How The Mind Conquers You
(I wrote this blog post when I lived in Palo Alto back in the Spring of 2018 but never posted it but here we go).
A few weekends ago, I took my first trip to San Francisco. As I left the train station, I noticed several homeless hanging on the streets. As I began to walk downtown on my way to visit Twitter and Uber and then go to the Golden State Bridge, I saw more homeless. Some were sleeping under Highway 101, others were holding a beer can, and some were just walking on the street barefoot and appeared to be intoxicated. They are everywhere and of all ages and ethnicity. You can easily find them hanging out just outside the unicorn startups. On my way back to the train station, I saw more and more. I was very sad to see such a state of the city. I felt compassion for them because it is the mind that has completely taken over them. When I was riding the train back to Palo Alto, I looked through the window and kept asking myself why so much misery in a city that has so much wealth and is all about disruption. The City of San Francisco spends $305 million a year to fight homelessness and tourism brings about $9 billion a year. Why can we disrupt this problem of homelessness? Can we do something to bring well-being? The homeless are just victims of the mind. I looked at the sky and asked what can we do, what? We have pushed people aside without trying to figure out how we can help them. There are many initiatives out there from public advocates, non-profits, and even social entrepreneurs https://www.fastcompany.com/video/these-architects-could-have-the-solution-to-las-homeless-crisis/OjeildYN worldwide to erase this problem. But when you come to a city such as San Francisco with some much wealth and right behind there are so many homeless, this is a problem that can be solved. The homeless have a story and in each story, there must be a moment in their lives when they were happy. At least when they were first born but we don’t remember those few moments when life was our playground. It is not about given them money and the problem will go away. It is not about creating an app hoping the data will provide you with something. This is a deeper inside problem. Their minds are polluted and their ego is so strong that unless there is a spike of hope for them, the suffering will continue.
When the mind and ego conquer you, suffering prevails. Suffering not only exists among the homeless but also among the rest of us who are creating this world but somehow we are never content with what we have. The ego feeds from the “Not Enough” feeling. We build a company and we think what we have is never enough for the customers or investors. We are so focused on creating new things and disrupting that we forget our basic fundamentals of nature. I enjoy working and investing in disruption by going beyond the limitations. I admire those who undertake risks to produce products that can improve our well-being. But where is the balance that you bring to your life? When does it start? In retirement? It should start now.
But again, it is the mind and ego that takes the homeless to their misery. Everything that is created in this world is created by the mind. But nothing that the mind creates is permanent and thus as Lord Buddha said, whatever the mind creates is suffering. The mind just like the body is a limitation. All limitations can be solved that I know for sure. Solving the homeless problem can be done, how do to do it will require patience and more design thinking because it is an inside problem.
I bow to the homeless because I know behind their body there is a God witnessing the mind’s misery.