Could it be that the essential missing asset class in the entire investment landscape is about to be enriched with a healthy allocation? That ingredient is nothing less than the human heart and the life changing power of faith and love. The Yoga of True Wealth is as enlightening as it is touching, a blessing to the financial world from one of its own. Readers will be soaked with wisdom from the greatest of such masters as Jesus Christ, Buddha, Krishna, Lao Tzu, Ramana Maharshi, Nisargadatta Maharaj, Thomas Merton and Rumi.
“Man is a captive on earth. His body and his mind are his prison bars. And the soul is unconsciously craving to experience once again the freedom that originally belonged to it.”
—Rumi —The Masnavi
Presented with sincerity, honesty and heart, this is a touching true story replete with the deepest wisdom and most poignant truths. The fact that these golden threads are interwoven in the tapestry of a human life unfolding makes it all the more medicine for the soul. A delightful roadmap to navigate the road less traveled toward a future where perhaps the greatest riches await.
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Loss and Love
Jesus said: "If those who lead you say to you: See, the kingdom is in heaven, then the birds of the heaven will go before you; if they say to you: It is in the sea, then the fish will go before you. But the kingdom is within you, and it is outside of you. When you know yourselves, then you will be known, and you will know that you are the sons of the living Father. But if you do not know yourselves, then you are in poverty, and you are poverty.'" — Gospel of Thomas 3
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School of Hindu philosophy advocating and prescribing a course of physical and mental disciplines for attaining liberation from the material world and union of the self with the Supreme Being or ultimate principle.
"Mankind is engaged in an eternal quest for that 'something else' he hopes will bring him happiness complete and unending. For those individual souls who have sought and found God, the search is over. He is that something."
— Paramahansa Yogananda
As I have walked down the path of my life, I have learned that life is a constant cycle of joy followed by pain and sorrow. But, through love and surrendering the will to God, we can all move through the pain and reach back to peace and joy.
It is an inner sort of "being" or living with that peace and love of God beyond understanding that is the ultimate goal in life. A member of The Beatles, George Harrison, once commented, "Everything else can wait, but the search for God cannot." Here we had one of the greatest rock stars in the world living in a humble, surrendered state of consciousness, the land of peace.
As we are growing up, we think it's other things that matter like the acceptance by our peers in social situations, getting into the right college, being in the right social group in high school, being popular or well-liked. The same things seem to matter after we start a family. We try to fill the empty well from the outside. Or we think the answer is choosing the right career and becoming a successful person in that career and being revered by others, being in the right groups, a member of the best club.
In reality, these things are just illusions, mere tricks our "small self" or ego play on us. We are caught up in the illusion of separation of the ego. You went to Harvard, I went to Rutgers. You are an American, I am a Russian. You are a Catholic, I am a Buddhist. You are a Democrat, I am a Republican.
All of these distinctions are how we identify ourselves and compare ourselves to others. They are mere words, not who we really are. They are clouds that blind us to the presence of peace, alive in the illusion of separation from God and others. Many times we fail to quiet the mind and its incessant comparisons and never-ending thinking. Our mind has a false sense of separation from God and thus a false sense of being God, and this keeps us from loving anywhere near our potential. This relates to loving others as well as loving ourselves.
"Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it."
— Jalaluddin Rumi
"It makes no difference how deeply seated may be the trouble How hopeless the outlook How muddled the tangle How great the mistake A sufficient realization of love will dissolve it all If only you could love enough You would be the happiest And most powerful being in the world"
We are all together here; we just don't realize it.
I am going to take the peace beyond understanding and relate it to the investment process. I will show you how it's possible to find peace in your financial plan and in your life.
It starts within.
However, we may have to change the DNA of our belief systems. In order to really understand and "feel" the true meaning of life — to find our soul — we need to really challenge the deeply ingrained belief systems of separation from each other, as well as separation from God, that have clouded our vision. And we are going to see how to become the awareness behind our thought and begin to sense a great spiritual truth: We are not our thoughts. The true self is much bigger, vaster, and more permanent.
I will also relate these concepts back to investment psychology and explain why thinking too much can not only upset your life in general and destroy your inner peace, but it can also affect your long-term investment results.
MY MOTHER: THE GOD WHISPERER
I am not promoting any religion, sect, philosophy, or denomination. Much of the world has been in turmoil throughout history due to battles over religion and group ego. Instead, I am going to be discussing spirituality — not religion. I had to study Eastern philosophy, the great Buddha, and Hindu traditions to really come to a true understanding of the true wisdom of Christ within me. My hope is to share my journey and to point to some important signposts along the road so that you can find your own understanding deep within. And when you do, you will be finding your true self and soul.
I will be referring to Jesus, Buddha, Krishna, and others to help explain myself.
Jesus and the Buddha, as well as many other wisdom traditions, have often pointed to our need to be broken before we are open to awareness and growth. Jesus said in the Beatitudes, "Blessed are the poor in spirit for they will see the kingdom of heaven." He also said, "The kingdom of heaven is within you." We need to be broken open to the grace of humility and to ask God for help while searching within ourselves for answers. When this occurs, we are receptive to the growth and understanding that follows. We open to the truth within, and a whole new awareness comes to light.
"If you want to become whole First let yourself be broken If you want to become straight Let yourself be crooked If you want to become full Let yourself be empty If you want to be reborn Let yourself die If you want to be given everything Give everything up"
— Lao-tzu, Tao Te Ching, translation by Stephen Mitchell
With this surrendering comes the peace and power beyond understanding. I am going to take you along my path to freedom and help you reach yours as well. We will reflect on the losses, trials, sorrows, and forks in the roads, the major obstacles and life lessons along the path, and find real peace and knowingness. We will talk about investment strategy and the institutional investment process as well.
Do you remember waking up to the concept of consciousness, of "being conscious"? Most of us don't remember exactly what we were doing or when this occurred, but mine really began in the presence of my mother. In my case, they are my only memories of her.
When I was a very young boy, and my mother was dying of cancer, she would whisper and teach me things. I now call her the God Whisperer. I am convinced that her early life lessons, taught to me when I was three and four, helped me to survive in this world and develop my experience of the grace of God I have enjoyed in my life. Her outpouring of pure love stayed with me as she planted the seeds of grace. She interceded in my life during my darkest nights of the soul.
And she taught me through her actions, as well. For example, I remember her taking food to the Monsignor at St. Anthony's Church while she was very sick. She was so devoted that every day she continued to take bags of food for the poor and attended Mass. Even though she was dying, she would still teach me things that didn't seem so important at the time, but I finally understood. Now I realize everything she taught made a lot of sense. What she was whispering was about love. Love is real and from God. Our love could not be separated by death. Your heart is what is important and to live life from the heart.
One night, when she must have known it would not be long before our physical separation, she and I were outside looking up at the sky, and she explained to me that someday we would swing on a star together. I used to think this was a fairy tale. Now I understand the beauty of her foresight and faith.
MERRILY, MERRILY, MERRILY, MERRILY ... LIFE IS BUT A DREAM
I never understood the cosmic nature of what she was talking about when I was a child, but now I understand a lot more about the metaphysical nature of her words. Having had a spiritual awakening beginning as a 21-year-old, I now understand what she was trying to tell me.
Our bodies are actually made up of condensed energy, very similar to outer space and starlight. My mother taught me about love at a very young age. She taught me that speaking from the heart and into the heart is what is meaningful and real in this world.
In the book A Course in Miracles, the premise is "Nothing real can be threatened. Nothing unreal exists. Herein lies the peace of God." This is also what the great Eastern philosophies convey, whether it be Buddhism or Hinduism. It took me studying all the great wisdom traditions before I really understood my own childhood faith and the true wisdom of Jesus Christ and His teaching and transformative message.
I also remember how my mother would sing to me. She would sing the sweet children's song "Row, Row, Row Your Boat." And as it continues, "Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily, life is but a dream." Today, I sense the truth of those words and her awareness to the true nature of reality here on earth. You see, life really is much like a dream. Many never awaken to it. But we are so full of our own perceptions and inherited instincts and illusions that we can't escape the dream.
Jesus spoke of it. So did Krishna and Buddha.
When my mother died, I was in such pain, and my nose was buried in the couch for a month. What could be worse? I quietly and slowly came out of it when my father finally remarried. He really had to, as we were not going to school. There were five boys in the family, and I was the youngest. My father had to leave the house every day at 6:15 to go into Manhattan for his job. My brother and I were shipped off to relatives, and experienced four or five different school systems.
It was agony. I couldn't read until I was in third grade, and I really didn't even know how to hold a pencil. So my dad got remarried, and things finally began to settle down. The first year in the new school was still hell, and I always cried as I was brought to the school bus by my stepmother. I was heartbroken. I slowly adjusted and finally began to find friends, play sports, and be a kid like most normal children.
But my mother had been my whole world, and I can still remember most everything about her. It's like the soul is alert when it has certain experiences, and I have memories that are very vivid from an age when most people aren't aware of being conscious. When it comes to my mother and my childhood, I remember everything.
One day in 1965, one of my older brothers was home from school, and I began kicking at him, just fooling around and not hurting him, and he lifted my leg up and flipped me! Unfortunately, it was a hard fall, and I ended up breaking my collarbone and crawling into the bed with my mother, who was very, very sick that evening. I just remember how comforting it was and how she took most of the hurt away. This was the night I remembered her singing, "Row, row, row your boat, gently down the stream."
As I mentioned, she was the God Whisperer, and she whispered about love and faith and most times without uttering a word. Of course, words are simply a way of communicating, but there are communication levels that are beyond language. They're universal, and that's why the great Yogis of India will stare into your eyes or you'll stare at them without speaking. There is no need for words. And everything is understood. The great Indian sage Ramana Maharshi was amazing. When people would visit him, many times he wouldn't say a word. He was totally self-realized. Yet your heart would open up just to be in his presence.
I can't help but believe that my mother communicated on this level as well; she was very spiritual and was of spirit because she knew she was dying, but she was full of love and faith and radiating a divine presence. She continued teaching me things — her way of preparing me for the life I would have to live without her.
One night, my brother and I were invited to have dinner with some friends up the street. After dinner, I remember watching TV in their basement, and I can still recall small details like where the TV was positioned — on the right side of me as opposed to the left side of me. Later that evening on March 7, 1966, my older brother picked us up and walked us home from our friend's house, and he said, "You know, Mom's not going to live forever." My brother and I broke away from our hand-holding, and we bolted home — I knew instinctively when my brother uttered those words that my mother had passed. I was four years and 11 months old. I ran into the house and looked around the room where her hospital bed had been, and everything was gone. Nothing was in her room, and I realized immediately that my mother was gone as well. There was no question in my young mind that she went on to heaven that night. I thought all of her clothes and belongings, which were nowhere to be seen, had left and gone to heaven as well.
I had to sit with that reality and just had to go through it. Love is the only thing that can take the place of that reality. The night my mom died ... to me, it was the loss of a lifetime, the awakening to the need to find a way to transcend the world. My life would never be the same.
THE LOSS OF LOVE ... BUT ON WITH MY JOURNEY
As I continued on my youthful journey after my mother's death, I had to cope with a new family and stepmother a year later and then the experience of not wanting to go to school, being brought to the bus stop in tears, crying in class, and having to have my stepsisters come into my class to urge me to eat lunch. I was totally emptied by the loss of love. I felt like I was a subpar human being. This may sound odd, but one time when I got a new pair of pants, I felt that the pants didn't realize that I was going to have to wear them. I literally had that conversation in my mind.
One other time, I went to a birthday party for a friend up the street before my dad got remarried; I had made a present for the birthday girl. I literally took one of my father's shavers, put it in a box and gift-wrapped it for her. I wasn't thinking that this was a dangerous present; it was just all that I could come up with. Without a mother, there really is confusion over such events. But you can only imagine how surprised she was when she opened up the box. I was very embarrassed and confused. I really had no one to tell me whether it was right or wrong. As the other kids laughed at me, I realized that I just wanted my mother back. Why was I so different? Why did I feel so empty inside? It would be many years until I had answers to many of these questions.
We are complicated individuals, and we can get so far away from that quiet, true self that we can easily forget it's there. We drift far away from the stillness and the sound of silence. Not only do we forget, but also we never know in many cases that it even exists. Joseph Campbell, American scholar, talked about the "Hero's Journey" in his book The Hero with a Thousand Faces. He said as we go through life, experience pain and then sorrow, and come out of it somehow, there is something inside of us all the while that helps — it's that quiet voice, that quiet piece of us that is eternal, and it's always been there, and it will always be there.
Some people call it the soul; some people call it the spirit or the eternal eye. It's beyond description but everyone is reaching for this, and they don't know it. I was striving for this at a very young age.
We will discuss this and relate it back to wealth management as well. We will strive for that level of consciousness so you get into the great stream of life, living from your heart. "Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily, life is but a dream."
You inhale God's love ... you exhale, surrendering to God's peace and love in the present moment.
"Everything else can wait, but the search for God cannot."
— George Harrison
"Walk into splintered sunlight Inch your way through dead dreams to another land Maybe you're tired and broken Your tongue is twisted with words half spoken and thoughts unclear What do you want me to do to do for you to see you through A box of rain will ease the pain and love will see you through"
Consider deeply the loss or losses you have experienced in your life, whether it be the loss of a loved one, your health, even a cherished pet. Then consider the hidden gifts the challenge eventually brought into your reality Just close your eyes, and deeply contemplate the experience and the wisdom you gleaned, what life gave you as you integrated or adapted to new circumstances. While doing this, get in touch with the part of you that witnessed and experienced the loss. It is the same part of you witnessing and experiencing these words. Feel it. Feel it with the beauty of tenderness. Allow yourself to feel the pure awareness that exists eternally at the core of your being. Put the book down, take a few soft gentle breaths, and reflect deeply now.
Excerpted from "The Yoga of True Wealth"
Copyright © 2017 Francis G. Bitterly, CFP.
Excerpted by permission of Koehler Books.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
CHAPTER 1 Loss and Love,
CHAPTER 2 The Journey to Liberation,
CHAPTER 3 Lonely Days of Determination,
CHAPTER 4 Dissolving the Ego and Realizing the Self,
CHAPTER 5 Awakening to the True Nature of Reality,
CHAPTER 6 The Wanting Mind,
CHAPTER 7 The Cardinal Virtues of,
CHAPTER 8 The Yoga of Wealth Management,
CHAPTER 9 How Would Jesus Occupy Wall Street?,
CHAPTER 10 Returning Home,
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS AND PERMISSIONS,