Thursday, February 5, 2009

Living in a material world - Part II

So how does one translates the Four Noble Truths into the modern, material world?
How does one translates the ancient wisdom into financial enlightenment?

25 years ago, coming to America as an emigrant from Eastern Europe, I started my life at the very bottom of the society, as a welfare recipient.
It wasn’t by choice and it wasn’t to take advantage of the system.
To get a career started, I had first to go to school and learn the English language.

Life on welfare was hard. The money was barely enough to survive, but as tough as it was, it was the happiest time of my life.
Every morning I woke up with the promise of a better life. Every day was a day of wonder, discovery and growth.
I was living high on hope and dreams.

After 13 month of struggle, I landed my first job. It was paying $7.50 an hour and that 25 years ago was a lot.
Suddenly, I found myself having more money than I need.
First thing, I moved from my cockroach infested bachelor to a nice 1 bedroom apartment.
Second, I got myself a used car; the first ever in my life – I was 28 years old.
Of course with a car comes, registration, insurance, gas and maintenance.
At the end of the month I found myself not having enough money anymore.

One year after starting my job, I was financially struggling.
Lucky for me I was offered a job by one of my clients and I gladly took it.
At $10 an hour, life was good. Suddenly I had more money than I need it and for a while I thought my money problems were gone forever.
Little did I know. A couple of month later I was back in the same predicament. I did not have enough money.

Well, to make the story short, I moved up the scale to $15 and I was OK for a while, then to $20 and that was enough for a short time and so on and so forth.
You get the point. No matter how much I made, money was never enough.

So what is “enough” money?
If you could make any amount of money, what would be “enough” for you?
Well, according to my own calculation “enough” is roughly twice as much as you are making right now.
So if you are making $20K a year, then $40K would be “enough” and if you are making $40K then your “enough” would be $80K.
Of course you see the problem is that no matter how much you are making somebody else is making already twice as much and that is not “enough”

So if a person could make any amount of money when would he stop?
The only measure we have is Bill Gates. He stopped at $350 billion. And I don’t think he stopped because he had “enough” I rather believe that he stopped because he got tired of making money.
So we still don’t know how much “enough” is enough.

Enough is not a number.
Enough is a state of mind.

If you understand this, you are on the right path of financial enlightenment.


RennyBA said...

My interpretation: Having enough, hasn't anything to do with money at all! :-)

Chatty Crone said...

There is a country song by Trace Atkins called "You're Going To Miss This" that speaks about that.

We hurry and hurry to grow up and want more - then we get old and realize that we had the best of our life when we first began. When the kids were little. When the house was little.

The bigger things become the more stress that comes with it.

Then in midlife you go - what the heck happened - and hopefully you finally have learned the real lesson as RennyBA said - "having enough, hasn't anything to do with money at all."

Uku said...

Enough is not a number.
Enough is a state of mind.

Yes, I agree. And when we have "enough" we should be able to give it to other's too. We're all here together.

Nice post, thank you!

Jane Doe said...

Wonderful words of wisdom. My grandma always says that being 'poor' is a state of mind, not a financial fact. I don't have much, but it seems that I have less stress than those that have more than they need as I'm not constantly worried about losing what I have.

Ted Bagley said...

Suffering is being stuck in the middle of Nietzsche's forced choice of nihilism. To be or not to be, while ignoring what being is in the first place.
Harder to see by one with a deserved mind that ignores the voice of someone else.

Barry said...

My teacher used to call it "enough mind" - that's the mind that's okay with any situation.

Chan Master Sheng Yen wandered homeless in New York City, eating out of dumpster and spending the nights in 24-hour coffee shops. And it was enough for him. At age 50.

Truthfully, I don't know if I could do it.

Ted Bagley said...

I don't know, too.

Anne Partain said...

Seems like in your story the fun was in the wanting and moving toward, wanting and moving toward. I think we can all have everything we want. At least the essence of it if we leave the how to the universe and just enjoy the day. While I don't want to squash my desires, I also trust for them. Most of my giving up is the fight. The fight to have something or be something, or not do something. I give up the fight on money and release it to the All that Is. Peace for me lies in finding a way to let things be just as they are. I want to open and allow the flow. And I know I will like it when it gets here. And I know I will want something else by then. I love the journey.

C. Om said...

In the eyes of the ego-self, too much is never enough. From the perspective of eternal Self, enough describes every detail and passing moment of life.

Great post!


Anne Partain said...

So maybe the question isn't how much is enough? And the answer is there is Plenty.

Maybe your problem back then isn't that you wanted too much, but in that you believed in lack.

There is pleanty of ______ you fill in the blank. When I believe there in pleanty for me and everyone, then I can really enjoy recieving and sharing and becoming part of the flow. There are as many ways to this path as there are followers.
I appreciate you so much Buddha for this post and the opportunity to share.

Aggie said...

Be content with that which you have is good advice. Living in the now. I think I would rather be free of the tyranny of money. I get depressed at all the talk about economic recession and the woes of the world - we have to wear all the worry of the world. No thanks. Let it go. Let it go.

Buddha said...

@ Renny – Absolutely!

@ Chatty – Oh, how I love that song!
I have learned English listening to country songs.

@ Uku – Amen to that!

@ Jane Doe – It is nice to have you back!
Your granny was a very wise woman.

@ Ted – as you can see at the top of my blog I am looking for people to share their wisdom and experience on my blog.
If it is not too much to ask, I would like you to write an article expanding on your comment and email it to me too post it.
Of course you will get full credit for your work and a link to your blog. What do you say?

@ Barry – I know exactly you mean! Shen Yen was a very fortunate man indeed – to be that free!

@ Anne – I love your comment!
I’m dreaming this blog will become an open forum, where people like you will share their experience and their wisdom for all of us to learn and grow.
Thank you so much for sharing!

@ C Om – Thank you for joining as and for being my friend.
I love your comment!

@ Aggie – I started blogging to vent out my frustration with the politicians, the war and the economy.
Searching for enlightenment is a better use of my free time :)

Charles Bjørnsen Ravndal said...

Got here from Renny's blog. I think you're right that enough is not a number and it's just a state of mind.

And in my case I think I am going with what Renny just said.

Ted Bagley said...

The, "I don't know, too." Comment?

Ted Bagley said...

Au contraire, the ego is the "I" of thought that thinks it's the self, but it is merely the conduit for it.

Sun Singer said...

I often wonder how much money people "need." When I read that an actor or a model or a sports star makes 10 million a year, my question is always "what in the world are you doing with all that?" I can't even think of a way to spend that kind of money.

For the rest of us, it's hard to say what enough is.


Giovanna Garcia said...

The mean thing is that money can’t really compensate for any sense of lack inside. I read somewhere it defined wealth as “surface advantage”. It is worthless for most things that are important in life, but it does make the unimportant easier to deal with. Plus, you will be able to do more good with money on your side. However, if we want to use money as a feel good or a crutch then we will never have enough and always be chasing a higher number.

Giovanna Garcia
Imperfect Action is better than No Action

Buddha said...

@ Charles – Thank you for visiting my humble blog!

@ Ted – I was thinking more like the Nietzsche one, but any topic you like would do just fine :)

@ Sun Singer – I have asked myself same question many times.

@ Giovanna – Yup! Money can be as bad and addictive as drugs.

Matthew Welsh said...

True...There is a distinction between wealth and money. Wealth is a mindset of abundance. If someone believes they are wealthy, then they will always have "enough" money.

footiam said...

Suddenly, I feel like I want to be a monk!

ray gratzner said...

I completely agree with your conclusion. Hey I am glad you survived the cockroaches....Brrrr
Happy meditation

A. Goldberg said...

You're incredibly insightful and I really enjoyed reading your blog. You're so right - how much is enough - it is a state of mind. Well done!!

Talon said...

Very true. It always comes down to knowing the difference between "need" and "want"...once you get that, you generally find out that you have MORE than enough.

Buddha said...

@ Mathew – Absolutely!

@ Footiam – I can’t access your profile. Please enable your profile so I can link back to your blog.

@ Ray – Actually they survived me. He, he, he! – evil laugh –

@ A Goldberg – Thank you for being my friend!

Lydia said...

My sister is a psychologist who has her own counseling practice. She has had more than one client who was a former mega-lottery winner, who then ran through all the money, who then was in despair. If I won a lottery it would be too much and I'd make that money count for the good of others and the planet.
I'm very contented. If we can get the exterior of our house painted this year that will be enough for me.

The Clandestine Samurai said...

It seemed like you were always spending what you were getting, and when what you were spending slid ahead, you didn't have enough.

I think enough is what covers the basic costs of living and then a little bit more for your particular interests (especially trying to save). This doesn't require one to be rich, it doesn't require the money to be abundant all the time, but it does require efficiency and ethics on that person's part.

Tamara said...

Needed more money is the biggest stress in my life. I have neglected my health, my spirituality and my relationships because I needed more money. Now that I have a better understanding of the freedom that comes with living within your means I have to live with the damage that I've inflicted on myself from not living a balanced life. I have to be honest though, I am having trouble now because I am newly married and I don't know how to make wise financial compromises. Now I feel confused and stressed, not enlightened. Though my comment is vague I would love some advice about money and marriage.