A friend recently assigned me as homework to read Wallace D. Wattles' The Science of Getting Rich. Normally such a title - and the very first sentence's assertion that "it is not possible to live a really complete or successful life unless one is rich" would completely put me off, but my trust in this friend is such that I toughed it out long enough for the book to draw me in.
I struggle with the idea that you have a "right" to be rich, that there is no problem with everyone getting all that they might imagine they need or want. From long before I spent most of last year walking across the country to inspire action on the climate crisis I have been well aware of the ecological and spiritual downsides to boundless consumption. But the attitude put forward isn't really about consumption but rather shifting from the sense of scarcity which pervades much of humanity to an assumption of abundance, and this is a shift I definitely resonate with. It helps that Wattles clarifies repeatedly that he is not talking about "competitive" wealth that comes at the expense of others, but rather wealth that is newly created by our cooperatively working together. He specifically calls out the "plutocrats, trust magnates, captains of industry, and politicians" of his time (the book was written in 1910). From page 65: "Commercial kings, like political kings, are inspired by the lust for power."
The focus is pragmatic rather than philosophical, although it is explicitly grounded in fairly deep philosophy. The central points of advice are few, and are repeated several times through the book. There is nothing novel to me in any of the advice or the philosophy it rests on, and, excepting the ambivalence noted above, they are things that I already believed in intellectually, and in my gut as much as I can manage. The power lies in the there being so few points and in his laying out how they work together to improve your life. I've read the book through once and gone back over it quite a bit in an attempt to pull together the gist of it:
- Believe that thinking about something with faith and purpose makes it likely to appear, through the interrelatedness - the all-oneness - of all things. This is not a matter of wishing for something and having it magically appear out of thin air, but rather that having your attention on something invites it to manifest, by some means through which such a thing would typically manifest.
- Be grateful for what you have, and also for what you envision (see below) as if it had already come to you. Experience gratitude to all things throughout the day, for their part in every good thing that comes to you, have gratitude pervade your life.
- Envision a clear, and regularly updated and further elaborated, mental picture of what you want - at home, at work, etc. Make this vision as specific as possible. Have faith that what you envision is as good as yours already, and hold as your purpose for it to manifest so that you can receive it (as a result of more having been cooperatively created in the world, rather than it being competitively taken from others).
- Act as efficiently as possible in your current environment on your current work, wherever you are right now. Do all that you can each day, without hurrying, and without worry or fear. Do your current work so well that you more than fill your place, always advancing yourself and everyone around you. Trust that acting in this way, while holding your vision of the things that you want, will bring you the opportunities to receive those things.
- Spend as much of your leisure time as possible in gratitude, in contemplating, clarifying, and detailing your vision, and with works (such as Wattles' book) that support this attitude and way of being/doing.
I write about all of this publicly mainly to help me in putting this into practice. I knew that writing publicly would lead me to write it out - and thus think it out - more clearly and completely than I would have otherwise. Making it public also deepens my commitment to following this course. Secondarily, I put it out there in case it happens to be useful to anyone else. I am under no illusion that this is the One True Way, I long since stopped believing in any such thing. But it is useful to me, right now, and if it is similarly useful to anyone else who reads this, great. If my writing inspires anyone to comment here or contact me directly, then the resulting conversation is also likely to support me in carrying out this strategy.