Here you'll find no answers to questions about how to make money, about
how to manage money, or about how to spend money. Regarding the latter,
very few people have questions anyway. Rather, this is a cold,
dispassionate look at how we are about money and how we are around
money, whether you have too little,
or just the right amount.
It's said it's better to have money than not to have money. And because
of the way the world is set up, that's probably true. Yet if you
examine this assertion closely, you may notice there's not as much
freedom, creativity, and spontaneity in it as there may first appear to
We want more. Just as the bee wants pollen, so the
wants more. Wanting more money may not be a choice based in freedom.
We're literally crazy about acquiring more and having more. There's
with this. It's how we're thrown to be as human beings. Don't accept
this because I said so. Examine it for yourself and see if it's true.
Regardless of what shows up when you examine how this is for you, I
assert wanting more and examining wanting more presents a whole new
vista against which to observe our relationship with money than wanting
more and not examining wanting more.
We know money won't fulfill us. If it did, there'd be no unfulfilled
rich people. You and I would be happy when we had money in the bank.
Tell the truth: are you happier then? That's not a trivial question.
I'm asking you if having money in the bank ever transformed an
experience of being unfulfilled into an experienced of being fulfilled,
deeply satisfied, and happy in a way that reached out, impacted, and
really made a difference in the transformation of the lives of your
families and of your friends and of the world at large. I mean, did it
I've traveled through some of the poorest countries on
I've lived in the
I've explored, lived in, and worked in
the Amazon jungle.
The Amazon natives
are, of course, human beings like you and I, yet they've never seen a
newspaper, they've never tasted Pepsi Cola, they've never bought (or
sold) mutual funds, and they've never scanned the printout from an
And yet their glow, their integrity, and their deep, deep fulfillment
and joy of simply being alive belies the fact they've got no money.
It's disconcerting, actually, to get having money and all the time and
effort we put into getting money doesn't necessarily fulfill us. It's
even more disconcerting for me, a westerner with many of my values
tangled up in money, to notice
the Amazon natives,
having no money, aren't unfulfilled.
Banks have money. Banks have lots and lots of money. I
believed banks were independently wealthy until one day Werner pointed
out to me banks owe other banks enormous sums of money.
The Federal Government of the United States has lots of money. The
Federal Government of the United States has an enormous amount of
money. Yet the amount of money the Federal Government of the United
States owes is a sum so
and so staggering that we can almost not comprehend how
it actually is, so we prefer to not think about it at all. What it says
about the entire system in which money occurs is almost unconfrontable.
I notice from time to time I stop distinguishing between who I really
am and how much money I have - or I don't have. I may feel worse when
I've got less money and I may feel better when I've got more money. I
notice how my
renders me prone to forget who I really am from time to time, and every
time I forget who I really am, the simple joy of just being alive
eludes me. Being alive is then no longer sufficient, and I become
convinced one of the reasons I'm not fulfilled is because I don't have
enough money, never mind the fact that what's pocket change for me
would make a beggar in
think I have croesian wealth.
Well ... how much is enough? Contributing to life and
making a difference are distinctions which may - or may not - exist in
the same domain as wealth. It's nice if they do (we all know that) but
they don't have to.
It's in recreating the distinction who we really are that
the fulfillment and joy of living is re-invigorated. Making more money
and having more money, while attractive, doesn't guarantee it
happening. Neither does making no money or having no money (as in the
the Amazon natives)
preclude happiness. It's very, very clear to me when being around
the Amazon natives
or being around monks and nuns or anyone who has taken vows of poverty
that fulfillment and joy don't require money. They may show up around
money. And they may not. They don't have to. They're distinct, and I
assert if you don't get this or you're unwilling to consider it as a
possibility, then you're being
* * *
Throughout this inquiry I see again and again
who I am
is not my bank balance.
who I am
and my bank balance is my bank balance. To get along in the world as
it's set up today, I'm obligated as a matter of responsibility to
manage my bank balance, as well as to make up new ways to replenish it.
I'm equally obligated as a matter of responsibility to distinguish
ongoingly between money (and my feelings for it and my reactions to it
and my conversations about it) and who I really am.
You'll forget who you really are from time to time. As soon as you
realize you've forgotten who you really are, you get it again. As soon
as you get that you don't get it, you got it again.
You can do that with yourSelf, but you can't do that with money. In
making the distinction clear between the two, space is created to move
forward with both. To be sure, money is a prize in this game called
Life. And while the old adage tells us it's better to have money than
not to have money, your creation of your experience of your own
completion and your own fulfillment is your responsibility and your
responsibility alone. It's distinct from, prior to, and doesn't depend
on or require money.