Imagine a person who “earned”, who was “worth” more than the infamous 1 percenter of global wealth. Imagine that person giving it away. Imagine. Can you? Well, someone did and his story is told beautifully and elegantly and powerfully in Rivera Sun’s BILLIONAIRE BUDDHA.. and the reprint posted below is when the character Dave Grant [who in reality is Dariel Garner] proceeds to give a speech to other 1 percenters, or those striving to be 1 percenters, about his revelation and transformation…
Excerpt from Billionaire Buddha by Rivera Sun, copyright 2015
Dave Grant’s speaking
“The Sutra on Gold Mountain”
Dave Grant stepped onto Gold Mountain and the room froze in recognition.
“Good evening,” he began simply.
A stunned silence hung over the room, pregnant with rumors. Quick, darting eyes took in his leanness, his somber attire, and his quiet, powerful stance. They identified him instantly. For years, they had swapped gossip about the downfall of Dave Grant. Then he fell off the radar of the wealthy class and entered oblivion in the ranks of the poor. Seven years slipped by faster than snow melt off the mountains. The women nipped and tucked their youth in place. The men panicked and bought sports cars. Affairs sparked, surfaced, scandalized, and subsided. Deals came through and fell apart. Life dragged the wealthy forward by the coat tails.
Dave Grant returned to Gold Mountain.
“I thought,” he said softly as they leaned in to catch his words, “tonight would be a good time to show up. The stars are beautiful. The night shines clearer than a diamond.”
They stirred a little at that. Dave smiled with the look of the ancients.
“I have been gone seven years,” he mentioned. “A perfect odyssey, is it not? Tonight is about charity and giving, something I have learned much of in this time.”
The guests stood spellbound in place, waiting for the delicious gossip of his past. The man bore nothing reminiscent of the obese patriarch of Gold Mountain . . . except those eyes. Those blue eyes, they all remembered.
In the crowd, a doctor shuddered. Those eyes were diamonds, sharp and hard, a blue that sparked in the caverns of his face – cutting eyes that slashed through facades of silks and gowns and sliced the soul to shreds.
“I have slept in gutters and mansions,” Dave began. His voice fell into a soft intonation, mimicking the rhythm of the sutras. “I have sat in teahouses and redwood forests. I have been locked in solitary confinement and in the embrace of my beloved.”
He glanced around the room, almost amused by the frozen figures, immobilized with wine glasses poised halfway to lips and hors d’oevres forgotten in manicured hands. The theatre of the moment swept them up; they were swallowed by his appearance and his story. Their bodies, worries, lives, and conceits dropped from their thoughts for a moment. The element of surprise stuck its foot in the door of possibility. Now it was up to Dave to shove it open all the way.
“I left Gold Mountain with half a fortune – more than most of humanity ever dreams of seeing. I squandered every penny down to nothing. I begged for food and slept in shelters.”
His blue eyes implored them to understand.
“I know something of the art of charity. I have given small fortunes to single mothers in rolls of hundred dollar bills. I have received a handful of pocket change and wept with gratitude. I have walked in the ranks of the rich and the poor, and there is one thing I have learned.
“The poor do not need your charity. They need equality and justice. They do not need to be robbed of a decent life so that you can give back mere shreds of their survival. Our wealth devours dignity. Their children’s future lies in the mortar of our mansions. Their parents’ hard work formed the bricks of our success. We hand out trinkets, baubles, pittances; we throw coins from carriages lined with gold. What we give away is nothing to us; what we take away is everything to them.”
The wealthy were balking like sheep that sense the wolf circling their pen. They could smell danger in the night. Dave grasped command of the room with a bark of his voice.
“We have taken hope and turned it into golf courses! We have taken small joys and filled our pools with them. We have taken elements of their survival and served them up as delicacies on our silver platters.”
He moved. They were twitching nervously, ready to bolt. He stretched one foot forward and took a step. When the sheep begin to stir, the master must steer them in a direction. He circled the main hall, slowly. Their eyes followed his every move.
“This is what I saw with my own eyes when I descended from Gold Mountain. But there is more and listen closely, for this pertains to you.”
He aligned himself with them, with wealth. He clasped his hands behind his back in a gesture they recognized from the Dave Grant of old, the owner of resorts and privileges, the man who had paced their homes that way.
“The masses are stirring.”
They flinched at the words all elites fear.
“The people are roiling, rumbling.”
Heart rates quickened. Fingernails bit into palms.
“They cry for bread; we stock the shelves with cake.” He pointed to the silent auction. “Heads will roll because of this.”
Massaged backs stiffened. Mouths pulled into scowls.
“The ingrates,” someone muttered.
Dave laughed in a sound as dry as desert sand.
“Why should they be grateful? Their mothers work three jobs. Their schools are crumbling and overcrowded. Their sons are sent to die in wars. Their daughters are forced into prostitution to pay the rent. Their children’s fathers are locked in prisons. Their sisters and brothers are looking for work. Drug dealers are the only employers hiring. And they’re supposed to thank us for all of this?”
His voice rumbled like thunder, unstoppable, saying words that no one had ever dared to speak in cathedrals of the wealthy. On the street corners, the prophets cried of the coming apocalypse. In the ranks of the poor, the revolutionaries foretold the fall of empires. But in a world of seven billion souls, only one man was poised to deliver this warning to the rich.
“We sit in their halls of power. We own their land. We hold their wealth. We can move mountains or blow them up. We can buy up the stars and name them after ourselves. We can launch wars of utter annihilation. We have the power to make change.”
He paced as he spoke, striding rhythmically, circling, mesmerizing, forcing them to turn, turn around the room, turn around themselves, turn in a full revolution, turn and return to the place where everything began.
“They will rise up and take it back. They have to if they are to survive. They may riot. They may organize. But, either way, it is only a matter of time. All our preparations: armies, strategies, surveillance, police, prisons – these are nothing to a father’s love for the dying child in his arms. They will not stop determined mothers who see your children growing fat. They will not restrain the righteous youths whose innate sense of equality and justice rebels against oppression. There is only one thing that will save us.”
He stilled, suddenly, absolutely, exactly at the starting point framed by the arches of the entrance.
“Give it back to them.”
Those diamond eyes swept the room, leaving not one of them exempt.
“Rebuild equality and justice, pour the profits into the people, restore the public schools and services, pay your taxes, honor debts, take no profit from your work. Pay yourself a living wage and nothing more. Live simply. Be humble. Become one among the many.
“In return, you will receive security in equality; brotherhood in justice; companionship in solidarity; community in mutual prosperity. You will lose your fear of those in poverty. You will lose the unbearable loneliness of our lives.”
He stood then as a human being, one who had suffered and struggled, a Dave Grant who had nearly died of loneliness and separation, a man who knew the pain of isolation. He stood as a mere mortal who had lived and lost and learned to love, who had been touched by kindness and restored by soup, who had walked miles in many shoes until he wore all shoes off his footsteps. He stood as one among the many, humbled by them all.
Those diamond-eyes blazed with sharp compassion. The blue ached for the hard words he had delivered. He had stirred uneasy feelings and resentments. He had shattered the evening for them all. The charity would flounder – who could bid on the auction after this? They would stand around awkwardly for a short while then leave as swiftly as they could. He released the power of commanding presence; shock would hold them now. He spoke as gently as he started, beginning with charity again.
“I have learned something about charity in these seven years. We don’t need charity, any of us, rich or poor. What we all need is equality, so we can stand side by side again. So we can look each other in the eyes. So we can live and love once more.”
But, there was more to say, Dave realized, for the wisdom of the buddhas began to hum inside his chest. There is the perfection of charity and he must speak to this before they left.
“I want to make a gift tonight,” he said. Speeches alone would not suffice. “A perfect gift, an unexcelled gift, one that is unsurpassed.”
He walked now to the center of the hall, looking up and around as if pondering which piece of art or statue or gold leafed trim or beams of Mayan temple wood he would sacrifice to show his generosity. They pivoted to watch him, fascinated despite themselves. As in the folktales, some choices might bring disaster; others could shower riches, but only one answer would end all suffering.
What would Dave Grant give?
“I have urged us all to give everything away,” he told them. “And now I should practice what I preach.”
The breaths caught sharply in throats and chests. Whispered phrases shot out.
“He won’t do it.”
“He’s going to give Gold Mountain to charity!”
“Not to charity,” he corrected, smiling. “To the perfection of charity.”
He paused, for he could feel the buddhas and bhagavans, tathagatas, and fully enlightened ones amassing. The crossroads gathered and surrounded him in all directions like a thousand roads conjoining in a great intersection of the realms.
“Liberation is the greatest gift, but I cannot give what I do not own,” he said. “And what I claimed to own was never mine. For the mountains and the forest do not belong to humans. The rivers, birds, and beasts are no more our slaves than our fellow man. . How can I claim to own these beings, when in truth, we are part of one another? The deer, the water, the minerals; these are not objects to possess and control. They are part of my interconnected being; I am neither owner nor master of them.
“So, to whom do I give the gift of liberation? Who is being liberated from what?”
He chuckled to himself, for there was only one thing he could give.
“I give up my delusion of ownership, and give everything back to itself: the rivers to the rivers; the trees to the trees; the minerals of Gold Mountain to themselves.” His eyes crinkled in an inexpressible burst of laughter. “And though I say, I give everything back to itself, that is not exactly true. There is only one thing I give back to itself . . . and that, of course, is me.”
The slave owner emancipates himself from the shame of enslaving other men. He releases the cause of his own confusion, his own suffering, his own agony and living hell. Thus, though he liberates hundreds of beings, he, in truth, emancipates himself.
The same is true for all property, trees, land, objects, wealth. Not one being belongs to another. We belong together, side by side, in an interconnected web of existence, forming the great body of the Earth.
Dave Grant closed his eyes. The room stood silent, shocked. But the realms of the invisible crossroads roared with thunder, for the Billionaire Buddha had finally awakened.
From the novel Billionaire Buddha by Rivera Sun, copyright 2015
For review and other passages:
As to how to reach Dariel Garner, the real person behind the fictitious Dave Grant please visit here: http://www.livesharegrow.org/our-stories/
Listen to an interview where two 1 percenters speak about their journey of transformation about giving it all away: