Tag Archives: compassion

Finding Gratitude & Abundance in a Disgruntled World

Recently I have been thinking about gratitude, and how important it is to experience abundance, prosperity and happiness in this life. I realise that most of you reading this will understand this already. And I realise that many of you will tend to forget that same understanding from time to time. Maybe even most of the time,

One of the reasons why it is so difficult to live this simple understanding is that we live in societies that focus upon lack, and which exacerbate the state of desire. Such is the nature of capitalism . Every day we are bombarded with reminders that we do not have enough. Are not enough. Every time you walk down the street, turn on the TV or computer or read a newspaper of magazine, we are told there is something we should have to make us feel more complete.

There is also an unfortunate side-effect to the dominant ideology of postmodern thought which saturates our media, universities and education systems. These philosophies instill in us the belief that we are deeply oppressed, that someone or some system is stealing our light. And if you are one who is fortunate enough to have been born into privilege via your skin colour, gender or other innate qualities, you should live in a state of guilt, hourly “checking your priviledge.” Conspiracy theories have a similar effect. Someone out there is cheating us, stealing our lives.

Though the postmodern perspective has a legitimate starting point, and it is sometimes true that governments and institutions can conspire against our greater good, these philosophies have now morphed into a pathological form which is greatly distorting our sense of life today.

The greatest problem is that they instil a narrative which places the mind in a state of perpetual discontent, finding the source of its misery in other people, or in innate qualities which cannot be changed.

I believe it is a mistake to begin with a narrative which teaches lack, fostering constant blame and shame for that lack. In doing this we have conditioned large segments of society into a state of angry discontent. This is despite the fact that most of us live lives which are far longer, more prosperous and safer than almost any in human history.

I beleive it would be better to begin by teaching gratitude and compassion. One of the best ways to do this is to teach people how to be present to the truth of life in this moment. It is from this point that compassion and generosity arise spontaneously, and then that compassionate state can reinforce the societal and institutional legal structures which promote justice and equality.

Let me conclude by sharing a quote. The following is from Tony Robbin’s book Money: Master the Game. This is a book about abundance, in it’s fullest meaning. The following words are worth reflecting upon.

I interviewed Sir John Templeton for the first time when I was 33 years old. Remember, he was the multibillionaire who started with nothing and made all of his money when everyone else was afraid, during the worst times in history: WWII, Japan after the war, and in the late 1980s and early 1990s when massive inflation hit parts of South America. When others were fearful, he went out and invested. I asked him, “What’s the secret to wealth?” And he said, “Tony, you know it, and you know it well. You teach it to everyone. It’s gratitude.” When you’re grateful, there is no fear; when you’re grateful, there is no anger. Sir John was one of the happiest and most fulfilled human beings I have ever known. Even though he passed in 2008, all these years later his life continues to inspire others. If you want to be rich, start rich.

What can you be grateful for today? Who can you be grateful for today? Could you even be grateful for some of the problems and the pain that you’ve been through in your life? What if you took on the new belief that everything in life happens for a reason and a purpose, and it serves you? What if you believed in your heart of hearts that life doesn’t happen to you, it happens for you? That every step along the way is helping strengthen you so that you can become more, enjoy more, and give more. If you’ll start from that place, money won’t be the source of your pleasure or your pain. Making money will just be a fun journey of mastery, and wealth a great vehicle to achieve what matters most in life.

 

 

Listening to the Monsters

What if instead of trying to change others who hold different views, we simply chose to listen to them? I mean, just stopped telling others what they should be thinking and feeling, and were just present with them? What if the goal was not to change others, but simply to understand them? How might our own ideas and opinions change, including our perception of those others? How would the world change, and our relationship to it?

Liberalism, as was classically defined, was about inviting others into our space. It was about empathy and compasssion. It wasn’t necessarily about agreeing with them, nor ignoring their shortcomings or any relevant problems. But it wasn’t about labelling and condemning them. It was about listening. Can we really say that we have a healthy “liberal” discourse today? Are we really listening to others?

In the past few weeks I have seen quite a few idealistic folks imploring their social media friends to join them in spreading “the word.” The main idea is that these are extraordinary times, and this requires extraordinary action.

I have not heard a single person inviting others to listen to those they disagree with.

In fact, in the age of social media personalisation algorithms, many people are simply unaware of what that “other” side thinks or feels. This is because their voices are never heard. Or, on the rare occasions they are heard, they are not listened to.

I have never identified with a particular political party, but I have definitely identified with classical liberal ideals. I still do. I am an advocate of freedom and equality, including equality of responsibility. But I would not call myself a “liberal” in the current political climate. What I see coming from liberal commentators in the media and liberal media today typically violates classical liberal ideals. There is almost no desire to listen or empathise, nor to create spaces for open communication. Typically, current liberal discourse dehumanises any individual who disagrees with any of the tenets of leftist progressivism, by labelling them fascists, racists, sexists and so on. This has driven a vast gap into our political discourse. And in doing so “liberalism” has shot itself in the foot.

We see fascists everywhere.

I am not going to outline all those liberal tenets here. But let me just say that even as it preaches tolerance of race, gender, sexual preference and so on, today’s “liberalism” is typically intolerant of ideological, philosophical and political diversity. It often crushes dissent via a culture of blame, shame and fear, reminiscent of Maoist China. Most problematic is that in many left-leaning media outlets, free space is given to individuals who are extremely intolerant and even violent in their dialogue. Probematically, these same outlets often censor any criticism of this intolerant dialogue.

Needless to say, this says nothing about the role that the political right is playing in all this. But if even “liberalism” cannot find the capacity to listen, we shouldn’t expect to find such a capacity elsewhere.

Still, there are indeed plenty of moderate thinkers on both sides of the political divide (which is not so black and white, at any rate). But they are increasingly marginalised. In part this is self-censorship, as the consequences for dissent within this system can be swift and permanent. The power in our universities and much of the media lies with the left, so the left has a special role to play in correcting the current imbalance.

Jonathan Haidt is a sensible and considered voice on how this tribal political division has come about. He argues that we do not have much “liberalism” today. He prefers the term “illiberalism,” because the left has betrayed its own ideological roots. He too invites us to begin listening. To be more humble.

What would happen if you took a week, or even a month away from your favourite media outlets and commentators? What if you stopped posting on the internet and instead tuned in to listen to those who hold different opinions from you? Perhaps you might find the monsters aren’t so monstrous. They might even turn out to be human.

This is exactly what I have done in the past six months or so, and it’s why I have posted far less on this site, and other social media outlets. I feel I have a much greater empathy with those I once disagreed with, as well as a greater appreciation for the kinds of criticisms that I once saw as “wrong.” Perhaps the young Asian man in the video below is someone you would never normally listen to. It might be a good start. But don’t let me limit your choices.