Money and Value 4
For many people money defines the way they perceive and understand themselves and their lives. Yet that is only one way to approach life and it may not be the best. Recorded in Los Angeles, December, 2007.


 

 

 

 

Part 4Download

Theoretical and practical concepts of what might be done. Traditional Buddhist method of The Noble Eightfold Path; footnote on the word “right”; four bases of success – curiosity, persistence or enthusiasm, understanding of genesis and conditions, creativity in framing questions; seven steps of manifestation; Questions: What am I going to do next week? Next month? Next year?

 

TRANSCRIPT

 

Section 1

All right. Our last section. We’re probably going to go a bit past four. Is that any problem for anybody?

Student: No.

Ken: Okay. I got a little lost in timing in there but things like that happen. Okay.

Quick review. Problem. What generates the problem? We took a somewhat chaotic look at possible solution. At least the direction the solution might be in. Which is this notion of the intention for well-being as opposed to the desire for satisfaction. Desire for satisfaction is what one seeks in materialism. Intention for well-being or balance or presence or whatever is one way to look at approaching the world in which we actually live.

Now what I want to do in this section is to talk about how this might be done. And this is going to be a mixture of theoretical and practical concepts. We have to keep in mind the great wisdom of Yogi Berra: “In theory there’s no difference between practice and theory. In practice there is.” It’s one of the more brilliant pronouncements I’ve heard. [Chuckles]

 

Section 2

So, [pause] I’m going to start with the traditional Buddhist method of implementation. All of you probably are familiar with it. It’s called the noble eightfold path. And it consists of right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right recollection—you can read mindfulness for that, if you want—right attention, right view, and right intention.

Now. The first point I want to make here is an extended footnote on the word right. This is not right in the sense of right versus wrong. Randye made a comment earlier about being in trouble with the Mercedes-Benz. It was exactly on this point, if I recall.

Many people, I won’t say most, but many people approach the eightfold path and they—take right speech, for instance—they have the view that right speech is saying the right thing in the right way at the right time. Which brings to mind a quotation from Aristotle which says, “It’s very easy to be angry with someone. It’s very difficult to be angry with the right person, at the right time in the right way for the right reason.” This I find very interesting because Aristotle’s talking about bringing attention to your anger.

Most of us, when we get angry with somebody, we just POW! [Ken makes noise] And nine times out of ten, the person that we’re actually angry with isn’t the one in front of us. It’s somebody else. But this poor person is getting the brunt of it.

So my understanding of the noble eightfold path, it has absolutely nothing to do with right versus wrong. And I think this is a childish way of approaching spiritual practice. Because if you’re approaching it in terms of right versus wrong then you have in you some idea of authority of what is right and what is wrong. And basically you’re relating to that authority as a parent, which makes you a child. And off you are, off you go. It’s how most people approach spiritual practice in religion.

 

Section 3

To my mind, when we talk about right speech, right speech is when your attention is active when you are talking. Now, you may say, how do you do that? Well, with speech actually it’s one of the easier ones. And it’s extremely effective practice. You listen to the sound of your own voice as you’re speaking as if you were listening to another person.

This has some very interesting results. A consultant who studied with me many years ago, I gave him this practice. He called me up a week later. And the conversation went something like this:

“Ken?”

“Yeah?”

“You know that practice about listening to the sound of your own voice as if it was another person? You know, this attention in speaking thing?”

“Yeah.”

“I’m screwed.” [Chuckles]

“What do you mean?”

“Well, I’ve been doing that and I’ve been talking with my clients. It’s complete bullshit. The only thing I’m doing when I’m talking to my clients is persuading them to give me more business. I’m not helping them at all. I can’t work anymore.” [Chuckles]

I said, “Well. You might consider when you work, actually helping your clients rather than just persuading them.”

“Yeah, yeah. I suppose you’re right. All right. All right.”

And I mean, in the consulting world this is extraordinarily prevalent. That everything you’re doing is about maneuvering the client so they give you another piece of business. This is not right speech. It’s also not right livelihood. And if you look at it in terms of the relationships we talked about at the beginning, it’s not a shared aim relationship. You’re looking purely for mutual benefit. But in the consultant’s role it’s a shared aim. It’s the client’s welfare with that particular problem.

So, it was in this particular case [chuckle] just a few days of listening to himself, and he realized that he wasn’t practicing what his profession actually was. I gave him a lot of credit for that recognition.

Another person came in after this and I asked her, “Well, how did the exercise go?” She just looked at me and she went, “She never shuts up. She just talks and talks. I don’t know how anybody can stand listening to her.” [Laughter] First time she’d heard herself. This is the practice of right speech. When we do this we hear what we are saying, how we are saying it, and there are automatic adjustments. We immediately detect whether what we’re saying is appropriate in the situation or not. And we don’t have to clean up so many, many messes afterwards.

The result of this kind of practice is that we will say what is true. We will say it in a way that it could be heard. Our speech is more than likely to be gentle and so forth. Which are the traditional characteristics of right speech. What we forget is that much of what we read about the characteristics that arise in practice are the results of the effort of practice. Not what you try to do.

 

Section 4

I was very grateful for someone who wrote to me recently connected with the Then and Now class saying that after our discussion of the teacher-student relationship, she finally understood that the effort was not to emulate the teacher but to learn from the teacher. I thought, “Ah this is good.” This is not about emulation. This is about learning how to be awake. And how that looks for you is the way that it looks for you. Not for anybody else.

So you don’t try to copy people. You bring attention to how you move. That’s right action. And if you bring attention to how you move, you’re not going to knock over water bottles. It just doesn’t happen. Because as soon as you touch the water bottle you’re aware of it. And your hand stops. And now you pick it up. Almost all accidents happen because one isn’t paying attention at that moment. I won’t say a hundred percent but probably somewhere between ninety-five and ninety-nine.

Right livelihood is the same thing. We bring attention moment-to-moment, day-to-day, month-to-month and so forth to what we are doing to earn a living. And, of course, this is, can be absolutely devastating to your career. But it may save your life.

Several years ago, as many of you know, I went on sabbatical. And there was a very simple reason: I didn’t know what I was doing teaching at that point. So I stopped. And everybody was like, “You can’t do that! Errr.” But a lot of people were angry with me because they’d come to rely on certain things. And I could have gone on teaching quite easily. But it would have been acting. It wouldn’t have felt right or true. And I wouldn’t have been in any sense awake at the process. I knew I would be living a lie if I went on. So I had to stop. So as I say this can be devastating for your career but it may save your life.

So when I say bring attention to this it means experiencing what is actually going on when you are doing these things. Experience what is going on in you when you are talking. Experience what is going on when you are moving. It’s right action. Experience what is going on when you are working. And…anybody see Michael Clayton?

Student: [Unclear]

Ken: Yeah, it was a B-plus movie. But it’s very much about a person who comes to the point—“I can’t do this anymore.” And there are certain consequences to that. Actually there are a couple of people…one of them actually is killed because he can’t do it anymore.

Buddhism is not interested in your career. There’s no interest whatsoever. Quite interested in your life. So you may have to decide what’s more important.

 

Section 5

The same thing with right effort. This is something I’ve had to wrestle with intensely myself. Because for various physical reasons I’m not able to do what it says you’re meant to do in all the books. And I tried for decades and just kept making myself ill. Which varied from just being in pain to being really quite seriously incapacitated. I was kind of stubborn. I wouldn’t stop until my head actually couldn’t hit the wall anymore. Because the wall was always there just…long past after it was bloody. It was just not possible to hit the wall.

So I had to learn a very, very different idea of what right effort actually means. And it’s an exploration I heartily encourage each of you to explore. What does right effort mean for me? Because the synonym for effort in Buddhism is enthusiasm. And when you feel enthusiastic about something you pour your energy into it. And you pour your energy into it in a good way. So it doesn’t have any of this Victorian nose-to-the-grindstone, stiff-upper-lip, grin-and-bear it quality. And so there’s a very interesting exploration. What prevents me from being able to engage this activity with enthusiasm? That’s a very, very interesting inquiry.

 

Section 6

Right recollection, right mindfulness. We’re going to have to retire the word mindfulness. It’s been hopelessly corrupted in English. But its meaning…its fundamental meaning is to remember. To remember where you are and what you are doing. That’s what mindfulness means. The word in Tibetan and Sanskrit and Pali all means to remember. So I’m not sure where mindfulness came from English-wise. But it did.

There are certain things that are constructive and helpful to remember. And there are certain things that are not constructive and not helpful to remember. Wallowing in the memory of things still done and done to others, harm and things that were done to you is not particularly constructive. It reinforces a whole bunch of tendencies, etc. So there’s a way of practicing mindfulness or recollection which is beneficial. That’s what right mindfulness is.

 

Section 7

Similarly with right attention. There are all kinds of ways one can move into states of attention and trance states and so forth, bliss states, high energy states. Not all of them are helpful to waking up. Some of them are the antithesis of waking up. So, what is the quality you experience when you’re exercising attention.

Same with view and intention. I want to say a word or two about intention here. In the Mahayana we have the bodhisattva vow which is the intention to wake up in order to help others wake up. That’s putting it in plain English. Now, it’s very powerful. It’s very, very deep. When you take the bodhisattva vow you’re not always aware, but basically you’ve taken the vow never to indulge your own confusion. And that’s a different way of looking at it.

Another way of looking at it or understanding it, it’s the resolution to have that quality of wakefulness permeate every aspect of one’s experience. Which means that you get to experience all…everything in all of the dark hidden corners that you have avoided shining the light on for the last quarter of a billion years. [Chuckle] Sorry, the universe is 14 billion years old. So make that a quarter of a trillion.

One of the extraordinary qualities of the bodhisattva vow, which Shantideva sings of in the Bodhicaryavatara, is that once this becomes stable in you, that is, the intention really sinks in, then everything you do—whether it’s sleeping, or eating, or playing—is in service of waking up. Because since that intention has really come in, then everything you do is part of that. So when you’re relaxing, you’re relaxing in order to be able to create the conditions so that you can be awake and help others to be awake. So this intention makes everything in your life or imbues everything in your life with meaning and purpose. It’s quite extraordinary that way.

So this is one way that you can implement, is become very, very clear about your intention in your life. And follow the principle of bringing attention into every aspect and every action of your life.

 

Section 8

Last one, which I skipped over, is right view. Right view means, in terms of the way we’ve been talking, not to get lost in the world of materialism but to remember the world that we actually experience. And what we tend to do over and over again, as some of you probably got to see from that little score thing that we did, is that most of the time we are lost in the world of materialism. We do not set about living our lives to create the conditions to experience well-being in the life that we actually experience—which are the thoughts, feelings and sensations. And if we did that we would live very, very differently, many of us.

I think at this point it’s good to go back and pick up the exercise that we did at the end. Raquel, you ready?

Raquel: Sure.

Ken: I asked you three questions. What would you do if you knew you had exactly one year to live? Now by all means you can talk about what you would do. But I’m more interested in what is the difference between what you wrote down and what you’re doing now? Katherine. Microphone, please.

Katherine: What came up for me is not that much would actually change because I have been changing my life a lot. But the idea of status would disappear altogether, I believe.

Ken: Mmm-hmm. You would no longer be concerned with status.

Katherine: Yes. No longer.

Ken: Okay. Okay, what would that be like?

Katherine: Just so relaxing and [chuckling] I just think of all the tension that comes from that. And all of the….

Ken; Well, you know what the next question is.

Katherine: No. What is it? [Laughing] I’m dying to hear.

Ken: What are you holding onto it for?

Katherine: That’s a very good question.

Ken: Okay. Then you can take and work with that just as you wish. Okay? Because it causes you a lot of tension by the sound of it, okay. So, that would be appropriate to think, okay, what am I holding onto? And why? Okay. Anybody else? Diane.

Diane: Chuck has the mic.

Ken: Chuck always has the microphone.

Diane: This probably would come as no surprise, but I’d quit my job.

Ken: Ah. [Sighs] You haven’t done that yet?

Diane: No.

Ken: Diane happens to be extremely good at a job she doesn’t like. [Laughter]

Diane: Well, it just takes away from doing other things.

Ken: Exactly.

Diane: So it’s all-consuming. It just takes time away from other things.

Ken: Yep. What you really want to be doing with your life. Yep. Okay. Anybody else? Molly.

 

Section 9

Molly: I would cash out all my retirement CDs [chuckles] and take that money…

Ken: And what would you do?

Molly: That’s another step. But that was the first idea. Just taking that money out.

Ken: Yeah, but that was a step towards something.

Molly: Well either, you know, give it away or quit my job, for sure.

Ken: Oh, I see. [Laughter]

Molly: And, you know, enjoy myself, I suppose.

Ken: Okay. You need to go further with that. Because all of those, quitting your job and cashing out the CDs…

Molly: You want to know details? Particulars?

Ken: No, no I don’t need to, unless you’re comfortable with that. What I’m pointing out here is those are steps towards something…those are initial steps toward something. So what’s that something? And you may not know at this point. But that’s where to work on. Okay?

Molly: Okay.

Ken: So I cashed out my CDs. And I’ve quit my job. Okay. Now what do I do tomorrow? Now I have a sense there’s an idea there but…okay. And the purpose of this exercise is to get some clarity about what you actually want to be doing with your life. Of course the question that immediately comes after that is well, why aren’t you doing it now? So that’s why you have to do the next step, Molly. [Chuckle]

Okay. Randye. Right here.

Randye: I would quit 75 percent of my job.

Ken: Okay.

Randye: To do the mindfulness work I do with underprivileged children. But in order to do that I have to put up with the 75 percent of it that’s academic and writing a grant.

Ken: Okay.

Randye: But if I only had a year to live, I’d have enough money to do it. And then I would do it full-time.

Ken: Okay. Right. So I think you could write down…oh, quit job. You already got that. Okay.

Well we’re not going into this area in this workshop. One of the things that I would encourage you to think about is there’s a certain portion of your work which is what you really want to be doing. And you say, well I have to do the other 75 percent in order to be able to do this. And one of the reasons you mention is money. I think it would be at least interesting, possibly quite fruitful to examine, okay is there another way of doing this, that I really want to be doing, and just explore that. Because often we make a lot of assumptions. Just say okay, maybe there isn’t. But it’s something to be thinking about.

And that’s another purpose of the exercise. In looking at this—and I’ll be getting to this point when we talk about manifestation—what are the assumptions that are currently operating in my life? Those could be very, very difficult to identify. And often a way of identifying those is to discuss your life or your interests in your life or this area of your life with someone from a completely unrelated field. I mean completely unrelated field. Because they won’t be bringing the same set of assumptions, [chuckle] or the same framework. They’ll be looking at it completely differently. And they’ll really ask really dumb questions like, “Why is that the case?” And you’ll find yourself coming up with all these elaborate explanations [chuckling] only to realize that it’s complete nonsense. But it’s just something you’ve accepted. I’ve gone through this many, many times myself.

When I first came to L.A. I said, “Well I have to do things this way.” And I had people I asked to be on my board of directors, they were wonderful this way. They would just ask, “Why?” And I would give them a long explanation. And they would say, “That’s nice. But why?” And eventually, through this process I surfaced all these assumptions I had about why I had to do things a certain way. And almost none of them held water.

So maybe I’m just particularly confused and a special case, but you know. Maybe there’s something that applies to somebody else here.

 

Section 10

Let’s turn to emotional needs. If you were happy or at peace inside what would you do? What came up for you with this one? Peggy. Laura, hand Peggy a microphone, would you?

Peggy: I think…well, the way I would have answered the first one was to sell my business and then have a year to practice. Because that’s where I’ve experienced the deepest peace. But if I truly had peace, then I’d probably stop practicing. [Laughter]

Ken: Good. Okay.

Peggy: Or I would think that I could do that. I don’t know. But…and eventually…

Ken: This is very important because it tells you how you view practice. Practice is a path, to you, to peace. And that’s something—it’s really good to be clear about that. Because now you know what you’re doing when you practice. That’s what you’re heading for. It’s not everybody’s intention in practice. That’s yours. That’s really, really good to know. Okay, continue. So you have this wonderful peace, screw the practice. Don’t need it now. What would you do?

Peggy: Well, I suspect I would experiment with that idea, anyway. And probably just come back to practice. That’s what I keep thinking I would keep returning to.

Ken: Why? See.

Peggy: Because I feel like that’s where the greatest well-being will continue to generate from.

Ken: Okay. All right. Anybody else? Steve.

Steve: What I found interesting about all three questions is that with slight differences my answer was exactly the same.

Ken: Not surprised.

Steve: And so it was very pointed as to where I live at a core without distraction, and they’re pretty much in a way the same question for me.

Ken: Okay. Good. Anybody else?

Let’s take the last question. Which Katherine, in a certain sense, already answered for her. If you weren’t concerned with being somebody, being someone, what would you do? Pat?

Pat: Well actually I had the same answer for two and three, and the only reason I didn’t have it for one is because of the amount of work it would take to make that happen, which would be to go back to teaching the kids.

Ken: At juvenile hall?

Pat: Yeah.

Ken: Yeah.

Pat: Well…or anywhere. But well, kids incarcerated.

Ken: Right.

Pat: But it’s an automatic for me. That would be where I could spend the rest of my life.

Ken: Okay.

Pat: Which is kind of shock…not shocking but it’s just so automatic when I think of those questions.

Ken: Anybody else? Julia.

 

Section 11

Julia: This probably relates to an earlier instruction but both two and three I put help others. But I had a question mark afterwards.

Ken: Yes?

Julia: Well, in terms of what is helpful. I had this idea about practice as being helpful on a very general level. But I realize that I was unclear about what that meant. Although it was an immediate response.

Ken: There’s an immediate response but it’s not clear what that actually means. So that would be a very fruitful thing to explore. Okay.

What does helping others look like to me? And I’ll give you an example. Atisha was basically asked this question. Atisha was a great Indian teacher who came to Tibet in the eleventh century, which marks the beginning of the new translation school of Tibetan Buddhism. And he was once asked I think by his main disciple Dromton [Tibetan—’brom ston rgyal ba’i byung gnas; pron. Dromton Gyalwe Jungné], “Is it better to save the lives of a thousand beings or to give refuge to one person?” And Atisha, without any hesitation said, “To give refuge to one person.” And Dromton said, “Why?” And Atisha said, “Because you save the lives of a thousand beings all you’re doing is postponing the inevitable. [Laughter] You set somebody on the spiritual path then you free them from the cycle of samsara.”

So that was Atisha’s answer. It’s not an answer for everybody. There are many people in the world who would arguably take exception with that. It has a certain worldview and presuppositions built into it. But I give it as an example of what it means to explore what helping others means to you. Because that’s what has to be determined. It’s not what other people say, “This is what helping others looks like.” It’s what it actually means to you.

Julia: Yeah, thank you.

Ken: Okay. Any other comments on these three exercises, three questions. How many of you found them useful? What did you find useful about them? Anybody? We had all those hands go up so I’ve got a lot of targets here. Rita.

Rita: It illuminated what I was holding onto.

Ken: Oh really. Say a bit more.

Rita: If I didn’t care about what other people think.

Ken: Ah. That’s a big consideration in your life?

Rita: Yeah. And the opinion that they have now and how that will change if I follow what’s in my heart to do.

Ken: Yeah. This is a very important point. Thank you. This is one of the main reasons I like making this distinction between the world we actually experience versus the world in which we trade and exchange and interact. Because in that world what other people think is very important. And we have to pay attention to it. In the world that we actually experience what other people think is simply another experience in there. In fact, we actually don’t know what they think. All we know we have is their behavior. And so, there’s something far more immediate. And what we do in that world directly affects how things manifest. And may take us in very different directions from what is being socially conditioned or expected of us.

 

Section 12

Yeah, okay. Now. We’re doing okay. I’m just going to give two or three things. And then I want to talk very briefly about a process.

A couple of books I’ve been reading. I came across—I don’t know what the original Pali or Tibetan is and I’ll be able to dig it up somewhere; I just haven’t had time—but it’s translated as the four bases of success. And I found them quite interesting. So this assumes at this point that you have figured out what you actually want to do in your life. And here is the key or a key to being able to do that successfully.

First is you have to have an interest in understanding things. So curiosity in the area of which you’re going to exercise and put your energy, you really need to understand how that area works. And if you don’t have an interest in that then you’re probably not going to…well, you may be lucky but most of the time you won’t be.

The second is a persistence, and one could also understand enthusiasm here, that continues after the initial exploration. Now speaking personally, this is a problem area for me. Because I like starting new things. I like experimenting. Once I understand how something works or I can see the outline of it I lose interest. I want to go on and do something else.

Other people are very, very different. They hate starting new things. What they want is to come in and find that there’s a something. And it’s well-established and they can run it. And then they’ll do a really good job. I hate that. So you have to see where you are in this. But one needs to have some enthusiasm that continues after the initial exploration for what you’re doing. Otherwise, you’ll just run out of juice. And you won’t be able to put energy into it. So, this means you have to learn it and learn something about it. And then see what’s left.

Several years ago there was an article in Harvard Business Review on career change. It was quite interesting. The usual way that people think about changing their career is they figure out the job that they would like. And they get the training for it. And they gradually make the transition. And unfortunately, the percentage of people who find that when they make that transition it isn’t what they really wanted to do either. But now they’ve invested all this time, money, and energy into it. And that percentage is actually quite high. And the reason is that when you change your career that way, your decisions are based on the same set of patterns that are operating in you right there.

The other approach to career change, which this article talked about, was trying a lot of new things for short periods of time. So you go and volunteer somewhere or you do an internship somewhere. Or you take a certain course in night school somewhere, extension. But you actually get into the thing and try out what it’s like. Or maybe you do a working vacation in something that you’re curious about.

And so, you’re actually experimenting and trying stuff out and seeing what happens. And there’s usually a great deal of change that takes place in that because you’re learning a lot of new things. And you’re trying on, and you’re putting yourself in different environments. And through doing this you get a much better idea of what works for you and doesn’t work for you. And the percentage of career changes which were successful in that approach were much higher. So, that’s all under the rubric and interest in understanding things.

Third factor. Close attention to genesis and conditions. I’ve been asked several times what’s the system I use working with students. And I always bridle at the term because I have this thing about systems. But what I seek to do—and this is why some of you find meeting with me somewhat akin to going to the dentist [chuckles]—is that I, through our conversation to the best that I can, I try to discern what is actually generating the tension, the difficulty, the discomfort, the unease, the confusion in your life or in your practice. And I do the same with myself.

What is the genesis of it? Not what are the conditions which are contributing to it. Those can be important to consider because you have the wrong conditions, then you’re not going to get good results. But it’s really, really important to, the best of one’s ability, understand the genesis of this. And you look at how most people shape their lives: they’re all about altering the conditions. They never consider what the genesis is. The genesis is usually something quite deep inside us. People just don’t want to look there.

So, when you’re looking at things, what actually makes things work? What gets things moving? Become clear about that. And then also become clear about what are the conditions in which good things can arise? What are the conditions in which bad things will arise? So you become skilled in discerning genesis of conditions.

 

Section 13

Now this is how causality is understood in Buddhism. It’s very different from the way causality is understood in the West. Give you an example. In the West, if I throw a brick at the window and it breaks people say, “You broke the window.” Now if I were a good Buddhist logician I would say, “Just a second. The only reason the window broke is that the glass wasn’t thick enough. If there were thicker glass it wouldn’t have broken.” Or equally, “It’s because the brick was made of too hard a material. If it hadn’t been baked so hard it would have just crumbled when it hit the glass. But you’re right, you know, I just threw it with too much force.” And so there are all of these different conditions which come in. All of those have to come together for something to happen.

So, in Buddhism you don’t see things as having a single cause. In most people’s thinking in the West they want to say, “Well what caused this to happen?” Well usually it’s the result of many, many causes. Or many conditions.

Even within that, however, there’s usually some factor which created the whole possibility. That’s what I mean about the genesis. The propensity or something like that. Why did I throw the brick through the…? Because I was angry about something. And that could regarded as the genesis. Of which all the other things are conditions.

Now it can be very difficult sometimes to discern which is the genesis and which are conditions. In fact may depend on one’s framework. But becoming skilled and looking at what do things grow out of. And the same is like what are the seeds of situations. And what are the conditions which cause those seeds to grow or not grow. Be able to discern this and it’s going to help your chances of success significantly.

And the last one is creativity and framing questions. I work as a business consultant. My principle value as a business consultant is that I’m not in the business. Pure and simple. Because I come into a group of people and they’re all working like crazy. And they’re all going nuts, etc. And I go, “Why does everybody have to jump over that desk that’s in front of the door when they come into work in the morning?” They say, “Well that’s how we do things here.” “Yes I know that’s how you do things here. But why does everybody have to jump over that desk? I mean, why doesn’t somebody move the desk?” “Uh, well we never thought of that.” I’m using an absurd example here. But a lot of it boils down to stuff that’s actually that straightforward. It’s just like, huh?

So, being able to ask questions about your own life, about things that are happening. And in a certain sense, the dumber the question, the better. [Laughs] There’s wonderful power in really, really dumb questions. [Chuckles] Because they’re the questions that nobody thinks about, you know. So that’s one piece.

 

Section 14

A second piece…so that’s the four bases of success. Something else that I also found useful in my reading and research for this was, “What do you do with money?” What do you actually do with it? Now, a good number of people in this room are self-employed, I think. How many here are self-employed in one way or another? Yeah, okay. How many people have their own business or something? Yeah, okay.

So, what do you do with money? It becomes very important. And apparently, this is right out of the Pali Canon. Twenty-five percent of your money you use for daily maintenance and support yourself and others who are dependent upon you. This goes to your question of how much generosity can one afford? Okay. Fifty percent is plowed back into the business. And 25 percent is put away for a rainy day.

Amazing what you find in Buddhist scripture, you know, and it makes perfect common sense. But what’s very interesting here is the relatively high proportion that is being put back into the business or one’s income generating activity. And the inference from here is that being a Buddhist isn’t about being poor, you know. Wealth isn’t a bad thing. It’s fine to develop and generate sources of income. Just use them appropriately. Because in doing so you make it possible for others.

 

Section 15

Last thing I want to touch on, and then we’ll close, this is very quick so just take this down. And this is from a friend of mine, the seven steps of manifestation.

Form an intention and check the balance of the intention. That’s the first step. What this means is okay, I want to save the world. That’s not very balanced. You know, that’s not even clear what that means. Okay. But I would like to generate an income of x number of dollars per year. Okay? I figured out what I need to live on. I want to generate that income. That’s an intention. I want to start a business or create this service for people or something like that. These are all intentions.

Check what is being served. When it says check the balance of this, check what or who is being served.

The number one psychological indicator of entrepreneurial success is tension in the father-child relationship.

Student: Father?

Ken: Pardon?

Student: Father?

Ken: Father-child, yeah. “I will show him.”

Student: Do you know if that’s true for both men and women?

Ken: As far as I know it is. But I’m not a hundred percent sure about that, okay? It can be with a sibling, as well. But it’s just so—a good venture capitalist this is one of the questions they ask. You know, “What’s your relationship with your father?” “Oh, we get along great.” “Okay.”

So, what this means is a lot of businesses are built out of a tremendous need to be recognized or appreciated or something like that. You may or may not want to pour your energy into reinforcing that particular dynamic in your life. That’s up to you. Just check what’s being served.

Second. Get and work with a concrete symbol.

Student: Symbol?

Student: What?

Ken: Symbol. Get and work with a concrete symbol. So suppose you want to work with children. Well, maybe you get a miniature doll. It’s like a talisman. It’s something that reminds you of your intention. Both symbolizes and reminds you. It’s a way of keeping it with you.

Third step. Explore possibilities. This is best done by reading, having conversations with friends, and people who are knowledgeable in the field, etc. And you just explore possibilities. Quotation from Einstein: “If, at first, an idea is not completely absurd, it doesn’t have a chance.” This is what he said of his research in physics. When you’re doing it in this phase of things, no idea is absurd.

Every invention, every new invention comes from putting two things together that weren’t before. The printing press, which revolutionized the world in many ways, was a combination of putting type into blocks and a wine press. That’s what made the printing press. Allowed enough pressure to be able to apply to the blocks so that they could actually use that technology. The ink-jet printer is, I can’t remember the two things that came together, but when I was told what they were, I just like couldn’t believe it. It was something from the medical community and something else. It was just wow!

So a wonderful way of generating ideas is just to take two things and put them together. And see what you get. So explore possibilities.

Then you’re going to go through a winnowing process. Cull them down to three or four that look workable. And pursue them. As you pursue them watch the signs. That’s the fifth one.

Student: Wait. So what was number four? I’m sorry.

Ken: Number four was cull them down to three or four and pursue them. Sorry.

Fifth one is watch the signs. In general, when things become more and more difficult it means they’re moving out of balance. It means you are putting more and more energy into maintaining the status quo. This is generally not a good direction. When things are moving in balance things become easier. A flow is generated and things just start to happen. I have found consistently that when I form an intention doors start to open. Actually my idea is that the doors are always there. It’s your forming the intention which allows you to see them. You just couldn’t see them before. But they’re there and they’re suddenly open and now you find you’re able to do this and then this and then wow! It’s all there.

So watching the signs means is this flowing? Is it developing some flow? Is it working or is it just more and more difficult? Now obviously, there are going to be periods of difficulty, etc. So you have to watch this quite carefully and use judgment. This is more of an art than a science. But these are just things to keep in mind.

Manifesting something is a process. So, pardon, this is number six. So you’ve got to check balance at each stage; check what is being served at each stage; and check the resources, skills and energy required. In other words you start engaging a feedback loop. And so as you’re doing this you’re checking, how does this feel? Okay. Where are we in the depletion of resources or the utilization of resources? Am I still serving the original intention or have I gone into competition with my older brother? There are all kinds of these things, yeah.

Student: What is being served at each stage, then what?

Ken: Check balance at each stage, check what is being served at each stage, and check on the resources, skills and energy required.

Seventh. Possibly the most difficult. Let go of attachment to a result. [Chuckles] Whenever you embark on implementation or manifestation, you have no idea what is going to happen. You have no idea. Things may take a completely different direction. This has happened to me many, many times. One thing leads to another and that’s how it is.

The big thing about being attached to result is if you have an idea of how it should look that can inform your activities, but it also can prevent you from seeing what is actually manifesting. Because it doesn’t look according to your idea.

Many of you have practiced for awhile. To what extent is your idea of being awake accord with your initial notion of what it means to be awake? Not exactly the same are they? Knowing what you do now would you have started? [Laughter] There’s no way to know at all. Okay.

 

Section 16

So we’re at 4:30. Very briefly. Oh, one thing. Let’s just take two or three minutes to sit silently. And I want you to think about what you are going to do in the next week, in the next month, and the next year on the basis of anything you might have learned here. Something you’re going to do in the next few days. Something you’re going to do in the next month. And something you’re going to do in the next year.

[Long pause]

Ken: Okay. Take a moment and jot anything that came down. [Pause] And then very quickly because we’ve gone quite a bit over. My apologies. I’d like to hear from each of you. And we’ll do this just to make it easy, in more or less, just move across the room. One thing that you got out of this workshop, and if you didn’t get anything, then you could say “nothing” and that’s fine. That’s useful feedback for me. So if we could have the mics down here that would be great. Peggy, you have one. And where’s the other? Okay. So if you could have them both down here. And we’ll just move straight across. Yeah, pass the mics down here. Thank you. So. Janet, let’s start with you.

Janet: I’m ready to explore some more possibilities without attachment to outcome.

Ken: Michael. He’s got a mic so you can pass that to [unclear].

Michael: I think I learned how money can actually isolate me and keep me separate from people.

Ken: Okay.

Student: I think I learned more about how I use money to judge other people.

Ken: Okay. Colleen. No hand it to Katherine. Colleen.

Katherine: It’s good to see you, Ken. It’s good to practice in a group. I haven’t done that in a long time.

Ken: Okay. Colleen?

Colleen: It’s hard to say it in a couple of words. Just…it seems like there are a lot of structures built around beliefs of what money does and doesn’t do for you in your life. So I think what I’m going to do this week is do three things each day that brings me joy.

Ken: Okay. [Unclear]

Student: I became really aware of my inflexibility around money and values in some way. And also a new way of looking at things. And also it reaffirmed that I’m relatively okay with what I’m doing now. And that the dream I had of doing something different is somewhat of an illusion.

Ken: Yeah. Okay. Just give it behind you. Raquel.

Raquel: I kind of saw how I have been stuck and even have issues with anger around money in the beginning of the workshop. And actually this last exercise really inspired me to bring my two things together.

Ken: Okay.

Student: I see how frighteningly I’m living in the world of materialism rather than well-being.

Ken: Okay. Cara.

Cara: I’m glaring at Ken. [Laughter] Some confusion about the choices that I’ve made for the rest of my life in terms of what I want to do for my job. Because he questioned me. [Ken laughs]

Ken: Pat.

Pat: I think that a lot of good practices came up—the right speech and the three questions of if you had a year to live and the two that followed. Which in menopause I can’t remember but I’m sure I will later. [Laughter]

Ken: Okay. Christina.

Christina: Yeah. I’m going to have to find another job. [Laughter] I can’t do this…

Ken: Okay. Lynea. [Whispers] Joe. No, you go ahead. We have the other mic. Carol. Okay. Go ahead.

Lynea: That curiosity…what you mentioned about curiosity has been really telling for me about where I’m interested and where I’m not.

Ken: Okay.

Student: I’m going to counteract loneliness and helplessness in the elderly, and hopefully I’ll find people who are interested in doing this with me. Yeah.

Ken: Okay.

Student: Just there’s lots and lots I don’t know. And the comment that sticks in my mind is that idealism is a form of aversion or something you don’t want to…

Ken: Avoidance.

Student: Avoidance. Yeah. Something you don’t want…

Ken: It may be aversion, too. Yeah. Rita.

Rita: I got freedom to move forward and not be so concerned about some of the eight worldly concerns.

Ken: Okay. Randye.

Randye: A reminder that lack of money is not death. And that my fear of lack of money has been restricting me. I’ve been acting too timidly.

Ken: Okay. Leslie.

Leslie: I feel a little more…a little clearer about how confused I am. [Laughter]

Student: Amen!

Leslie: And also I just want to say that I thought this explanation of the difference in the spiritual ideal and what it feels like to be totally alive and awake was really helpful.

Ken: Good. Okay. Laura.

Laura: Yeah. It brought up a lot. So I’m not prepared to really digest it. I think primarily that I’m more or less on the right path. And that being here is part of that. And something about really shifting, further shifting attention from money to intention, is an area I need to work on.

Ken: Okay. Molly.

Molly: I think I got sort of an encouragement about thinking a little bit more creatively about different ways of moving forward. And that to be reminded about the idea that it’s not all about money or that what’s behind thinking you need the money. That’s a good reminder for me.

Ken: Okay.

Student: Oh, there was so much that I agree about it’s hard for me to say what I need to digest, I think. But I think more of what I’m taking away is more of an intention and enthusiasm to just do simple practice more, so I can be more—to use the word mindful or awake. And observe the manifestations of all these structures as [they] are happening is the first step.

Ken: Okay. Pam.

Pam: I got some good insights from the guided meditations and the questions. Thank you.

Ken: Okay.

Student: Well, I learned about the discrepancy between the self-image of the materialism and well-being. And I think I know which direction or explore possibilities to bring about more alignment.

Ken: Okay.

Student: I was particularly moved by the comparisons of bases of life, and I got a lot out of what it’s like to feel alive. And what it’s like to feel boring. [Laughter]

Ken: Chuck.

Chuck: I found I’m satisfied with my life and I probably need to do something to shake it up a little bit.

Student: I gained renewed awareness and power.

Ken: Okay.

Student: I’m really happy and really see the difference in living or equating survival with money. And it feels like a big…like life is bigger just knowing that those two don’t have to be. And I mean that’s how I was looking at it until today. And these seven manifestations that you just gave us really apply to my actual business, to what I do as a creative person in the world. And I’m looking forward to bringing that into the business and trying it with different client projects.

Ken: Okay.

Julia: I found the distinction between materialism and well-being very, very helpful. Helped to clear up some of my confusion about that middle zone between you know being provident and responsible on the one hand, and which I know is conditioning also, and well-being, you know. Thank you.

Student: I think there’s a particular place around money, survival, and fear that I keep sticking. So I think and I can feel that I’m dodging it big time. So I think that that’s the place where I am going to work for awhile.

Ken: Okay. Very good. Well thank you very much. I’m sorry I’ve gone over. Very good to hear that what you got out of this seems like I was somewhat on target today. So, stay tuned for the next one.