Monday, August 12, 2013

Cold Hearts and Frozen Assets

"Money is congealed energy and releasing it releases life possibilities ... Money experienced as life energy is indeed a meditation, and letting it flow out instead of hoarding it is a mode of participation in the life of others." - Joseph Campbell in "Reflections on the Art of Living: A Joseph Campbell Companion,

Because I only recently discovered this thought by Joseph Campbell, it was on my mind and shaped my perspective as I read two recent news stories dealing with wealth and money.

The first was about a Cannes Diamond heist where the thief made off with an estimated $136 million in jewelry. On display at a posh hotel, it was for sale to the super-rich.



The second story recounted how multi-millionaire celebrity Oprah Winfrey, while shopping at a “pricey Zurich boutique” was told by the clerk that she couldn’t afford a $38,000 purse. The story focused exclusively on the racism implied in the clerk’s remark. To me, the stories seemed to be about energy being "congealed" in the value of expensive status symbols that only the rich can afford, presumably to feed their insatiable egos.

To me the word “congealed” doesn’t get to what’s happened to the energy locked up in a $38,000 purse and $136 million in jewelry. A better word is “frozen.”

Frozen energy. It just sits there. Nothing happens to it. The purse and the jewelry are virtually useless.

The purse story doesn’t say whether Oprah was actually intending to buy the purse. The fact is that no one — never mind racism — should be able to afford it or even want to buy it.


The energy unleashed by an unfrozen $38,000 might buy a year at college for a talented, but poor student. It might pay for an life-saving operation for a child who is critically ill. It might hire someone to teach or heal in a poor country for a year. It could feed hundreds who are starving.

One purse. You can bet that a small fraction of the $38,000 actually goes to those making this satchel. It’s mostly bound for the branding experts and status-merchants. Where’s the value in their work?

Something similar is going on with the jewel theft. How might the energy frozen in $136 million of “ice” be released into a world of hurt? What might that energy do? See the above examples and then multiply by 3500.

The wealthy who buy such glitter obviously don’t consider the alternatives. What’s important are the bling on their necks or wrists or the contents of their vaults.

Their own hearts are cold and energies frozen to alternatives beyond their own selves.

And how much of the $136 million goes to the African miners who toil to extract these expensive gems from the Earth? Now let's have a real talk about racism and injustice....

Where are these jewels today? More importantly, where are those willing to pay such an outrageous price for them. How else are they freezing their (and our) assets?

Finally, we must ask ourselves: How much energy have we frozen by our own purchases and our failure to give?

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