This question is one that I continue to wrestle with, given that recently I’ve heard some very different opinions that I’m feeling the need to sort out. Here are some of the ideas I've read recently, put into my own words.
God Didn’t Make No Mistakes
One point of view that I find easy to accept is that the Creator of the Universe didn’t make any mistakes, and that in the world there is a perfect amount of everything. This includes the easy to accept things, such as the number of animals, clouds, atoms, energy, etc.
However, it also includes the harder to accept things, including the things that his creations have made such as crime, murder, rape, etc. Whatever amount there is of these things, are exactly the right amount, and clearly man's Creator, by extension, made these things also, and allows them to exist.
Individually, also, each person was perfectly made with the exact amount of ability to do some things well, and some other things not so well. For each of us, there is an abundance of Life for each of us to work with, and an abundance of humanity to deal with also.
It may well seem to us that we are not given an unlimited amount of time, but the truth is that time is experienced in the way that space is, which is relative to the person having the experience. Have you ever noticed that when you visit a place that you have not visited since you were small, how much it seems that the space has shrunk? The road I grew up on as a small child seemed like a tremendous highway, until I went back as an adult and saw that it could barely contain two cars side by side.
Time occurs in a similar way -- as I grow older, it seems that is flying by from year to year, and I am still in my 30's!
Some small insects live only a matter of hours or days at best, and somehow I think that they have an experience of having lived a life that is just as full as ours. While I've never been a small insect to my knowledge, I imagine that they are quite content with the time they live, and at some cosmic level, it is the perfect amount of time.
Trusting that each component of our lives (tangible or not) exists in exactly the perfect amount has begun to allow me to relax into what some authors call the "suchness" of what is in our lives. This certainly helps in dealing with the challenges of daily life in Kingston!
In Scarcity There is Abundance
The word "lack" is one that is troublesome, and the way we use it seems to create its own mischief.
Is there a lack of fresh water in the ocean? It depends on who is asking the question, and the concern depends on how the word is being used. To a human seeking to find drinking water on a desert island, there would certainly seem to be a lack. To an animal that needs salt water to survive, it would not (I suppose.)
Is there a lack of fresh water in the desert? It also depends on who (or what) is doing the asking.
The fact is that the concept of “lack” occurs inside of a context of “wanting more.” This is quite different from accepting the current amount as perfect and complete, exactly the way they are.
How about scarcity?
The word scarcity can be taken to mean the same as “lack.” At other times, scarcity can be used to denote some reality, or near-reality, such as “there is a scarcity of one kind of fish in the sea, relative to the total number of fish.”
But, scarcity is mostly a relative concept.
When I lived in New Jersey, for each and every cold month of the year, I experienced a scarcity of warm weather. For many, however, the summer heat was oppressive (when it came) and they experienced a scarcity of cold weather for each of the months when the temperature rose above 65 degrees. It was all a matter of perspective. I personally don't complain about an abundance of warm weather... I blame living in Ithaca, NY for 4.5 years for that.
While I lived in the US, most Americans who heard that I lived in Jamaica would share some positive impression they had of the island and expressed a desire to visit and to stay as long as possible. Conversely, most Jamaicans living in Jamaica have said clearly in opinion polls that 80% of them would migrate to the US if given the chance. The fact that this is the same island does not mean that there are similar experiences of the abundance that exists.
Most people, however, regardless of nationality would agree that there is a scarcity of money in their lives.
However, just because there is wide agreement, does not mean that there is not a different experience that is available. Perhaps, a sound place to start would be with the following: “I have the perfect amount of money right now, down to the penny. The Universe (or God) has not made a mistake in giving me more or less than I have at the moment.”
"Furthermore, the Universe will be sending the perfect amount to me within the next 6 months, 6 years or 66 years, or more."
Is it possible to see that in the acceptance of the perfect amount available to us, that we can see the abundance of everything in front of us?
For example, a child can easily see the abundance of the days left to live life.
An elderly adult can see the abundance of love that is available to her for the rest of her life.
An Eskimo can see an abundance of plants growing in a tropical backyard.
A gardener can see an abundance of weeds in that same yard.
A Jamaican can see an abundance of ganja growing in his country.
The US' Drug Enforcement Association (DEA) can see an abundance of illegal drugs in the same country.
A resident can see an abundance of crime in the neighborhood, and an abundance of opportunities to make a difference.
A thief can see an abundance of possible criminal acts.
A mystic can see an abundance of Moments of Now.
It seems that an experience of scarcity only exists when there is an inability to accept completely what exists now. When what is, is accepted fully, then abundance is always present.
In Jamaica at the moment, the country has a per capita murder rate that is in the top three in the world (for countries that are not at war.) There is an abundance of murders, and also an abundance of possible contribution to make, and therefore an abundance of opportunities to be continually fulfilled in life.
In Trinidad at the moment, the kidnapping rate continues at the rate of 4 per week (from my memory.) There is an abundance of opportunities to transform the culture that allows that level.
In poverty, there is an abundance of opportunities to make more income. In wealth, there is an abundance of charities to which a significant contribution can be made.
In prison there is an abundance of time to meditate and discover self. In the hot deserts there is an abundance of sand and heat. In the cold deserts there is an abundance of heat and snow.
The point here is that in life, there is an abundance of chances to live life abundantly. In 2 days of life, there is an abundance of chances for an ant to life its life abundantly.
It all depends on the one doing the living, and the context that then gives rise to a particular experience.
Opportunity Needs Space
At the same time, it seems to be true by definition that scarcity can be interpreted as “space.” And, there is no possibility of growth, expansion and learning if there is no “space” within which growth can occur.
Huh? What does that mean?
A plant needs space around it to grow. A person who knows everything cannot be taught anything. A business that has 100% of the market cannot grow its market share. A room full of people cannot expand by adding more people. A country that has conquered the planet becomes the planet, and ceases to be itself. A breakthrough is impossible if everything that there is to accomplish, has been accomplished.
Opportunity, any opportunity, requires that there be space within which to grow. In other words, if scarcity is seen as nothing more than “space,” then opportunity requires scarcity for it to exist.
Without scarcity, there is no opportunity.
In business, a scarcity of poor customer service leads to an abundance of opportunities to differentiate the business on the level of service. In sports, a scarcity of top teams presents an opportunity to improve and to accomplish a high standard. In life, a scarcity of comfort presents an opportunity for spiritual growth. In the world, a scarcity of poverty gives humans an opportunity to experience growth and expansion.
"Scarcity" can therefore be seen as an opportunity, and a prerequisite for growth. To argue that there should always be more, however, is a recipe for madness, and sets up an expectation that life will never meet.
The truth that is so very difficult to remember is that while life is providing the perfect amount of everything, we are the ones driving ourselves crazy with thoughts that it should another way, other than the way it is.
Krisnamuthy, the philosopher, was once once asked what his secret to happiness is. He replied "I accept what's happening" (paraphrased.)
Someone else also said "A Master prefers what occurs." In our world, that could be translated as "A Master prefers what he or she has right now."