Praying to the Goddess as good financial advice, by Thomas Schenk

Demeter's Abundance, by Cornelia Kopp

Prayer may plant a little seed of timelessness

 

The rice planter’s mistake

In China, there is a story told about a husband and wife who are rice farmers. They have just finished planting the crop.  The husband, though, is not content just waiting for the crop to grow.  He wants to do more; he thinks he can do more.  This worries his wife.  Even when the shoot have become ankle high, the husband is still edgy, still convinced there is something more he can do to make the rice crop grow faster and better.

One morning the wife wakes up to find her husband out of the house.  She looks for him out in the rice paddy, and there he is surrounded by the shoots of rice that he has pulled up in his attempt to make them grow faster.  “What have you done!” she yells….

A few years ago I attended a wedding in a small Catholic church in Northern Illinois.  Lush cornfields grew right up to the church grounds.  The church was ornate and filled with icons, all a bit crude.  Wandering around the church grounds after the wedding, I thought about the generations of farmers, going back through the ages who planted their crops, then came to temples that probably weren’t terribly different from this little church, and prayed to a god, or more likely a goddess, that their crop would prosper.

These prayers probably did nothing to help the crops grow, but at least they may have helped prevent the mistake of the rice planter.  When faced with a situation where we are in fact rather powerless, such as making plants grow, we have a tendency to want to do something.  In such cases, petitionary prayer may be just the right type of activity.  It feels like doing something (particularly if one is a believer), it hurts nothing, and it can prevent us from trying to do something that may actually make matters worse.

Investing in prayer?

Investing in the stock marker has something of the same character as planting a crop.  Day to day there is little you can do to make your investments grow.  The evidence shows that the best overall strategy is to invest in a widely diversified portfolio of stocks, and then for the most part leave it alone and let time work its compounding magic; yet the desire to do something is strong.

Throughout America there are people sitting at computers restlessly moving their investments around, or becoming day traders, in the hope of increasing their wealth.  Statistically, this restless activity in the long run will likely be as successful as the rice farmer’s strategy of pulling at his plants to make them grow faster (for companies like E-Trade, though, all this investor restlessness is a very sure source of revenue).

So with these considerations, here is my investment advice: after investing your money, when you start getting restless about it — when the media starts to spout its endless speculations about this going up and that going down — instead of moving your investments around, pray to your favorite God, Goddess or Saint for their divine assistance in helping your investment grow and prosper.   At its least, this strategy may keep you from doing something stupid, like the rice farmer did.  At its best, such prayer may plant a little seed of timelessness inside your soul, which might also experience compounding magic and with time grow into something more precious than any stock portfolio.

The author

Thomas Schenk

Thomas Schenk: “If asked, I’d call myself a Space-age Taoist, Black Sheep Catholic, Perennial Philosophy Pantheist, Dharma Bum.   In other words I am a kind of spiritual and philosophical mutt.  I’m not out to change the world, for I believe the world has a much better sense of what it is supposed to be than I ever could. But I do try to promote the value of the contemplative life in these most un-contemplative of times.  I don’t know if the piece presented here has any value, but I feel blessed that I can spend my time thinking about such things.  My version of the American dream is that here, as the child of a line of farmers and peasants going back through the ages, I have the privilege to live with my head in such clouds.”

Thomas is also the author of the naturalistic spirituality blog Golden Hive of the Invisible.

Check out Thomas’ other articles:

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3 Comments on “Praying to the Goddess as good financial advice, by Thomas Schenk

  1. I have to wonder if there’s a better way to prevent us from fiddling too much that doesn’t entail believing in things that aren’t true.

  2. As an example, I had a friend who saw and talked to dragons. They had names. Evidently the gave her advice on occasion. A psychiatrist might smack her with a label and send her packing with medication but the fact of the matter was that her dragon never advised bad things and she rather enjoyed the company, particularly in circles.

    Personally, I didn’t see jack. I didn’t hear jack. But what I came to in my mind was that they were very real and true for her. They had an influence on her actions which had a very real affect in the world around her and consequently me in that world. So while I certainly don’t believe in dragons, I believe that her dragons, how she perceives them, do work through her. Imagination is very true and very real for those whose actions are lead by them so to discount gods or goddesses as being untrue is to believe that imagination has now power within this very real world.

    For me, praying to the God/Goddess is somewhat out. That isn’t much more than icons of ideals but meditating on the natural machinations of the world and releasing my concerns and succumbing to that helps me worry less during times where I have difficult “letting go”.

    Sometimes we need something physical and real to demonstrate to the back of our heads how we should handle something. In this case I might make a pot of rice and imagine the rice is my investments. Rule number one to making rice is to leave the lid on the entire time and never stir it. The reward is fluffy perfect rice. My head trusts that result. Making a mental link between the two might help create that trust connection that the brain needs… and you have some rice to snack on as your immediate reward.

  3. Pingback: To what should I aspire? by Thomas Schenk | Humanistic Paganism

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