When basic necessities aren’t present, or when one’s living conditions are otherwise compromised, (such as if you live in a high crime area) this equals suffering. This is not a question of “poverty consciousness.”

Successful people, at least some of them, are fond of the belief that one’s economic situation is the result of how one thinks. This could be true some of the time. Certainly, a better mind is almost always an asset in the quest to live well.

Yet, there are homeless individuals who have doctorates. There are homeless people who are otherwise geniuses. The fact that many of them haven’t died because of their predicament is a testament to the fact that their minds are working.

Buddhism and other ways of practicing mindfulness will not fill your bank account, your car’s gas tank, or your belly. Lack of basic necessities will snap almost any meditation practitioner out of their emotionally comfortable state of attainment. If you prioritize emotional comfort above meeting basic needs, you could be in for an unpleasant surprise.

Buddhism and other ways of practicing mindfulness will not fill your bank account, your car’s gas tank, or your belly.

On the other hand, if you have enough emotional control that you can deal with “survival” situations in a calm, effective manner, then you could say that your “attainment” is working for you. Panic is not usually a good place from which to navigate your life path.

However, if you are in the path of a tsunami, it doesn’t matter what sect of Zen Buddhism in which you’ve practiced. If you are in the path of a speeding bus, it won’t matter how piously you’ve prayed in church. Certain realities are inescapable regardless of how well your mind works.

Money is the great liberator. Those who have a lot of money have choices. Those who do not have money lack insulation from the harsh realities of the physical plane of existence. Lack of money will cause most people to live on “lower spiritual levels.” Albeit, sometimes, the hardship of lack of money can cause people to take refuge in Jesus, in The Buddha, or in agnostic ponderings. If you lack choices in how you live on the physical plane, it can be a motivator to seek liberation in spirit. But affluence, not meditation, is the main force that has them liberated. The whole thing is phony.

If you meditate because you have disturbing thoughts about who you are, then you are dealing with basic insecurity in your personality. This is a much easier thing to conquer than “where am I going to live on my eight hundred dollar a month Social Security check?”

Enlightenment doesn’t solve these problems. It could make you accept your problems on an emotional level. This could make it easier to solve those problems. You are still stuck needing to solve the problems. If you have an unsolvable problem, meditation won’t solve it. However, it could allow you to not suffer while you have such problem. 

Wealth and poverty are not the same issues as one’s level of consciousness. Wealth consciousness is irrelevant if you lack the means of acquiring income. It might give you enough faith that you will spend your last five dollars at Starbucks because the universe is about to provide. What if the universe doesn’t provide? 

The willingness to feel uncomfortable is an asset if seeking survival or success, or if you’re trying to deprogram a painful area of consciousness. So many people who pursue meditation and/or mindfulness are probably doing this because they hurt on the inside. Those who subvert their pain, or who use its energy to be motivated, tend to be successful in business. However, this can produce driven, mean and nasty businesspersons. Or, even if a person maintains her or his niceness, you are still at risk for obsessive behavior, and at risk of psychologically caused illness. The commonly accepted businessperson does just that. They push through their pain, they subvert it, or they use its power. Very few individuals fix their emotional problems before pursuing their ambitions. It is only when they get older, and possibly realize that nothing is working to ease the pain that is gnawing at their insides, that they might seek spiritual attainment. 

Most people can take actions necessary to live, or to become monetarily attained. It is to an extent irrelevant what the internal picture looks like. 

However, if you have a disability, if you have bad luck, or if you are otherwise unsuited to earning money, then you should not attribute lack of money as a sign of mental weakness. And let’s not forget that many people, whether they are minorities and subject to discrimination, if they lack socioeconomic status, or a thousand other possible reasons, are poor; and it has nothing to do with who they are spiritually or mentally.

Jack Bragen is author of “Revising Behaviors that Don’t Work,” “Instructions for Dealing with Schizophrenia,” and “Jack Bragen’s 2021 Fiction Collection,” and lives in Martinez.