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Personal finance, attachment, and suffering–a short reflection

I’ve been reading the Dalai Lama’s book An Open Heart. (Since he was in DC, I pulled it off my “unread books” pile.)

I found an interesting point today, something which I think would resonate with those in the PF world. He suggested that we have compassion for those who are very rich and very beautiful just as we might for those who are very poor or very ugly. Because, in the end, they’ll lose it. Maybe they’ll lose it in this lifetime; maybe they’ll keep it until they die. But they can’t take it with them.

It’s not that being rich is, in itself, a bad thing. But we must recognize that any state of being has its possibilities for suffering.

Maybe a popular blogger feels down on days when fewer people visit. I know we less famous bloggers do.

How can we solve this? Well, we could all become Buddhists (which might make the world a better place).

Or we can recognize that no state of being is perfect. Each has its upsides and its downsides. If we dissolve some of our attachment to our preferred states of being (perhaps by recognizing their potential for pain) and simply enjoy them while we’re in them. Then we may, perhaps, feel less useless suffering.


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paidtwice October 23, 2007 at 9:30 pm

I had this one day a week or so ago where I had a slew of visitors – one of my posts was stumbled and got a ton of traffic. On my wordpress stats I see this weird little pattern:


That little peak makes me happy and sad. I want it to happen again lol. 🙂

Andamom October 23, 2007 at 10:04 pm

You and the Dalai are both right… I’ve talked to my daughter regularly about how even when people appear to have it all, they are still people with problems like everyone else. I’ve never been impressed by fame — but think that some people have by chance, luck, or hard work achieved something I’m interested in achieving myself. While I accept them, I like to learn from their best practices…while recognizing there are potential downsides for every action.

izaday October 23, 2007 at 10:26 pm

Namaste. Love this post! Thanks!

Dawn October 23, 2007 at 10:49 pm

We are experiencing this in our family. My hubby’s mom and dad. Both are in their 70’s and have been married for 50 years. They’re extremely successful people in the financial sense and own multiple income producing properties. The mom is going through her second bout of cancer and the dad decides to leave her for another woman. AFTER 50 YEARS OF MARRIAGE! They have spent their whole lives acquiring wealth yet neglected developing and nurturing relationships with family and friends. They are not easy people to empathize with or feel compassion … but hubby and I are trying hard to. Money definitely is not the answer to life.

plonkee October 24, 2007 at 6:18 am

‘This too shall pass’

Makes me happy and sad every day.

SavingDiva October 24, 2007 at 8:56 am

Look! I’m visiting!

Laura October 24, 2007 at 10:37 am

Money is just a tool, like a hammer. It’s not the end all or bell solution. It can help us or hurt us. Life, though, is so much more than money. It’s about relationships between family, friends, and communities.

louise October 24, 2007 at 3:56 pm

Lovely post and so true.
It can be easy to look at people with wealth and think they are somehow happier, but they have all the same problems and they put thier trousers on one leg at a time just like everyone else.

Flexo October 24, 2007 at 11:42 pm

Thanks for this post. I need to be reminded of this when I let things get me down.

Sistah Ant October 26, 2007 at 9:32 am

This is an excellent reminder.

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