Life is a complex phenomenon to the extent that the more we know, the more we don’t know. And while many scientists romanticize finding the theory of everything, in fact, they only find more unknowns.
We also have various spiritual teachers or even gurus who seem to be far ahead of current science. But their knowledge is exclusive to them as they can’t put their understanding in words. Or maybe they can, but rarely anyone understands their teachings. It’s just as Papaji once stated:
“No monastery has been successful at producing enlightenment. It has been tried; there are no shortcuts.”
And it correlates well with the words of the famous scientist — Einstein:
“Any fool can know. The point is to understand.”
In this way, at least in the near future, we will not have a theory of everything understandable to everyone. Life will remain a mystery for people, with slight exceptions of so-called enlightenment beings or geniuses who cannot convey their understanding to others anyway.
And so all we can do is observe life from our perspective and try to describe its complexity and various conditions — the source of given experiences. And even this is extremely hard as we need to drop our conclusions, explore different cultures and let go of our ideals of the world.
But somehow, Yiddish author and playwright Sholem Aleichem managed to describe the complexity of life in just one brilliant sentence:
“Life is a dream for the wise, a game for the fool, a comedy for the rich, a tragedy for the poor.”
While there can be many interpretations of what he meant by saying this, I decided to share my thoughts regarding our 21st century.
Sholem Aleichem’s quote refers to wealth directly two times and once not directly. That’s because he lived and created in the late 19th century and early 20th century — when capitalism had already emerged. And while money has always ruled the world, it’s especially visible in the postcolonial capitalistic world and even more today during late-stage capitalism — in our cute postindustrial capitalistic world based on services with globalization.
Whether we like it or not, money runs the world — people don’t spend eight hours a day cultivating love and friendship but work eight or more hours to earn money. In this way, it’s wise to use money, trying to describe the complexity of life as money implies, to a large extent, a wide spectrum of experiences that a given individual will taste in life.
When we look at our world and all its possibilities or all the magnificent places, it’s really heaven where we can just play, experience, and enjoy all this happening. The problem is that most of us can only watch all these places on YouTube and don’t have the resources — time, money, or energy, to explore this world, nourish hobbies, etc. Ordinary people are constantly in a situation where they lack money to live a good life, or they have money but, as a result, don’t have the time and energy to use it.
But some people don’t have to spend eight hours a day to “make a living” but prefer to play golf all day. Also, they don’t even have time to work, being too busy with their yoga and parachute jumping courses or extremely busy traveling schedules. Just look at the United Kingdom, where some people still have great fun playing prince and princess in the 21st century, having almost unlimited resources to live with slight restrictions on what they can do — isn’t it a comedy?
Life is indeed a comedy for the rich. And I’m not writing about good bankers, investors, lawyers, doctors, or successful entrepreneurs — they are in the upper middle class at best, having to work their asses off under great stress to make their reasonably good living. But I’m writing about real wealthy people who inherited great fortunes or successful businesses with a well-developed business model and working culture they just have to manage, earning top margins. Or they can opt out — sell their inherited businesses or real estate and enjoy life doing what they want. Their real wealth is that they have almost unlimited resources and not only money but health because of better access to healthcare, quality food, and their whole environment. They can choose, decide, and navigate their lives however they want in this world of endless possibilities and potential joy.
While the poor in our culture — not to even mention the world’s poorest regions, are likely to experience some level of tragedy. They don’t inherit fortunes and have to participate in the system from a very young age to make a living, not having parents who can support their development after high school or so and, e.g., invest $250000 so that their company does not go bankrupt — like Jeff Bezos’ parents. Realistically, the world and all its structural powers managed by wealthy ones will force poor ones to give up on their hobbies or ideas, accept their limitations, and be just ordinary and quiet people with normal jobs living and finding joy in their everyday lives.
Also, tragedy or comedy is not only about money, but the whole culture or rather a socio-cultural background a given individual gets from family, which is a real goldmine. Wealthy children have not only more resources but also better development because of their family culture — what they learn from home. Also, they can experience life — they don’t have to sit and wander all day like other kids but have various hobbies, travel the world, and have better access to new technology and education. Furthermore, the wealthy have connections that allow them to become adults who move on to this world with grace and ease, while poor ones most likely struggle — even if they are eventually smarter and better in a given field.
But the real tragedy is when an individual approach life as a game — it’s a foolish approach and a great trick the wealthy ones plays on others to give them hope and create an illusion of possibility within our current system, which of course, benefits the wealthy. All these motivational talks and videos about the morning routines, cold showers, and willingness to do whatever it takes are nonsense. I mean, when we want to do something, we all need dedication, but let’s not trick ourselves into thinking that success is about the morning routine and not about a privilege that some individuals have. I mentioned a $250000 help that Jeff Bezos got from his parents, but he is not alone. The most worshiped human being on this planet— Elon Musk, also came from a wealthy family, and he is not an “ordinary guy” as he’s trying to present himself — like most extremely wealthy people. They play the role of “I’m just like everyone else” just to take advantage of it — or boost their ego by implying that they are really special and “made it” against all odds.
And why is life a dream for the wise? Well, I would have to be wise to understand this, so I can only assume. But the point might be that comedy, tragedy, or even a game are just abstracts when we are involved in the farthest levels of consciousness projections — like ego, persona, or mind in general. But when we understand the projection of consciousness, our everyday life of a given persona is like a far-off dream from the self — from ourselves, as we get lost in the duality of the mind. And so all these symbols of reality, like money representing wealth, are more like shadows on a wall, as Plato explained in his allegory. In this way, wise people might find our world funny, enjoying the illusion of dualism and not being personally offended by all this nonsense. They find joy both in comedy and tragedy and don’t get too involved in a game of who’s better at recognizing mere abstracts of reality — shadows on the wall.