Friday, October 23, 2009

The Meaning of Life IV

I’ve been spending a lot of time lately on Stumble Upon.
(If you have some time and would like to see my collection of Buddhist and spiritual sites, you can click on my Stumble link above the followers’ widget.)
Any way. One of things about Stumble is that people send you really odd stuff – like this video of a cowboy that is dragged and tossed around for a really long time before he finally decides to let go of the rope.
Watching this video made me think about the way we are holding on to the material world and even as we are being dragged and tossed around we just would not let go of a bad situation.

So how do we get hooked to the material world?
Let’s take a little example: Clothing and fashion.
Unfortunately, or maybe fortunately, we are very fragile beings.
Without a thick skin and fur to protect us from the elements we need clothing.
So we started to invent all sorts of things to cover our body and keep it warm and dry.
Some were on the history line we also invented fashion.

We do not need fashion to protect us from the elements.
We need fashion to make us feel good about ourselves, worthy and special – but then again so does crack cocaine :)
We go to the mall and find and buy, the latest and greatest of the new fashion and for a moment we are on the top of the world.
But just as a high from a drug, this “feel good” feeling, doesn’t last for long and pretty soon we find ourselves unhappy again and in need of a new “fix”

So basically that is the way we get addicted to the material world.
We screw up the dynamic between us and the objects that are supposed to serve us.
In the first place clothes were supposed to serve us, to protect us, to fulfill a function.
On the second, clothes take control of our feelings. We are no longer the masters; we have become the slaves of the fashion trends.
And that my friends, happens with all the other material things that take over our life.

So that brings up the ultimate question: are you the master or the slave of your material world?
Do you feel like all you do is trying to keep up your life style?
Are you pushed in life by your bills or pulled by your dreams?
Are you in charge of your life, or is your life spiraling out of control?

Many years ago I was “hooked up” to the material world.
As any emigrant coming to America I bought into the Idea of a better life.
After all, what else can be more alluring than the promise of a better life?
I wanted everything that was symbolizing the “better” life without realizing what a better life really was and what I was really doing.

To make a long story short, some were in the 90’s, during the last economical recession I found myself heals over head deep in debt.
I bought a house I couldn’t afford to buy, a car I really did not need, I maxed out my credit and all the money left I invested in the stock market.
In other words I was living the American dream.
Then one day the company I was working for decided to “cut the fat” and I got laid off.

And suddenly I found myself falling down from my castle in the sky without a parachute.
So I did what naturally all of us do in a situation like that. Try to save as much as possible. Try to hold on to it, like the cowboy in the video :)
I did not realize what was going on.

Banks are not in the business of “helping” people as the majority of us think. Banks are in the business of making “profits” and that is all they care about.
When you are down, you will not get a break, you will be pounded till your last drop of blood, till you have nothing more to loose.
Then you will let go. Then they will let go.

So I lost everything. My house went in foreclosure, my investments went into the ground I was basically back where I started coming to America.
But that wasn’t the bad part.
The bad part was going through that fall.
The nights I spent in fear, despair, anxiety, pain and stress.
That gut wrenching feeling in my stomach and my heart.
It wasn’t the material loss; it was the trashing of my soul that hurt the most.

So I put myself together and slowly I came back to life.
But during that period I had a long look at my life and what went wrong.
So I decided I did not want the “good” life anymore.
I didn’t want the big house in the fancy neighborhood. I didn’t want the fast flashy car.
I did not want to be rich, I wanted to be happy.

I want a safe, secure, peaceful, balanced and harmonious life.
I want true neighbors that care about me not about how big and expensive my house is.
I want a woman that loves me for who I am not for the fast flashy car I drive.
I want true friends that will be with me when the going gets tough not only when the times are good.
I don’t want things, I want to be happy.

So there it was; the fundamental shift in my relationship with the material world.
I am not any longer the slave of the things around me.
I might not have much material wealth but the things I have serve me, not the other way around.
I might not be rich but I have peace of mind and a good night of sleep.
I might not have much but I have less to worry about :)

But do not get me wrong; I am not asking you to live your life my way.
All I am trying to do is to open a discussion, to look at different points of view, to try to understand life, the way it works and ultimately to find its meaning.
Your life is your journey and you should live the life you want, the life that makes you happy.
As I will do it with my life.


Grampa Ken said...

We're in a bit of a social mess. Looking forward is not too encouraging either as we are increasingly pummeled with advertisements. This starts at a very early age which is just so wrong.

Perhaps a positive movement towards a society with truer values can arise from the internet. I can't think of how else with all the big money behind the status quo.

"You can tell the ideals of a nation by its advertisements." - Norman Douglas

Matt Welsh said...

I think it is all about intention....Is our intention to serve our soul or our ego. For example, are we buying a car or trying to make money because that inspires our spirit and sounds like fun or are we buying a car because we believe the car will bring us happiness...

Thank you for sharing your thoughts and background...It is an inspiring and refreshing point of view.


Descartes said...

We're all going to die, but most of carry on as if we are not. The wonderful thing about debt is that you live beyond your means, until you can't.

One of my favorite quotes is by Mark Twain-

A Banker is someone that loans you an umbrella and wants it back as soon as it starts raining.

Buddha of Hollywood said...

@ Grampa - Ken, you are an optimist :)
And yes, I totally agree - we need a new social movement - actually this is what I am trying to do here - get people to ask questions, to discuss, to look for better answers.
So thank you for being part of our dialog!

@ Matt - "hell is paved with good intentions"
I do not think that we are intrinsically evil.
I believe we are - as Grampa Ken inferres - misguided and used against our good nature.

@ Descartes - LOL! I love that quote.
I thought that older people get wiser because they know more but I think they get wiser because they get closer to "death"
Since I am getting older and I am just starting to realize how much I don't know :)

Quantum_Flux said...

If I could invent anything, I mean today, it would be a way to make dumb people smarter :)

Poetic Shutterbug said...

You certainly have the right idea here. We all get caught up in materialistic lifestyles at some point in time and it's only when we hit bottom do we realize that those "things" were just not important. Your line "I might not have much but I have less to worry about :)" says it all. Great post.

Angela Lovell said...

This is a remarkable poignant post to me for personal reasons I won't get into here and the reason I thumbed it on Stumble upon and shared with some special people I know.

Thank you and please keep reminding me the true meaning of life with your insight.


Ted Bagley said...

Your post describes a lot, for sure.