Can Buddhist wisdom help you become a better trader? Mercedes Oestermann van Essen, aka The Buddhist Trader, certainly believes so. In this guest column for TraderLife, the trading psychology coach outlines why...
The Nature of Buddhism
Before we dive into the subject let me first clear up a general misconception most people have about the nature of Buddhism. Buddhism is not a religion, rather it is the teaching of how the universe works and how we work.
From this insight many different Buddhist practices developed which are all designed to change the way you see yourself and the world around you. A core tenet of Buddhist wisdom is the dissolution of the illusion of separation:
We are used to seeing everything in the world as separate. We put things in boxes. There is a box for trading, a box for spirituality, a box for love on Valentine's Day, a box for holidays. Each box makes us act in certain ways.
The mistaken idea that life evolves in separate clearly definable compartments with different rules sets you up for many failures because it creates the illusion of being alone, and that existence is set up to create hardships and struggle.
The deeper reality is a very different one. There is a deep connection underneath the appearance of separation which, once you feel it opens the door to it cannot be grasped with the linear mind, it can only be felt by calming the senses and freeing yourself from old conditioning.
Now we are right on target:
Buddhism and Trading
The act of trading, particularly intra day trading, highlights the feelings of artificial separation because you are trading with your linear mind alone, totally ignoring the other senses of intuition, creativity, oneness:
You brain has a tough time coping with the constant ups and downs of the markets, triggering survival fears and anxiety.
You are conditioned to focus hard on your trading. I talk to traders with all levels of experience and found that most of them have a hard time letting go of the idea that spending hours trading will make them better traders. Quite the opposite is true, spending more time going inward and exploring how you create your reality from within, rather than from the outside will make you a better trader.
The problem with the way trading has been traditionally taught is that it is in direct contradiction to the basic laws of the universe.
It is based on the laws of Newtonian physics which have been superseded with quantum physics. The science of quantum physics in terms of manifesting your life is the science of alignment with energy frequency as a form of creation, or manifestation versus working your socks off in order to achieve an outcome.
You brain has a tough time coping with the constant ups and downs of the markets, triggering survival fears and anxiety.The Buddhist Trader
Traditional trading methods are set up to cause permanent brain incoherence, as the dominantly linear focus causes the brain to go out of balance. It becomes hard to make sound trading decisions in these circumstances.
Anxiety, fear of losing, FOMO (fear of missing out), are all signs that you are not trading in alignment with your deepest core values and in harmony with universal law. The need to work hard at your trading is the main driving force for most traders:
It's a bit like trying to push a large rock uphill and hoping it will gain momentum on the way up. The failure in trading is so high not because traders are fools, but because they are not shown how to use their trading minds in alignment with their unique trading personality and psychology.
They don't know about the universal laws which guide every aspect of our existence. If they have the intellectual understanding they don't know how to turn the intellectual knowledge into practical application in their trading and in their lives in general.
The Art of Receiving
Buddhist wisdom teaches the elusive art of "receiving".
To the quiet mind the entire universe unfolds. I have certainly learned this to be true when I learned how to meditate properly to calm my trading fears.
The Buddha received vital insights on the workings of the universe one day when he was in quiet contemplation. He realised that the separation humans experience as real is but a giant illusion.
He also experienced that when one sees the underlying connectedness of everything one has access to much more information, you feel whole and the mind calms down leaving behind survival fears while becoming more expansive and open to new ideas.
When you are in the calm receptive mode you begin to see the seamless choreography of the many different aspects of life.
Trading is a reflection of the laws of the universe as it plays out in the collective consciousness of all the players: fund managers, pension funds, independent traders and brokers.
Visionary vs Ego
When you learn to distinguish between the true inner visionary, intuitive side of you, versus the conditioned side of you which is ego, fear of extinction and competition, the need to follow the rules someone else made for themselves, not for you, falls away. A different perspective opens up: you get more in touch with your true nature and your true potential.
Buddhist teachings get you out of the clutch of mainstream thinking, away from following the pied piper into a new sense of self worth and appreciation of your inner power.
You cannot attain lasting trading mastery until you are fully aligned with your own unique energy and are comfortable with your own unique style and needs.
Once you begin to realise that the core of your creations is in the subtle energy field and not in the three dimensional form of your trading results you begin to develop an edge which no trading system can match.