by William Arntz
So, that’s me (except I’m more the Willie Nelson look), sitting in my mansion overlooking the Pacific Ocean, a cold martini shaker on the table, moping about my suffering.
“What?” you ask. “How could you be suffering? You’re rich!”
To which I can only reply, “It doesn’t look like it from the bleachers, but believe me, the rich share your burden”. Maybe not the burden of worrying about money and trying to pay for your kid’s education, but what I share with you and everyone else on this planet is:
The burden of suffering. Everyone suffers.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining – at least not right now. I’ve had a great life. You could say I’ve lived the American Dream. Upon graduating summa cum something from Penn State, I worked as a Research Physicist in high-energy laser systems (later known as Star Wars) and retired two years later after creating the first wave optics simulator for high really high energy lasers. I drove around the country, hippy-style, for a few years, got bored and did a film project with a friend.
Then I got into spirituality. As part of a spiritual task assigned by my teacher Rama (aka Dr. Frederick Lenz), I created a software product called AutoSys and built a company around it which I sold for a small fortune to Platinum Technologies. (Key word there being small.)
AutoSys went on to be Platinum’s #1 product for 16 consecutive quarters, propelling the company from a $100M/year enterprise to a $3.6 billion acquisition when Computer Associates bought it a four years later.
Yes, I sold the goose that laid the golden egg. (I am still suffering over that one.) But not that much. I mean, I was 45, and had just bought my first house with cash and settled into the successful entrepreneur lifestyle. So what? Living the American Dream of success is one thing, waking up from The Dream is another. And in those expansive days of chewing over my successes, it began to dawn on me, that nothing had really changed. I didn’t have customers to bother me; I had barking dogs next door, contractors who didn’t show up and a girl friend who split.
Hmmm… something’s missing, let’s try the spirit again. Off to another spiritual school called Ramtha’s School of Enlightenment, where I learned that metaphysics and quantum physics were often saying the same thing, and that creating reality is something we all do all the time. So if we create reality all the time, we should be able to create the perfect reality in which dogs don’t bark (at least near me) and girl friends don’t split, right?
Wrong. There were still good days and bad days. And by definition bad days are ones in which you suffer. There must be something I could do about it.
It was that golden goose! A year after I sold AutoSys, my main competitor, who I routinely beat in sales, was purchased by IBM for over ten times what I got! All right, I’m “spiritual” and all that, and, according to spiritual experts, the world’s an illusion, which means it’s a great idea to “lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt.” But still, this was just too much. Besides, since it’s an illusion why not lay up some treasures in an interest bearing Muni account?
So I created a second software product and just nine months after starting that it sold for twice what I got for AutoSys. For icing on the cake, I bought back the Lamborghini I had sold five years earlier to finance the first company.
Now I really didn’t have to worry about money. In fact, I had some extra laying around and got the idea to make a little movie about that intersection of science and spirituality. I’d always wanted to make a movie and here was my opportunity. Which is how I came to make the film What the Bleep Do We Know!? which went on to be the first successful, groundbreaking movie in the Transformational Media genre and one of the most successful documentaries of all time, playing in theatres worldwide with box office totals of $23M. I wrote a companion book to What the Bleep that had a first run of 150,000 copies, going on to be translated and licensed in over 20 languages worldwide.
My resume’ was varied and full, the bank account robust, everything I wanted to accomplish had been done and yet…, well, you know where this is going. Why? Because:
Whether it’s a bad knee, a lousy childhood, a nasty boss, an unfaithful lover, a hurricane, there always seems to be something right around the corner that can turn a good day bad.
But here’s the kicker: we all are chasing The Dream. The Dream that if everything went my way we would be happy — we wouldn’t suffer. And in The Dream we ignore The Reality: Suffering is. A thousand and one “to do’s”, a hundred and one easy steps to success, a dozen or more ways to find your perfect lover, and yet we never take it straight on: We suffer, we don’t like it, why, why, why?
I’m part way thru the why’s. Having achieved everything I wanted to, I know the answer is not “out there”. That leaves either “in here” or “(sh)it just happens.”
What was that bit about laying up treasures in heaven?
William Arntz began his professional career as a research laser physicist, developing wave optics simulators for the high energy lasing systems that became the “Star Wars” strategic defense system. He left the scientific world and spent 20 years studying with two spiritual teachers. During that time, he wrote the system management software product, AutoSys, and sold the company for millions. Following his lifelong passion for filmmaking, he used the proceeds from that to produce, direct and write the film What the BLEEP Do We Know!? incorporating his scientific and spiritual backgrounds with a desire to make people laugh and think.