Material Wealth, a Buddhist Perspective
The following principles are adapted from Geshe Michael Roach’s bestselling book, The Diamond Cutter. His story is about a Tibetan Buddhist diamond cutter, who worked at a fledgling company in New York that used the following principles to became a world leader in the jewel industry.
The First Principle: Be successful and make money.
Obviously, money needs to made in a clean and honest way. However, there is a misguided belief in the United States and many Western countries that making money and spirituality don’t mix well. Buddhists view money as a solution, not a problem because people with more resources can do more good than those without it. This article will address the following questions using the same ancient Tibetian Buddhist principles that the diamond cutters used to become a leader in the jewel industry: How to make money? Remembering where wealth comes from. What needs to be done to make wealth continue to come? How to maintain a healthy attitude about money?
The Second Principle: Enjoy your money.
It is always important to keep your mind, body and spirit in good health as we make money. Creating wealth should not exhaust us physically or mentally to the point that we fail to enjoy wealth. A businessperson who ruins his or her health while working defeats the purpose of doing business. The goal of any business, ancient wisdom or any human endeavor is to enrich ourselves. It is important to prosper inwardly and outwardly. A high degree of physical and mental health leads to individual prosperity. Once we are wealthy over the length of our life it is important to help others prosper.
The Third Principle: Looking back at the end of your life, can you honestly say…my life and business had meaning.
Business ends and people die. The goal of a life well-lived, when all is said and done, is to achieve the following realizations: I conducted myself and my business transactions with integrity. My presence created lasting meaning not only to myself but to everyone around me. And I left the world a better place because of my actions. As with all human endeavors, making money is completely consistent with a spiritual life; ideally it needs to become an integral part of our spiritual life.
According to the ancient books of Tibetan Buddhism, our mind records about sixty-five discrete images during a single snap of a finger. The human brain registers everything it experiences like a computer, so mental imprints always occur. Our daily transactions will consciously or unconsciously become mental imprints of self-awareness whether we help or hurt another. The strength which stand out or gets thrown in the recycle bin depends upon:
- our intentions and actions
- strength of our emotions
- how well we recognize what we are doing
- the degree we own our actions after the fact
- the effect of our actions on others
Our subconscious recycles bin retains these imprints for days, years and even decades. During a blink of our eye, they can go in and out of our awareness providing us the illusion of continuity or different realities. Fortunately, we have the power to create positive imprints that lead to success rather than recycling negative images and/or injunctions that become self-perpetuating trouble. Like ripened seeds thrown on fertile ground, whatever thought we water…will continue to grow in our stream of consciousness.
How do imprints facilitate failure or slow my progress? Normally they are accumulated effects of many negative actions and thoughts such as white lies, small bursts of negative emotions and thoughts like…stinginess, distrust, self-pity, criticism, etc. Negative imprints attract negative responses from others. The law of attractions says like attracts like. Positive actions lead to positive results. The world mirrors our reflection to us every day. Most people believe that they create their own reality so its very important to know how creation happens. The events in our life are being produced by imprints that lead to our actions, words and thoughts—good or bad towards ourselves and others. Everything has a hidden potential, is neutral and has a kind of fluidity about what it could be, until we set things in motion. Even a minor action, if undertaken with a conscious awareness of how imprints make us see an otherwise neutral or empty world as we do, will lead to negative, neutral, or tremendous results.
“It is not a matter of Faith, but of Practice”
-Thich Naht Hahn
Positive imprints are created through consistent actions, words and thoughts towards a wanted goal. For example, money itself is created by maintaining a generous state of mind. It is essential to understand that a lasting positive result cannot come from a negative cause such as cheating or hurting others. Our world is created through personal integrity or the lack of it. The raw materials that create today’s experiences were built from yesterday’s imprints, accumulated from past actions, previous intentions and/or thoughts. Grace, fate and collective events such as wars and global warming occur, but we have control over the imprints used to respond to global events. Here are some suggestions about how positive imprints can replace negative outcomes:
- Causes come before results
- Causes are smaller than their results
- Growing things take time
- It helps to have a tracking system, free of judgment or guilt
- Record what you are doing
- Understanding what you are doing makes change infinitely stronger
- Always end with the act of truth
Enjoy even your smallest accomplishments towards total personal integrity. Imagine looking back on a day’s work and being able to say with total integrity, I was totally honest throughout the day to everyone I met. My actions, words spoken and my most innermost thoughts were consistently positive and harmonious. In my attempt to embody equanimity, I was honorable, honest and mindful to everyone around me. And now I can say…it was a day of total integrity. Whenever you have a day like this and it will take some practice or even something approaching a day of total integrity consider an Act of truth.
The Act of Truth
Calling on the following act of truth strengthens all the imprints for the day and adds a deeper level of meaning, when you meditate upon the following intention:
If it is true that, during this entire day, I have been mindful of all which I said to others, and did to others, and even of my thoughts towards others, and acted thus throughout the day with complete honesty toward each person I came in contact with, then may a new power be born. And by force of this new power may I, and all those in my world, achieve through our work true happiness, and prosperity, together.
When Tibetans perform an act of truth, they image strong rays of golden light bursting form their heart as if the sun lived in their chest. They envision the light visiting everyone around them, whom they had contact with that day and then to the people waiting for these loved ones as they come home from their day’s work.
March 2021 Eric Ehrke LCSW, LMFT is a psychotherapist at Ommani. He sees clients on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Zoom, Skype, or telephonic services are offered. Call our office at 262.695.5311 to schedule an appointment.