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November 24, 2014

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Ed S

I've had several email exchanges with the author. Very interesting guy.
How to Want What You Have: Discovering the Magic and Grandeur of Ordinary Existence https://www.amazon.com/dp/0805033173/ref=cm_sw_r_awd_88lDub0AG3EGH

jonnybardo

The consumerist mentality is so intrinsic to modern/Western civilization that it is exceedingly difficult to get away from or "transcend" it. It is actually kind of sickening how marketing and advertisements actually seek to encourage this, our basic suffering of being in a state of constant lack and therefore want. But according to Buddhism, this is a delusion, and in a strong sense Buddhism is the antithesis of the consumerist mentality because it seeks to reveal and dissolve the process whereby we are in a continual state of craving for something else to fill the voidness of our being.

But there is a creative component or solution as well, which is more common in Western circles. The more creative we are, the less we need surrogate fulfillments. But this only goes so far, I think, and "the rest" is the purview of Buddhism and other authentic contemplative paths.

Yet it is tricky, because even if one is basically satisfied with life and is awake to the "magic and grandeur of ordinary existence," there are so many rabbit holes to be allured by. In other words, I think everyone (or nearly everyone)--no matter how enlightened or satisfied--has a "fix" they indulge in. But maybe that's OK?

My personal approach, which is a work in progress, is to--like a good Buddhist--find the middle way between extremes of self-indulgence AND self-abnegation, and thus to get out of the excessive binge-and-purge cycle. This way you still get the pleasure of indulgence, but in a more balanced way.

"Indulgence in Moderation" could be my motto.

herculodge

This book also addresses the topic in terms of Buddhism: http://www.amazon.com/Why-Am-Buddhist-Stephen-Asma/dp/1907486577/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&sr=1-6&qid=1416945178

Gary

I suspect the vast majority of people would not consider an expenditure of several thousand dollars or more on a watch collection to be "moderation." It's probably easier to justify significant spending on a hobby to ourselves than it is to others.

Angelo

Gary: I agree with you, but it's interesting----there are people who question why I have so many watches or own several cars when one would suffice---they tell me it's a "waste of money." Yet these same people take expensive vacations at least once a year---and I'm not talking a week at the closest beach----I'm talking expensive cruises, trips to Europe, etc.---extended vacations too, not just a week. If I point out that they "waste" money on that travel, they become defensive and talk about how it is "enriching," etc. Well, to me, that's BS. I don't have a need for those vacations, but instad, I have a "need" for more than one car and a few dozen watches. To me, it's money spent---they way each of us want to spend it.

jonnybardo

True, Gary - but that's part of my point. We all have our own fixes, our own rabbit holes. The "moderation" part is indulging, but doing so consciously and in balance with the rest of one's life. It can easily get out of hand, though.

Angelo, I hear that. My wife and I clash a bit on vacation spending. She wants the experience while I want to save the money or spend it on something lasting. Like an Omega Seamaster! But I also understand wanting to have a great experience that is "enriching." But I think different people have their different ways of doing so.

Angelo

Jonny: Exactly. I see the value in travel and vacations---exploring, learning. I do see the value in that----I just see more value in buying hard goods (like watches and radios (and cars) that I possess----that I use year round. It's my personal preference. I don't make judgements on what other people spend their money on (unless they're always claiming to be short on money and needing loans, help, etc. while they have a $300.00 a month Cable TV package and the latest smart phones!). But if you put this in context----we might overspend on watches because you could only wear one at a time and we don't "need" the others or "need" expensive watches---but when you compare that with what other people do with their money----like gambling for example---there's no reason to feel guilty about buying pricey watches, if it's not hurting your family finances and if it's giving you enjoyment.

Ed S

When I read obituaries (as an old guy I tend to do that a lot), they almost always mention the deceased's trips, travels, vacations-- in other words, experiences. Rarely do they mention what watch or car or radio they owned. Like the old saying states, "the best things in life aren't things."

Angelo

But Ed, there are some obits that mention that the person collected things or "loved antique cars" that sort of thing. Personally, I think the reason trips and vacations are mentioned is because they are shared experiences between the deceased and the survivors----and the survivors are the ones who submit the obit info to the newspapers. And that does mean something----sharing experiences with family and friends beats hoarding watches. But I have a 10 year old son and I share my interest in watches with him. He and I actually watch Tim Temple on ShopHQ and once in a while, if a watch I own (or something similar) is shown, I pull my watches out and we look at them. Just the other night, I showed him three watches that my late wife (his Mom) gave to me. Two of those watches belonged to her father----his Grandfather who died before my son was born. I think people do things like this with coin or stamp collections too. There's another old saying "The best things in life are free." but vacations/cruises certainly aren't!

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