Is money holding us back from living an authentic life? What can money get us that we really desire?
Do you need a nice car, a big house, a yacht, the freedom to do what we want when we want?
These are the real questions that the vast majority of people ask themselves.
Luckier than most, not as lucky as some
In the video at the end of this post, the famous philosopher Alan Watts discusses whether money can really bring us happiness.
He talks about how we are conditioned from the moment we are born to the time that we leave school or university, that money is the end that justifies the means.
We then pass on this reasoning to our own children and so on ad infinitum.
Why do we do this?
From living in both the West and the East of our planet, I can tell you the desire for wealth and power, is just as lusted after in the East as in the West.
For example, my experience with living in Laos is that the more money you have, the better person you are, and the more money you can give to a temple is indicative of your social standing both in this life and the next.
If you have the latest iPhone or the newest most expensive Honda motorbike, (or better yet, the biggest Toyota pickup truck), the better you are.
The more gold that women wear around their necks and on the hands and wrists, the more important and successful they are.
In the West, we do similar things, although we do them less overtly, we still attach significance to such items.
hildren get bullied at school for not having the latest technology or clothes that do not show the correct brand name.
People lust after expensive attire that has minimal intrinsic value or use. After big houses, televisions, jewelry, cars, furniture, and other things that they hope will elevate their status in different eyes, which in turn will make them happy.
But what if money does not make us as happy as we thought it would. What if we spend all our lives working and slogging our guts out to pursue the mighty dollar, pound, yen, yuan, only to reach the end of our existence with our hearts still empty.
Some people lay on their death beds, clutching one item that is truly important to them, and only after years of trying to attain things do they realize what really has real meaning.
What if we are trapped in a vicious cycle of working and working to play, but the playing only comes at 75 when you are too old and weak to work, and no one wants you, so they give you a measly pension in the hope that you will go away.
But you’re too old to really live your life, and you look back with sadness on all of the things you wanted to do but never did, something you never did because of your relentless and unwavering chase of an ethereal desire.
Can we really survive if we just go about living our lives the way we want, or is the very fact that we are trying to escape the point of life?
Is to live to survive, to really live?
Of course, it is straightforward for me to say these things in the comfort of an air-conditioned room, on a computer I know how to use because of the very educational system I am trying to decry.
Poor, nasty, brutish, and short
I know that it is very hypocritical of me when there are people who are trying to survive. In the words of another philosopher Thomas Hobbes, their lives are:
“poor, nasty, brutish and short”Thomas Hobbs
(Although this is out of context, I am just trying to make a point).
However, I am also not trying to completely disregard the importance of learning and working hard and aiming for things.
I love to learn and discover new things the same as everyone else. It is our intense, burning curiosity that makes us so unique.
But can we apply our knowledge to things other than the pursuit of this perceived happiness? How about if the economist could develop new ways of calculating profit for large companies so that instead of focusing on short term profit, they would look further into the future and assess their impact on their surroundings.
Could the big pharma subsidize medicine for developing countries to help their communities to survive long enough into old age to pass down wisdom and knowledge to the next generation?
I am just trying to find out if there is a different way we could look at life, and it is this video really jolted my outlook.
Take a look for yourself and see what you think.