Our value system, and thoughts about rural poverty
In all the years I have been living in rural New Zealand, I have listened to many talks about rural poverty, about how to create more work opportunities in rural places and how to educate and help those who have few opportunities to make money.
During the cultural revolution in China, Mao Tse-Tung had the idea to build numerous industrial factories all over rural China, to provide work opportunities to farmers and thus eradicate rural poverty.
His experiment was not successful.
Farmers, who had labored hard in the fields, but also had quiet and uncomplicated lives, working in the fields by day and listening to the crickets and the cicadas by night, abandoned their crops to become factory workers.
They lost the basic joys of peaceful rural living, in order to earn meager amounts of money that never made them financially abundant.
Instead of enjoying harvests, dancing in traditional clothing and celebrating religious ceremonies, they started spending their days in windowless factory rooms, laboring to sew clothing or assemble shoes, developing wrong ideas about what is truly important in life.
Many of the children and grandchildren of that generation of factory workers want nothing to do with the hardships of their parents.
They are determined to do all that it takes, corruption, bribery and misconduct included, to forge for themselves new lives.
In this world of illusions in which we seem to live, those who rule the world speak first and speak fast, perceive little and yield much power.
It is time to look at ourselves and reexamine our own value systems.
It is clear to those who take the time to observe and perceive, that nothing in this world of illusions has real value.
Power in this world is transitory, and cannot protect one from disease, aging and death.
Prestigious schools, connections and titles do not bring happiness nor promote good health, and no amount of money in the world can prevent death, heal terminal cancer nor bring you a joyful mind and spiritual awareness.
I once saw a movie about the life of Margaret Thatcher after her retirement from politics.
In the span of a few short years, she transitioned from being the powerful “Iron Lady,” writing and shaping government policies, to an old lady aging badly, suffering from dementia, lonely and completely forgotten by the public who did not even recognize her in the supermarket.
There are countless examples of rich and powerful people who seemed invincible for a time, but were humbled by the passing years, urinating in catheter bags or in their diapers, needing nursing care to shower or even to lift a spoon to their mouths in order to eat.
So is it all worth it?
Spending your life running after power, titles, money and earthly rewards?
Or should we learn to cherish a NEW SET OF VALUES?
Are we really improving the lives of the poor by giving them “constant work,” or are we confirming their ideas that only by having enough money can one enjoy life?
Often, I look around and wonder who has the better life; an island girl who has no prospect of earning much money, or a top earning lawyer in New York who spends most of his days in courts, arguing cases for his clients?
I will argue that the island girl, eating a freshly caught fish sprinkled with coconut juice, has a MUCH better life than the millionaire lawyer.
She might never have the amount of money or influence the lawyer has, but her life is so much sweeter and more harmonious than his will ever be.
(I am adding a link of a short movie clip that I took in the Cook Island of Rarotonga, showing island girls dancing).
I keep on wondering who really has the better life, as I look around me in rural places, and see people living quiet and beautiful lives, yet not knowing how blessed they are, imagining that if they just had more money, their lives would improve.
Instead of being confined to long days in dingy factories away from their families, from nature, from the nourishing land, we need to affirm all the blessings that come with living quiet, simple and joyful lives in harmony with the seasons.
I have traveled to many rural places in many remote corners of the earth.
I have seen the “poor” live better lives than any of the rich people I have ever seen.
They know how to collect and process coconut milk, grow mushrooms on top of dead logs of oak trees, how to harvest free honey from the bees and make it into an industry, how to grow fruit and sell it, how to raise crops and process them into delicious food.
They know how to raise chickens and pigs, shear sheep and goats, herd cows and yaks, and raise horses and donkeys for their transportation.
They know how to make fabric and rugs, how to hammer copper into pots and how to bake clay into plates and cups.
This is the good life!
In New Zealand, the “poor” living in rural places might not have great education or a lot of money, but they do know how to collect shellfish from the seashore, hunt wild boar for food and raise Kumaras and sweet potatoes, delicious and full of nourishment.
Their beautiful skin has adapted to the bright sun, and they know how to fish and free dive for Kina (sea urchin).
In our home at the tip of the Far North, there are horses roaming wild, and kids often ride barefooted and without saddles on their horses.
There are also work opportunities for those who do want money.
There is work on farms, lawns to mow, elderly people who need assistance and care, and work in the hospitality and tourism businesses in the area.
Would it not be wiser to teach children to be happy with their lives, to cherish their days, to enjoy the sunshine, the life giving rain, the celebrations of harvests and of the stars (Matariki), and to celebrate their talents and beauty, rather than to desperately seek money and promote unfulfilling careers?
The main reason people do not live quiet and peaceful lives, is because they were taught to want something different than what they have.
They imagine the lives of princesses and movie stars, or the super wealthy, to be glamorous, and they want the same for themselves.
They do not know that princesses and royals, the super rich and the successful, all have to deal with their own inner demons, have personality issues and need to deal with anger, ego and shame, and all the things that make daily life unhappy for those who do not learn how to follow their spirits.
People want respect and power, money and prestige, because this world teaches us that those things are desirable and valuable, and that it is worth running after them, even to our very last days on earth.
But it is NOT SO….
I can tell you that every time I go to a classical concert, I look with compassion at the people around me.
They are all wealthy, successful and powerful, and many are highly educated with enviable careers behind them, but something as simple as the passing years have left them with crippling diseases, arthritic fingers, skin dis-eases, feeble minds and weak spirits.
Many seem beyond reach, because they are so set in their “successful ways” that they are not interested and do not listen, and their eyes gaze only at the surfaces of things….
They have not taken the time to find the wellspring of happiness within their very souls, and they have grown suspicious of others.
Like all people, they focused all their efforts on trying to “milk” this world for all it has to offer.
Successful as they might have been in milking the world for its meager joys, they have never discovered the spiritual strength within themselves, and thus have remained ignorant of the giant powerful God within.
So why should we continue promoting wrong ideas by encouraging the “poor” to follow this shallow path to nowhere?
Instead of “work opportunities,” drilling the ocean or building factories, we need to teach people to cherish the gifts they have been given.
We need to encourage people to discover their inner POWERS, how to remember the luminous beauty within….. and how to create poetic lives.
So many people are focused on doing the right thing, (meaning the logical thing), forgetting that life is ALL about poetry….
A reasonable, logical life has never brought anyone closer to the Creator within…..
How can anyone who follows a path of logic and reason learn how to listen to an inner voice of the Spirit of Life within?…..
This Divine Spirit whispers to each and every one of us untold secrets, and directs us to paths of delight beyond human imagination….
Instead of warring among ourselves, and envying others for what we imagine to be success, instead of craving to become more powerful, we must learn to see the beauty in our unique design.
We need to learn to appreciate the people in our lives, to enjoy the beauty around us, to look for the Divine in the honest eyes of another, in the kind smile of a stranger, in a tasty meal of foraged shellfish, in the glistening raindrops gathering on our arms…..
There is real magic in this world….. and I do mean REAL MAGIC and MIRACLES do happen, and they are REAL….
I can tell you stories that will make your hair rise in awe, and maybe one day I will…. when I feel braver and ready to reveal some magical stories that actually happened in my life….
Meantime, trust me on this, there is no real power in politics, in fame, in money, in titles or in careers.
Do not dedicate your life to running after any of them.
If money or success, fame or power come to you, accept them graciously, but do not teach yourself nor others that you need them; instead, be happy to acquire real powers.
Real Power comes from an inner source that stems from discovering and aligning yourself completely with your Divine Spirit.
Your divine spirit is who you TRULLY are.
Your ego identity is temporary, and one day when you are ready to dissolve that ego identity into the Universal flow, you will know true happiness.
This need NOT happen at the moment of death.
Dissolving the ego is very liberating, and it can occur in meditation, or while walking in the street.
You just need to learn how to merge your thoughts with the Universal Mind, instead of constantly being preoccupied with ego thoughts, which are always about bodily concerns and survival needs.
You need not run after anything, but simply learn how to be still and know….that at your essence, you ARE GODS….
Wishing you an ocean of blessings,
I added to this post photos of beautiful people living wholesome lives in rural Mongolia.
To hear the music of the islands and to see the beautiful faces of the people of the Cook Islands living better lives than any well paid lawyer or successful doctor working long hours inside dreary hospitals: