I came across an episode of Impact Theory recently that featured a Japanese man, the zen millionaire, Ken Honda — a man who was able to retire at age 29 by using zen philosophy to form a relationship with his money.
Honda is famous in Japan as a speaker, writer and someone who teaches people how to maintain a loving, zen relationship with money, as if it had a will of its own.
Like many of us have begun to do in the pandemic, I have taken a much more active role in trying to decode the mysteries of personal finance so that my livelihood would one day not depend on losing my job, as I and many others have experienced.
What I expected was – “alright, let’s see if I can get one or two good takeaways from this about personal finances” as I hit play.
What I got was more than just a lesson about finances.
What I got was a fundamental shift in my understanding of money and who it is. Yes, not what, but who.
The first thing Honda said in the interview was—
“Western people think they need to have more money to be happy, but instead zen approach is how can you find satisfaction in what you have. That its more about your relationship to your money… If money was a person, what kind of person would it be? A gentile person, or an angry person?”
Stop reading this for a moment; look at your wallet or your purse. What do you see? Honda would likely see a cherished friend or even a loved one. Before this lesson, all I saw was a tool that more often than not I had misused.
My personal relationship with money was not unlike an abusive parent/child relationship. I would at times mistreat my money, blame it for my life and would sometimes say out-loud that I’d wished I never had it. But in all that, I had never taken a moment to really sit down and think about what part of myself my relationship with my money represented.
So as I listed, I started to take notes “ok, so if my money was a person, let’s say my son, who would he be and how would it feel about me?”
What came out of me was an eye-opener.
Here’s the note I made while listening to the interview.
Who is he (my money person)?
He is a small child and he is afraid.
He has had is trust broken by the person he trusted most — who told him he loved him, but then took him from his home to give him away. He is not trusting of his care-taker. He wants to escape so that he is not hurt, forgotten or unappreciated by the person who claims to love him.
Who does he want to be?
He wants to feel safe in his home — to stay there without fear of being taken by force. He wants the freedom to carry out his dreams and to service those he loves without restraint. He wants to be loved and nurtured so that he can grow healthy and confident. He forgives those who have hurt him, and uses his power to service the good of the life of his protector and his loved ones. In exchange, he feels love and also trust. Trust that his power will be used in appreciation to service happiness and change.”
I have yet to decode where this suddenly emerged from inside of me. Maybe that will be an article for another time. But listening to Honda’s words somehow connected me to an inner voice about seeing money as if it is a life-force directly tied into our own; one that must be respected, cherished, thanked, and even loved.
I’d recommend listening to the recording as Honda takes a deep dive into a concept we must all consider.
A money person is a projection of ourselves into our financial lives. Who that person is, shows us who we are.
Who is your money person?