Overcoming The Scarcity Mindset

Andrew Taggart
4 min readMar 11, 2022

On The Centrality Of Self-knowledge

Accompanying Talk: https://youtu.be/L3xAKVWVjQs

Scarcity Pure and Simple Versus The Scarcity Mindset

1: Scarcity pure and simple is not the same as the scarcity mindset. Someone who really doesn’t have enough food to eat is, as a matter of fact, experiencing scarcity.

2: In contrast with scarcity pure and simple, the scarcity mindset sets up a conundrum: one really does have enough (of this or that), yet one believes and feels that one does not have enough. It’s in this sense that the object in question is a mindset.

Cause And Cessation, Ignorance And Self-knowledge

3: Thus, we can ask, “What is it that gives rise to the scarcity mindset in the first place?”

Plainly, the gap between really having enough and not believing that one does is indicative of a lack of self-knowledge or, what is the same thing, ignorance. Hence, it is ignorance — specifically, ignorance of oneself — that gives rise to the scarcity mindset. Put differently, the scarcity mindset indicates, most essentially, that one does not know oneself.

4: For this reason and for countless others, then, wisdom traditions entreat us to “know thyself.” The point at hand is that self-knowledge, logically as well as metaphysically, must come first: that is, must come before all else.

The Biggest Hindrance To Self-knowledge

5: The biggest hindrance to coming to self-knowledge is the outward-going tendencies of the mind — what in Sanskrit is referred to as vasanas.

For plainly in the statement, “I am planning a roadtrip,” the central focuses tend to be on the verb and the direct object. Concerning the roadtrip, where shall I go? And concerning planning, how shall I get there? What route shall I follow?

Tragically, both outward-going movements, inasmuch as they place — and fix — our attention on objects (the roadtrip, the process of planning), fail to take the subject into account. That is, they fail to consider who it is that is so engaged in the planning and in ideas about the roadtrip.

6: Consider, as an argument for 5, Ramana Maharshi’s analogy: imagine you are among many others seated into a well-lit room. “We are so engrossed,” Ramana states, “with the objects or appearances revealed by the light that we pay no attention to the light” — that is, to the source from which all of this arises. Similarly, we are so engrossed in, say, roadtrips and planning that we pay no attention to the subject behind all of this.

Outward-going Tendencies In The Scarcity Mindset

7: We can see the outward-going tendencies of the mind play themselves out in the case of the scarcity mindset. Whenever one says or thinks, “There is not enough” (see, again 1 and 2 above on the scarcity mindset, not on scarcity pure and simple), almost immediately one gets caught up in (a) the object said, thought, or felt not to be enough (e.g., time, money, etc.) and then into (b) how to temporarily alleviate this alleged problem.

The shortcoming with this approach — namely, in the movement from (a) to (b) — is that fails. If it didn’t fail, then it would bring about an absolute end to the scarcity mindset. But it doesn’t — because it can’t. Because it can’t, all it can do is to repeat itself. (Thus the endless self-help literature.)

Because of the outward-going tendencies of the mind, then, the fundamental question goes unasked: “For whom is this believed and felt not to be enough?”

Summary Of The Argument

8: Now what was stated at the outset (namely, in 3 above) comes squarely into view: the scarcity mindset essentially indicates that I do not know myself.

Self-inquiry Is The Path To Self-knowledge

9: What, then, is the proper way to inquire into the scarcity mindset?

Three steps are to be followed.

First, ask, “Who is this particular kind of somebody that I’m trying so desperately to be?” Find the answer.

Second, since trying to be somebody or other presupposes that I am lack, ask, “How, specifically, do I believe and feel myself to be lacking?” Find the answer — and feel that answer in your bones.

And, third, ask, “In the absence of trying to be somebody and in the absence of a presumed sense of lack, who am I, really?” Do not answer this question; simply rest in the silence — in the silence of clear, intuitive understanding.

Wholeness Is The Consequence Of Self-knowledge

10: There can be no ignorance-engendered scarcity — or, for that matter, any ignorance-posited abundance — when there is only wholeness, completeness, or happiness.

Wholeness is the consequence of self-knowledge.

Live from and as completeness.

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