Why Buddhism Can Be A Trader’s Greatest Teacher
Trading is akin to a high-performance sport: The intensity of day trading in particular demands from us that we deal with information in an efficient, fast and unemotional manner. The master trader’s mind is supposed to be clear, focused, disciplined and non-judgemental. This enables them to sort the relevant from the irrelevant information, enabling them to make trading decisions, in split-seconds, while acting with Zen-like calm and confidence.
The reality, of course, is very different for most traders: There is information overload, self-doubt, and mind chatter. These are a just a few of the things that prevent someone from becoming a master trader.
Now we are getting to the reality of trading…
I bet what I described above sounds familiar to many of you. Most traders think that once they have their trading system down, that’s it. The job is done and the profits will keep rolling in from now on. The shock is big when they realize this is not so, and they become aware that the path to mastery is an ongoing thing. It is no different than flying from A to B, you know where you are going, but you still have to be on the correct course and maintain it.
If you belong to that group of traders who realize this you have already come a long way. To help you speed up the journey to lasting trading success, let’s highlight the biggest hurdle traders have to overcome. It is not what you think it is, because it has nothing to do with your trading system.
Buddhist teachings can be of immense benefit to your trading and your life in general.
Your reality, and this includes everything you perceive outside of you, is not the result of some force separate from you that is creating circumstances outside of you that you have no control over. Rather, what you observe outside of you originates from within you.
In other words: Everything, and this includes your trading results, has been created by you. Now, I know that this idea might sound pretty unpalatable. We are so used to blaming market conditions, the Fed, Trump, and the weather (or whatever) for our lackluster states of mind and performance. But blaming things outside of ourselves is a what I call a victim attitude.
Our society has been built on the victim attitude. We are so immersed in the idea that we are at the mercy of life and have forgotten about the essence of our being.
This is where Buddhist teachings come in. Buddhism teaches us about our inherent powers and that we are the essence of the universe, not living in this universe as a separate entity. Once you get this core wisdom you can liberate yourself from the false concepts and illusions that keep you imprisoned in a world of subconscious inner conflict and helplessness. Without your conscious knowledge you are constantly going against your intrinsic nature. You are on a confrontational course with everything that exists. This causes you pain and suffering, which can be avoided, if only you understood yourself better. It took me many years to embody this idea and translate into a formula that can improve our (trading) lives. From those insights my first book on the psychology of trading, “The Buddhist Trader” was born.
Buddhism teaches us about our true nature: It teaches us how we create our reality from within. It teaches us the art of mindfulness through self-observation.
Can all this assist you to improve your trading?
Absolutely. Traditionally trading has been thought to be a linear pursuit. The idea of strict discipline and rule-abiding, no matter what, has been the underpinnings of trading success. Emotions are the enemy of the efficient trader who is excepted to operate like a machine…
There are only two problems with this approach:
1) Nothing in the universe operates in a linear fashion. There is one law that underpins reality and that is the law of infinite possibilities.
2) We believe our conditioned parts are reality, when in fact the part in us which is still, and open to all possibility is the essence of our being. Most traders have no idea where to find that part of themselves, since it is completely covered up by their conditioned selves.
When the shackles of illusion are dropped you will not only be able to see so much more of what is “hiding” on your charts, but you will become calmer and able to respond to the flow of the markets, without being constantly distracted by the inner back and forth of the mind chatter.
Learning to detach from outward results is the core of the journey, and well worth your effort. When you stop identifying with your trades and realize that your trading, good, bad, or indifferent has nothing to do with your authentic self, but is just a mirror of the conditioned aspect of your being, you are setting yourself free. How? Because you can change your conditioning. It is manmade, you created it.
I learnt all the above on the path to trading with consistency and know it to be true. Does it stop me from losing? No, losing is part of the trading game. However, living the above principles has enabled me to stay out of my own way and react to myself and the markets in a much more calm and compassionate manner.
The markets are a reflection of you, you are a reflection of the markets. Intelligent energy flows through everything we observe. When you learn to tune into this energy and activate your intuitive senses you have a trading edge second to none. This to me is by far the greatest benefit traders get from immersing themselves in the study of Buddhist wisdom.
By Mercedes Oestermann van Essen
Mercedes Oestermann van Essen is a trader, author and trading psychologist. She has written several books on the psychology of trading. Her 8 module on-line course offers traders a chance to create a live transformational shift over 8 weeks, which goes beyond improving their trading.
Find out more here: www.TheBuddhistTrader.com