Friday, March 03, 2023

Spiritual influences of my approach towards FInancial Independence

Generally, I try my best to avoid discussing religion on this blog, but recently, an opposition politician and "Intelligent Vaxxer", Goh Meng Seng, shared something hilarious on social media.

The idea is that this person somehow suffers because he has attained FIRE but does have a grasp of the meaning of life. Goh Meng Seng then goes on to give a lesson on the Dharma. 

Generally, I would refrain from giving any credit to anyone on social media who claims to have a better idea of the meaning of life. If someone's meaning of life is, for example, constantly losing elections and getting POFMA'd, I will not judge what gives their life purpose. 

Instead, I want to point out in this post the spiritual influences of my version of FIRE. 

I have personally gone through many stages of spiritual evolution. When I was young, I was hunted by Christian Fundamentalists in primary school for my D&D hobby. A teacher did not like the cover of the 1st Edition D&D Player's Handbook and thought I was a Satanist. I started out with a very negative impression of religions, especially those that do a lot of preaching and proselytising. I don't alike anything that comes between me and D&D. Consequently, I became a staunch Atheist. I spent a decent amount of time being called up to the Office of Student Affairs in NUS for anti-religious troll posts. Multiple Christian groups complained about my exploits as an undergraduate. 

As I got older, I realised that Atheism itself is a position that requires faith in the idea of the non-existence of God. Subsequently, I also encountered Atheists who were unreasonable and no better than the Christian fundamentalists who oppressed me as a kid. Over time as I got older and more conservatve, I realised I could ally with Christians because they defended the same family values I hold sacred from progressive and woke forces in society, Social Justice Fundamentalism is magnitudes worse than any religious inquisition I experienced as a youth. Also, cell groups even play D&D. 

So these days, I've softened my position. 

Today I identify as a free-thinker. To me, human brains evolved with the capacity for faith because otherwise, it would be tough to live as the final outcome is always death and not everyone can figure out the meaning of life as Goh Meng Seng has done. This evolutionary adaptation of the brain is what humanity has to cope with the suffering of being alive.

Also, I have a deep respect for religion as a community. It's an excellent way for people to get together. I even tell young people to have the flexibility to convert if they really desire to find a life partner. 

Eventually, I found a trove of wisdom that can assist us in attaining Financial Independence.

In my second book, Harvesting the Fruits of Prosperity, I appropriated the concept of Nirvana to demonstrate the freedom a FIRE aspirant can attain if he can live on his dividend payouts. It becomes the close analogue of the cessation of suffering that Nirvana can grant. In my book, I consider the crossover point where dividend payouts exceed monthly expenses as the attainment of Financial Nirvana. Another snippet from my writings is shown here :

Of course, I went beyond employing Buddhist concepts to guide the FIRE aspirant. We should not forget that much progress came from the Protestant work ethic. The following snippet is taken from my second book, which channels sociologist Max Weber on why you must earn and work hard towards Financial Nirvana:

In hindsight, I would have spent more time looking at religion and philosophy to make the journey towards Financial Independence easier for readers of my works. Incorporating religious and spiritual concepts in my writing gave it much depth. It showed that deeper spiritual meaning can come from the pursuit of financial goals and can unite differences in philosophies.

I was pleasantly surprised that after publication, Christians gave feedback that they found my writing very spiritual, and millennials found it very woke. 

I guess regardless of religion, our money struggles are very much the same. 

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