Topic: The Pursuit of Wealth
I hope that people still check this section out even though it doesn't get as much action, cause I'd like you guys' input on this. I wrote an open letter to a few of my friends, but I'd love to hear what y'all think.
I’ve never been comfortable with the idea of the open-ended pursuit of wealth, but never been able to articulate or understand why, so I often assumed it was do to immaturity or an incomplete perspective. Lately I’ve come to the opinion that my original instincts were correct, I just lacked the framework to explain or understand them. I’ve often heard the expression (I’ve almost certainly used it myself) “money is just a form of energy” or something to that effect, and there is obviously nothing wrong with seeking self-empowerment right? While energy can and often is used in negative ways, if you are careful and conscious, you can make sure your manifestation of energy is completely positive.
This line of thinking is seductive because it is almost true. The key is that money is not energy, rather it is symbolic of energy. This isn’t necessarily bad either. The problem is that it is a symbol which only has meaning within a system of domination and power-over, and is completely worthless in any other context. As Stan Goff said, “money is the entitlement to someone else’s labor,” although that definition is a little incomplete in our modern economy, what with the vast infusion of fossil fuel energy. It might be better (but less eloquently) said that money is the entitlement to the exploitation of other people and/or the environment. This is what our entire civilization (actually, all civilization) is based on, the creation of local good at the expense of distant harm. The more advanced the civilization, the more cleverly and distantly that harm is exported, making it all the easier to ignore and/or rationalize it. To deny this is to be completely out of touch with the basis of our economy and the reality of our relationship to the environment and life in the Third World (including, to a lesser extent, our domestic third world). This is not a superficial problem either, it is pervasive and systemic, and as such, cannot possibly be fixed within the system. Trying to heal our planet by working within the system is a bit like a crack addict thinking to solve his addiction by getting a better pipe (an imperfect analogy, but the best I could think of at the moment).
A quote from Frank Herbert (author of Dune) really crystallized all this for me:
The convoluted wording of legalisms grew up around the necessity to hide from ourselves the violence we intend toward each other. Between depriving a man of one hour from his life and depriving him of his life there exists only a difference in degree. You have done violence to him, consumed his energy. Elaborate euphemisms may conceal your intent to kill, but behind any use of power over another the ultimate assumption remains: “I feed on your energy.”
I can’t say it and clearer (and certainly not any better) than that. This is why movies and books like “The Secret” are especially scary. They are basically unmitigated, careless selfishness packaged as spirituality. It is especially frightening because it is 99% true. But, like the rat poison that is 99% sweet cookie, that other one percent is nasty stuff. The Law of Attraction is undeniable and powerful, but why does the movie focus exclusively on material wealth? Why not manifest a world where money is useless because everyone is so happy to give (i.e. a classic “gift economy,” which was the worldwide standard for the first 2 million years of human history)? Well, one big reason is that the vast majority of luxury goods, in fact the entire luxury lifestyle is predicated upon hordes of slave laborer in the third world and wholesale destruction of the environment. If you aren’t seeking luxury goods, there is absolutely no need for large amounts of money.
Followers of Steve Pavlina and the like will retort “but I say ‘for the good of all and harm none’ when I manifest money” or something like that. The problem is, that is a bit like saying “I’m only going to eat food that didn’t get it’s energy from the sun.” Even if you avoid all plants, every bit of energy you consume came from the sun at some point, however indirect its path to you. When there is an obvious conflict like this, don’t you think your subconscious (which is the pathway to the subtle realms where these effects take place) opts for the stronger desire, especially when you don’t even realize there is a conflict?
For these reasons I can’t see money as anything but a necessary evil (and only necessary in a very limited and temporary sense). I need money to eat and stay sheltered right now, and I need a fairly large amount of money in the mid to near future (to buy a small plot of land), but the purpose of that is to free me from the need for money in the future. It sucks that I even need to do that, but I can’t think of any other way to free myself from imperial bondage without abandoning my responsibilities to my daughter. The key is that there is a finite goal in mind (and a fairly modest one at that). Growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of a cancer cell, as someone smart once said. It is precisely this sort of metaphysical cancer which is destroying our home (Earth) as we speak.
Another popular line of thought is that you can use large amounts of money to do good things. For instance building schools in Zimbabwe or buying a huge plot of land to start some kind of eco-plantation. I have problems with this on a couple levels. First of all, it is like making a deal with the devil, and the devil always gets his due. Like any Faustian deal, it is necessarily based on some ego-aggrandizement too, though cleverly disguised and concealed with altruism.
Actually though, the school is very hard to argue with as a good use for lots of money, but I have yet to hear of anyone doing that for whom the amount of money involved is anything but trivial (like Oprah, for instance). The more common idea is something like the eco-plantation, or really any operation with employees, but I’ll stick with the farm cause I’m more comfortable there. If you want more land than you can actually work yourself, ask yourself why. If you need employees to work it for you, you are necessarily stealing from them unless they are partners. Almost nobody thinks of it this way (especially since the “Red” scare) but how can it be anything but? If you think that you are entitled to more simply because you already have more (it’s “my land” so I get a bigger share) than you are an are simply serving to perpetuate the class divisions that have been plaguing humanity since the dawn of agriculture. If you don’t seek this, then why bother with a big chunk of land at all. Why not manifest a good plot for your family, and use to extra energy to help others do the same. If you’re trying to get way more than you need so you can be in a position to supply others, than it seems like you are setting yourself up to be some kind of savior (which usually devolves into “ruler”) rather than a leader. Why hand out fish all day when you can build a community of fishermen?
Besides that, I’m not really comfortable with the concept of property anyway, at least not as it is currently understood. Most traditional cultures had nothing like ownership except for things you made yourself (or someone made and gave to you). How can we “own” something we had no part in creating. I can understand stewardship of the land you and your family work, and the privileges and responsibilities that come with that, but that is different than ownership and conveys a completely different attitude towards the land. Having more land than that is just feudalism no matter how you paint it.
So it all comes down to this: why should we try to manifest money when we should be manifesting a society where money is obsolete?
follow no path
all paths lead where
truth is here