August 3, 2020

What we can learn from monks

Before I really get going with these posts, I figure I should share my current view of money. I think it can best be summed up by a short story about a monk and a minister:

Two close boyhood friends grow up and go their separate ways. One becomes a humble monk, the other a rich and powerful minister to the king.

Years later they meet.  As they catch up, the minister (in his fine robes) takes pity on the thin, shabby monk. 

Seeking to help, he says:
“You know, if you could learn to cater to the king you wouldn’t have to live on rice and beans.”

To which the monk replies:
“If you could learn to live on rice and beans you wouldn’t have to cater to the king.”

Neither one is right or wrong. As an individual, each of us tend to fall somewhere in between. I know I would personally favor the monk, in case that wasn’t obvious already.

I also recently read The Art of Happiness which combines many teachings from the Dalai Lama with insight and research from a western psychiatrist. If you have been looking for a way to clear your head, I recommend checking it out. Anyway, in the book, the Dalai Lama gives a quote that is worth thinking a bit about. It simply says, “the smart person accepts, the idiot insists”. In other words, someone smart will meet every opportunity or start every reply with “yes and ….” whereas the idiot would come back with “no but ….”. If you learn to take things as they come and adapt to the situation around you, you will become very successful no matter what you do. However, if you are stubborn and don’t allow changes to occur naturally, it will be much more difficult to achieve success or even be liked by your peers due to your cynicism. While it may be a slight stretch, I see the story above as an example of this, with the minister as the idiot. One look at the monk and he insists there is a better way to live without considering that the monk may be happy as he is. The monk on the other hand accepts this critique and offers an alternative to the minister. Certainly not everyone is going to value the same things but nobody was meant to live as a slave, whether it be to another person, thing, or corporation. Determining your values and what truly makes you happy is fundamentally important in itself but also serves as motivation to become independent and achieve what you want out of life.

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