Magic and Money
Article ID: 12852
Age Group: Adult
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Author: Bob Makransky
Posted: September 28th. 2008
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The magicians’ view of money is that human beings have been on this earth for around two million years; our species, Homo sapiens, has been around for 600, 000 years; but money has only existed for 3, 000 years. Somehow or other humans got along quite well without money for most of their existence. Therefore money must not be an indispensable prerequisite for human life to carry on.
This is the magicians’ view of money, as contrasted with most people’s view, that money is right up there in importance with air and water. This addresses the question, if magicians are so powerful, why ain’t they rich? The answer is that magic, at least white magic, isn’t about making all your desires come true. It’s about reducing your desires to a bare minimum. To a magician, enough is enough. It’s plenty, in fact.
Most people’s sense of self-esteem and self-worth, feeling good about themselves, are tied up with how other people see them. This means how much money they have, or how much approval and approbation they are getting from others, especially from people of the opposite sex.
People’s worry about not having enough money is actually worry about not measuring up. Their fear of not having enough money is actually fear of permitting themselves to be happy, because underneath they believe that they are not deserving of happiness. In other words, it’s not really about money at all. Money is just the presenting problem that obscures an underlying psychological issue of low self-esteem.
Magicians allow themselves to be happy now; no matter how much money they have or don’t have. They find a way to be happy in the now moment, by taking joy in the sounds of birdcalls or the feeling of the breeze on their faces. Like most people, their sense of self-worth depends upon how much they have, but magicians believe that they’ve already got it all. At least, they’ve got everything they need.
To become a magician, then, doesn’t mean waving a magic wand and chanting a spell and all this money comes to you. Rather it means weaning yourself away from worrying about money by simply refusing to worry about it. This is an act of intent. It means putting the bills on your desk aside and looking out the window at the children playing next door, and taking joy in that one. When you can feel happy now, money tends to take care of itself.
Another trick magicians use to overcome money problems is to think about their deaths. Magicians are acutely aware of the fact that when they die, they won’t be taking their money or money worries with them. They will, however, be taking their joy and satisfaction in a life well-lived with them.
Being a magician means being very selective about what baggage you decide to carry along with you in life. Money and possessions and their attendant worries are burdens which most magicians find too heavy to schlep.
I recently read a book by the Peruvian economist Hernando de Soto entitled The Mystery of Capital. This is an excellent exposition of what capital is and how it is formed, with particular reference to problems faced by the urban poor in developing nations. It occurred to me that de Soto’s conclusions wouldn’t apply to the rural poor – at least not to my Mayan Indian neighbors. This is because they aren’t interested in money per se. It’s not that they like being poor, but rather to them freedom is more important than money.
To the Mayans, family, religion, and maize constitute wealth. Money is something that you scrabble around for as it is needed. It’s not something to amass for its own sake or for a rainy day. They use faith and reliance on God for their rainy days. If God doesn’t come through for them, that’s life in the tropics.
Poor people, on average, tend to be happier than rich people. At least this is true in agrarian cultures – not in American society, where the urban poor have their poverty rubbed in their faces every day. This is because poor people have fewer expectations than rich people. It doesn’t take as much for them to be happy. They find happiness in owning less rather than more, because less is what they’ve got. They’ve learned the trick of finding happiness in the now moment, because the now moment is all they own. Having fewer expectations implies greater happiness with what one has, rather than dwelling upon what one lacks.
It’s hard for twenty-first century Americans to understand how it is that they don’t own possessions, but rather possessions own them. As the poet said, when you got nothin’ you got nothin’ to lose. This is quite true, as the Mayans understand.
Possessions are actually alive, and like all living things they try to multiply.* Possessions voraciously demand more and more possessions. We become the slaves of our possessions: the more possessions we own, the more possessions we desire. We become mere instruments in the multiplication of our possessions; mindless robots under the control and direction of our possessions.
Nobody needs all the crap, which most Americans have in their living rooms, and kitchens, not to mention piled up in their attics, basements, and garages. Shopping and shameless pigging out on possessions are a rather sorry substitute for true joy and fulfillment; but that’s about all many people know.
It’s a shame that we have to spend our entire adult lives undoing the conditioning that was imposed upon us in our early childhoods. Imagine what our society could be like if people were raised to be happy and accepting of themselves rather than robotic producer / consumers trapped in a spiral of insatiable desire and dissatisfaction. All of our energy could be spent on creative and spiritually uplifting concerns rather than in paying tribute to our demon masters.
To be a capitalist means tying yourself to an artificial system. Your sense of well-being and self-esteem go up and down with that system. While the system is working, you’re in fat city. When the system fails you get laid off; or your securities plummet; or you’re forced into bankruptcy.
This system is going to fail. There is an economic term for the fabulous amassing of wealth that has occurred in the U.S. and the First World over the past half-century: it’s called a bubble. We can see the collapse happening already in irreversible climatic changes.
Capitalism is a pyramid scheme. The capitalist system as it is presently constituted is predicated upon the myth that it can continue to rip off the earth and its people forever. This isn’t so; it’s just been lucky so far. Humanity is not going to be able to muddle through this one as it has always done.
The magician’s quarrel with capitalism isn’t the inherent unfairness and injustice built into it. That’s just the way life is, the way nature is. There’s nothing anyone can do about that. Rather, the magician’s criticism of capitalism is that it’s about to self-destruct and drag the human race and the earth herself down with it.
Capitalism is turning this earth into a hell world. Insatiable greed, the basis of capitalism, is not an innate human character trait. There have been human societies in which greed and self-indulgence were not the principle mainspring to all action. Indeed, in spiritual societies to this day, such as the Mayan Indians, unbridled selfishness is discouraged or viewed as aberrant behavior.
The usual pro-capitalist argument runs that capitalism has succeeded in delivering the goods to much of the human population on earth. And what is suggested as an alternative? The answer to that one is that capitalism is working now (poorly) , but it won’t be able to keep it up, or else the price in human misery and the destruction of the earth will become prohibitive.
The capitalist system will change when enough people, as individuals, stop voting for it. Just as people have learned to use possessions to prop up their lack of true self-esteem, they can unlearn this. What I suggest as an alternative to capitalism is magic: people listening to their hearts. From the magical point of view possessions are actually a bring-down, a trap. People can understand this by listening to their own hearts, not to what the media and advertisers and their peers are trying to convince them that they need and want.
Some people say that it is naïve to expect human nature to change. But the basis of capitalism as it is today – unbridled selfishness and shortsighted stupidity – is not human nature. It’s demon nature. There was a time before humans allied themselves with demons, and not so long ago, either (12, 000 years ago when agriculture was invented) .
Hunting / gathering societies to this day are not usually based upon selfishness and greed, but upon a sense of group well-being. We modern humans have just become so imbued with the assumptions of demonism that we cannot conceive of a social order based on anything other than distrust and rapacity.
This is because of lack of faith. Our society has taught us that magic doesn’t exist. Even though most people in their heart of hearts know this is untrue, still it takes a lot of inner work to overcome that doubt about magic. If most people in our society were as focused on magic as they are on making money, magic would work very well, as it once did in many ancient societies. However, some ancient societies based on magic turned to black magic – not that our present money-grubbing society doesn’t perform human sacrifice in order to protect oiling drilling rights, etc. This is what tends to happen when demons are allowed to run things.
Most people are the slaves of uncontrolled desire. Gazing into store windows, strolling through the supermarket, watching advertisements on television or the internet, they shoot out so many desire lines at so many things they don’t really want, that it’s little wonder that they can’t bring any of them into manifestation. If they can, they lose interest in the objects of their desire the minute they possess them. Then they desire some new object.
It’s not the putative objects of their desire which people desire, but rather the state of desire itself. It’s the constant hunger, the feeling of incompleteness, that drives most people forward. By contrast magicians, both white and black, concentrate all their desires on one single object, which symbolizes power. They don’t waste energy coveting trinkets, which are not going to augment their power.
The fewer expectations you have, the happier you are. The more expectations you have, the unhappier you are. It doesn’t matter whether your expectations are fulfilled or not, whether you are rich or poor, since a fulfilled expectation is quickly replaced by a new expectation. The key to happiness, then, is to reduce your expectations rather than to devise ways and means of fulfilling your expectations.
I have some young magician friends who have doubts about magic, even though in their hearts they realize its truth, because they’ve never gotten it to work on a material plane. I don’t blame them. Until you see actual results, faith is rather hollow. Faith is not blind. We magicians have no use for blind faith. We are the ultimate result merchants, from Missouri, “Show me!” We believe when we see results. Our faith is based on the positive results of past experience.
My Saturn return two years ago collapsed all of the businesses I’m involved with (farm, eco-hotel, book sales) and left me broke (albeit not bankrupt, since I have no debts) . Fortunately I can live on pretty much nothing, which is what I’ve been living on up until a few months ago when I got a gig writing garbage for the internet (“content” for search engine optimization) . Also fortunately I have spirits who walked me through the thing, explaining why this was happening and perhaps what would come out of it.
But I still felt really bummed out, and have been actively fighting off depression (by e.g. going to my special tree daily) . Even when you understand the story intellectually – even when you are deliberately trying to lose your expectations – nonetheless losing them is depressing. This experience has given me a feel for what depressed people go through (I’m a maniac normally and up until recently haven’t experienced a depressive phase) . The problem when things are going badly is the assumption you tend to make that they will never improve.
To make a long story short, what my spirits told me was that, how am I supposed to be explaining to people about having faith unless I go through a Dark Night of the Soul myself? Money in the bank and what passes for security in our society is the great enemy of faith.
Faith is not the same thing as belief. Belief is an intellectual construct, whereas faith is a matter of the heart. Faith can be based on belief – indeed it has to be – but it is basically a matter of intent. You create your own reality. It is what you have faith in that creates your reality.
If you have faith in the capitalist system, then that is your reality. That’s what you’ve bought into. A magician doesn’t buy into any intellectual construct, because to a magician all intellection is prima facie false. Magicians are operating, or trying to operate, on a different guidance system altogether. They listen to their own hearts. They operate on intent, intuition, direct knowing and understanding, rather than on what anyone thinks. To magicians, thinking is beside the point. It’s what they feel in their hearts that matters.
This is hard to do in twenty-first century First World society, because everything points the opposite way. The high priests of our society – the academics, politicians, media manipulators, bankers, and so forth – put their faith in something altogether different. They try to teach us to do the same. There are no social rewards for following the impulses of one’s own heart. Job interviewers don’t say “Wow – great! You are just what we’re looking for – someone who follows their own heart! We don’t want robots that will follow orders blindly and do what they’re told without question. We want robust individuals who will follow their own hearts!”
Having faith – true faith – means flying in the face of everything that you’ve been taught all your life. It means following your heart in the face of the opposition and rejection of your family, friends, and society. It means seeking your sense of security in what your heart knows is true – not in pieces of paper and empty promises. If you can do that, you’ll succeed on the magician’s path.
Magicians who want to get money to come to them analyze objectively, not enviously, people who are successful at getting money to come to them. They isolate the mechanism involved. What distinguishes financially successful people like Bill Gates and Ted Turner?
The answer is that such people, even when they’re down and out, know that the money will come. They take their present lack of money in stride. Whether this faith is innate or learned from experience, they know in their hearts that the money will come.
Their attitude is an object lesson for all of us of what our attitude towards money should be. It’s not like, “When the money comes then I’ll stop worrying about it.” which is what we tell ourselves. No, the truth is that the mechanism works the other way around. When you stop worrying about it, then the money comes.
Worrying about money, fantasizing about money, buying lottery tickets are, like magical techniques such as creative visualization, commands to the universe. However, they are commands of lack rather than fulfillment. They don’t have the confidence, the true faith, behind them of true commands to the Spirit. What these piddling commands are actually calling up is self-pity – excuses to pity oneself.
How do you stop worrying about money? There is indeed a Law of Abundance, but this Law has a catch to it that they don’t tell you about – namely that there is also a Law of Karma. Until the Law of Karma is covered, the Law of Abundance is overridden. This is where inner work is invaluable.**
You have to analyze yourself and your history and figure out why you got yourself into this money worry trap in the first place. You weren’t born with it. What does money symbolize to you? Why is your self-esteem so low or your self-pity so high that you have to fret over money, instead of feeling good about yourself and your circumstances right this minute? Why are you not grateful for all that you have already, reveling in the sunlight and the feel of the breeze on your skin? That’s all you needed when you were little.
At some point in your life you decided to torture yourself over money. This stand was not foisted upon you against your will, no matter what you believe and are telling yourself now. This is the purpose of inner work – to find that information out.
Until you find out exactly how you are tripping yourself up, keeping yourself in an uptight money situation to prove some stupid point to yourself, you will not be able to get out of it, no matter how many Creative Visualizations of Abundance you do. Why are you putting yourself in that situation? What is your pay-off? What hole in your self-esteem are you trying to plug with money and possessions?
When you understand the answers to these questions, then you can stop worrying about money. And then the money will come.
* In the Mayan worldview not all possessions possess souls (consciousness) . Only foodstuffs (especially maize) , tools related to food production (hoe, machete, grindstone, pots, fire) , certain functional items such as hammock and broom; and religious / ceremonial items (such as musical instruments) are considered to be alive and to require special, respectful treatment or propitiation. In the magical worldview, everything is alive, and anything we obsess over takes possession of us; and most Americans obsess over possessions.
** Inner work can be done through therapy; or more cheaply on your own using a technique such as Carl Jung’s Active Imagination. See my book Thought Forms, or Robert A. Johnson’s book Inner Work (Harper and Row, San Francisco, 1986) for more information.
If you are an American, and you still believe in miracles – that money descends from heaven with no effort on your part – try this one: run your own name and your deceased spouse’s / parents’ / siblings’ / grandparents’ names through this, according to state of residence: http://www.unclaimed.org.
Copyright: Copyright © 2008 by Bob Makransky. All rights reserved)
Location: Coban, Guatemala
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Copyright © 2008 by Bob Makransky. All rights reserved)
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