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Considering Buddhism and money

KeromeKerome Love, love is mysteryThe Continent Veteran

I was wondering about this. I find that the more I am involved with my finances and planning for the future, the more thoughts of money end up kicking around in my head. It seems really easy to get attached to that. Which is obviously a bad thing as far as Buddhism is concerned.

In a way it makes me concerned about a lot of the world I see around me. There seems to be a lot of materialism and money orientation going around in the world today, even compared to say a hundred years ago when a lot of people were still very much into religion. Nowadays here in the western world people are confronted with the need to work for money in a capitalist jobs market in their teens.

It’s the pressure of living in a modern system, where economic modes of thinking are disseminated in all kinds of ways. The world becomes very clinical. I’m pretty convinced it’s not healthy.

Have you ever considered the effects of this on your own Buddhism?

Comments

  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    As a friend of mine puts it, "Sometimes, it pays to remember we're upright, walking and above ground, to reap the blessings of the day"...

    lobsterperson
  • KeromeKerome Love, love is mystery The Continent Veteran

    I have many feelings about this subject. In some ways I’m disappointed the world isn’t better organised, that people cannot follow their dreams without being subjected to these pressures. I’m sad that the world is so full of people. I’m depressed that people keep coming back to greed and personal status ladders to climb.

    I suppose I am an idealist, I’d like to see the world as a garden where we can all do the things that bring us fulfillment without worrying about paying for housing, food, or compulsory insurance.

  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator
    edited June 10

    For every wonderful idea, there will always be someone looking for the loophole, or chink in the armour, to exploit it to their end. The increase in Security measures when dealing with your own bank account, and the recent massive overhaul of Data Protection Laws, shows that sadly, that ideology is a distant and unattainable pipe dream.
    I see nothing wrong with it. In fact, I think along the same lines, but as the saying goes, "By all means call on God, but at least, row away from the rocks".

    Our local Council and community members all worked hard this year to participate in the "Britain in Bloom" regional competitions, but under the scrutiny of CCTV, it is evident that a small minority of hooligans and ne'er-do-wells will stop at nothing to ruin other people's hard work and achievements, out of sheer desire to spoil and destroy. They uproot and rip plants, destroy hanging baskets and shatter planters simply because they want to.

    Look in any sphere of business, industry Religion and Politics and to some extent, in some way, the same scenario is playing. In more subtle and sophisticated ways, certainly. But wherever you get a plus, there's a minus lurking.

    We just have to keep piling on the pluses and hope we drown the minuses eventually....

    personFosdick
  • seeker242seeker242 Zen Florida, USA Veteran

    @Kerome said:
    Have you ever considered the effects of this on your own Buddhism?

    Not really. How other people behave really has nothing to do with me. =)

  • @person said:
    With my being self employed there isn't an explicit guarantee that work will always be available. As such money can come in in waves, sometimes busy, sometimes not. I've had to learn to keep an even keel and not get excited by peaks and worried during lulls. So, for me, in some ways my work has had some benefit in developing equanimity.

    And yeah, I think having to work and think about money does have an impact on my Buddhist practice. I've thought about becoming a monk but haven't done so yet, so maybe it hasn't been so bad, working for money beats working for food enough to live.

    Society puts pressures on us today just as it did in Buddha's time. Its up to us, just as it was up to the people then, to take responsibility for our own attitudes and adjust our way of relating to it.

    Really excellent post, @person. Thank you for sharing it.

    person
  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    @seeker242 said:

    @Kerome said:
    Have you ever considered the effects of this on your own Buddhism?

    Not really. How other people behave really has nothing to do with me. =)

    That's not strictly true. How you treat people, react to them, or utilise their services has everything to do with you. If you are part of society, you have an effect, and as such, affects you.

    Consequently, your Actions have an effect on others. And the effect you have on others, bounces back at you. Life is not a one-way street, and whatever you do, creates ripples and consequences.
    So the way people behave, like it or not, DOES affect you. Unless of course, you are a self-sufficient hermit living in the wilderness.

    Which I somehow doubt.

    person
  • lobsterlobster Veteran

    @seeker242 said:

    Have you ever considered the effects of this on your own Buddhism?

    Not really. How other people behave really has nothing to do with me. =)

    I feel in the sense @seeker242 means it, our behavour is not dependent to others motivations and attachments. We may live in a money/youth/status obsessed culture. However we can be independent of such fashionable sheeple behavour.

    We are Buddha enriched ...

    personpommesetoranges
  • seeker242seeker242 Zen Florida, USA Veteran

    @lobster said:

    @seeker242 said:

    Have you ever considered the effects of this on your own Buddhism?

    Not really. How other people behave really has nothing to do with me. =)

    I feel in the sense @seeker242 means it, our behavour is not dependent to others motivations and attachments. We may live in a money/youth/status obsessed culture. However we can be independent of such fashionable sheeple behavour.

    We are Buddha enriched ...

    Yes, that's it. My personal practice is going to be the same practice, regardless of what society is doing or not doing. Still going to keep precepts either way. Still going to meditate either way, still going to make efforts to abstain from what's unskillful either way. =)

  • KeromeKerome Love, love is mystery The Continent Veteran

    @lobster said:

    @seeker242 said:

    Have you ever considered the effects of this on your own Buddhism?

    Not really. How other people behave really has nothing to do with me. =)

    I feel in the sense @seeker242 means it, our behavour is not dependent to others motivations and attachments.

    But these other people are potentially members of our Sangha. Ultimately their problems are our problems, and educating them would improve the lot of all people on the planet.

  • personperson Don't believe everything you think the void Veteran
    edited June 11

    There's a wisdom story I've heard Ajahn Brahm tell about 3 different stone masons working on a cathedral.

    During the early years of the fourteenth century the foundations of a magnificent cathedral were being laid in central Europe. The Clerk of Works was a monk who was charged with the task of supervising the work of all the labourers and artisans. This monk decided to carry out a study into the working practices of the stonemasons. He singled out three stonemasons as being representative of different attitudes towards their profession.

    He approached the first stonemason and said, “My brother, tell me about your work.”

    The stonemason stopped what he was doing for a moment and replied in a clipped voice full of anger and resentment, “As you see, I sit here in front of my block of stone. It measures a metre, by half a metre, by half a metre. And with every blow of my chisel against the block I feel as though I am chipping away a part of my life. Look, my hands are callused and hard. My face is lined and my hair is grey. This work is never-ending, the same day in, day out. It wears me out. Where”s my satisfaction? I”ll be dead long before the cathedral is even a quarter finished.”

    The monk approached the second stonemason. “Brother,” he said, “tell me about your work.”

    “Brother,” replied the stonemason in a soft, even voice, “as you see, I sit here in front of my block of stone. It measures a metre, by half a metre, by half a metre. And with every stroke of my chisel against the block I sense I am carving out a life and a future. Look, how I am able to shelter my family in a comfortable house, far better than that in which I grew up. My children attend school. No doubt they will look forward to even more in life than I do. All this is made possible by my work. As I give to the cathedral through my skill, the cathedral gives to me.”

    The monk approached the third stonemason. “Brother,” he said, “tell me about your work.”

    “Brother,” replied the stonemason smiling and in a voice full of joy,” as you see, I sit here in front of my block of stone. It measures a metre, by half a metre, by half a metre. And with every caress of my chisel against the block I know I am shaping my destiny. Look, see how the beauty trapped within the form of this stone begins to emerge. Sitting here, I am celebrating not only my craft and the skills of my profession, but I am contributing to everything that I value and believe in, a universe – represented by the cathedral – where each gives of his best for the benefit of all. Here at my block I am at peace with who I am, and I am grateful that, although I will never see the completion of this great cathedral, it will still stand a thousand years from now, a beacon celebrating what is truly worthy in all of us, and a testament to the purpose for which the Almighty has put me on this earth.”

    The monk went away and reflected on what he had heard. He slept more peacefully that night than he had ever done, and the next day he resigned his commission as Clerk of Works and apprenticed himself to the third stonemason.

    I also remember a Hidden Brain podcast about finding meaning in work (transcript). The example I'm thinking about was hospital janitors. For some it was just a way to make money, but for some others they took it as if they were also part of the patient care. They would occasionally rearrange the patients room (artwork, etc.), make sure it was clean for their visitors, make sure the ceiling above the bed was clean. Just as in the story of the stonemasons the janitors who thought of themselves as helping in the patients healing, were happier and more fulfilled with their work.

    VEDANTAM: Presumably, they were just swabbing floors, dusting, mopping, doing cleaning crew type stuff.

    WRZESNIEWSKI: Exactly. And in the second group, they had also talked about all of these kinds of things but in addition talked about the kinds of things that they did on a regular basis for and with nurses, doctors, patients and patients' visitors. And we checked this multiple times, but this was not something that they were being asked to do. Often these kinds of things were going beyond the notice of those who supervised them in the hospital in which they worked. But for the cleaners who engaged in this, we ended up calling this job crafting. They were crafting the boundaries of their jobs in ways that we think made the work for them more meaningful, was something that they very much undertook on their own.

    Jeffreylobster
  • seeker242seeker242 Zen Florida, USA Veteran

    @Kerome said:
    But these other people are potentially members of our Sangha. Ultimately their problems are our problems, and educating them would improve the lot of all people on the planet.

    Definitely, but helping others is already the default Buddhist way to begin with. Helping others is already part of the practice, even if society at large is overly attached to money and material things etc., or not, that would still be the case either way =)

    lobster
  • lobsterlobster Veteran

    It’s the pressure of living in a modern system, where economic modes of thinking are disseminated in all kinds of ways. The world becomes very clinical. I’m pretty convinced it’s not healthy.

    You noticed? :p

    I stopped watching TV and its adverts or reading consumerist magazines. The economic dissemination still impacts, youtube is now inundating uploaded content with targeted advertising. I believe you can pay not to be brainwashed, which is ironic.

    Mindfulness does not mean a mind full of garbage.
    GIGO as we used to say in computing. Garbage In, Garbage Out.

    Mindfulness is a process.
    and now a message from my sponsor

  • FoibleFullFoibleFull Canada Veteran

    We have been raised to believe that happiness comes from outside of ourselves, so it is easy to become materialistic. It sounds SO easy ... just get the right "things" in life, and happiness is supposedly guaranteed.
    It would be nice if it was that easy.

    And because life is uncertain, we often seek safety from this uncertainty, by seeking financial security. Part of the Buddhist practice is to recognize when we are seeking "ground under our feet" (as Pema Chodron puts it) ... a relief from our fear about uncertainty and impermanence. So the more we seek TO find security, the less we are able to relax into uncertainty.

    Also, our brain spits out whatever we put into it. The more we attend to something, the more it becomes an automatic habit for our brain pathways. This is why Buddhism is not just when you sit on your meditation cushion, but a 24/7 activity. The more you feed Buddhism into your mind, the more that is what comes out of your subconscious.

    lobsterShoshinperson
  • lobsterlobster Veteran

    I feel this someone sent me, is relevant ...

    It discusses a people and community centric model, that value the customer and employees.

    Sounds good to me ...

    personShoshin
  • JasonJason God Emperor Arrakis Moderator

    @Kerome said:
    I was wondering about this. I find that the more I am involved with my finances and planning for the future, the more thoughts of money end up kicking around in my head. It seems really easy to get attached to that. Which is obviously a bad thing as far as Buddhism is concerned.

    In a way it makes me concerned about a lot of the world I see around me. There seems to be a lot of materialism and money orientation going around in the world today, even compared to say a hundred years ago when a lot of people were still very much into religion. Nowadays here in the western world people are confronted with the need to work for money in a capitalist jobs market in their teens.

    It’s the pressure of living in a modern system, where economic modes of thinking are disseminated in all kinds of ways. The world becomes very clinical. I’m pretty convinced it’s not healthy.

    Have you ever considered the effects of this on your own Buddhism?

    Yes. It's often why I sometimes wish to enter a monastery somewhere. The modern way of doing things doesn't seem healthy to me, and I find myself unhappy most of the time.

  • ZenshinZenshin East Midlands UK Veteran

    This kind of relates to a personal decision I made this week, when I was first ill with Schizophrenia I was in a right state, my CMHT and support workers got me high rate disability living allowance which was worth about an extra £700 a month on top of standard social security rates, I was given it for life. After a few years due to a change in meds and cutting out most of my boozing I got better, the money was still coming in and I did nothing to change that - mainly spent most of it on video games, dharma books and computer hardware. I had a welfare review this week, I could have not showered, shaved or changed my clothes for a month and gone in pretending I'm to paranoid to go out and spend all day staring at the wall and got the extra money easily - a lot of people do, I didn't go to the review so they will cut the extra moneyand felt really happy afterwards and my meditation has improved no end.

    When I was involved in drugs, all my stoner friends faked mental illness so they didn't have to work and got disability, I didn't and ended up with a mental illness. My conclusion I'd rather be poor and honest when it came down to it. I feel better for not violating the precepts by blagging.

    federicalobsterpersonShoshin
  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator
    edited June 22

    Proud of you, @Zenshin .... <3

    To quote @Bunks , quoting the Dhammapada...

    Think not lightly of good, saying, “It will not come to me.”
    Drop by drop is the water pot filled.
    Likewise, the wise one, gathering it little by little,
    fills oneself with good.

    Dhammapada 9.122

  • lobsterlobster Veteran

    Bravo @Zenshin

    Inspiring for us crazies. We will be made A Whole =)
    lot better by our efforts. <3

    Iz plan. Stay sane. B)

  • DairyLamaDairyLama Veteran

    There are always choices to be made. These days I'm content with a simple and cheap lifestyle.

    federicalobster
  • DavidDavid some guy Veteran

    For me it pays to remember money is just a means to some ends and not the goal itself.

    I still get pretty stressed out about the finances. At this rate I won't ever retire.

    lobsterShoshin
  • lobsterlobster Veteran

    Whenever I get caught up in money worries, I give thanks for what I do have, and I end up feeling rich.

    Keep up the frugal enrichment. Give away what you don't need.
    https://www.freecycle.org/

    Become enriched <3

    Quidditch
  • Lee82Lee82 Veteran

    It’s funny, I have to work harder and earn more, to have more money to be able to do less, take it easy and not concern myself with money!

    I would love to have a caravan in SW Scotland, my favourite place in the world with some incredible remote and beautiful places to retreat from the world. But I’ll have to work very hard for the next few years to make a family retreat like that a reality.

    lobsterpersonadamcrossley
  • personperson Don't believe everything you think the void Veteran

    @Lee82 said:
    It’s funny, I have to work harder and earn more, to have more money to be able to do less, take it easy and not concern myself with money!

    I would love to have a caravan in SW Scotland, my favourite place in the world with some incredible remote and beautiful places to retreat from the world. But I’ll have to work very hard for the next few years to make a family retreat like that a reality.

    I have a dream of living in an RV, moving around the country as I like. I was in the Arizona recently, out in the desert, and came across a group of nomads living simply out on public land. My family that I was with didn't have a very favorable opinion of them but I had a sense of wanting to join them.

    Lee82federica
  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    There was a programme on TV in the UK a while ago about a community living on land that had once been used, I believe, for military exercises... They didn't use any amenities, so paid no taxes, and were as self sufficient as you could get... I forget how they actually ate and drank, but it was a seemingly blissful existence, with no ties... bit tough, rough and ready though...

  • KeromeKerome Love, love is mystery The Continent Veteran

    @federica said:
    There was a programme on TV in the UK a while ago about a community living on land that had once been used, I believe, for military exercises... They didn't use any amenities, so paid no taxes, and were as self sufficient as you could get... I forget how they actually ate and drank, but it was a seemingly blissful existence, with no ties... bit tough, rough and ready though...

    Sounds pretty cool. I was moving house and ended up with many boxes of stuff, everything from linen sheets to kitchenware. It’s amazing how much stuff we accumulate.

  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    @Kerome said:

    @federica said:
    There was a programme on TV in the UK a while ago about a community living on land that had once been used, I believe, for military exercises... They didn't use any amenities, so paid no taxes, and were as self sufficient as you could get... I forget how they actually ate and drank, but it was a seemingly blissful existence, with no ties... bit tough, rough and ready though...

    Sounds pretty cool. I was moving house and ended up with many boxes of stuff, everything from linen sheets to kitchenware. It’s amazing how much stuff we accumulate.

    It is said (and I believe it, because I've tried it, and it's true as far as I am concerned) that if you pack a box with stuff you hardly use, and you leave it in the loft or garage for 6 months - if you can't remember what's in the box, you never needed it anyway. If you've lived without it for 6 months without missing it.... then a lifetime won't make any difference, will it?

    Got rid of so much extraneous stuff.
    I have 2 sets of bedlinen in constant use. Wash one, use the other. I have a spare set, still in its original packet, never used yet, but there 'just in case'.
    If I have family staying, (actually, the only 'family' who comes to stay is my daughter and grandson!) they know well enough to either bring their own bedding, or use a sleeping bag. They have absolutely no problem doing that...

    lobsterQuidditch
  • QuidditchQuidditch Earth Explorer

    @federica that's a good idea... And then I can give away a box of mystery items away on freecycle! :awesome:

  • adamcrossleyadamcrossley Veteran
    edited June 30

    @federica said:
    There was a programme on TV in the UK a while ago about a community living on land that had once been used, I believe, for military exercises... They didn't use any amenities, so paid no taxes, and were as self sufficient as you could get... I forget how they actually ate and drank, but it was a seemingly blissful existence, with no ties... bit tough, rough and ready though...

    @Lee82 said:
    I would love to have a caravan in SW Scotland, my favourite place in the world with some incredible remote and beautiful places to retreat from the world. But I’ll have to work very hard for the next few years to make a family retreat like that a reality.

    How about establishing a NewBuddhist commune? Fields of organic vegetables, a meditation hall, secluded hermitages, a retreat centre to bring in some money... It’s fanciful but not impossible.

    Kundo
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