Message Boards Message Boards

Poverty mentality
12/8/14 2:19 PM
I think it was Chogyam Trungpa who coined the term: "poverty mentality".

He uses it to refer to a form of low self-esteem or stinginess in which a person disbelieves his own accomplishments or merits. I would like to elucidate this subject.

Poverty mentality, strictly speaking, is the inability to believe in how far we have come. As Dharma practitioners we have come very far, we have eliminated a lot of unwholesome behavior, we have destroyed lower rebirths, we have accumulated merit, understood powerful texts with wisdom, been confirmed by good and authoritative teachers etc.

There really is no reason to believe that we cannot go all the way! There is no reason to believe that we are bad, or not good. Look at all we have done! Yet for some reason, certain people persist in the notion that they are: fundamentally bad

The opposite of poverty mentality is the notion that we are fundamentally good, that we can be totally good, without hangups and problems, that we can live a good life, totally, without any sort of problems, neuroses or hangups. I wish to spread this mentality.

My parents suffer from literal poverty mentality, they did not have it easy financially growing up, and because of this disparity they became very successful, yet they maintain the attitude that they are very poor, never giving up this notion that they are still suffering in a unreliable world, and because of this they never let go and relax.

I myself have spiritual poverty mentality, I practice very hard and attain stages of distinction, yet still I fear hell, fear small demerits. Whereas for a "large" person like me, the small demerit is extinguished upon touching my being, just as a droplet of water is extinguished upon touching a hot pan. Or rather it is diluted, just as a pinch of salt is diluted upon touching a large body of water (like the ocean).

I think, some of us need to relax, pat ourselves on the back, and just realize what we've done. All those hours on the cushion, those days spent being mindful of speech, of intentions and thoughts. They really did pay off.

Of course the problem is that, certain people (like myself), think that without this attitude that we wouldn't keep going, because what would motivate us?

I don't think that's true anymore, if we relax, everything will be fine. We should consciously, and factually, accurately, acknowledge how far we've come. We are not so bad.

A good metaphor would be dating:

It would be like if someone walked up to a girl he liked and asked her to the movies, and she said no. Would said person become so distraught that he gives up entirely, conclude that he's unworthy (whatever that means), and then proceed to never try again?

No! In PUA we call this abundance mentality, we realize that: a) there are plenty of fish in the sea (and blah blah blah other stuff) and b) we are worthy, we are someone of value, and that it would be pleasure to talk to us (blah blah blah)

So anyways, I really just wanted to get this out of my head. But I wish to instill the notion, that all of us (especially us as practitioners) are worthy, worthy of gifts (lol that aryan-sangha refrain), good, fundamentally: good, I.E not bad.



RE: Poverty mentality
12/8/14 2:33 PM as a reply to J J.
You might be referring to a deeper issue here, too.  Maybe another way to tackle this is to let these opinions be right for a while and see if you still believe them.  This povery mentality is a part of you that wants to be expressed.  Maybe by allowing it to come out, you can make friends with your doubt and have a reasonable internal discussion with it.  I've tried doing this with my anxiety and was pretty suprised.  The anxiety was just a series of thoughts that wanted to arise in my mind, and I kept pushing them down because I didn't want to deal with them.

So maybe your fear of going to hell isn't your enemy.  Maybe it's just a thought that keeps checking in because you want motivation to be a good person.  When the thought comes, you can say, "yes, it's good for me to think about hell sometimes because then I can look at what I'm doing in life and see if that's where I'll end up."  You might find that you're actually comforted by the thing that made you afraid before.  Maybe this is part of what you meant with thinking more positively too, though. emoticon

RE: Poverty mentality
12/8/14 2:42 PM as a reply to Not Tao.

So you're saying that if I check in with the fear of hell every so often, I can see that it's just a friendly messenger? Or you're saying that maybe I can check in every so often and realize that I'm doing better ethically?

Either way, that's dope.

Thanks brah!

So the messenger can be a comfort, because it is a sign of positive reinforcement!


Ok ty man.

RE: Poverty mentality
12/8/14 2:57 PM as a reply to J J.
You don't have to check in.  Whenever the fear of hell arises, if you allow it to arise you might see that it had a good reason for arising - like maybe you believe you did something wrong.  This is good because you can acknowledge that thing, whateve it is, and help yourself become a better person.  So then you're no longer afraid of hell, you just understand it as your motivation for being good.  Eventually maybe it will go away entierly - replaced by the simple enjoyment of being a good person. emoticon

RE: Poverty mentality
12/10/14 8:56 AM as a reply to Not Tao.
Well said, Not Tao!

The opposite of poverty isn't abundance. That's just switching sides on the same tetter-totter. The opposite of poverty is real equanimity, where one's sense of worthiness isn't defined by the ups and downs, they are seen as just ups and downs. It's sort of like standing on the side of the tetter-totter and knowing that up, down, and balanced are all states that happen and that's not a problem.

This is the big difference between material well-being (and even emotional well-being) and the basic sanity that comes from meditation. Meditation takes you into the realm of becoming disenchanted with the temporary kind of satisfaction you get with periods of materal and emotional positive states. As you look at both of these, they are seen to be uncertain, unmaintainable refuges. When that's seen, we can either ignore that insight and try to maintain material and emotional states... or you can let go and really study the nature of those states, become wonderfully disenchanted, and as a result much more sane. Ironically, this tends to create more emotionally positive states in the end, so you don't really lose anything (except your clinging) by taking the meditation path.

RE: Poverty mentality
12/10/14 10:33 AM as a reply to x x.
I don't think you need to develop equanimity towards negative emotional states, though.  That's kind of a paradox, isn't it?  Equanimity is a balanced emotional state, so it'd be like trying to make peace with anger, wouldn't it?  How could that work out?  I think equanimity comes from realizing a thing can be bad, yet you don't have to express the badness emotionally.  You can just allow the bad thing to be bad.  So if you're angry or scared, you acknowledge that you see the thing you're angry or scared about as intensely negative, and then the emotion fades because the mind is no longer resisting the negativity of the situation.

So in JJ's example here, I'd say make peace with the fact that you believe in hell, and that you may have done things in the past that would land you in hell, and the result would be equanimity about the existance of hell. emoticon

RE: Poverty mentality
12/10/14 11:06 AM as a reply to Not Tao.
Hmm. I think we're probably talking past each other. Mundane equanimity is a balanced emotional state, but "real" equanimity is completely experiencing whatever is happening. I think that's what you're saying when you say "allow the bag to be the bad". The capacity for allowing bad is equanimity in the way I'm using the term.

In JJ's example, what I was saying applies to the first triggers -- being with the poverty mentality and the urge for abundance mentality.

Does that make sense?

RE: Poverty mentality
12/10/14 11:13 AM as a reply to x x.
You said the basic sanity that comes from meditation is becoming disenchanted with positive material and emotional states.  I was saying that you can achieve a positive emotional state in the face of material negativity and hardship.  I don't think anyone should become disenchanted with positive emotional states, so I think my disagreement is on a more fundimental level.

Everything I have said in this thread is aimed at achieving a positive feeling state while faced with negative opinions about the world.

RE: Poverty mentality
12/10/14 12:19 PM as a reply to Not Tao.
Ah, you're right. We're in disagreement at a fundamental level. Well... maybe not ultimately, but in terms of methodology we are in disagreement.


Announcements Announcements