Desire Is The Cause Of Suffering

Porsche Carrera GT

Since I was a kid, my mother taught me that desire is the cause of suffering. Despite her teachings and the teachings of The Dhamapada, I could not root out the desire for nice things once I graduated from college. I bought multiple motorbikes, cars, expensive watches, vacation properties, and nice clothes in my 20’s. I told myself that I deserved nice things since I worked so hard. There was no denying materialism.

Only unti I turned 30 did I really start slowing down my consumption habits. I was starting to tire from working 60-70 hours a week. I knew my spending habits had to change given I didn’t plan to work forever. Things that once excited my spirit no longer captured my interests. Instead, I started to systematically purge everything I owned that wasn’t a necessity.

What I discovered from donating literally 20 bags worth of stuff to the Salvation Army one year is how liberating it felt to have less! The house is much cleaner now and I no longer have to stuff my drawers tightly due to a lack of space. By driving a $5,000 car instead of an $80,000 car, I no longer worry about anybody denting my doors. By not wearing expensive clothes, I can roll around freely. This 2007 white Macbook I’m using sure has traveled a long way. Things are better now. Just don’t put me in front of all those toys I couldn’t afford when I was a kid! I’ll probably end up buying everything.

The man in the picture reminds me that desire is suffering. He’s sitting down, sobbing as he stupidly tried to do a 180 in the middle of a residential intersection at 65 miles per hour. He lost control of his $500,000 Porsche Carrera GT and fishtailed into two parked cars. He told me his car was classified as “non-operable,” meaning his insurance would not cover his damages. “The only pearl white GT in North America is ruined!” he whimpered.

My life has been going so bad these past few years. I can’t catch a break,” the owner continued to say. When you have enough money to own a car worth half a million dollars, how horrible can life be? Very bad I guess. I felt sorry for him and told him at least he didn’t injure anybody. He thanked me for the encouragement and began to cry some more.

Money doesn’t buy happiness, but you know that already. This picture is just a reminder not to let money take over your life. Now if only we knew where the passenger with his three year old kid on his lap went. They ran away before the cops arrived.

Regards,

Sam

Sam started Financial Samurai in 2009 during the depths of the financial crisis as a way to make sense of chaos. After 13 years working on Wall Street, Sam decided to retire in 2012 to utilize everything he learned in business school to focus on online entrepreneurship.

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Comments

  1. says

    Some people bring about their own suffering by making stupid decisions such as trying to do a 180 at 65 mph in a residential neighborhood. Or how about shoplifting, or doing crack, or any host of other decisions that have consequences. That’s life.

  2. says

    Great picture! and story. Its funny thinking about him crying about how he cant catch a break doing something so stupid while driving such an expensive car. Fighting materialism once you graduate university is key to being able to have financial freedom.

    • says

      It was a pretty surreal moment as the driver just plopped down and started sobbing after getting interrogated for a bit.

      Although he acted foolishly, I couldn’t help but feel really bad for him.

      • says

        As a complete petrolhead, I can understand him being so upset. They’re brilliant cars, but I can also see why the mob might be so unsympathetic. It’s difficult to have a lot of sympathy for someone who says they can’t catch a break when they’re driving round in a Porsche CGT because they are so obviously doing quite well for themselves.
        In cases like this, a bit of perspective is required: No one was hurt, most important thing, and the guy won’t be stuck for transport. Even in it’s currently sad state, that CGT is probably still worth $200,000

        • says

          There is one thing I didn’t mention, which I thought was strange. He said he put his car on non operation mode because he couldn’t afford the insurance. Hmmm. Something isn’t adding up, which is then that I felt really bad.

  3. says

    Money certainly doesn’t buy happiness, at least after certain base level needs are met anyway.

    I know someone quite wealthy who recently passed, and the family is left with a big void. No matter all this individual accomplished – and believe me, it was a lot – it doesn’t matter when gone. It’s what we do and our impact on others and family that will endure. Thus, spending a life desiring material things to excess is really wasting precious time, in my opinion anyway.

  4. says

    I’m not quite sure why it is desire that leads to suffering, everyone is putting too much emphasis on the value of the car instead of the situation, had the same guy caused an equally stupid accident in a Honda Civic no one would mention desire, he would just be a stupid driver.

    There are plenty of people who own exotic cars that handle them well within the limits of the law and common sense, and then there are those who do stupid things like this guy, I don’t associate the suffering with desire but with stupidity, and even though he is suffering, who cares when you are that reckless how much sympathy can you give the guy…

    • says

      If he had a Honda Civic, he would not be trying to do burnouts and showbout for his passengers and onlookers.

      It’s really what he said afterward that made me write the title. That all he wanted was a better life. yet he has more than 99% of the people out there. He talked about the several other cars he has, and how he was so broken to wreck the only pearl white CGT in North America.

      If he didn’t desire such things, he wouldn’t care. And this is why he is suffering.

  5. Chris says

    Hmmm…. We all make foolish decisions from time to time. BUT. Come on now, dramatically dropping to the pavement and crying like a 5 year old in front of a cop over a dented Porche?? Someone’s got some growing up to do. Plenty of more important things to cry about in this world.

    • says

      It was one of the most incredible photography scenes I’ve come across in a while. Surreal, especially since the passenger with the 3 year old kid without a seat belt with a bloody lip ran away.

      In the moment, it’s hard to think about anything else for the driver.

  6. says

    I must be ahead of the curve! I was a huge collector of material things when I was in high school, but then I moved to college and realized I could only take what I could carry in my arms. I arrived at school with a backpack and a large suitcase with clothes. Since then I’ve been keen on cutting excess at every opportunity.

    Just this weekend I had the opportunity to upgrade my computer. I went so far as to preorder a fully upgraded 27” iMac (won’t even ship until January, it is so new). But then I thought of the computer I have. I asked myself, “what will that new computer do that this one can’t?” Despite everyone in my life telling me I deserve that computer (I work a ton), I cancelled the order and decided not to upgrade. That’s three grand closer I am to my yearly savings goal.

  7. says

    @Jon at Pay My Student Loans
    It’s really so hard to fight materialism once you get your first paycheck. Although I saved 50% of my after tax paycheck after my first full year, I still spent a crap load on things I didn’t need. Who needs a car AND a motorbike in Manhattan at 23 years old for example? Monthly parking is ridiculous!

    @Shilpan I don’t think about suffering enough. This picture was a reminder again. Too easy to live the good life and forget about REAL SUFFERING in other parts of the world.

  8. says

    @Squirrelers
    It’s kind of weird how there is no TURN OFF mechanism for some when it comes to buying things isn’t it? Do we really need $1,000 pair of shoes when $100 pair of shoes work just fine?

    @krantcents Glad no one was hurt either. But, we all make stupid mistakes.

    @JT Sometimes, but if nobody made stupid mistakes, we would live in Utopia, which is clearly not the case.

    @lurker Now you know!

  9. says

    Wow, sorry about that Porsche, but that’s what the track is for. It’s pretty stupid to try that kind of stunt in the street. I try to reduce my desire lately too and it’s not that difficult once you keep it up for a while. I’m happy living a modest lifestyle now and spending time with families and friends. I think people who collect material things are a bit unhappy inside and try to make themselves feel better by spending money…

  10. JayCeezy says

    This might get even more problematic for the driver. ‘Non-operable’ is a DMV designation (PNO or ‘Planned Non-Operation’). It eliminates the registration fee (which is based on the value of the car, maybe $8,500/year for a half-million vehicle) and replaces it with an $18 filing fee. The State of CA will be notified, and this guy now has tax problems to go with his car problems, insurance problems, and legal problems.

    My ‘blink’ on this, the judgment exhibited at every level of this incident, especially with the quick bailout of his ‘pal’ and the unbuckled toddler, is that drugs are involved. Desire, indeed.

  11. says

    God is this ever well said. And its so very true. But we forget. We forget every day. I think it must be a slippery slope how people go from being happy just having a car at all to wanting to own “the only pearl white GT in North America.” We get so caught up in dumb sh*t sometimes. Man, it’s crazy. THe only pearl white GT in North America? Who cares? Why is that important in any way? Desire, I guess, desire.

    man, what a great post though, dude. THe story itself is crazy, but such a great reminder.

  12. says

    We all act like idiots most of the time. But most of the time, things turn out okay. So we feel invincible (especially those of us who already feel invincible enough to buy something that comes in “pearl white”) until we inevitably fall. It was nice of you to comfort him.

  13. says

    That’s the truth! When you have expensive things you worry about them every second of every day. I feel sorry for this guy in the photo his heart must be crushed that his “baby” is all dented up now. I got rear ended a couple months ago, hopped out of the car asked the lady if she was ok then checked out my bumper. I found a couple scratches wiped them off a bit then told her to have a good day and that’s all I thought about the accident. People with $60k cars would have almost had a heart attack in the same scenario!

  14. Jason says

    Hey Sam, I have a question for you with something I’m facing. You’ve said a bunch of times that it’s to your benefit right now to be leveraged on real estate (and get a $1m mortgage if you can) simply because money is so cheap right now. But, at the same time, you’ve encouraged not over-spending and keeping a good “nut” for the future.

    I’m in SF, like you, and not much younger than you. I am in that weird zone where I basically have just enough money to buy the right kind of place (at 20% down), assuming I could ever submit a winning bid in this crazy real estate market (but ignore that for a second). This means I am keeping fairly little in reserves, though. What’s better? Should I forget about owning property for awhile and focus on making the “nut” even bigger, or should I go for broke and take a ton of leverage and plan to rebuild the “nut” later? I’m really curious about your feedback on this!

    • says

      Jason,

      Depends on the bullishness of your future self! Is your career on the upswing? Is your job stable? Do you NOT have an extra 10% in reserves AFTER you put down 20% like I recommend in my 30/30/3 rule for real estate buying?

      I will say the real estate is my favorite asset class, but are you prepared to maintain the property and sit tight for 5, and hopefully 10+ years to build real wealth? You can’t build wealth renting. Answers these questions and you have your answer!

      Best,

      Sam

  15. Rob says

    Carrera GT is one of my favorite “dream cars”. That being said, apparently it is one of the hardest, most dangerous cars to drive. Even Porsche’s test driver at the time (Walter Rohrl) had this to say about testing it on the Nurburgring in the wet: “I came back into the pits and I was white,” Rohrl said. “I immediately said to the engineers that we need one button for the wet and one button for the dry”, referring to the need for a traction control switch. There have been many cases of experienced drivers wrecking them. The Ford GT is similar (gorgeous car, but a handful).

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