THE EIGHT FOLD WAY TO ACHIEVE INVESTING SUCCESS
THE FOLLOWING IS CHAPTER 8 FROM MY BOOK INVESTMENT STRATEGY HANDBOOK FOR INVESTING IN VOLATILE MARKETS
Ok! Now you know about using patterns, trends and ratios in developing your investment strategy. Whereas, it is still going to be difficult to “beat the market”, you now have some extra tools to give you an advantage. To complete our methodology process you need one more ingredient. Like any good race horse, I know you’re ready to run. However, within the exaltation for success are the seeds of defeat. So, take a deep breath and read the rest of this to complete your journey. Our methodology is a process and an art, not a science. Your state of mind is an important part of this process. Remember in the first Chapter when I talked about getting in the “zone” in order to get in touch with the markets? The “zone” you are looking for is a place in your mind where you are able to quietly and insightfully look at all the rational and irrational aspects of the markets without being judgmental or letting your “wall of worry” internal dialogue outweigh our methodology. As we have repeatedly said “Let the markets tell you what to do”. In order to do that, you must have your mind in a neutral place and open to revelation. As we said in the first chapter, there will be a time and place when the answers you seek will suddenly fall into place, like the tumblers of a lock. Just like you “really” know the difference between right and wrong, you will know when the tumblers of the lock fall into place and reveal the sought after perspective. This feel cannot be explained in words. Being in touch with the “zone” can only be experienced. There is a famous Zen saying. “He who speaks does not know, He who knows does not speak.” There are some who believe that this “zone” is where the personal conscious mind opens up to the larger collective mind. According to the famous 20th century psychologist C. C. Jung “man is no longer a distinct individual, but his mind widens out and merges into the mind of mankind, not the conscious mind but the unconscious mind of mankind, where we are all the same.” (Civilization in Transition) We and the cosmos are, after all, made of the same recycled elements and energy created from past stars. The laws and energy that govern the universe, also flow through you.
Whatever it is that produces that feel of being in the “zone”, those that are successful in the markets, will tell you that somehow, they just know what to do. They are able to recognize the right investment strategy and the internal confidence to implement that strategy. Look for that “feel”. Find this state of pure awareness and acceptance. The true answers lie in the inner stillness between thoughts and in the unexplainable flashes of non-verbal revelation. As mentioned in Chapter 1, that recognition “may happen suddenly when you listening to music, driving your car or digging in the garden. So, therefore be open to receiving this awareness. Awaken!”
Our methodology is a process that will take a little time getting use to before it become second nature to you. Don’t rush it. There will come a time when your preparedness and opportunity will come together and you will know it. The answers and solution will just appear spontaneously. Just let it happen. As a fetus, you didn’t have to tell your heart when to start beating, did you? Fish don’t have to learn to swim. Just “let it be” and follow your bliss.
Life is like the Bell Curve in Chapter 2. Just as you look to see what part of the cycle the market is in. It might be a good idea to think about what part of the cycle you are in personally. This will help you to recognizing how your personal situation can affect your investment decisions. Are you personally at the top of Upward Progression and possibly have Unrealistic Expectations? Maybe you are personally in the stage of Euphoria and Denial? When you are successful, it is human nature to become euphoric. However, this kind of emotion can take you out of the “zone” which helped to make you successful. There is a danger that success can enlarge your ego, so that you can no long get back into the “zone” to make future correct decisions.
Try to be in a personal uptrend. There is such a thing as being “on a roll” both on the upside and the downside. Try and keep your inner life on a roll in upward Progression with higher highs and higher lows, no matter what is happening in the outer world. If you find your outer world is in Despair, do not move into Capitulation. Instead go directly to Hope. As I said in Chapter 1, you do not control the outer world and you are not responsible for the events, politics or the economy that affect the markets. However, you are responsible for your attitude and achieving the “zone” so you can determine how investors perceive the current economic environment. Your job is finding the “zone “in which you can make investment decisions that will make you financially independent. To be truly successful you need an inner success story to go along with the conventional success story that is only on the surface. Hopefully, the following Eight Fold Way to Successful Investing will give you the insights, creativity and joy to achieve this feeling of inner success, which will manifest itself in your outer world as abundant wealth. Following, we list the Buddhist version followed by our corresponding interpretation, as it can be applied to investing.
- 1) The Right View
Wealth Is Only One Component Of Success
If you base your success only on what you have, what you do for your money or what people think of you, you’re on the wrong path. Ego based power will only last as long as the money or title. All that “stuff” can be a burden. Also, there is a tendency to keep score by comparing yourself to other people’s stuff, which is non-productive. Sure, you like nice things and you can certainly reward yourself and your family with things that celebrate your success. Money is a motivator, but if misused, it can also become a negative. There is a difference about what you need and what you want. You only need a modest amount of money to pay for adequate shelter, food and the basic necessities. What you want can create desires that can become unfulfilled and cause suffering. There is always something better, bigger and different for you to desire. We are all vulnerable to seduction. Over 50% of marriages fail. Yet, most find that their new assumed perfect person, also comes with baggage and problems. And if you weren’t trained or able to cope with compromise and problem solving techniques in your first marriage, you may just find yourself back to an unhappy state in the next relationship. I am sure that either you or someone you know have expressed a feeling of I’ll be happy “if only I had” that car, that house, the new perfect lover, or this much money. However, when they get that car, that house, that new supposedly perfect lover or that sum of money, they are still unhappy and already forwarding for their next possession. It’s the American way. The constant commercials and Wall Street’s and Hollywood’s life styles are bombarding our subconscious into submission to wanting more. However, want and desire cannot be confined to one thing. Improper wants and desires form a continuous chain. And those chains can be wrapped around your neck, cutting off your energy and creativity.
Only a diamond can cut a diamond. Use your desire to cultivate the right desires. Try changing your desires from things, into desire for contentment, joy, happiness, fulfillment, respect, awareness, empathy, peace, good health and a loving and compassionate relationship with your family, friends and community. That’s really what you want, isn’t it? Money can provide for a nice life, but after that, money can create stress and anxiety. Even if you are doing “your money thing” for a loved one, the stress and anxiety created by the pressure to perform can flow over into the relationship, causing a negative outcome. Also, you may be creating expectations that you may not to be able to fulfill. One never knows when the fickled finger of fate will strike. Better to base your relationship on love and compassion. In addition, the negative effects of stress on your body can cause health problems and then nobody is happy.
The Pharaohs of Egypt thought they could take their stuff with them. They were very wrong. I once stood on the top of the Pyramid of the Sun in Teotihuacan outside Mexico City. As I looked over the 40 square miles of the city’s ruins and gazed down the mile and a half Boulevard that connects the Sun Pyramid with the Pyramid of the Moon, I wondered about the people who occupied this vast city. I imagine they thought their daily lives were really important. Now, nobody knows or cares what they did or felt. Let’s put our lives in perspective a little more. If the clock of time since the Big Bang were adjusted to a 24 hour basis, human beings would only occur in the last seconds. How about the following for another humbling view? The earth is part of a solar system of one star out of over 100 billion stars in our Milky Way Galaxy, of which there are over 100 billion galaxies in our Universe. When the Voyager spacecraft looked back at our earth from beyond our solar system, our planet was only barely visible as a small dot of light.
I don’t mean to say that our lives are meaningless. However, if we measure ourselves only in the physical material world, even our entire planet is a just a speck of dust. There is another way to evaluate ourselves. As De Chardin (20th century philosopher priest) said “We are not human beings leading a spiritual life, but spiritual beings leading a human life.” The question of “who am I? and why am I here?’ can only be answered with our immersion into the ultimate spiritual values of life that can be applied no matter what your dogma or creed. We are part of the creative force of nature and it is part of us. Follow the universal moral laws like —Love everyone you meet and for those whom you cannot love, at least have compassion and empathy for them.—the Golden Rule (do on to others as you would have them do on to you)- So you sow , so shall you reap— Everybody you see is your mirror— Action/Reaction (or everything we do has consequences) and so on. However, there is one scientific law that does not apply to us. The Second Law of Thermodynamics states that in any closed system, order changes into chaos, called entropy. We, as mortal humans, have the power to rise above this destructive force and with our actions, bring order out of chaos. We are organizers. We have the power to bring solutions where things seem to be coming apart. You can give of your organizational skills and direct the flow of your money to do good things, which can counter entropy. Also, through your giving of love, compassion and empathy, you can connect with the creative forces (the zone) that will give you wealth, lasting relationships and enthusiasm for life. Help the money to flow to do good things and good things will happen to you.
- 2) Right Intention
Be Motivated by Goodness
When you are trading in the market what are you seeking? Money? Money is just a way to an end. What are you really seeking? More money? HONK! Wrong answer. What is really in your best interest? The answer we propose is that your good intentions, combined with your money, should bring you joy, fulfillment and happiness. When you are trading, think of all the good things you are going to do with the money. This will increase the viscosity of the juices that flow through the “zone”. Being a miser or being motivated by greed will sap your energy and creativity, because you are out of harmony with the universe. You might ask what about all those wealthy bastards who are greedy and have gathered their fortunes through lies, cheating and deceit. This kind of a question has been bothering virtuous people for a long time, Back in 525, Boethius, who had previously led an idyllic life, was suddenly tossed into prison for religious differences with the Church and charged with treason. In his classic book The Consolidation of Philosophy, Boethius talks to various muses in the style of non-fiction of the 1st century. Lady Philosophy insists that the prisoners’ former wealth, fame, bodily pleasures and reliance on physical strength are all false goods, which failed to bring him happiness. Responding to the prisoners lament that virtue suffers, while vise flourishes, she insists that virtue nourish the soul, while vice turns men into animals, who can never achieve fulfillment. She explains that Fortune has a two edged sword and that EVERYONE at some time faces both sides of the blade. She says that good Fortune cannot be trusted and can suddenly abandon you through bad health, misfortune or betrayal. I think of Berrnie Madoff and how he must have known every day that he was leading a false life and that someday his vices would come crashing down on him, his family and his trusted clients. His intension was to cheat and he has faced the consequences. Think instead of Andrew Carnegie, the great steel industrialist whose ambition was to give away in the second part of his life all of what he earned in the first half of his life. His Foundation, good name and generosity continue to inspire each generation. Think of the multi-billionaires like Bill Gates of Microsoft that have pledged to give away at least half of their fortunes. Think of Cindy Pritzker who has made a big difference in the city of Chicago by spearheading a new Library and Millennium Park. If you are being captured by greed, think of these examples. You are a good person. Have the intention to do good things. Go ahead; be in harmony with the universe. When you have good intentions, it somehow helps you to succeed. If you can’t listen to your mind, listen to your body. If you are feeling anxiety in your chest and head, you are doing something wrong. Stop trading. Instead go see a sunset. Smell a flower. Watch children play. Do something creative. Write a poem. Compose a story. Draw a picture. Get those divine creative juices flowing. Exercise! I jog outside some 5 miles almost every day. Running along the lakefront and breathing in that fresh air reinvigorates me. Find out what gets your creative juices flowing. Give joyfully to yourself. Help someone else. Volunteer for an organization. Pick up thrash instead of walking around it. Hug your loved ones. Don’t get bogged down in greed. Let your good intentions be your guide to internal happiness. The future is created in the now moment. Start now!
3) Right Speech
Be Verbally Aware
Some people just can’t stop talking. All their internal energy is wasted in their listening to themselves talk. TV and radio are full of this bla, bla, bla continuous verbal assault. I am not saying that you shouldn’t listen and keep your mind open to various opinions. However, the 24 hour 7 day commentary of today’s pundits are mostly just full of “spin” instead of facts. When it comes to economic and market reporting, the commentary is almost useless. When the market goes up, they stress the positive spin and when the market goes down, they push the negative spin. Interviews are mostly from those representing the Financial Industry that just recently took our public tax dollars to ward off their collapse and then distributed the money to themselves in the form of bonuses. These are the same kind of guys who had investors buy worthless bundled mortgage backed securities, while they made money by shorting the same securities they were recommending. How many times will Lucy pull the football away from the trusting Charlie Brown before he realizes he is being treated as a fool?
At one time I was an information junkie and kept CNBC TV on all day and watched Bloomberg TV at night for the European and Asian commentary. Sunday mornings was reserved for the political commentary on TV. I think I am better off without it. Old fashion reading of the New York Times, Barron’s Magazine and the Economist Magazine, that include the necessary international aspect, seem better for me. My main input now comes from reading and looking at the charts of the markets, without verbal commentary. It is up to you, but be forewarned of the dangerous side effects of the noise, which can disable your ability to obtain the “zone”.
It is a good idea to keep your opinion and our methodological process to yourself. Once the tumblers fall into place, talking about it may release too much energy and can take you out of the “zone”. When you are making money using our process, don’t brag about your success. You may create a negative environment of envy or people will start depending on you for easy answers to their investment decisions. There are no easy answers. Our methodology is not for everybody and is not easily explained or learned. As Lincoln said “you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink.” Giving investment advice to help somebody may even be an exception to the power of intention, described in the 2ed Way. The problem of giving investment advice to others is that you then become responsible for your advice. If the investment goes down, you may change your mind about your investment advice and take a small loss. You’re going to feel real guilty if you didn’t tell the person about your change of mind. There is even a problem if the suggestion turns out to go well and you get out with a big profit, only to see the investment then fall. Do you have an obligation to tell your friend when to sell? Yes, I think so. Anyway, the responsibility for someone else’s money is too conflicting and may ruin your own chance for success. So, don’t be the Big Shot. The good feeling will only be temporary. Once your ego is engaged, our methodology can become un-engaged. The best investment advice to give someone about the market is to tell them about the cover of National Geographic Magazine where a climber is halfway up the cliff of El Capitan in Yosemite National Park. Tell your inquisitive friend “It’s dangerous up and it’s dangerous down and if you don’t understand that you don’t properly understand the situation and should not be in the market.
No one’s opinion is superior to anyone else’s. So, listen to your friends’ opinion with respect. Be immune to criticism of your views. However, political and religious debates may actually be harmful in destroying the peaceful state that you need to be into (the zone). Very little is changed with these kind of discussions. It is not your job to open up someone’s mind outside of their ideological view. They are probably not ready to be open and your view will just irritate them. Stay on the righteous path. Above all remember the old saying, “if you can’t say anything good about a person, don’t say anything at all.” While silence is safest, it is not always practical. So, just be careful what you say and try to engage your brain before engaging your mouth
4) Right Action
Stop classifying, labeling, analyzing right and wrong, bad and good. An upward market breakout on the downside is only bad if you are long and not short. It is all about your perspective. As Einstein taught us, everything is relative. What color somebody sees, depends on the speed they are traveling compared to another observer. You have to raise yourself above the turbulence of your view, as seen by your personal internal dialogue, which is usually “a wall of worry”. When you are investing in the markets you have to let go of your ego about being “right” about politics and the economy. You have let our mythology lead you to making the “right” market decisions. It is next to impossible to make money in the market if you involve your ego, as we often see things not as they are, but as who we are. Once the tumblers of decision making fall into place, have the conviction to act on your decision, even if the investment strategy is not in sync with your internal dialogue. The important thing is to swing the bat when you are ready.
Here is another thing. You can always change your mind if you later think you made the wrong decision. Be flexible. We all make mistakes. However, the biggest mistake of investors is to sell your profits too soon and let your losses run too long. If the market goes against your investment, you may have to take a loss. There is an old saying in the business, “your first loss is usually the least loss”. Don’t procrastinate. Be non-judgmental about your mistake and take your decision making process back to the drawing boards and try again. Discover what you did wrong and make plans to correct that flaw. In learning to ski you take some falls and then you get up and do better. Without risk there would be no reward. Another old saying, “the past is history, the future is a mystery and the current moment is a gift, that’s why they call it, the present”. The future is uncertain. And that is the exciting thing about it. The future is in your hands. Embrace the mystery. Be grateful for the challenges. Be flexible like a tree in a storm. When you are judgmental you are stagnant in a fixed ideological place. Be open to change. When you combine the dynamic energy of non-judgment with the stillness of your internal mind, then you are ready for decision making.
5) Right Livelihood
Follow The Creative Path
One of the wonderful things about the markets is that it is just you and the market. There are no bosses, or any employees. The markets and price are determined by a true and well tested system. You earn every dollar honestly. You hurt no one by your actions, because in markets there is always a free exchange of commerce, with buyers and sellers both doing what is best for themselves. Price is where supply and demand meets. However, if you earn your livelihood from the markets, you could have a mathematical problem. Let me explain. Suppose you are investing 1 million dollars and your living expenses are $100 thousand a year. One year you make a $100 thousand in the markets and you spent $100 thousand. So you are even. The next year, you break even on your investments, but are down $100 thousand because of your living expenses. The next year is a bad one and you lose $100 thousand in your investments and you spend $100 thousand on expenses. Now, together with last year’s loss, your one million dollars is down to $700,000. This is too much pressure for anyone to have and is guaranteed to take you out of the “zone” of profitable investing. The answer is, if you are going to trade the markets, make sure you have your living expenses taken care of through your fixed investments or a your career.
How can you earn a living in this competitive world and still be true to your values? In order to solve an immediate financial problem, the pressures of the outer world can cause you to alter your good intentions. There are many demands on each of us. It is easy to say that we will trade in our ambitions in exchange for a meaningful life. However, it becomes more difficult when the bills start coming in. Cheating on your principals becomes easy to justify when you feel you have been treated unfairly. Then in your mind, you can just even the score a little. You’re not cheating, you’re just restoring fairness. This justification can start with a small infraction of your moral code. This can be dangerous, because once you start breaking rules, your brain tends to find more circumstance that justify even more exceptions. Your cheating at work can be looked at as just another hedge against failure. However, cheating is a seductive force that once started, can become addictive. Leading an un- genuine life will suck more and more energy from your life until you collapse either mentally or physically. So if you have started, stop now. It is never too late to stop and redeem yourself by doing good things.
Everyone has a unique gift and a special talent for a service that others desire. There is a reason for your existence. Focus on what you have to give, rather on “What is in it for me.” Ask “What can I give” and abundance should follow. If one thing doesn’t turn out, look at it as though that just wasn’t for you and it was the universal force directing you to open a new door. Don’t blame anybody and don’t feel like a victim. These are negative forces that take away energy. Just keep on concentrating on your creative forces. When you find the right livelihood you will know it, because you will feel the joy. Joy does not have to be experienced only on the weekends or after work. Find a place where your livelihood brings you and others joy. Don’t settle for less. If you don’t have this now, look at alternatives. Follow your b
6) Right Effort
Look For Solutions
Don’t push yourself to implement our methodology until you are ready. Make some practice trades in your head. Look at charts. Look at charts. Look at charts. Train yourself to look for trends until a pattern appears. Look for the differences in Long Term, Intermediate Term, and Short Term trends. Do it over and over again until it becomes second nature to you. For those of you who play golf or ski you know how repeating an action over and over again can become second nature to you. Your mind has to repeat looking for patterns trends and ratios over and over again, until it becomes part of you. If you don’t feel comfortable, wait until you do. Relinquish responsibility for the outcome. When you are right don’t feel pride, excitement or euphoria. When you are wrong, don’t feel anger, shame or anxiety. The outcome is nothing more than the outcome. It should not affect your next decision. Keep your ego in check and solutions seen more easily. There are times to celebrate, but specifically set aside a special time for that kind of occasion. There is nothing wrong with setting a goal and celebrating after you have achieved it. However make sure the goal is high enough, so the celebrations are infrequent and special.
Whereas, you are not responsible for the direction of the markets or finding solutions for the economy, you may find that you may want to become a more active participant in things you can make a difference about. The process to change things in the world is difficult, but not impossible. It really starts with one person having a firm conviction that something needs to be changed. If enough people feel this conviction, it can overflow into the outer collective world, where a consensus is reached, resulting in the synergy and passion necessary to facilitate the change. This process is what happened with equal rights and it is what tore down the Berlin Wall. This period, unlike the recent past, seems to be in a quagmire of dangerous polarization, without consensus. However don’t let that stop you. Please go ahead and save the world. Just keep that effort separate from your investment decisions. Make the money, and then do good things with it to promote universal harmony.
7) Right Mindfulness
Be Aware Of Your Inner Connection To Everything
Mindfulness can be achieved with an understanding of our true spiritual nature. Scientists have shown that the human brain in a baby is unable to distinguish from itself and the outer world. So, in our early life, if we could re-remember (and part of our brain does) there was a time when for us when there was no difference between us and the rest of the world. We were one. If we can search deep enough, our brain can find a time when we were connected to the whole. We quoted the psychologist/priest De Chardin and famous psychiatrist C C Jung about how this form of collective consciousness is available to us. This is the state of mind in which the “zone” dwells. After all, how do we all know what beauty and quality are when we see it? That consensus is communicated to us without words and yet we recognize it when we see it. As the great Zen teacher tells us, it has to be experienced to be believed. Look at this not as a problem to be solved, but a mystery to be experienced. Some call this connection divine intelligence. The metaphor doesn’t matter. What is important is that you get there.
Fear will kill this connection. When you feel vulnerable, the adrenalin neutralizes the positive energy juices. That’s when you can become immobilized. You are here, but you’re not. Your ears don’t hear what they are hearing and your eyes don’t see what they are seeing. Never make decisions when you are in that stage. Also, if you can’t get out of that sage, please stay out of the market. Insecurity is real and common. Find ways out of this depression, like we gave examples of in dealing with greed under 2) Right Intention ( such as watch a sunset, exercise etc.). If you are feeling depressed, do one positive thing at a time. Every incremental positive change is important. At least you can stop the downtrend. Find a place where you feel comfortable, either in your mind or a physical place. Be quiet. Find a place where you can hear the wind, feel the sun, see the stars and breathe fresh air. Little by little, get the trend moving from fear to hope.
For those of you who are in the “zone”, this is how you stay there. Expand your success outward through voluntary service, or help someone in need or just spread some money around in worthwhile places. There are plenty of choices. You can help the environment, the poor, gifted student scientists, children with special needs, the arts etc. When you are bathing in abundance, the water will keep flowing if you connect with your genuine communal connection.
8) Right Connection
Awaken Awareness Of Your Higher Self
As I see it our life goes through five phases. Stage#1) Behaving: As a child we must obey the rules of our household and go to school. Stage#2) Becoming: As we grow older we have ambitions and goals for ourselves and work hard to achieve them. Stage#3) Belonging: There comes a time when we form a family, join a firm, and become a functioning part of society. Stage#4) Being: After we accomplish our goals and form our social connections we have the time to be more introspective and discover our inner self. Stage#5) Beholding: This is the stage where we can rise above the everyday pleasures of life and discover our Higher Self where the present moment is divine. This stage is our goal as it connects with the collective consciousness. Here, truth is eternal and unfolding. Here, matter is only a perception and we become aware of our potential for peace, love, and happiness. Here, we have a heightened appreciation of empathy, beauty and goodness. Here, altruism and tolerance flourish. Here, you can at last love your neighbor as yourself. Here, you just don’t obey the Golden Rule, but you are the rule. This is what De Chardin meant when he said that this stage is the “logical and culminating but yet unfinished outcome of the process of evolution”. It is our destiny.
This level of consciousness and happiness is there for the asking, “Ask and you shall have. Seek and you will find.” I reach stage 5 sometime and at those times I can be part of the underlying harmony of creation. For me it doesn’t last long, but I have glimpses. This book was created by those glimpses. As we have mentioned before, this desired state of mind is beyond verbal conceptualization and linguistic explanation. One has to taste the Orange to know what it tastes like. I can tell you that unlike the physical ruins in the abandoned Mexican city of Teotihuacan, this spiritual connection is eternal, infinite and shapeless. Maybe this will help. What if the Divine Source can be thought of as a dynamic FLOWING PROCESS of constantly moving energy, which your mind can experience more accurately as a verb, than a noun?
OK! Enjoy life and the process for enjoying it. May Fortune smile on you. May you end your suffering by ending your attachments that have caused that suffering. May I have helped to give you the methodology to attain financial independence and the guidance to help you to reach your higher self. As Dr. Spock of Star Trek says: “Live long and prosper.”
Carl M Birkelbach
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION IS AVAILABLE UPON REQUEST
Mr Birkelbach does not offer investment advice, but merely his own personal opinion. This report has been prepared from original sources and data we believe reliable but make no representations as to the accuracy or completeness. Mr.Birkelbach , his affiliates and subsidiaries and/or their officers and employees may from time to time acquire, hold or sell a position in securities. Past performance is no guarantee of future success. Upon request, we will supply additional information. CarlBis@aol.com