“I don’t know what happened,” she said. “I trusted him with my money. I’ve lost more than 30%, and I don’t know what to do. Help?”
This is a something I listen to almost every day. People are disillusioned with the providers of financial services who proclaimed high returns and personal services…only to come up with high losses and broken relationships. A deep trust has been broken, as only lost money between friends can do.
Buddhist teacher Pema Chodron quotes from Atisha’s Lojong Slogans: Drive all blames into oneself.
Everyone would like to pin the blame on something: big business, greedy people, bad government. Truth is that we are all to blame. Clients don’t really want to take responsibility for their money. They want “peeps” to handle it all—isn’t it better to outsource whatever we can to others? The problem is that no one is going to take care of you as well as you take care for yourself. In this country in particular, we have lost touch with the Basic Goodness of our inner wealth. That confidence in the richness of who we are and what we currently have gets lost when we start comparing our net worth to others and we chase after other people’s dreams instead of our own.
Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche said: In poverty there is richness.
There is nothing wrong with trying to plan for your retirement, or starting a business, or financing a college education—we should do our best to align our money with our values and our goals. But many of us get caught up chasing hot investments, high returns, day trading strategies, etc. We forget to be good stewards of the money we have. It’s like going into a shrine room (meditation room) and sitting on the floor without a cushion. You have no foundation. You have no seat. Without knowing where you want to go with your money and what you need to do to get there, you have no seat. It’s uncomfortable. It’s the reason why people have won the lottery, only to be bankrupt years later. Respecting and taking care of the wealth that surrounds you is a financial and spiritual foundation.
Kwong Roshi: Active Participation in Loss
This is the mindset that financial coaching and mentoring will help develop in individuals- to help those who want to help themselves. In the future there will be more elders who have navigated the dharma of money and can help those plant the seeds of wealth. On that journey many seeds will be planted and not all will survive but we will plant another and another. As in kinhin, we will take the next step with as much awareness as we did of the first and let go of the loss. As with our inner journey, our outer journey is also filled with passion, greed, ignorance. Yet we take the next step and the next. We acknowledge our mistakes, learn from them and move on. We participate mindfully in the losses as well as the wins. We have all the resources from this planet and each other that poverty doesn’t need to exist. We can help one another uncover the vast richness that we have now and can develop for our future.
Simplified, easy to maintain personal financial planning isn’t a mystery in this age of information. But you do have to weed out the noise to get to what is appropriate for you. But I believe that we all can get what we want because I believe all of us are wealthy. It starts with planting the seed, which is taking care of what you have now. This simple fact is easily overlooked. You plant a seed knowing that someday it will grow into a flower. You also know that in order for it to grow, it needs sunlight, water and the proper soil. Without the systems in place to nurture and grow wealth, it is very hard to attract and preserve it.
Feed a fish to someone and they eat for a day; teach someone to fish and they eat forever. Let’s teach each other to fish.