In a moment of surreal clarity, you feel your hand brush upon the leg of a person you have longed for and are met with a warm smile and encouragement to proceed; a windfall of money finds its way into your lap and you immediately begin planning avenues to exploit your good fortune. Then, as if all along you have known it, the sober reality occurs to you—this is a lucid dream. You know that in perhaps only moments, you will awake to a reality where your dreams dissolve in a lukewarm reality. Yet still, you cling to the seconds, minutes, or hours that seem to still remain and hope you can navigate your semiconscious state to that of perceived Nirvana. You allow the mind to strive towards false realities in hopes that a taste will quench the wonder you so chase.
Alas, if any of the above resonates as truth, then consider yourself lucky—you are therefore aware of the brain’s most deceptive mode of operation. A lucid dream while asleep is no different than the lucid dream we find ourselves in while we are awake—they both are absolutely captivating while we are experiencing them, but in reality, are only a combination of transactions occurring in our mind. In the same way that all of the treasures you will yourself to in a lucid dream disappear so quickly upon awakening, so do all of the possessions and money we spend our life trying to acquire once we are pulled from this slumber we call life. So, the brave soul might ask, what is the role of man in all of this? What, if anything, is worth the effort, when in the end, it is all taken from us? That question is where this journey begins.
If one’s quest is to achieve some great end—be it money, power, fame—then already that person is doomed to a life of suffering and strife. The answer, then, is simple. Instead of aspiring to catch the drops of rain as they fall, instead aim to deliver the rain. It is out of sheer luck if you find yourself on the receiving end of the universe’s good grace; it is by sheer willpower alone that you can find yourself on the giving end of such grace. If for every good deed you find yourself receiving, you then generated two for other people, then heaven indeed would be a place on earth. If instead of competition, we fostered cooperation and compassion, how might the world look? If the benchmark of a nation was how well the worse-off lived, not how high the best can soar, only then will mankind march towards true progress. Therefore, the role of man is quite simple: Strive towards selfless giving in any manner possible.
The naysayer will be quick to point out, “What about those that would take advantage of such niceties? What about those that would exploit such compassion and charity for their own gain and provide nothing in return?” It is easy to justify a fear of heights out of risk of falling, but what views must go unseen out of such irrational fear? What vistas of divine beauty must remain shrouded in such petty veils? We cannot let the fear of exploitation by the few deter us from the true nature of man. Certainly, even today, there are such people that exploit the good wills of the many, we just happen to call them “billionaires.” In a society where the welfare of the common man and woman is elevated to the ultimate priority, billionaires would be relegated to the grimy dungeons where they belong. No man or woman needs a million dollars at any one time, let alone a thousand-million.
And to those that say, “Well, they would like to pass their wealth onto their children so that they may never have to strive again,” do they not see what overly soft soil does to the roots of even the mightiest of oaks? No tree can grow in soil that is over-tilled, overfertilized, over-cared for. The soil that is great for germination does little to provide the proper tension to allow for actual growth. Do they not see the countless examples in nature where the parent, out of necessity for the child’s own growth, forces the young one from the nest to develop resolve and character? How can they actually believe otherwise? Certainly rest is a state that is required at times to allow wounds to heal and the body to recalculate, but strife and struggle are just as indispensable. Just as the gentle breeze conditions tiny saplings to withstand the challenges that even the mightiest gales produce in due time, struggle during the formative years of a man or woman’s constitution is absolutely critical to ensure they develop into a fully mature human being.
The role, then, of wealth ought to be to provide a suitable egg to ensure that the child is supported through all stages of growth, a metaphorical ‘yoke’ to nourish the individual through and provide reprieve from the storm of maturation and nothing more. Once they arrive as a fully formed individual, they ought to receive nothing in the form of money from their elders for their own benefit. The specifics for my own view on how inheritance ought to be handled is a different topic altogether, but suffice it to say that any parent that is trying to pass significant sums of money to their children ought to be aware that there is nearly zero rate of return, and much more often than not, this money only goes to work against their best interest in the long run. Until a person is properly mature, lump sums of unearned money often function more like bombs than hammer and nail in the construction of their life.
The role of man is unchanging. Personal growth is the utmost importance, nurtured by self-reflection and honest criticism. As the individual grows and becomes more capable, they should begin shifting their energy and effort to furthering the cause of the human race, to furthering the efforts of their neighbors, to offering their carefully curated and blossomed skills to those who can most benefit. Do not allow them to be hijacked by another for profit; do not allow them to lay idle while the days pass into night into the emptiness of the void. If the flowers you grow are only grown for your own enjoyment, they certainly will never make the world a better place. Invite the world to view them, smell them, be warmed by their presence—only then do they initiate the cascade of influence in the world. Only by allowing the downtrodden to be improved in your grace, to leave your side in a state of mind-body that is higher in quality than when they met you, only improving their lives can we ourselves achieve our final end. When you enable others to go on and do for others what you do for them, only then have we ascended.