The way that we have been living is called the way of least resistance. This way involves emotionally and logically going after what we believe will make us happy. For the vast majority of us, this usually includes a career, a partner, then a house, cars, furniture, kids, college tuition, grandkids - you get the picture. These become our goals and triumphs in life.

After living for 78.6 years, we then pass away and all the kids and grandchildren remember how kind and generous we were. End of story.

And most people are satisfied with this and really don't expect much more. This is enough to fulfill them, with most of their generosity and compassion going to their immediate family.

To suggest that this generosity and compassion should go elsewhere other than the immediate family, except for some token charity work, would be considered strange indeed. We protect and take care of our own - that is natures way - and whatever is left over we put away for a rainy day.

So actually, our natural instincts are to hoard our money and not share it, isn't this true? What is YOUR bank account and investments for? Isn't it for your retirement or something for yourself, or the kids, or some emergency?

The current thinking in some political circles reflects this attitude as well. Why should hard working people give their money to the government who will just turn around and give it to lazy, poopy people who don't want to work? That logic is very basic and understandable regarding the barest of survival instincts.

So what we have here is a philosophy and psychology of self survival. The idea is to have as many offspring as we can so that if and when we become destitute and disabled ourselves we can rely on family, friends and church, not government, to bail us out. In the meantime, we invest our excess funds, which are in turn used by corporations that have exactly the same philosophy and psychology in mind as we do - to look out after themselves and their stockholders.

This is capitalism; wealth accumulation, and within this system there is little wiggle room for anyone who is not successful. Laws are passed to keep the poor, stupid, and destitute in a holding pattern so that they don't take to the streets to vent their frustrations, but in reality the system will gradually restrict as much money as it can from these people so that real investments can go to work, rather than be wasted on lazy, unimportant individuals who just buy wine and can't make it on their own.

And here we are. This is us. And the funny thing about all of this is that the more we look out for only ourselves and ours, the unhappier we become as a society. Why is this?

Many, many years ago, as legends have it, two men lived an entirely different kind of life from the one that was just explained. These men had more interest in everyone else than themselves. If they would have had any money, which they never had and never wanted, they would have immediately given it to the next person they met on the road. They knew that the person they met needed the money more than they did. Why? Because Jesus and the Buddha had something going that was much more satisfying and refined than the illusory and false security of money and the things that money can buy.

What would happen if everybody in the entire world one day would give away whatever they owned to someone who needed it more than they did? Well, for one thing, if the entire world was in this mindset, no one would ever lack for anything! And we wouldn't require all the nonsensical things that we amuse ourselves with everyday, because we would be cultivating those deeper interests of Jesus and the Buddha.

Wasn‘t that what these two men were telling us about; how to live by their example so that there would be peace in our hearts and peace on earth? Or did they picture themselves as simply freaks who would never be understood by common people and therefore idolized and prayed to instead of their footsteps being followed? I don't think so.

And it's not impossible to live as they did, just difficult if you depend upon your money for your salvation. Trust me, regardless of how loosely you might interpret the Bible, wealth will kill your soul. There is no doubt in my mind about that. Wealth accumulation kills off humility, compassion, love, understanding, caring about one's fellow man and woman, and just plain goodness. Wealth creation fosters greed, hatred, miserliness, disaffection, ego, aggressiveness, and fear - simply because of the definition of accumulation: "To heap up, pile up" . . .(money).

Justify it as you will - saying that money creates jobs, etc., - I don't buy any of it because that is the way of the world, and the way of the world is the way to hell. Period. In my humble opinion. I believe that if you could see your destiny after a wealth accumulating life, you would be so shocked that you would immediately give away everything and live under an overpass somewhere. I do believe this.

But there is an alternative way to live where you can function in society in a loving and compassionate way and still follow in the footsteps of these two great men, compassionate men who were trying to shine a light for us. It's called; living for others; giving your heart to others - not just those in your comfort zone, but all others. Because when you are able to give your heart away with no holdbacks, that means that you have beaten the idea of a selfish existence, and once you beat that, you will spiritually be able to release yourself from the idea of me and mine, which is what Jesus and the Buddha had done.

Regardless of whether your generosity is returned or not, that won't matter. What will matter is that you will be following in the footsteps of great men who knew the score, and this is the true freedom, not the freedom of wealth which is a noose around your neck, but the freedom of eternity, where it really matters.

Because now, after passing away at 78.5 years with perhaps no one remembering you because you have become selfless and no longer look for recognition, you will no longer be reborn hundreds of thousands of more times to again have to selfishly fend for and take care of your own. Now you will escape physical existence on earth with all its foibles such a stress, illness, old age and death. And isn't this what Jesus and the Buddha were trying to compassionately point us toward: life in better place other than this physical earth?

I always liked this little quote from "The Little Zen Companion" by David Schiller, I‘m not sure it is completely word for word because I gave the book away.

"Never follow what wise men say, follow in their footsteps."

Author's Bio: 

Anagarika eddie is a meditation teacher at the Dhammabucha Rocksprings Meditation Retreat Sanctuary and author of A Year to Enlightenment. His 30 years of meditation experience has taken him across four continents including two stopovers in Thailand where he practiced in the remote northeast forests as an ordained Thervada Buddhist monk. He lived at Wat Pah Nanachat under Ajahn Chah, at Wat Pah Baan Taad under Ajahn Maha Boowa, and at Wat Pah Daan Wi Weg under Ajahn Tui. He had been a postulant at Shasta Abbey, a Zen Buddhist monastery in northern California under Roshi Kennett; and a Theravada Buddhist anagarika at both Amaravati Monastery in the UK and Bodhinyanarama Monastery in New Zealand, both under Ajahn Sumedho. The author has meditated with the Korean Master Sueng Sahn Sunim; with Bhante Gunaratana at the Bhavana Society in West Virginia; and with the Tibetan Master Trungpa Rinpoche in Boulder, Colorado. He has also practiced at the Insight Meditation Society in Barre, Massachusetts, and the Zen Center in San Francisco.