Thursday, February 01, 2007

What money really means

Guest commentary from Stuart:

You only have this life – and it’s going fast,
so why not salvage the remnants of the New Year spirit
and make 2007 the year you bring some powerful changes
into your life? But how?

It all seems so complicated and confusing. There are ten
thousand different things we could choose. Whereas our
ancestors were paralysed by their limited circumstances,
we are paralysed by too much choice.

Here’s a tip. Start by dividing your life into four
areas by making these statements:

“I want to live.”
“I want to love.”
“I want to learn.”
“I want to leave a legacy.”

They pretty much cover everything we are about as humans
and they are powerful headings.

‘To live’ covers our material needs – food, shelter,
clothes and the things we need to survive these days –
cars, telephones etc. It is to do with money; the
subject of this newsletter. What do you want to do this
year to improve your finances?

But money isn’t everything (golly, that’s original!).

‘To Love’ concerns our human relationships, without
which we (literally) could not survive. Often we push
these relationships to 2nd or 3rd place which is a huge
mistake. What do you want to do this year to improve
your relationships?

‘To learn’ means what it says. If you are not growing in
knowledge and wisdom, you are dying. You can’t have too
much of either. What are you going to learn this year?
Why not make plans today to make that happen, instead of
it being just a vague, arm-waving ‘one day’ wish?

‘To leave a legacy’ is to ask yourself the all-important
question: “What am I about? What do I wish to be
remembered for?” This essentially human quality is our
search for meaning. Victor Frankl discovered that the
difference between life and death in the Nazi camps was
whether or not a prisoner could make some meaning out of
his suffering. No other species has this take on life.
So, you’ve lived a few years already, what does your
life add up to? If not much more than a ‘hill of beans’
then what steps are you going to take, now, today, to
change that?

Big questions – needing big answers.

Last night whilst driving back from Epson quite late I
heard a Radio 4 programme. I forget the title, but the
theme was powerfully anti-wealth.

It was a collection of 'spiritual' quotes and poems
juxtaposed with some gorgeous music. Think "It is easier
for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than it
is for a rich man to go to heaven" with the choir of St
Cuspins Under Wold singing psalms in the background… and
you have the idea.

Actually I enjoyed the programme but found myself
wondering why so many 'sages through the ages' have had
this anti-wealth mentality. I think I know why. When I
listened carefully, wealth (riches) was always of the
'heaps of gold in the vault' variety. In other words,
the mere amassing of money for its own sake was seen as
'a bad thing'.

Hold the presses! The modern equivalent might be five
cars, three houses, eleven wrist watches, 200 dresses or
suits and millions in the bank doing nothing. But I have
never advocated accumulating wealth like this. Surely it
is very shallow and the sages are right? But on the
programme there was not a word, not a whisper of the
POWER that money can bring. This is because religions
(sages, etc.) are not big on 'power to the people'. They
prefer subservient, timid, 'meek and mild' sheep - but I
won't go too far down that route!

I have always said, and will keep saying, that money is
not for accumulating sparkling baubles to amuse
ourselves with. Money is for putting out your energy
into the world with POWER - making a big difference
through your own particular vision. That can be saving
the whale or the Sudanese orphans. It can be creating a
world-beating company or finding a cure for Huntingdon's

And here's the point. Almost any vision you have which
is worthwhile will take money - actually, very large
amounts of it in some cases. That's what money is for -
and that's why you can't get enough of the green folding
stuff. On the radio programme, concerning this positive,
noble, empowering use of money there was… total silence.

The 'anti-wealth' brigade (usually religious, it has to be said)
almost never say anything about the good uses
of money.

It's almost as if they see money as entirely
bad, totally corrupting and merely associated
with the greedy accumulation of 'things' -
worldly possessions if you like. Yes, it can be
used for this and often is by people with small
imaginations. I am, for example, slightly
acquainted with a very senior Thai minister who
will remain nameless.

He flies around in a private jet (at tax
payer's expense of course) and spends £20k a night
on roulette (I can't imagine where that money came from!)
whilst his wife spends the equivalent in
'designer' shops - each day!!! How sick is that? What a
complete and utter waste of a life. This is the
sort of flagrant abuse of cash which I'm sure
the religious zealots love to target - and they
are right.

I also have to report that she is one very,
very unhappy woman. But surely there's more to
money than buying a lot of silly toys to amuse
ourselves with? What is your particular dream?
Or, let me ask do you have a 'bee in your
bonnet' over something? A passion? A wrong
you'd like to see righted?

Think what serious money (in the millions)
could do to make your dream a reality. That's
what money is for, not for shiny baubles. But
you have been trained from the cradle that
money is evil and power is bad.

I believe that is done to keep you docile and
compliant but I don't have time to develop that
theme here. It is no wonder that you spend your
life chasing small-minded goals (new sofa,
flat-screen TV, a slightly larger house, better
car) when the glory which is your passion
remains repressed.

So I want you to have a serious think about
this money business, what it's for in your
life. Buying more 'stuff' or putting out your
positive energy into the world? Power (real
power to change the world and people's lives
for the better) or Possessions? Your choice.

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