If you’re not careful, you’ll fall into the trap of righteous resentment
“Money can’t buy you happiness, but it can buy you a higher quality of misery.” – The Dalai Lama
I’m not 100% sure that it was the Dalai Lama who said that, but it sounds like something he’d say, right? Tibetan Buddhists are all about the whole ‘existence is suffering’ thing, aren’t they?
And they’re right. Every time I get a twang in these old soccer knees of mine, I’m reminded that it’s just life. Life is like that. You get old, you start hurting in places you never used to hurt, and there isn’t all that much you can do about it.
You either accept it with a smile, ala the Dalai Lama, or your rail against it and become a bitter old crank.
And we’re not just talking physical pain either. We’re talking all the pains – from heart-ache to jealousy. There’s just no avoiding them.
You either find a way to accept them, or you slap a layer of resentment on top of your pain cake.
But there’s another hardship I want to talk about today.
And I don’t really mean the hardship of having no finances. I mean the hardship of having to dealing with your finances.
It is a pain in the bum.
And it doesn’t go away. I can tell you that as multi-millionaire. I mean, sure, I’m not in a panic about it, and I can recognise the privilege of my situation. But still, managing my finances, making sure my wealth is protected, insured, not being siphoned off by some crooks somewhere, it’s a drag.
I think the story of Leonard Cohen is very instructive. Do you know what happened to him? So he made his fortune as a musician, and then decided to retire and devote his life to Zen.
Effectively he washed his hands of worldly concerns, and lived in a retreat centre somewhere, letting his personal assistant manage all of the ‘dirty’ stuff.
And what happened? She ran off with all his money. He had to come out of retirement at 70 or something and start touring again. (Which was awesome if you were a fan.)
Money, and living in a world powered by money, is suffering. There’s no way around it. You can’t shirk that responsibility.
And yet we still buy into this idea of ‘noble poverty’. The idea that some how the most righteous way to live is to turn your back on money, and be content in your poverty.
But this is a very challenging path, and it requires a tonne of discipline to find peace with the hardship of finances, and in this case, not having any finances.
And just like the old bugger complaining about his knees, I see most people who turn their nose up at money become resentful. They can’t accept the suffering their situation involves.
And then they blame the world for being so ‘materialistic’ and making them suffer.
But they’re misplacing the blame.
Existence is suffering, money is suffering. You either deal with money, or you deal with the consequences of having no money. There’s suffering either way.
The only choice you have in life is about what kind of suffering is more enjoyable, more suited to your personality, or more instructive to your soul.
That is, it’s a personal preference.
For me, I prefer to have money. A substantial amount of money, actually.
The problems and the suffering that come with that situation, are, to me, more preferable than the alternative.
I’ll take the premium-grade misery, thanks.
And I’ll find other ways to discipline my soul – like committing to writing at least one blog a week, every week of my life. There’s a lot of learning in that for me.
Money can’t buy you happiness. Having no money can’t either. Money can’t save you from suffering. Having no money can’t either.
But it is your life. It is your pizza. You can add whatever flavours you want. Even pineapple. Whatever. Knock yourself out.
But my personal recommendation would be that righteous resentment isn’t as much fun as people say it is.