Thursday, July 29, 2010

Money and God

For several years I gave an annual talk for The Applied Philosophy Institute in Sunnyvale, California. One year the topic was "Money and God." Almost everyone in the audience had deep feelings about the subject. I struggled to bring God and money together in the same breath. One businessman wanted to make it simple. He said, "Money is God. Anything you can say about God, you can also say about money."

"What do you mean?" I responded. "Well, think of the traditional statements about God," he said. "Okay. God is love. God is everywhere. God is infinite. God is all-powerful," I remarked.

"That's it!" he said with delight. "Money is love. Money is everywhere. Money is infinite. Money is all-powerful. People treat you as if they love you when you have lots of money. Everywhere I go there's money -- an ATM machine or bank in every part of the world. Money is so powerful we go to war and give up our lives for it. And, since money is abstract, we can create infinite numbers out of it. Therefore Money is like God, Money is God."

This businessman was serious. He was also deeply disturbed by his position. He was admitting an awesome truth that most people would not take seriously.

Ultimately, all investments start with how we use time. Some say "Time is money." Time is more fundamental then money, and a little closer to God and life. Life is the time we have, so use time well.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Reality as-it-is

Reality just is as-it-is. Realize unity with reality, and let the distinguishing mind subside. Become still within; even while life continues in the world. Strengthen the platform: the body. Eat good food, exercise, and feed the mind good ideas from within and beyond. This sustains contact with reality. (For much darkness, despair and illusion is simply weakness of the body.)

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Consumerism, community, creativity & consciousness

Consumerism is currently the global religion. We measure the success of our personal lives, the economy and our society by their ability to produce and consume goods and services. So strong is this perspective that little time is left for creativity, community, and consciousness. This is a great imbalance that throws us at odds with the health of the Earth.

The good life is narrowed to the consumer perspective. It is a self reinforcing cycle. Work, produce, and consume; this cycle transforms every aspect of life into a consumable commodity. Raising children is now done by professionals and less by parents. Even those professionals who baby-sit and teach young children are paid very low wages.

Consumerism is not an absolute law of nature. We can shift the cultural center of gravity toward community, creativity and consciousness. Indeed, that is the task at hand.

Begin with consciousness. That is why meditation is important – so that we may have minds clear enough to see, feel, hear our situation without judgment.

Consciousness naturally promotes creativity. Being creative is a joy in itself. It’s true that we are “made in the image of the Creator”. And, the Creator creates. We, too, can create; that means each and every one of us; not only the experts or entertainers on stage.

Creativity naturally promotes community. That is to share our creations. Like children who want to share their dances, paintings with parents and friends.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Mystical woodland walks

Sometimes I find life kind of overwhelming. On those days, I really like to go to the woods. There’s a place I go to in Mill Valley, a walk that takes about 35 to 45 minutes that ends at a waterfall, and I delight in taking this walk. At the waterfall, I can smell the air of the forest, and sometimes the fresh air of the ocean not too far way, meeting at the same place. The process of walking here is like shedding layers of clothes, shedding the cares of life, and slipping, falling, surrendering to meditation, a sense of unity, where self and Universe become one, and I cannot know whether the Universe creates me, or I create the Universe. It is just so, it is just this. And in having this experience, this meditation, I feel revived, cleansed, new.

In truth, I can often have the same experience in my own room, a place that’s quiet, and just let myself settle down, settle down and fall into that state of being present, fully in the moment at hand. So a mystical woodland walk can happen anywhere, even in one’s apartment, or home, or perhaps in some quiet room in a coffeehouse.

The above text is based on an audio snapshot recorded with a Sony microcassete recorder, passed the audio to my computer, edited it, and converted to mp3. The sound is poor, but you can hear the waterfall in the background. It's raw and real - in the spirit of being in the woods.