Meditation is Money

Meditation, or rather the state of presentness you achieve through meditation can make you rich. I know, you’ve probably heard something similar before and you’re rolling your eyes by now, but hear me out- I am not setting myself up for some “to be truly rich is to be spiritually rich” type conclusion, I mean that it will make you money rich.

When speaking on the topic of becoming rich, we must first explore what money actually is. Money as we know it has three functions- store of value, medium of exchange and unit of account. The paper cash in your wallet is merely simply with a number and some historical person’s face drawn on it if it does not serve these functions. For our purposes we will focus on one of these functions; medium of exchange. This simply means that the money that you have can be exchanged for various goods and services such as a haircut, car, dinner, watermelon etc. Another way to see it is that the money that you pay is exchanged for the value that you receive. ‘Value’ can differ depending on what kind of service or good you are purchasing. It could come in the form of convenience provided by a taxi driver or in the form of gastronomic pleasure and good ambience from purchasing a fine dinner. So when we say we want to be rich and have lots of money, it is not the money that we want but the potential value that we will receive in exchange for that money. In this sense it is not difficult to see that money = value and that if this equation is broken there is no point to having money at all.

The strange thing about the money = value equation is that it is subjective. Even for the exact same item some people are willing to dish out more cash for it because they subjectively perceive the value of that item to be higher. A common example would be a billionaire dying of thirst in the desert who would pay 100 million for a gallon of water vs. someone by a freshwater lake who isn’t willing pay $1 for the same gallon because he has abundant access to fresh water. This also means that if two people buy the same meal, one starving from an intense Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu class (usually me) and the other barely hungry, the one that just did BJJ will subjectively gain more value from that meal than the other even though they’ve both paid the same amount.

If we accept the two suppositions that money = value and that value is subjective to the individual who is receiving it, we come to a loophole which we can use to ‘hack’ the equation. This is where meditation comes in. The various meditation practices around the world all share the emphasis on being present to each moment without being regretful of the past or worried about the future. It forces the monkey mind to calm down and observe the world as it actually is instead of looking at it through kat-karma-resin-rich-ornaments-laughing-buddha-maitreya-buddha-dragon-defends-the-house-from-evil-spiritstainted interpretations and biases. When you are purely in the moment and open minded to everything, the subjective value of the good or service purchased goes up. Have you ever had the experience of watching something on your phone while you are eating and realising that you were so distracted by your smartphone that you didn’t taste the food at all? Or going on a date to a beautiful place with your significant other, getting into a small argument and then not registering the scenery at all because you’re angry? Remember that when you pay for the delicious meal or the plane tickets to a scenic destination you are paying for the value and pleasure that you will derive from those experiences. If you are not present enough to enjoy what you’ve paid for, aren’t you technically throwing money down the drain? On the flipside, if you are able to become present through meditation and fully enjoy the deliciousness of the meal or the experience of travelling, aren’t you technically richer? If you are present a $5 meal can taste like a $500 dollar meal, and if you are distracted and worried, a $500 dollar meal can taste like a $5 meal.

Tim Ferriss in his book 4-Hour Workweek speaks about the concept of relative wealth. In short, he says a strung-out managing director who makes 2 million dollars a year in expensive New York but no time to enjoy is less wealthy than a restaurant owner in Thailand who makes 500 thousand dollars but has all the time in the world to enjoy a great lifestyle with no stress. I would agree. The absolute amount of money that you have is not as meaningful as the value that you can get from having that money. Being rich in value and enjoyment IS being rich in money. So cut out distractions, ground yourself in the moment by meditating and feel the richness life has to offer. Who knows, it might be on sale today.

 

 

On the Originality of Donald Trump

nbc-fires-donald-trump-after-he-calls-mexicans-rapists-and-drug-runnersHe is the man that the world currently loves to hate. The world has been watching in disbelief as what at first seemed like a joke has turned into a legitimate and serious presidential campaign for Mr. Donald Trump.

I am not American, and I do not claim to know enough about international politics and economics to comment deeply on the repercussions of Mr. Trump’s possible presidency. However, as a third party non-American, I have been able to watch Mr. Trump’s campaign with more distance than those who have passionate political involvement and opinions on it. And if there is one thing that has always stood out and amazed me about Mr. Donald Trump- it is his unabashed and unapologetic originality.

It should be noted that I said originality, not honesty. Originality is expressing oneself without a socially constructed filter and honesty means being truthful. In other words, you can be dishonest in an original manner as Mr. Trump is often accused of doing these days.

Originality itself is not a virtue. It is independent of moral consciousness. It is merely a characteristic that we are all born with. As children we are immaculately original, expressing ourselves freely with a shameless certainty of who you are and what you want. But as we grow up our demands get shushed, our opinions get invalidated and our personality muffled by socially conditioned adults with good intentions. Over time this causes us to build callouses over our original selves and wear a safe social facade similar to others around us, which we may not even be aware of. So how come this didn’t happen to Donald? My guess would be that it is because he has always been at the top of the social ladder, and there is much more room to breathe up there. He is used to getting what he wants and having his voice heard instead of being told what to do or how to behave. Similarly, it has been my observation so far that the people at the very bottom of the socioeconomic ladder also have greater tendencies to express originality because they feel that they have nothing much to lose by being original. It is the middle class who are most prone to conforming and unoriginality because they fear losing what they have and not being able to recover it. donald-trump

So if originality is just something that we all had but gradually lost, what is so special about it? Well, it’s special because it gives a person power. It magnifies their presence and makes them seen and heard. Because we are mostly used to hearing regurgitated opinions and seeing cookie-cutter personas, by showing their true faces to the world people like Marilyn Manson, Gandhi, Donald Trump or Conor McGregor turn heads, receive applause or raise eyebrows. The attention might either be positive or negative, but it seems Mr. Trump goes by the doctrine “No publicity is bad publicity”. And so far- it seems to be working okay. There have been concerns that the international media has been covering Mr. Donald too much, that his gargantuan ego and personality is shadowing more important matters. Mr. Trump’s policies and remarks are often seen as outlandish, offensive and just baffling. But deep down we can also see that his outlandishness and offensiveness is not fabricated but true to the core of the man. The sheer audacity of his originality makes it hard for the world to take our eyeballs off of him.

I am not a supporter either Trump or Hilary. And I honestly have no idea who will become the POTUS. I merely find Mr. Trump’s originality comical and dare I say… refreshing? However, it must be remembered that boisterous originality alone is not enough to make a good leader of a world superpower. To me, his originality seems to have given courage to some American citizens who have been harboring similar sentiments as him to voice them more loudly, for better or for worse. And because Donald’s remarks are so trenchant and touch on such sensitive topics to the citizens of the US, instead of “Mak[ing] America great again” he might be “Mak[ing] America hate again”.

After all that’s been said, it is my hope that the American people will have the wisdom to make the right choice in selecting their future political leader and the mindfulness of what that choice ultimately entails.

 

 

 

 

 

Production is Godly, Consumption is Lowly

Consider the life of a degenerate son of a tycoon. Anything and everything that he could materially want in this world was given to him since birth. Toys, luxurious clothing, exotic foods, and even social admiration and women were purchased through money that he did not himself earn. With his father’s money he buys car after car and throws money at people’s faces to satisfy his inflated ego. Whatever he wants, he buys and consumes. His body his fat and soft, and his mind is dumb and greedy. He can buy everything but self-worth, and he tries to fill the emasculating void that he feels in his gut through more consumption – cars, drugs, whores, superficial social standing. Consumption fuels consumption and his gluttonous lifestyle leads to his early death as he drowns into an eternal pool of regret and emptiness.

Now consider the life of Michelangelo. From humble beginnings, he has cultivated his mind and body for the accomplishment of things that will leave a legacy. He knows what he wants to create and put forth into the world, something meaningful that will benefit the world and survive him. Even though he is aware of the nicer things in the world, his manly ambition pulls him much more than cushy luxury and indulgence. He finally sets his mind on the masterpiece of his life that he must produce – the Sistine Chapel. He toils, enduring physical and mental pains. All of his energies and thoughts are focused on producing this supreme work. After years of work, he finally completes it and leaves it for the world to marvel and cherish as he leaves the world with a satisfied smile on his face.

Which life would you prefer to live? The difference between these two men is extreme, but it is simple- one was dedicated to consumption, and the other to production. Consumption is easy in the moment, but it serves a difficult pill to swallow in the end and nothing else. On the other hand, production of any work is difficult and even irksome in the moment but leads to a sense of fulfillment in the long run as well as the work that was completed which will benefit both the producer and the world.

Any reasonable person would prefer a life of meaningful production over meaningless consumption. Of course, you cannot choose one at the complete exclusion of the other but anybody can choose to lean toward one or the other. A life of production also seems the more natural. It is said by biologists and evolutionists that the ultimate goal of living beings is to produce offspring and ensure the survival of its kind. Also, observation of nature let us know that a state of activity, hustle, building and production is the norm. Bees produce honey and build hives, lions and chimps build organizations, birds produce nests, et cetera. The difference between humans and animals is that human beings are given the freedom the choose between consumption and production, and if he so chooses to produce, the object of his work.

But living a life of fruitful productivity is not as easy as it may seem at first. The modern society that we live in is a massive conspiracy for consumption. We see advertisements everywhere that we go for goods and services that we ‘need’ to consume. Our culture and psychology is primed to desire consumption over production, to prefer instant gratification over longer term happiness. Consumption is made exponentially easier, and gratification is guaranteed at five dollars fifty.

However, looking just below the surface we can see that this conspiracy is one of the biggest paradoxes of the modern era. While watching a movie or consuming a fat hamburger, consumers only think of the convenience and good feels that the consumption brings. What they don’t realize is that  what they are consuming is a result of someone else’s massive production. It takes 5 dollars and 1.5 hours to watch a movie but millions of dollars, hundreds of people and massive organization to produce. A burger costs 2 dollars and takes 10 minutes to eat, but McDonalds has to produce a massive global supply chain and marketing. The people ‘turning up’ to a song about chilling and smoking weed do not consider that the artist paradoxically spent hours on top of hours to produce the song. The producers of the world know how weak, vulnerable and manipulable the mindless consumers are. The producer preys on the consumers. The wolves eat the sheep.

What about you? Objectively looking at your life, is more of your time spent on consuming than producing? At the end of the day before you go to sleep, can you point to something and proudly say “This is the work that I have produced into the world this day”? This is one of the main reasons I decided to start this blog. Your work that you produce does not have to be something tangible like a painting or a building, but it can also be a service that brings value to the world. If your days are spent consuming more than you produce then your lifetime aggregate consumption will outweigh production. You took more from the world than you gave. Is this what you truly want?

There is something uniquely satisfying about being a producer that is not offered to the consumer. The mere admirer of the Sistine Chapel will never know the extent of joy and accomplishment that Michelangelo experienced looking up at his work after a decade of work. The consumer of the Big Mac will never know the adventure and joy of building a multinational organization that is recognized virtually everywhere in the world.

Become a producer, not a consumer. Walk the path of the lion, not of the sheep.