I say “abundance.” Some hear possibility. Others hear excess, waste, unlimited growth, or limitless-infinite consumption of more things. To be clear upfront, I completely agree that we need to stop wasting resources and greatly reduce excess. I have worked on those issues tirelessly since the late 1980s. As a matter of fact, that is the point I want to make: we need to stop wasting resources and greatly reduce excess. And, I find that the current discourse on reducing waste and excess tries to do it in exactly the wrong way, by pushing on scarcity. To cut to the punch line, if you assume scarcity and try to reduce waste and excess, you create it. If you assume abundance, in relationship, then the waste and excess go away. They never come into being in the first place. I see it as an issue of how to voice what is actually meant and wanted in “don’t trash the planet” sustainability.
While there are an infinite number of intellectual definitions out there today, I define abundance and scarcity through your own experience. In the experience of abundance, you experience infinite potential, the energy-enhancing possibility in how to relate to what may come and what is showing up. In the experience of scarcity, you experience the energy-depleting lack of what is needed here now.
When we assume everything is scarce in the world, we see abundance as excess, using too much. Our research suggests that when assuming scarcity for everything, one of necessity ends up in a collapsed state of relationships. There just is not enough experience of my own self, of the other, of my unique contribution to the group, of the outcomes we manifest and the resources we have and value, and of the access to creativity we cherish. There just is not enough of anything, a state of collapse.
When we assume abundance in our experience in the world, we see abundance as being in relationship, in all five primary relationships (self, other, group, nature, spirit). I can choose to be fully who I see myself as, now and in the future, you and I support that potential and growth fully in each other, contributing the best we can to the group, out of possibility, development, and outcomes levels of reality, working with the creativity available everywhere in everyone all of the time. There is more than enough, depending how we are in relationship.
This brings me to three different definitions of abundance, depending on the levels of reality one perceives. Abundance at the things-outcomes level means having enough right here right now. This is abundance-in-sufficiency. Abundance at the development-motion level means a net positive rate of flow, where more comes in than goes out. This is the United Nations definition of sustainability. This is abundance-in-positive-net-flow. Abundance at the possibility-light level means infinite potential. This is abundance-in-potential. I have found, in hundreds of conversations in dozens of countries, that people commonly experience all three levels of abundance, abundance of possibility and development and things, of light, motion, and matter. Abundance-in-potential, abundance-in-positive-net-flow, and abundance-in-sufficiency. All three.
Now back to the question of why to define “abundance” in the first place. I see that defining terms guides us to a more fundamental understanding of the “how” and the “why.” The “how” lets us see what we can do. From our experience, we know that starting with the assumption of scarcity limits what can be seen, while starting with abundance invites creativity. What can be seen from abundance about being in sustainable relationship (abundance in relationship) is far greater than what can be seen from scarcity in minimizing excess. The “why” brings in one’s intention, the purpose for engaging in the how. As we have seen in previous blog posts, it is much easier to motivate from possibility than from lack.