Tuesday, June 30, 2009

A Review: Rich Brother, Rich Sister

One interesting book that I have had a chance to peruse last weekend was the latest Robert Kiyosaki’s book, which is “Rich Brother, Rich Sister”. Unless you have been living in the well for the last 20 years, you would have known that Robert is famous for his New York Time’s bestseller book, “Rich Dad, Poor Dad”. In that book, he shared his wealth and investment concepts and how to attain the financial freedom that so many crave for.

So what’s so good about this new book – “Rich Brother, Rich Sister”? More wealth and financial concept? Not really as I found out. It tells of the journey of a brother and a sister – each who took a different path to "God, money and happiness" – how each was successful in his or her chosen journey, but how each had to learn of the other path to reach fulfillment and the true attainment of each one's goals. You can say this is the work-life balance theme at its basic level.
The “Rich Brother” part is referring to Robert himself, but what I find interesting is really the “Rich Sister”. You see, the “Rich Sister” is Robert’s actual real life sister – Emi Kiyosaki. And she is rich in the sense of spiritual wealth. How so? Well, she is an ordained nun in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition and ordained in the mid-1980s by none other than His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Her ordained name is Venerable Tenzin Kachoe. The book “Rich Brother, Rich Sister” is co-authored by her and in it, she shared her life’s experiences and stories about her childhood, her brother Robert and other family members, tells about her experience with cancer, and how at times she needs to earn money to pay for her medical bills. Many people think that once you are ordained as a monk and a nun, you are free of any worries and the temple will take care of you. It is true that in the Vinaya, left-home persons are advised not to carry any money. But in this age and time, without money you do not even have a toilet paper to clean yourself. Nowadays, the reality is that, without a sizeable sum of money, one practically cannot become a monk/nun. One cannot and should not expect to receive free meal from the lay community anymore. Things really have changed since the Buddha’s time. So, Emi’s experiences are an eye-opener. There is even a section in which she outlines the teachings of the Buddha on Karma, Rebirth and others. As she struggled with her spiritual pursuit and financial needs in this commercial world, her brother had a different struggle. He was struggling to be happy while earning money, or be successful and yet fulfilling spiritually. Each of them had their own problems and their own paths.

Although this could easily have been shelved under the “Buddhism” section in bookstores, it is not. Indeed, this book is not aimed to propagate Buddhism, rather I see it as an attempt by Robert and his sister to urge everyone, irrespective of religion, to consider accumulating spiritual wealth besides the financial wealth that we normally desire. Even though the book has some Buddhist teachings, it really does not matter for a non-Buddhist to pick up the book to read it. At least, that’s my personal opinion. Other than the work-life balance that some people interpret this book as espousing, I think there is another way of looking at this book.

No matter what spiritual path one is pursuing, or likes to pursue, the important thing is the wealth of wisdom and compassion that we have gained through or by our respective spiritual paths. Spiritual wealth is indeed, not something many people consider to amass. Most people only think about material wealth. In Robert’s sections, he honestly tells us how he has committed some negatives actions in the past (such as when he was in the military) which led to others, and how he felt worse in the process. It was only after he had come clean and out of it by telling the truth, that he felt better. So, Robert shares his “spiritual messages” too indirectly, besides his immense financial knowledge. Maybe at some point of pursuing material wealth, one may become tired of it or felt that by itself, it is nothing without any spiritual wealth.
There is one last reason why we should get this book, and that is the book is the result of Ven. Tenzin Kachoe's getting cancer and needing the money for treatment. Even though her brother could easily have given her money for that, he would not. Her brother gave excuses like "...if you give someone a fish, he will obtain food for only a day, but if you teach him how to fish, then he can obtain food everyday". Do you think this approach is suitable for a person who got a potentially terminal illness like cancer? Even though wanting to teach her "how to fish" is noble, but I still think it will plant some serious negative karma for Robert himself in the future. Of course, attaching Robert's name to the book helps to sell it, nevertheless, if you want to help Ven. Tenzin Kachoe raise the money for her treatment, buy the book. If we donot wish to buy, it is okay, ...just leave the book alone...but donot incur bad karma on your side by have wrong thoughts on the book. (added in on Sept 25, 2009)

Hence this book gets me to think about various aspects of my life. And I am sure it will for you after reading this book. With this note, I end my book review of “Rich Brother, Rich Sister”, co-authored by Robert Kiyosaki and Emi Kiyosaki.

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