Wednesday, February 25, 2009

41/56 - Money and Freedom

8:15 pm with Miranda

Tonight I was fully back in the swing of things, back to the sort of form and focus I had toward the end of my try for 100 days in a row.  I only took two small sips of water, and I didn't really need them.  I held really still, except when I needed to blow my nose.  And, if the class didn't fly by, it was very pleasant and I felt on top of things all the way through.  Better, I didn't have a single moment of feeling sorry for my poor, beleaguered body.

It's funny, because in terms of how deep I went into the poses, tonight was nothing special.  I felt better than usual in Half Moon.  I felt really strong in Awkward and took my sweet time about both going down and coming up.  And Triangle and Rabbit were both really good.  But my balance was middling, as were most of the rest of the poses, especially back strengthening series.  But none of that really mattered, because I had the feeling that I was trying my best and pushing to my edge, and all the time I was close to keeping my "smiling, happy face."

Today's meditation is about the connection between non-hoarding and materialism.  I've known some very wealthy people, especially at the law firm where I started.  If asked, they would almost all say that the main advantage of wealth is that it brings freedom.  I always thought this was funny because, to a man, each one of them was so obsessed with accumulating wealth that they had become slaves to their practices, their clients, their calendars, and to any device which might make them richer.  Once upon a time, I think, they might have tasted the freedom that wealth can allow.   But somewhere along the line they mistook the means (money) for the end (freedom), and they sacrificed their freedom in order to maximize the money.

There are many, many other examples of the same mistake.  We own our house.  It's not that big, but its very nicely decorated and a very, very comfortable place to live.  We have lots of friends who have moved into houses that cost a million dollars or more.  They have empty rooms, or rooms with cheap "sets" of furniture.  Many of them have to cut down on other activities, or even skimp on their food budgets, to pay for their houses.  And they have to work even harder to keep up with their mortgages.  There's even a name in America for this sort of person:  "house poor". 

Of course there can be freedom that comes from an access to money, provided that there is also a willingness to spend it, and the moderation to spend less than you make.  So that is one path to freedom, but it is one that can easily get out of control.  

The simpler path to freedom is simply controlling our desires for more.   Of course, it would be nice to have the Pioneer Elite Plasma TV.  But would it really make the Iron Chef on the Food Network look that much better.  And I would always love the latest, greatest computer system.  I just know that it would make my internet surfing and emailing that much more satisfying if I had 32 gigs of Ram backing it up.  And don't get me started on stereo equipment.  You really haven't lived until you've heard your system set up with the gold plated cables that cost over $500/ft.  

All of these things might be nice to have (well, maybe excepting the stupid cables).  But its also not that difficult to be satisfied with much, much less.  The non-hoarding is another step toward conquering the twin enemies of fear and desire.  The fear aspect is the sort of miserly quality that comes from the insecurity that the money you make will never guarantee you the freedom you want.  This fear puts people on the treadmill of continually having to make more.  And the desire aspect comes from the artificial creation of a need for the latest, the greatest, the most expensive.   Let go of both of these,  and a true taste of freedom might follow.

1 comment:

crisitunity said...

I totally agree with what you say here about money meaning freedom. I think it's possible for that to be true, but people can get so wrapped up in acquiring more and more money, thinking it will lead to more and more freedom, that they lose sight of what freedom is possible in the present. I think it's about moderation, like you said.