Some questions are interesting and often asked by people who don’t have enough experience. When I came across this question and the answer, I just marvelled at the insights of this person. It is worth reading the whole answer.
The question is – Is Getting Rich worth it? And the answer is by Regis Chapman, a Yoga and Meditation teacher. I would highly recommend reading the answers by others as well, specially by two people who got rich and their experience of it.
Having grown up in a sort of split way- with a millionaire father and an on-welfare mother; I feel qualified to speak on this issue. I also grew up in another way that can be considered to be split (at least in my mind). Before I knew myself and after.
I saw a very unhappy father and a very unhappy mother. Rich or poor, didn’t seem to matter. I sought an answer to this in most of my adult life. I sought it in the arms of women and in athletic achievements.
After I made my years-long effort to become rich (thinking my father’s life strategy to be valid) via Internet startup in the 1990’s and 2000’s Silicon Valley boom time, I reached a nadir in the months following my startup failure (where I had stock options) while playing Diablo 2 for 8 months until I could grasp the reality of needing to work at a $15/hour job again. This is something I resisted out of some kind of false pride.
During that low-paying tech support job I had a huge existential crisis that lead me to living in an ashram for several years. After 3 years of working in that job, I was fired, and finally got to undergo a process that ancient generations would know as an initiation ritual. I died to my old self and my old strategies about getting my needs met. Thus, I was able to discover other ways.
Essentially, I lost or gave away everything and lived in a shed without heat or power for 2 years. All the while, my daily schedule involved yoga, meditation and being taught by a very strict teacher in the traditional Indian way.
Anything I tried to hold onto dissappeared. My whole comic book collection was stolen, and I lost all my personal effects from my early life almost entirely over the last decade.
It seems to me that many people need to undergo a process like that, but lack any means to do so in modern culture- lacking almost all apprenticeship or a cultural layer of mentors to allow us to grow out of being children.
I am starting a yoga center where these things are understood, apprenticeship is encouraged, mentors are available and that the reluctance to undergo any small discomfort can be overcome.
I shudder to think what would have happened to me had I NOT undergone these (widely considered negative on the face of it) transformational processes that allowed me to understand my own inner self.
What if I HAD changed in my stock options for millions of dollars like the current “top” answerer? I knew little or nothing of myself and I would have probably become as listless and unmotivated as that Anon User. SO MUCH is possible with monetary leverage, but when one is concerned only with meeting one’s own needs, I can see why a huge gaping void might appear to be sitting in front of such success.As I have moved through life and become more mature, I grasp now that the process of maturity is what will allow one to be capable of surviving such prosperity. Yoga and spiritual (or, if you like, internal) transformations with a good and mature teacher can allow even those most listless and unmotivated to come to know themselves again and regain the meaning in their lives.
It did take some years to figure out how to not be motivated by spite (I’ll show THEM!) in any way and to get in touch with some more authentic motivation.
Now, I can say that if I won the lottery (a fool’s bet to be sure), that I could handle it and indeed use such a windfall to make the lives of those around me and even those I don’t know so well, better. I would know the difference between strategies to meet my needs and selfish desires. I can allow others to get their needs met in different ways than I am comfortable with and I can allow others to interact with me and thus dropping off my various neuroses and character defects.
My happiness is not dependent on any external thing anymore. I believe that our entire cultural reference ASSUMES that external money, validation, etc. forms the basis of happiness- and we strive toward this- but my spiritual training taught me that happiness is simply not contained in any object or achievement. My wife being an Olympic medalist 20+ years ago has also taught me a huge lesson in this respect.
If happiness was in external objects; for example, a chocolate cake would make us happy even when we are nauseous, and a 50 carat diamond ring would make us happy when we are falling to our death without a parachute.
My happiness is derived from a clear sense of self, removed even from the workings of the senses; relatively free from believing my own thoughts and free from being attached to the body/mind complex generally. Even death is understood and welcomed here.
Additionally, my left brain now has a place I can hang it on. A philosophical and inclusive “peg”, so to speak, upon which all the questions that are perpetually asked by the always-on mind can be hung. Not all answers are obvious or pretty, but they fit in an encompassing and inclusive philosophy. Like The Dude, I can just abide in most any situation.
It seems to me that philosophical thinking produces a more flexible and adaptable mind than the common Western cultural pragmatism or the sort of focus we see from many money-focused businesspeople or even athletes. It’s nice here, and we welcome you.
“Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing, there is a field. I’ll meet you there.”- Rumi
This field is where happiness also lives. This is the same field that lay between likes and dislikes. As a yogi, I have trained my mind to be relatively free of these things. In poverty and in wealth, the idea is to remain the same.
I can’t remember any time when our culture (or even our religion) told us THAT story, or gave us THAT as an option. I certainly met no one along my road of life who told me this directly, and only a few times even with an emotional connection like the love of my great-grandmother, for example.