Here’s a thought I had:
Recently, I saw some teenagers and a thought came to me of some advice I would like to of given them. The more I thought about it the more interesting it got. I started off by wanting to give them this advice:
“Don’t make money run your life.”
Its true that we all need money to survive but we want to avoid it having control over us. There needs to be a balance that is achieved. There is a time and place for money and there is a time and place without money. One doesn’t want to make it the focus of life. To make money run your life is to live a degraded life, in my opinion. It basically causes you to become something like a puppet to it and, in so doing, you cease to live and be a person.
THE CONTROL OF MONEY
I see three ways where money can have control over a person:
- When you are poor you are controlled by the lack of money. In other words, not having money makes a person have to need money and, accordingly, a person then is controlled by it, out of necessity.
- Neither rich or poor, but average income, where ones attitude and how one manages affairs dictates how controlled a person is. This is the “middle path”. Here a person wavers between rich and poor. This is usually where most of the population is located. Often, people here are the least controlled by money. Its not uncommon that a person has to learn how to do this though. Many people have problems with this.
- When you are rich you are controlled by what money can buy. Life becomes a matter of spending money. It then begins to dictate what you do and how you live. It can even begin to dictate how you view yourselves and your position with other people (like a class struggle or a “keeping up with the Joneses”).
What we see, then, is that people who are rich are just as controlled by money as poor people, but in a different way. In fact, I’d say most rich people are slaves to money. Many, though, don’t see that. In many ways, this is the problem with being rich, you’re controlled but you don’t realize it whereas when you are poor you know it. Overall, being either poor or rich, they both seem to lead to a controlled life. The greatest opportunity to not be controlled by money is usually in the “middle path” . . .
The middle path
The best path, in my opinion, is in the middle, neither rich or poor. Typically, this means that a person makes an average wage . . . nothing spectacular. You’re usually making what most people make. This is why another advice I would give is:
“Get the ideas out of your head of owning mansions and expensive cars.”
In other words, don’t think in a rich way and try to not make your plans in life involve money. In short, if you don’t think rich you don’t expect to be rich. To take the middle path a person needs to take a middle path perspective and attitude.
I must also point out that, to take the middle path, a person must be in a situation that is conducive to this path, the “middle path condition”. In many cases, this condition is threatened because a person is pulled or threatened into the poor condition or, oddly enough, they may even be pulled to the wealthy end. This being pulled or threatened to either condition tends to upset the “middle path condition” and tends to undermine it. If this does happen the “middle path condition” can be harder to achieve than it seems. What this shows is that the “middle path condition” tends to require a constancy. You can’t be pulled back and forth between different conditions.
Making an average wage, though, creates a condition where a person is always in need in their lives. They need money to pay bills, to buy foods, etc., etc. This creates something like a “pressure” that one feels, like a great burden on ones shoulders.
This “pressure”, we must remember, is a normal condition. All living things feel this “pressure” in one way or another: plants, insects, mammals, etc. When you walk into the forest, for example, what you’re seeing is plants fighting for the rays of the sun and the nutrients of the soil. In addition, insects, animals, and other living things are continually seeking food. When you see insects flying or crawling around that’s what they’re doing. When you see squirrels scurrying around and jumping from branch to branch that’s what they’re doing. All nature is filled with this “pressure” because all living things are in need. If we could tap even a small amount of the energy of this “pressure”, found in living things, it would probably supply power to the whole world! In short, all living things are in a continuous never ending need. We are all seeking. That’s the way it is and that is the condition of life. This means, more or less, that the “pressure” is a normal part of life. In a sense, life is about the “pressure”. Looking at it that way, we could very well say that a person does not live unless there is “pressure”. Therefore, depriving oneself of “pressure” deprives a person of life and living. This means, then, that there is more to “pressure” than what it seems. It isn’t just a burden, a weight, a worry . . . its a source of life!
In this way, becoming rich is a way to deprive oneself of life and living because it deprives one of the “pressure”. Being poor, on the other hand, as if “drains” a person of life, the “pressure” is now too great. In both cases, a loss of life takes place. It seems that the reason why the middle way is better is because of the “pressure” that exists there and that it is the source of life . . . one is neither deprived of it or overwhelmed by it.
This “pressure” can be described as having several qualities:
- It has a great seriousness to it.
- Its continuously present.
- It is never ending.
In some sense, its like a great shadow that hangs over us all the time, throughout our whole lives. There’s no escaping it. If one thinks they have escaped it then they are only deceiving themselves. In this way, “pressure” is something one lives with.
Struggling with “pressure”
Many people struggle with this “pressure” and for many different reasons. Some of these include:
- Personality. Some peoples character may predispose them to being oversensitive to “pressure”.
- Social conditions. Various social conditions may predispose people to a greater or lesser sense of “pressure”. Some social structures can do this as well as things like a “class struggle” and even some qualities of culture. Various form of competition tends to intensify it as well.
- Actual conditions. Difficult conditions, such as bordering on poverty or uncertainty about ones future, may intensify the “pressure”.
- Uncertainty. Often, one is unclear of the severity of the “pressure”. It seems that uncertainty about “pressure”, and what it may mean, often causes an intensification of the “pressure”. In some ways, this may be the worst form of “pressure” . . . of knowing about it but not knowing its severity. Sometimes, the struggle with “pressure” is imaginary. At other times, its not as bad as it seems. And still, at other times, it is a real legitimate concern. Sometimes its hard to tell if ones worries are truly real.
The struggle with “pressure” may cause people to do things like these:
- It makes some people despair and become hopeless.
- It makes some people apathetic, not wanting to do anything.
- It makes some people dream of being rich.
- Some people will try to be rich in order to alleviate the feeling of “pressure” (this can be done legally and illegally).
- They learn to “manage” it.
So we see that there are many different responses to it, ranging from good to bad. It seems, to me, that a significant way of dealing with “pressure” is by managing it . . .
Some of the ways to “manage” the “pressure” include:
- Making concessions. This basically amounts to having modest wants. It includes things like not having expensive tastes, no frivolous spending, buying modest things, etc.
- Developing the right attitude and ways. This includes things like not expecting to be rich, accepting conditions, learning to be modest, etc.
- Accepting the fact that, in life, a person is always in need . . . accept the “pressure” and live with it. This seems to be a difficult thing to do sometimes.
- Have or develop a belief system that gives meaning to life and life’s struggles. In many cases, this is religious or religious-like. Often, it develops as a result of experience.
- Learning how to manage ones life so that its conditions are in your favor. This generally requires some know-how and experience. Some people may be better at this than others. This can also help maintain the constancy of the “middle path condition”.
Doing things, like these, allows one to live in the presence of “pressure” but not to be overwhelmed by it.
NECESSARY AND DEEPER WEALTH
It seems, to me, that there are different forms of wealth:
- Necessary wealth. This is wealth that is necessary to survive. It includes what money can buy (food, clothing, shelter, etc.) and other necessary things (such as air, the ability to move around, sight, and such).
- Deeper wealth. This is wealth that is “deeper”. It is a wealth found beyond necessary wealth and money. It cannot be bought. It tends to be an interior sense that can border, at times, with being spiritual-like. In actuality, this is the greatest of wealth’s. In fact, in my opinion, this is the wealth that a person should most seek.
To me, there is a relationship between these two wealth’s. This is because both are necessary. I’d describe necessary wealth as having a quality of a foundation. Upon this foundation is built deeper wealth. This describes a relationship, that they both work together: deeper wealth requires necessary wealth to survive and necessary wealth allows deeper wealth to be meaningful.
It seems that “managing” the “pressure” tends to develop the meaning and value of deeper wealth. This is because the “pressure” is rooted in life and living, as I said above: life is found in the “pressure”. And we must remember that deeper wealth is “deep” because it is beyond things and hits deeper into ones soul. Because of this, there is a close association between “pressure”, deeper wealth, and life. Therefore, by “managing” the “pressure” one finds “deeper wealth” by “living”. It does this by doing these things:
- It allows us to “tap” the life that is found in “pressure”.
- It allows us to not be overwhelmed by “pressure”.
- It allows us to live beyond “pressure” and find deeper wealth and life.
In so doing, we tend to live a life beyond money and a life where it does not control us.
“PRESSURE”, THE SELF, AND OTHERS
It is harder to deal with “pressure” when one has a family or is responsible for other people. It would probably be more accurate to say that it gives it a new depth and meaning. This is because of things like these:
- The concern over other people makes it more serious.
- There is actually a disconnect because other people are not a part of ones self. One is “acting on the behalf” of other people, so to speak.
- Its based more in an abstract instinctual need. Typically, when on has a responsibility for other people it has an instinctual-like basis, such as in a family or an extended family (such as ones country) . . . one doesn’t just automatically feel a bond with strangers where there is no instinctual bond. This instinctual connection creates a bond that is “abstract” because it connects ones self with other people who are separate and removed from you. Its a “bond at a distance”, so to speak.
In short, other people tends to create more of a “pull” often making the “pressure” worse. Sometimes it can become so overbearing that it causes problems. Many people may struggle with it and it may stress some people out.
But, we must also point out that since life and living is found in the “pressure”, having responsibility for others is often a great source of living. For some people it is the source of living and is what make life matter.
LIVING WITH “PRESSURE” AND “PERSONHOOD”
In many ways, the issue of money (at least in the “middle path condition”) really revolves around living with “pressure”. This means that dealing with “pressure”, as well as managing it, are critical aspects in life. I think I’d go on to say that a significant part of ones happiness in life revolve around how one manages and lives with “pressure”. In other words, for most people, money isn’t the issue, they just think it is. My observation is that, for most people, money is seldom the problem they think it is. More often than not, it is about “pressure”. It seems that the more problems you have with “pressure” the more problems you will have with life and, probably, the more unhappy you will be.
There appears to be an innate recoiling tendency against “pressure”. That is to say, a person as if automatically dislikes and avoids it. In many ways, this is the problem of “pressure” and why we struggle with it. This dislike makes us struggle not only with it but often against it. Many people end up fighting against the “pressure”, treating it as something like a threat. They often become bitter, preoccupied with money, and develop images in their minds of an “impending tragedy”, as if the world is going to come to an end. This is even though they, in actuality, are not “hurting”. This is a good example of how “pressure”, or the inability to manage it, can greatly deteriorate life and cause unnecessary despair.
But this same innate recoiling tendency probably hides one of the reasons why “pressure” is so important in life. The reason why: the innate recoiling forces a person to confront life. In other words, the recoiling tendency places a burden on a persons self that “wakens a person to life”, so to speak. In this way, ones self is “awakened” and, accordingly, one is forced to “live” as a person-in-the-world. What this shows is that “pressure” is closely related with “personhood” and that this is associated with the recoiling against “pressure”. So we see this pattern:
need>>>”pressure”>>>recoiling tendency>>>self is awakened>>>living>>>personhood
In many ways, the recoiling tendency is the self “being forced to be awake”. It seems, to me, that many people do not “awaken” primarily because they allow themselves to be recoiled and avoid the “pressure”. Looking at things from this angle, we could say that deeper wealth and life are found by the self being awakened, often forcibly, by need and “pressure”. This makes one a person-in-the-world and develops “personhood”. When money controls you (by having too little or too much) this is hindered or even prevented.
Copyright by Mike Michelsen