by Nick Andrea
I’ve always had a heart for the poor and downtrodden. Therefore, my purpose is to alleviate poverty. I had to go through social work school and its materialistic approach to solving these problems, however, to realize that poverty is not a material problem. It’s a spiritual one.
So, what is poverty?
Poverty is the ignorance of who we really are. We are the formless essence of the universe. We might also call this the unified field that quantum physics talks about, or, in religious terms, one with God. (A good video to understand this can be found at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5tIHrgQWBLs&feature=watch-vrec)
A simple way to put it, then, is that that poverty is ignorance of one’s connection to all that is. If one is thusly everything, how can she ever be poor? Various saints throughout the ages have realized this – Mother Teresa, Ghandi, and the thousands of wondering sadhus in India – whose realization can be summed up in the wise words of reggae artist Matisyahu, “the poor man’s hands are empty but he’s sitting like a king.”
On the other hand, there are countless pop stars who have arisen from poverty, gained fame, and lost it all in dramatic falls from grace, because their minds were never free. If poverty were really a material problem, would MC Hammer have gone bankrupt? Wouldn’t Biggie Smalls still be alive, enjoying his “hot tub and bubbly?”
No, poverty is a state of mind.
So, how do we alleviate it?
Teach people the truth. The only real freedom is the liberation of the mind. Our body will always be subject to conditions – the need for food, water, and shelter, and comfort – until the day we die.
The mind, however – which is formless and expansive as the universe – is not. It’s always been free and it always will. We suffer because we identify with the world of form – our bodies, our personas, our bank accounts – all of which change.
My goal, therefore, is to alleviate poverty – of people with and without money – by teaching that our true existence is a transpersonal one, that we are interconnected with all of life.
**Sidenote: While I stated my position that poverty doesn’t have anything to do with money, a dire lack of material resources contributes to a sense of alienation for all but the most spiritually realized. Therefore, it exacerbates the spiritual problem. As a society, then, we ought to strive to ensure the basic needs of all people are met. If you’ve ever worked with the “poor,” you would realize that the “welfare queen driving the Cadillac” is by far the exception, not the rule.