06/21/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

We're All One

Have you gotten your IRS "economic stimulus payment" yet? Depending on whether you're married or not, have qualifying children or not and how much money you make, you may have gotten anywhere from $300 - $1,200.

I recently saw this email, meant to show us that in all likelihood, our use of the rebate won't actually benefit the U.S. economy:

"If we spend that money at Wal-Mart, the money will go to China.
If we spend it on gasoline it will go to the Arabs.
If we purchase a computer it will go to India.
If we purchase fruit and vegetables it will go to Mexico, Honduras, and Guatemala.
If we purchase a good car it will go to Japan.
If we purchase useless crap it will go to Taiwan and none of it will help the American economy."

Personally, I don't feel that much more affinity for a tobacco-chewing auto assembly worker in Georgetown, Kentucky than a gum-chewing semiconductor assembly worker in Mumbai, India. We're all one, as the loose definition of yoga tells us. Indeed, in my discussions with
spiritual teachers like the Dalai Lama, Ram Dass, Rabbi Harold Kushner, and Thich Nhat Hanh for my book, all of them said that interconnectedness among all beings is at the root of all the world's spiritual traditions. So why not use our money to benefit those beings?

But perhaps consumption isn't the best way to help. Personally, I'm much more interested in benefiting victims of the earthquake in China and refugees in Darfur than the owners of consumer electronics companies. So use your rebate to help others, if you can afford to spend it at all, and I predict you'll get much longer-lasting good vibes from it.

On a side note, I'm planning to start a series of conference calls and webinars. A maximum of ten people will be on each call for two hours, and the cost will be $99. Each person will get approximately ten minutes of dedicated focus on their question(s), after a ten minute introduction by me. Please email us at if you're interested in
participating. Please subscribe to this blog to stay informed about future workshops and media appearances, and to reflect on your inner relationship to money in the weeks to come.

Brent Kessel is the author of It's Not About the Money (HarperOne, April 2008) and the co-founder of Abacus, a nationwide financial planning firm with a focus on sustainable investing.