From Intersection To Crossroads: An Invitation to Inquiry into Money and Spirit

By John Bloom

No productive inquiry begins without disclosing assumptions, even the assumptions behind the assumptions, for the sake of transparency. If you found this blog via the RSF website, you probably noticed three questions on the homepage: Can money nurture your spirit? Can money heal the planet? Are you inspired to learn more? These are not casual questions. They are meant to invite dialogue with us and across a growing community of investors, donors, and borrowers who know that change is needed in how we work with money and in the financial system. What the new ways will look like, how they will evolve is a matter of co-creating them with sensitivity to real social needs, spiritual and ecological integrity, and the full dimensions of interdependence in our economic life. Certainly, our work here at RSF Social Finance is directed toward evolving answers to these questions.

We would not ask the question about money nurturing your spirit if we didn’t have 25 years of experiencing that it can. But, as one who has led many conversations on money, this positive view is not commonplace at the outset, and changing that perception is not simple. Instead, the inner personal world of money is opaque, and attempts to explore it feel more like trespassing than discovery of what is already owned. So the question is a challenge to explore the intersection of money and spirit as it is situated in your life. How, for example, do your deepest values and beliefs currently play out in your financial practices? Withhold judgment. Instead consider each transaction a moment of intersection, a moment to engage in reflection and inquiry. When the inquiry surfaces insights, the intersection will likely become more of a crossroads connecting to your broader map of experience. I am not suggesting that this is easy, but it is a place to begin transforming how you connect your spirit with your financial practices. One of our assumptions is that systemic transformation begins with personal transformation. So sharing your experiences at this crossroad will further nurture your spirit and help others with whom you work, trade, invest, or give.

Can money heal the planet? This second question is not as much about nurture as it is about the nature of nature. There are numerous assumptions within the framework of the question itself—some of them controversial. The planet includes all the physical or material aspects of nature, all the living beings that inhabit it, and then the larger cosmic or spiritual forces at work on and in it including human nature. So the challenge here is to develop an ecological imagination of interdependent systems. Money is an invention of human nature. Thus, in its circulation and other uses, it is inseparable from any of the other systems. Given this set of assumptions, our attitudes toward nature and our economic practices with natural resources are likely to be reflected in our financial practices. And, how we work with money, the energy and intention that flow through it will also influence and be expressed in how we treat nature as the source of economic activity. If one looks at our current state of affairs, should it come as a surprise that our extractive and non-restorative approach to natural resources is mirrored in our extractive and non-restorative financial drive for wealth accumulation? This observation is in some ways an oversimplification, but to make a point—that by working to heal the planet we can work with money in a healthier way, and also heal ourselves. As money follows the paths of our intentions, it will also be a partner in this powerful reciprocal relationship. I believe this is a living picture of interdependence.

I am sure there are many more perspectives on the questions of money, spirit and the planet. This is why we ask the question: Are you inspired to learn more? We certainly are, and hope you will join us in using conversation and dialogue as powerful tools for transformation and building community.

John Bloom is the Director of Organizational Culture at RSF Social Finance.

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