I remember a time when I thought money was good. I thought monetary wealth was important. The idea of “selling out” was not necessarily bad – it depended on the price. Money gave you security and happiness so everything else was second at best. I had bought so far into that meme that it nearly drove me insane. My life and mind were driven by caffeine and percoset through the week and alcohol on the weekend. My obsession with bodybuilding was the only thing that kept me from going off the drug induced ledge of complete self-destruction.
I woke up one day and realized I was wrong. What good is money when you hate life, hate doesn’t bring happiness and what is the point of security if you are miserable? Money doesn’t bring happiness because it is transitory, it can only get you external things and it can do nothing to make your mind calm and peaceful.
I was faced with a trichotomy:
Continue going on the same way and die early of a heart attack or stroke, miserable all the way.
Finish what I started at 17 and off myself – no “Fade to Black” to save me this time.
Walk off into the woods and just sit with nature and wait to die.
None of these looked good to me but I didn’t know what else to do. If I was in a state of depression I would have probably opted for option 3 but my mind felt clear and calm. A state of equanimity was present, it seemed like a natural choice even more natural than deciding what’s for dinner. I decided on a different option which didn’t appear at first, spirituality – not religion, religion is just part of the meme and it even has its own subset of memes. I needed religion to find spirituality though or so I thought so I tried them and held option number 3 open just in case it didn’t work out. I didn’t need religion to find spirituality I needed compassion and wisdom – I needed it from others and, most importantly, for others. A different way, a middle way finally had been shown to me and peace finally became a possibility.
I look around the world today and see so many people buying into that meme of politics, societal norms, and materialism. Not really their fault, it’s all they know just like it was all I knew. The damage it does is on all levels from the rich to the poor. The rich (winners in this meme) usually become spiritually destitute or the spirituality they do find is just leading them to more sensual pleasures or fame. (just look at all the headlines of how meditation can help you become more successful) Unfortunately the poor want to be like the rich or they want to blame the rich for the ills of this world – I was caught in that circle too – so many few want to be out of this circle and out of the meme. I truly feel sorry for these people, not many know there is a different path in life and this path it makes no difference what your income, social status, or ethnicity is.
I am not fully out of the meme yet either, 30 some years of brainwashing will not go away with 8 years of practice. I do know there is a way though and I have confidence in this path. We need to realize that the chase after “things we simply do not need” needs to end, it is not the rich or the poor that is to blame – it is our desire. How many people will point at the rich person and say it is their fault but yet spend money on what that person is offering even though it is not needed and barely wanted in some cases?
Maybe I’ve just come to the realization that it has to end for me soon, I see no point in most of the world anymore and have very little desire for money or advancement in my job or much of anything that is said to keep the world moving. It’s not apathy, it just doesn’t make sense anymore. Or maybe I’m realizing that the time for that walk in the woods is coming much closer except this time instead of despair there will be freedom.