overfloweth!

What do you do when you find yourself in fear of scarcity, when you cannot perceive the abundance of Love in your life?
Where do you receive your bonuses?
What do your roots tap into that establish an awareness of abundance in you? How do you go deeper and deeper into what feeds you? into your soul? into your consciousness?

As Taoists share about emptying in order to receive, how do you create space for the abundance of the Universe?

I propose that like the little plant who kept coming back time and again to the realization that its roots could and did provide abundantly, you dig deep and find the water where you are. You ground yourself in spiritual practices, in community, in self-reflection, in nature, in prayer, in whatever works for you.
You seek out the abundance of Love, which is all around, and focus your attention there.

Perhaps you feel fed when you come to church. Listen to the beautiful music. Reflect on the words of others. Perhaps you meditate or do yoga. Maybe you pray aloud in song or quietly on your knees. For me, I sit at my jigsaw puzzle and process what my soul needs to process. I dip my hand into the water of a lake or a river and let the abundance of Divine Love wash over me.

Practice flexing your roots and digging deeper and deeper into the soil.
Do this regularly.
Focus your attention on what you want in your life.

Boldt: “If you want to receive more joy in your life, become one with the joy all around you. If you want to receive more love in your life, become one in consciousness with love.”

And when you find yourself missing a beat, when you fail a level in a video game and have to start back at the beginning building up your stash of bonuses once more, then return to what centers you, and the abundance of Love comes back into focus.

Lao Tzu said, “When you realize there is nothing lacking, the whole world belongs to you.”

Whether you call it connection with The Divine, peace of mind, enlightenment, or your relationship with G-d, it’s that place in you where you feel abundant Love permeate all. Where the very notion of scarcity melts away and fear is cast aside.

There is enough.
You are enough.
There is so much.
Love overfloweth!

“When I see what is, gratefulness breaks the dam that once held me back.
When I forgive what has been and allow this moment to live through me, I can see clearly there is no lack.
The deeper I am,
The deeper I Am.”

“There is here, and now,
And this is the place for abundance:
How deeply I Am here.”