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The Cancer of Consumerism
Chinese sweatshop trinkets won't make you happy.
“Know that this worldly life is no more than play, amusement, luxury, mutual boasting, and competition in wealth and children. This is like rain that causes plants to grow, to the delight of the planters. But later the plants dry up and you see them wither, then they are reduced to chaff. And in the Hereafter there will be either severe punishment or forgiveness and pleasure of Allah, whereas the life of this world is no more than the delusion of enjoyment.”
- Quran 57:20
If you follow me on Twitter or have read my articles, you have probably seen me quote this verse from the Holy Quran many times. This verse is a powerful reminder about one of the most fundamental rules I follow in my life, and you, the reader, should always be following:
Letting go of all earthly tethers.
In our last article, “Letting Go,” we discussed this concept in a spiritual sense. You should stop caring about things you cannot control and let life play out, rolling with the punches as they come. However, the other side of this coin is “letting go” in a physical sense. This means abandoning frivolous worldly possessions and only trying to acquire things that have use or improve the self.
Living this way has existed for a long time, and the official term is “minimalism.” Minimalism is a design and lifestyle movement or philosophy emphasizing simplicity and functionality while reducing excess and clutter. At its core, minimalism encourages people to focus on the essential aspects of their lives and remove anything unnecessary.
Living a minimalist lifestyle has many advantages. It also keeps you anchored with the reality you live in, not being consumed by worldly possessions, avoiding throwing yourself into debt enslavement to obtain more shiny trinkets.
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One aspect of minimalism that is not discussed nearly enough is the level of freedom it provides to its followers. Many people become literal slaves to their property, being forced to adhere to a certain lifestyle in order to maintain these trinkets. Ask yourself a simple question, would you prefer to be free, or would you prefer to have a bunch of expensive stuff you barely use?
The problem is that post-modernism has equated freedom with having shiny trinkets. Hence, the more possessions one can acquire, the more freedom they have. This toxic ideology is a core reason so many people live a life of debt slavery. You cannot be truly free if you develop attachments to worldly possessions because lifestyle creep is a black hole that will eventually consume everything in your life.
We want you to ponder a simple question:
Let’s say that right now, when you read this, you are forced to move out of your house. You have an hour to pack, and everything you don’t take will be left behind.
For the criteria, let's assume:
Easy: Your only valuable item is a personal machine/device. Everything else is unimportant and can be left behind with little to no financial/mental toll.
Medium: Roughly the same as easy, except you own a few other non-essential items that you must leave behind but won’t have too much of a mental/financial impact.
Hard: You own many trinkets. It would take weeks or even months to sell everything off. You would need to spend a fair amount of time cleaning everything out, which would take a mental and financial toll on you.
Impossible: Your trinkets are you. You cannot let go of all the things you have accumulated. They hold either sentimental, financial value, or both. You are emotionally attached to your accumulated items and cannot let go.
Most people claiming to be minimalists will likely fit into the “medium” category. Although being in the “easy” category sounds simple enough, most people have a few items they keep around which either have sentimental value or have some use in their daily life (think physical family pictures, hygiene products, etc). If you are in the easy or medium category, congratulations, you are on the way to becoming completely detached from this world.
But what about those who are drowning in a sea of shiny trinkets?
Breaking the Chains
So you’re reading this article and realize you are a consumer. Your abode is covered in useless trash, and you want to free yourself of those objects so that you may begin the path of detachment from this life. So how does one go about doing this?
Most NPCs that try to start down this path always turn to Marie Kondo, and either her book or Netflix show “Tidying Up with Marie Kondo.” This is where the “does it spark joy meme” comes from, an extension of her philosophy when organizing one’s items.
According to her philosophy, objects should be functional and bring genuine joy and happiness.
The process begins by gathering and sorting belongings by category (clothing, books, or sentimental items) instead of by location. Once the items are grouped together, the next step is to hold each item in your hands and ask yourself if it sparks joy.
When an item sparks joy, it elicits a positive emotional response. It could be a feeling of happiness, love, or a simple sense of pleasure. If an item does not spark joy, Marie Kondo suggests expressing gratitude for its service and letting it go by donating, selling, or discarding it.
This is not the way
“All that matters is having single-minded purpose ( ichinen), in the here and now. Life is an ongoing succession of 'one will' at a time, each and every moment. A man who realizes this truth need not hurry to do, or seek, anything else anymore. Just live in the present with single-minded purpose.
― Yamamoto Tsunetomo, Hagakure
When a person decides to ascend this worldly life, the most important aspect is the concept of “living in the present moment.” The simplest way to understand this is only worrying about things currently happening, not things that could or will happen in the future. This concept can be extended to the objects you own. You should only aim to own things that you consistently use. Everything in your life must have a purpose. If it does not, it is, by definition, useless.
“A real man does not think of victory or defeat. He plunges recklessly towards an irrational death. By doing this, you will awaken from your dreams.”
― Yamamoto Tsunetomo, Hagakure
We do not like Marie Kondo’s approach to removing one’s trinkets because, by default, it does not solve the root issue - consumerism. Furthermore, as the above quote from the Hagakure suggests, when you decide to walk the straight path (ie, follow “The Way”) to “awaken from your dreams” (delete all the programming that the media and degenerates have brainwashed you with) YOU MUST go all in. If you do not do this, you will hesitate. And hesitation always leads to failure.
The Vagabond Method
There is a very simple way to do this, depending on how much trash must be thrown out.
Make a mental or physical note of everything you use daily. When we say everything, we mean everything.
Everything not on the list from step one is now dead to you. Either give it away, sell it, or throw it in the trash.
Depending on the amount of trinkets you own, give yourself a pre-determined amount of time to get rid of them. If you fail, punish yourself by doing something difficult. Note it is important the punishment is difficult to do, as failure requires self-imposed punishment to foster anti-fragility. Some examples:
Shave your head
2+ hours of cardio straight
Monthly audits. Every month, repeat step one so you do not again fall back into the consumerist hole. It is important to keep yourself in check. People occasionally stray from the straight path due to personal or outside circumstances. No man was born perfect. However, returning to the path even when one has strayed is what makes a man truly great.
Modern Day Slaves
The definition of a Vagabond is a person who wanders from place to place without a home or job. However, this does not mean a Vagabond lacks purpose. The problem is, in the modern day, many people confuse purpose with material consumption. Speaking to most people about their goals usually involves talking points about buying a big house, getting that new model car, or saving up some money. Wisdom kings of old did not chase trinkets or wealth. They chased physical, spiritual, and emotional mastery. Miyamoto Musashi, possibly one of the greatest Vagabonds of all time, dedicated his life to perfecting the art of war. He completed his masterwork “The Book of Five Rings” before he died, passing on this knowledge to new generations. His legacy now echoes through generations, being immortalized for all time.
Most people have been brainwashed into thinking that gaining material possessions indicates success or mastery. They spend their lives consuming and take on debt to consume even more. This creates a vicious cycle whereby they are forced to participate in the soulless rat race to keep paying off their loans so they can keep consuming. A life filled with empty consumption and no purpose. Unfortunately, many learn this lesson too late in life. They are forced to either keep participating in the system because the system now owns them (through interest and debt) or suffer from extreme levels of sunk-cost fallacy and cannot quit because they feel they are in too deep.
The fact of the matter is most people allow themselves to become stuck in the rat race because of their addiction to materialism. The constant creation of new trinkets is the bait used by large corporations and governments to trap people into becoming a slave to the system. Once one realizes this and refuses to participate, they become truly free. A great example of this is the streamer Boogie2988. Being obese for most of his life, he neglected a core requirement of achieving freedom: a strong body.
However, what makes his case interesting is that even then, the universe handed him an opportunity. He became famous on the internet and could print money making low-effort videos. Did he use this money to better himself? No. Instead, he indulged his addiction and kept acquiring useless trinkets to fill his life with.
A quick search for his name and “toys” pulls up dozens of videos and posts of him making videos showing off his collection of useless trinkets. You would think that with all the wealth he accumulated through the years of embarrassing himself on camera, he would be free. Well, no. He lost everything, “investing in the wrong side of the crypto market,” and can’t even afford the house he lives in. Now he is reduced to begging for money online and partaking in circus side shows to make ends meet. So this poor soul is forced to become a lolcow, pulling more embarrassing stunts to survive. A shameful existence.
In the same situation, he was forced to fight on camera with another content creator losing to a TKO in the first round. This is just one of many examples of what happens when a person is consumed by consumerism. Slowly selling off pieces of their soul to make ends meet and feed the addiction. Boogie2988 serves as a warning to all men who indulge in a materialistic lifestyle.
“It is a wretched thing that the young men of today are so contriving and so proud of their material posessions. Men with contriving hearts are lacking in duty. Lacking in duty, they will have no self-respect.”
― Yamamoto Tsunetomo, Hagakure
The quote above is self-explanatory. It perfectly describes the state of modern man and why many men will never achieve true freedom and enlightenment. Instead, they will die with debt and a bunch of useless trinkets that served no purpose in this life or the next, only to end up in the landfill killing the environment as a last “f*ck you” to the world.
In the modern world, each of us enters this existence with the inherent freedom to shape our own paths. Regrettably, many individuals squander this precious gift by willingly surrendering themselves to a life of servitude ensnared by the allure of consumerism. Consumerism, akin to an infinite abyss, gradually engulfs those who engage in it, transforming them into its very embodiment.
Unraveling oneself from its clutches becomes arduous as it devours even the strongest wills who succumb to its temptations. Yet fear not, for within this article lies the wisdom you need to liberate yourself from these confinements.
Remember, in this world, the only thing we truly own are the bodies we are born in. By relinquishing attachment to this materialistic existence and resisting the allure of desires, one can transcend the shackles of consumerism and ascend to greater heights, thus gaining an understanding of “The Way” and becoming truly free.
“And what is the worldly life except the enjoyment of delusion.”
- Quran (57:20)
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