"You spent the first half of your life becoming somebody. Now you can work on becoming nobody, which is really somebody. For when you become nobody there is no tension, no pretense, no one trying to be anyone or anything. The natural state of the mind shines through unobstructed -- and the natural state of the mind is pure love."
~ Ram Dass
You may have heard the saying, "If nobody is perfect, it's perfect to be nobody." This message is profoundly wise and it extends to many recurring themes found in ancient philosophy and in religious texts. The perfection of nothingness is also a theme in my forthcoming book, which I am happy to say will be finally published in 2016.
When you can detach yourself from opinions, from the most damaging of emotions, and from material things, there is nothing remaining but the authentic Self. And when you can be authentic, or what Abraham Maslow called "self-actualized," you can find true happiness.
Self-actualized people are those who are fulfilled from being, as opposed to having. Put simply, these people are happy because of what they do, not because of what they have. And ironically, many of the most financially successful people in the world became wealthy because their primary motivation was self-fulfillment, not money or material wealth. They did what they loved and the money followed.
An extreme example can be found in the late Steve Jobs, the founder of the biggest corporation in the world, Apple, Inc. Before he co-founded Apple, Jobs studied eastern philosophy, which is rooted in the virtues of simplicity, humility, and contentment. Specifically, Zen Buddhism uses the thought of death as a powerful meditation to remove the outer covers of falseness to return the the inner perfection of nothingness:
Remembering that I'll be dead soon is the most important thing I've ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life, because almost everything—all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure—these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart. ~ Steve Jobs
In the financial universe (and in some other realms), indifference is more powerful than love and hate.
To further qualify this statement, I would define the lovers of money as greedy and the haters of money as resentful. Financially wealthy or not, both extremes find it hard to enjoy life because their happiness is dependent on having more money. Within both perspectives, money and material wealth are believed to be the sources of happiness.
On a personal level, and in my observations of all of the thousands of people I've encountered in my 18-year investment advisory career, I can attest that those who can find contentment with or without money are bound to have the happiest existence.
Of course there are those who suffer because they do not have the means of meeting the basic physiological needs of food, shelter and clothing. Without money, especially in the modern civilized world, obtaining these basic needs of life can be challenging. But the vast majority of human beings on the planet who are unhappy because they believe they "don't have enough money" are actually unhappy because they are not self-actualizing: they are not self-fulfilled.
The Great Way is not difficult
for those who have no preferences.
When love and hate are both absent
everything becomes clear and undisguised.
Money provokes the most extreme of emotions. This fact is the fundamental reason for starting this blog -- to learn more about the psychological aspects of money and to help others live a better life by sharing what I had learned. As it turned out, I found that the timeless lessons of the ancient and modern philosophers can help resolve these seemingly complex psychological challenges in the most simple and profound ways.
Believe it or not, 2016 marks 10 years since the beginning of this journey. I look forward to beginning a new decade with publication of my new book. Thank you all for reading and for participating in the journey of this blog and in the growth of my writing.
I will provide more updates at another website that is named for this new book, Perspectives for Mastery of Life. The site is under construction and in its infancy now. Watch for more updates in the next few months!