We don’t have to look too far for abundance: it is all around us. We reside in an abundant Universe that proffers a super-numerous amount of everything — love, beauty, truth, harmony, kindness and peace. We are all travelers in this Universe, so we ought to be able to mimic this state of plenitude in our human existence. Still, we are drawn like tiny fish on a current to a vast array of books, workshops and DVDs about acquiring more than we have. The big “secret” is that, with a bit of attunement, we can embrace the abundance that is already ours.

Lao Tzu says, “When you realize that nothing is lacking, the whole world belongs to you.” How could this be? How could the world “belong” to us? At first blush, this made no sense. I would listen to the great master’s words on my way to work and squint, trying to grasp his wisdom. Initially, the truths of the Great Tao seemed like deliberate contradictions, designed to confound and frustrate me.

My innate tendency is to perceive lack everywhere I turn. I am not thin enough; I am not pretty enough; I have more bills than paycheck; I’m running out of groceries. These ideas come from the ego’s false sense of vanity and scarcity. We love to hoard. We love to shop. When we run out of shelf space in our homes, we go into storage where we harbor yet more unused possessions. Were we to transcend our material longings, we would find abundant stores that are inexhaustible.

Native people have been telling us for centuries, “You can’t take it with you.” Actually, some try. I watched a series on DVD where a main character’s uncle tried to fit his burgeoning stash of earthly stuff into his coffin — until the lid would not close with him inside. The nephew then had to supersize the coffin.

“Abundance,” Cedric Red Feather clarifies, “is different for crop growers and those born rich. Farmers live in harmony with Nature and cycles. They may suffer devastation through hail, tornadoes or pestilence, but they know that one good year makes up for three lean years.” Traditional people, Cedric teaches, kept only what they needed; excess items were used as trade goods. They did not hoard or keep “extra.”

Chief Four Bears, Cedric says, was beloved because, with all that was bestowed upon him, he gave everything away to the people, even horses; yet he always had more horses than he needed. Abundance, Cedric teaches, is not always a material matter. “Four Bears,” he adds, “was abundant in courage; he was wounded in battle 14 times.”

“In the spiritual,” he added, “you are one with all Creation; you are never alone. You’re one with your Guides, Angels and Spirit Helpers. That, too, is abundance.”

Having learned from Cedric, and from other compassionate spiritual teachers of several traditions, I have looked inward and made some changes. Every morning, I thank the Great Spirit for my working vehicle, my teaching job, my secure apartment. I give thanks for my work colleagues, my family, my Edge editor, and my spiritual friendship with The Red Feather Man. I express gratitude for my spiritual way of life, the Sacred Songs, my drum, rattle, pipe, and staff. Most of all, I offer thanks for the Wanagi Oyate (Ghost Nation), Spirit Helpers, Angels, Archangels and Guides who direct and protect me; and for realizations, dreams and visions. By the time I am finished, the energy around me shifts noticeably.

The simple act of taking inventory shows me that I “have” whatever I name as part of me. I appreciate all of it, without attachment. Lao Tzu was right: the whole world belongs to me. I love how The Red Feather Man says it: “I have never, ever asked the Spirits for a single thing, and yet, they have blessed me with many things.”

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Janet Michele Red Feather
Janet Michele Red Feather, J.D., M.A., is a ceremonial singer who has learned over 60 traditional songs in Mandan and Lakota and sings in nine different languages. Janet was a full-time defense litigator in California for nearly eight years. Her life changed significantly after she traveled to North Dakota in 1993 to fast and pray for a way of life. A regular columnist for The Edge, she has also appeared in Psychic Guidepost, FATE Magazine and Species Link. Her book, Song of the Wind (2014, Galde Press), dealt with her experiences as an empath, and her journey through Mandan spiritual culture. She is currently a full-time, tenured English faculty member at Normandale Community College, having taught Composition and Literature for a span of 20 years.

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