Monday, January 7, 2008

Thoughts on Money

Someone sent me a link to a site called Get Rich Slowly. It is an interesting site about frugality and voluntary simplicity. I believe these to be valuable goals as long as my frugality and simplicity is not supported by borrowing from others. "Never a borrower or a lender be" is the wise Yankee motto. Perhaps it is the fiercely independent American in me, but I am not comfortable borrowing from others. And lending can also be very uncomfortable when I have to ask for items to be returned. This has been a cultural adjustment for me, since sometimes it seems here that everyone wants something from me. So, I support the goal of frugality and simplicity as long as it is not paid for by others. Only saints should have their simple lifestyles supported by others.
Here is a quote by Ann Rynd:

"Poverty is not a mortgage on the labor of others, misfortune is not a mortgage on achievement, failure is not a mortgage on success, suffering is not a claim check, and its relief is not the goal of existence. Man is not a sacrificial animal on anyone's altar nor for anyone's cause. Life is not one huge hospital."

- Ayn Rand, "The Voice of Reason"

Of course, compassion has to figure into the equation somewhere. I get a weekly thought from the Dalai Lama, and this week his words were also about money:

"In the frenzy of modern life we lose sight of the real value of humanity. People become the sum total of what they produce. Human beings act like machines whose function is to make money. This is absolutely wrong. The purpose of making money is the happiness of humankind, not the other way around. Humans are not for money, money is for humans. We need enough to live, so money is necessary, but we also need to realize that if there is too much attachment to wealth, it does not help at all. As the saints of India and Tibet tell us, the wealthier one becomes, the more suffering one endures.

...Eating, working, and making money are meaningless in themselves. However, even a small act of compassion grants meaning and purpose to our lives."

--from How to Practice: The Way to a Meaningful Life by the Dalai Lama, translated and edited by Jeffrey Hopkins

You can subscribe to the Dalai Lama's email list here.

I am not sure how to reconcile Ann Rynd with the Dalai Lama, yet both speak truth to me. Perhaps balance is the key.


Saratica said...

Both beautiful, both meaningful to me. But I'm schizo like you!!! Love the idea of getting rich slowly. Since I've been here, I've slowed down so much... don't even have to get rich anymore. Just enough is fine.

Jen said...

I agree, Saratica, that enough is just fine with me now. I no longer need the glitz to be OK.

Nice place to be, eh?