Last night I was reading Sam’s chapter on Higher Finance and was struck by how much Sam was right and very ahead of his time. I’ve copied the entire chapter for you to read and ponder and hope you can catch his vision of where true riches lie.
The capriciousness of investment convulses the world. Commercial paper and properties with fixed or constantly advancing values appear as an illusion comparable to Ponce de Leon’s Fountain of Youth. A mere whim of chance and the highest securities diminish in worth, making all material fortunes seem purely hypothetical.
The fundamental basis on which the worth of an investment must be judged is the net return to the investor. It is not enough to judge it merely by the interest rate. Though it might ultimately pay out a substantial dividend, if its incidental fluctuations have been the instigator of uncertainty and worry, the net result to the investor is a loss. The final worth of any investment is relative to its effect on peace of mind.
Some years ago the writer took the last cent he possessed and made a trip into the north country. In later years he experienced varying fortunes and prosperity. Investments were made in diverse stocks and various enterprises, all of which, in the honest analysis, were a loss. Yet the investment in the northern trip has never missed a dividend! Every delightful hour spent in the great woods is still a fresh memory, brightening conversations, inspiring plans, and ever furnishing a potential escape from an imposing world. Spirit, mind, and body still feast on the benefits of this and other journeys into the land of lakes, woods, and peace.
True, this reasoning would have no collateral value with a banker. That is because it is nonnegotiable—it is of such personal and permanent nature that it cannot be transferred or lost. It has a higher value than is recognized by the banker or, perhaps more properly, by banking. A bank credit might temporarily lift financial pressure, defer it until a later date, but the investment in nature happiness will reveal the only avenue of escape from the whole category of commercialism.
One troubled year a guest came to the Sanctuary of Wegimind. He was laboring under the general, conditions of financial depression and had left behind him a sweltering, seething, competitive city. For a few days he wandered the forest trails and drank in the cool peace of northern evenings. “One thing I have learned,” he said later, “is that there is no depression in nature—trees are just as beautiful, bird songs just as sweet, fishing just as enticing, dawns and sunsets just as brilliant, and the cool, bracing air of the northern forests is just as salubrious as ever!”
Spiritual prosperity knows no business cycles or periodic waverings. Investments made to this end are of a security which cannot depreciate. The money placed in a summer home, in boats, tents, or cameras and the time spent outdoors, all pay the investor a dividend which cannot be omitted or deferred.
The larger lesson of a world depression is that we should make a distinction between financial values and real values. When riding on the high waves of postwar prosperity, man lost his sense of values. Consideration of fellow men, appreciation of home ties, love of the ethical and beautiful ran at low tide. While stock profits were built high, progress in character was negligible. Man became intoxicated with the spirit of accumulation. In a twinkling this false condition was swept from him, and he saw that his storehouses were packed with shadows. At the highest moment of his material prosperity he was spiritually impoverished. Spiritual values are the real values, and life conducted on any other basis is as a “house built upon the sands.” The presence of fabulous wealth has never given happiness where it has been gained at the sacrifice of character. Ultimately investment will be judged from only one standpoint: its contribution to mental progress and peace of mind.
High finance may twist the fortunes of communities and nations, and a distrustful race result; but higher finance will take into the accounting man’s spiritual welfare and lead to happiness. One may well do without expensive motorcars, elaborate mansions, costly raiment and jewels; he may do without high office and financial dominion over men; but he cannot do without thoughts of beauty, peace, kindness, reverence, and love. He may do without social pomp and display, but he cannot do without the heart-satisfying sincerity found in the gatherings of honest, good-humored folk about a flickering campfire. He may do without costly travel to distant places, amid castles and famed resorts, but he cannot do without the simple, quiet walks through avenues of celestial trees. He may do without his highly opinionated self which struts before men, but he cannot do without the humble, adoring self he is when he walks with nature and with God!
Nature’s Messages – Higher Finance – pg. 135