There is a purity and simplicity that is attached to poverty. It is a side of life that seemingly provides a condition whereby one gains a desirable freedom from the distractions and constraints of material goods, money, and possessions. It provides a clearer view by which to evaluate the spiritual over the material.
Poverty does, however, offer a pitfall in itself, with an ironic twist. In our lives it can bear heavily upon our opinions in such a way as to make them the “goods” we possess. This can be bad or good depending on the opinions we form from the influences of our poverty. For example, we can become bitter and blaming when we do not possess the material comforts and goods of the average citizen; and that blaming or bitterness can become a possession itself to which we hang on. Jealousy, envy, and selfishness can also be things we latch onto from poverty. These abstract possessions can be even more devastating spiritually than the material ones. When we let them overtake us we take away the advantages of a lack of goods.
People not suffering from material poverty can also be affected by the same cognitive processes,whereby self-pride, righteousness, knowledge, ability, and comfort in spiritual practices can all become possessions in themselves.
The authentic and advantageous poverty is that of “the poor in spirit” referred to in the beatitudes. The one who is truly poor in spirit, regardless of material goods and possessions, is the one for whom poverty is an advantageous condition for spiritual advancement. It is the poverty of the poor in spirit that relegates the habits of pride we harbor over our own spiritual life – to nothingness. The genuinely poor in spirit do not even possess abstract mindsets that fuel our habits of pride.