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Friday, March 05, 2010

The Quest for Gift Economy

I'm in Provo, Utah, at least until tomorrow, when I hope to hitch back to Moab.

On Board the Free Train

Another person who recently gave up money contacted me a couple weeks ago!  His name is elf Pavlik, in Germany.  That makes three moneyless folks in Europe, that I know of, I've been in contact with (Heidemarie Schwermer in Germany and Mark Boyle in the UK).  There's also another guy named Aiden in South Africa who recently started living without money for five years (though he does raise money for causes & advertises for businesses).  There are a couple others who have contacted me who I think may have given up money, I think in the USA, but I've lost their emails in all the craziness.  Hopefully I can find them again. 

Dancing with Viruses

Weeks ago, I got sick again, for the second time this winter.  This time I had some kind of flu with a bronchial infection. Just when I was bragging about how I don't get sick!  Funny, just days before I got a mucousy cold the first time, I found several boxes of kleenex in a dumpster.  Just days before I got sick the second time with a mucousy flu, I found several boxes of kleenex in another dumpster.  Never before had I found kleenex in dumpsters.  Each time I was grateful.  But then it got me thinking: would I have gotten sick had I not found the kleenex?  Maybe that kind of thinking is superstitious.  But in this lifestyle, I keep learning, over and over, a law of attraction: for every positive in the universe, a negative comes to meet it.  For every problem, a solution comes to meet it, and vise versa.

When I was just getting over my ailment, my heart-melting friend Cody came back through Moab with his girlfriend, Jessie, from California on their way back to Colorado.  It was grand, on the one hand, seeing Cody again & meeting his treasure of a partner.  On the other hand... I think you can guess how I felt, if you've been keeping up with this blog.  It's a big reason my immune system got weakened in the first place.  Yeah, I'm weak.

We did lots of fun stuff, despite my sitch.  We dined at freemeal, hung out with Brer, Haila and their baby Veda (cutest baby in the world, missed by Guiness Book of World Records), a hike with Pete, a jam at Conrad's with Chris and Brer, and a camp-out at one of my old cave haunts, joined by Pete in the morning.

To Provo

My next adventure was a ride to Provo with Damian for two reasons: to attend a lecture of my archaeo-astronomer friend, John McHugh, and to do a talk to some anthropology classes at Salt Lake Community College about my moneyless "anthropological experiment."  I had been invited months ago by Jude Higgins, the professor. Before I gave the talks, she came and met me at John's archaeoastronomy lecture (John's the one who has found evidence that the stories in the Bible and Quran are based on star constellations that go back to Babylon, Sumer, and possibly before).  John's lecture was totally intriguing, and Jude may have him talk to her classes sometime, too.

Playing Anthropologist in Salt Lake City

My talks at SLCC happened last wednesday and thursday.  The first was to an archaeology class and the next three were to anthropology classes.  I felt like the talks went really well, though I was a bit tired the first day for lack of sleep.

I talked mostly about my theory that the imbalance of human culture, our separation from the balance of nature, came with thought of credit and debt (manifest through barter, money, and agriculture).  The beginnings of this imbalance is described in the myths of the world.  In cultures around the world I'm theorizing it is described in zillions of versions of the myth of Stealing Fire from Heaven (see "Our Fall from Grace: Our Departure from Gratis: the Beginning of Money" in my website).  In our own Judeao-Christian tradition, it's the Knowledge of Good and Evil, which is Thought of Credit and Debt.  I also talked about the concept of "The Original Affluent Society," first presented by the anthropologist Marshall Sahlins at a symposium in 1966.  The first chapter of his book, Stone Age Economics, is also called "The Original Affluent Society, and it thrilled me to no end reading it.  Sahlins basically points out that hunter-gatherers have more leisure time than other cultures, along with virtually no worry.  Sahlins' ideas are totally confirmed by the present-day hunting and gathering culture, the Hadza, which I wrote about in my last blog entry, "Creation Now." 

My "anthropological experiment" for the last decade has been to use my own self as a guinea pig to test these ideas. 

Something else I brought up is that true hunter-gatherers do not practice trade (except rarely in modern times) and agriculture, but they live under gift economy.  What is striking of true hunting and gathering cultures which have been studied by anthropologists is that, not only are they in total balance with their environments, with zero population growth, they are egalitarian and non-classist, including in gender relationships, and they are non-warring.  By non-warring I'm not talking about natural self-defense, but about one population going to full-on war with another. 

Originally, what made me doubt my developing theory was how other primitive cultures, like tribes in Papua New Guinea and the Yanomamo in the Amazon, are quite violent as well as sexist.  However, the Yanomamo and the New Guinea tribes are not true hunter-gatherers (as is often thought), but are agriculturists who embrace trade!  These tribes, in fact, are a great model for understanding our own culture.  They show how the beginning of trade and agriculture may have begun in our own cultures. 

With Thought of Credit and Debt comes trade and agriculture.  Agriculture itself is a form of Thought of Credit and Debt.  You plant (invest) a seed and wait for your future reward (credit).  Vengeance is also Thought of Credit and Debt.  Vengeance is pay-back.  "You killed one of our people; now we must kill one of yours" is the common theme of warring tribes.  True war is not based on self-defense but on vengeance and sense of possession, of ownership.   Agricultural and trade cultures amass resources they don't need, or they create shortages, for the sake of trade and for the sake of building political alliances, rather than for the sake of basic human needs, as we see in the studies of the anthropologist Napoleon Chagnon in his observations of the Yanomamo (Yanomamo: the Fierce People, p. 62 & 149). 

When I talk of war, I am not speaking of basic self-defense.  For example, when a lion takes down a wildebeast from its herd, the herd will do its best to defend itself or run away.  But once a wildebeest prey is taken, the wildebeests let it go.  Wildebeests have no sense of vengeance, of payback.  Unlike modern humans, wildebeast don't think, "now we must war against the lions and wipe them out."  We humans like to wipe out whole populations of wolves or cougars when they take one of our sheep. With trade and agriculture came massive extinction, deforestation, and famine.

I'm truly not sure what it will take for our world societies to change.  A big disaster?  When quakes, hurricanes, tsunamis and tornadoes or economic depressions hit populations, people usually forget about money and grudges (debts) and start freely helping--freely giving and freely receiving. 

I am positive that the only way we can find balance and healing is to give up our delusion of possession and  take on gift economy,with or without a disaster.  History shows us that trade economy simply does not work in balance and never will.  Perhaps we don't necessarily have to return to hunting and gathering (and I don't expect everybody to go live in a cave like I do), but we must return to the principles of gift economy and possessionless living that are the basis of hunting and gathering cultures.  Possessionless living may not mean giving up our technology, but reducing its quantity and sharing it.  Sharing, like we supposedly learn in kindergarten! 

After talking about these things, I opened it up for questions and comments.  Most questions were about the daily practicalities of my life, but a few students wanted to discuss more the philosophy of the moneyless lifestyle. 

I feel privileged and happy Jude Higgins (the professor) invited me to talk to her classes.  I felt a real connection with her.  A very pleasant and fun person.  I think we'll have a lasting friendship.

Still in Provo

So I'm still in Provo.  I was planning on hitching back to Moab today, but it snowed like crazy again, yesterday and today.  I'm probably heading out tomorrow.  That seems good, because now I get to see John's daughter, Emiline, and also hang out with John and his girlfriend Keerston.  I think the plan is to watch a scary movie and eat ice cream tonight.


  1. Here is a nature documentary where buffalo's purposely kill lions cubs. I thought you might find it interesting in regards to power balance and aggression between predator and prey and vis versa.

  2. Wow, Provo is beautiful. For some reason I have dreamed of a place that looks just like that several times. I should go there sometime.

    I would like to hear your talk. I wonder if it would go over well in the moneyed town where I live, Santa Barbara. The man who wrote the Yanomamo book lives here and is a professor of Anthropology at UCSB. I took his class and was amazed at the films of the Yanomamo hitting each other with axes. For some reason, they would hit each other with the flat side, not the sharp end. But they clearly were at war for revenge much of the time. I think Professor Fagan explained that their warring ways was a result of living in such a violent environment, the rainforest being a place of violence. I wasn't sure I bought that reasoning. Yours makes more sense.

  3. hello... I know its hard to say where you'll be and when but I plan to join you at the end of April. Will you at least let me know if you'll be in the area? till then....

    My name is Silka.

  4. Suelo, as always you fill my heart with joy. I love you for your honesty. "Yeah, I'm weak".

    I know that I'm weak too and not afraid to admit it any more.

    I hope we can meet some day. I usually head out to the San Rafael Swell in late May and again early Oct. Might be able to swing through Moab one of these trips....

    I really appreciate the insights into the nature of debt and credit with regard to knowledge of good and evil. I like the image of the seed planted as expectation.

    I mentioned the Couchsurfing project on your last blog... I signed up but haven't had the opportunity to host yet. However, I found a "Gift Economy" group and they have a few links you might appreciate also that I'm still starting to explore:

  5. Craig -
    that video might put a crack into my theories about the sense of vengeance being unique to domestic humans, huh?
    Piper -
    wow, you got to take Chagnon's class!
    Yeah, the idea that the jungle is violent, creating violent behavior, doesn't jive. We could say the desert or the arctic is more violent, yet the Bushmen, Hadza, & Innuits are very non-violent. Again, the jungle Pygmies are very non-violent.
    Silka -
    I'm pretty sure I'll be in Moab through the spring.
    Ouroboros -
    Ditto above. Thanks for the encouragement, & also the links.

  6. I love this stuff, very thought-provoking. About whether agriculture is the first form of credit and debt, I wonder, couldn't it happen even with hunter-gatherers that some could stash or hoard up something for possible future lean times? That would create the sense of possession that has to be guarded and could create jealousies from others. But maybe that doesn't happen much in hunter-gatherers due to peer pressure. Indeed the idea of stashing, could be seen by some (most modern people) as prudent and normal, but by others as selfish hoarding. Another thought, if any form of action today for a return in the future is considered participating in credit/debt, how would people invent stuff? Inventing things takes an an investment of time for a future return. So, not sure how technological advances could be obtained. Maybe we have too many of them anyways? I don't know. Not trying to disprove anything -- I like Suelo's ideas.

  7. Daniel, these are questions I'm thinking about. Again, they could crack my theories, which is fine, if truth is the ultimate goal.

    Is stashing up for the winter the same for, say, ants or squirrels as it is for modern humans? Also, I wonder about certain ants planting & cultivating fungus for nourishment. Is this credit-and-debt consciousness, as it is with us?

    But it is also true that Hunter-Gatherers see hoarding as selfish, as you say: "Indeed the idea of stashing, could be seen by some (most modern people) as prudent and normal, but by others as selfish hoarding." Sahlins points this out in his "The Original Affluent Society" chapter I mention above.

    None of my theories are set in stone (as no theory should ever be). These are questions we must think about.

  8. Interesting how you said that we as a species war (or commit vengeance) against other species when they eat one sheep. One argument is that those other species lack the sophistication or the "imagination" of fixing a problem such as not being eaten. But yes i agree that even with that, we still don't fix the problem. Maybe we can wipe out a whole species, but then we create an imbalance throughout the ecosystem which in turns affects us in the end. Same thing with natural disasters. True that we all, at least in the individual level, we try to help each other out, but we are still warring with nature. And nature is definitely biting back with global warming.

  9. I went looking for the Jung quote "what we resist persists" the other day and found the YouTube video about The Secret.

    There's a lot of truth to that idea. I'm booking a tour of the Denver Mint this week, and am going to tour where the money gets made while imagining what a great museum it will make in the coming Gift Economy.

  10. Suelo, have you ever read any of the work of Alain Daniélou?

    A little taste:
    “A predominance of moralistic ideas marks the decline of a humanity given over to materialism and leads to despair, isolation, poverty, and drugs, for those who do not have the strength to stand up against it. Throughout the history of the Kali Yuga, we witness this conflict between mystical, erotic, intense, creative, orgiastic, ecological Dionysianism, protector of nature and the animals, and urban, exploitative, restrictive, puritanical moralism. The great ages of artistic creativity and mystical exaltation are related to the predominance of Shaiva or Dionysian tendencies. Economic progress, social order, detrimental power of states and tyrants are Vaishnava-Apollonian in character.” -Alain Danielou, While The Gods Play, Shaiva Oracles and Predictions on the Cycles of History and the Destiny of Mankind, p.38

  11. Is it best to just show up? I can give you an exact date when it gets closer. - Silka

  12. Rene, can you paraphrase what Daniélou means? It would be best if you can also include real life examples to illustrate whatever point Daniélou is making.

  13. Silka, it's best to email me privately about this. I'm a bit freaked out about the possibility of lots of people converging on me. It could be fun, but I don't want to bite off more than I can chew (I wrote my website with its open invitation before all the publicity. I'm changing it).

  14. I'm curious how many people want to live in your cave neighborhood. I was thinking of moving in myself. : )

  15. Suelo said, "Possessionless living may not mean giving up our technology, but reducing its quantity and sharing it."

    I agree and I think Nina Paley has a lot of good things to say that can move this concept along.

    From Nina's work I'm beginning to think IP attorneys are profiting and holding back evolution. I agree with Ray Kurzweil that biological evolution and technological evolution are one in the same. I may be adding to his theories, but I think we are evolving to become more networked together and act collectively as "one" at exponential speed. The copyright laws as related to our technology now can be likened to the time when we first learned how to swim but are nervous about letting go of the edge of the pool.

    When we let go and allow free sharing, information building on information, (my definition of evolution) will expand at a much faster pace. Some time after this happens we have a greater chance to become much more unified as a civilization. To take this analogy even further, in Stanley Kubrick's film "2001: A Space Odyssey" the symbol of a black monolith representing a completely unified advanced civilization might eventually become a reality for us.

  16. Yes, I took Chagnon's class. I don't know why I said Fagan. Anyway, he was kind of pompous and it was only a lower-division class. The stuff on the Yanomamo was very interesting. Made me NEVER want to go there!

    I think there is a difference between storing up for the winter and credit/debit. It's subtle and I'm not sure I'm smart enough to articulate it.

    I see storing up for the winter as a form of care-taking. It's the business of staying alive. It's also part of living in a place where part of the year does not have a growing season. It's a technological tool. Many creatures of the earth have this tool.

    The difference for us is that for one thing, our big brains evolved to lie, cheat and steal from each other. The other thing is that many of us no longer trust in Providence to care for our needs. For some people, not having that trust leads to lying, cheating and stealing from others. Before you know it, we have jealous hording, systems of credit/debit and all that other stuff.

    It takes a lot of faith to trust in Providence when so many do not. I think the difference between a credit/debit system and simply preparing for the winter is the faith and trust. And that, I think, was part of what Jesus was trying to say.

  17. Totaly wish i had the guts to do what your doing.i practice survivle skills only when the weathrs good and i teach my 3 children how to survive the wild and gather food but it just a sport. i admire you.Karl S.

  18. I you haven't read this book or seen John Francis'interviews or talks on TED he's definitely worth knowing or meeting.

    Planetwalker: 22 Years of Walking and 17 Years of Silence By John Francis, Phd
    Copyright 2008

    The fourth and final step of Peace Pilgrim's preparation was "the simplification of life." "Just after dedicating myself to service," she writes, "I felt that I could no longer accept more than I need while others in the world have less then they need. This moved me to bring my life down to a need level. I thought it would be difficult. I thought it would entail a great many hardships, but I was quite wrong. There is a great freedom in simplicity of living, and after I began to fee this, I found harmony in my life between inner and outer well-being."

    No special order is necessary in the steps of preparation to inner peace. Peace Pilgrim even suggests that they could be condensed or expanded. "The first step for one may be the last step for another." she acknowledges. "So just take whatever steps seem easiest for you, and as you take a few steps, it will become easier for you to take a few more."

  19. Hi Suelo,

    Fantastic post as usual, and very thought provoking. I love reading it, it makes me really examine what I am doing. You're a natural philosopher.

    As regards agriculture being a consciousness of debt and credit, I think it is a fantastic point, but I am undecided. For instance, I will plant acorns until the day I die, even though I will never get to sit under the shade of an oak tree. When I plant a seed for vegetables, I have no expectation on it growing something. Its likely something will grow, and if it does I will gratefully accept, but I won't be angry at the earth for not repaying me if it doesn't.
    Also, your blog writing in a way is a form of mental seed planting. Sharing your thoughts plants seeds of change in other peoples minds - my question may be 'do you do it with the slightest hope that people may even slightly change their perspective, or are you completely detached from the fruits of your labour?' Only you can answer that (I feel you're extremely detached and its hugely admirable). But if the former, is that a consciousness of credit and debt also. Is going to the bin for food - which we both do - any different than planting a seed?

    I am not defending agriculture at all, I would love to return to the gatherer state (not so keen on the hunter bit, I read your comment on my blog - is there not a selfishness in taking sentient life, a sense that your life is worth more than the animal you have killed?). I am just not sure food growing HAS to be done with the consciousness of credit and debt. I agree it almost always is, but that comes down to expectation, just like we expect people to return our favours. We could just give unconditionally, and I long for the day we do.

    Anyway, thanks for all you do Suelo, and keep questioning, you're the only blog I read at the moment and you've played a significant role in the development of my thoughts over the year. I am just seeking truth too, and am more than happy to change my views as more info and new perspectives come to light.

    Much love and respect bro,


  20. The feeling is mutual, Mark, thank you. I sometimes wonder if I'd do better following your path. But a raven must be a raven and a dove a dove.

    I constantly ask myself the same questions you raise. I am not totally free from consciousness of credit and debt. I plant seeds (like blogging or seeking food), finding myself expecting reward. I was programmed, like all of us, with consciousness of credit and debt, and I am still deprogramming myself. I'm a bumbling, mistake-ridden experiment for all to see.

    It's unreasonable to think we can all drop agriculture now & go back to hunting and gathering (unless maybe a catastrophe depopulated us).

    Though I believe it was consciousness of credit and debt (lack of faith) that started agriculture, it is now here and we must transform it, make it nature.

    I agree with your profound statement, Mark:

    "I am just not sure food growing HAS to be done with the consciousness of credit and debt. I agree it almost always is, but that comes down to expectation, just like we expect people to return our favours. We could just give unconditionally, and I long for the day we do."

    Maybe this means our agriculture transforms to permaculture. I still don't know.

    About killing to eat. Yours question is also mine. I try to meditate on it every time I eat: " there not a selfishness in taking sentient life, a sense that your life is worth more than the animal you have killed?"

    There comes time when I (and every single living being) must give up my body as less worthy than another living being's, & that being must regard its body more worthy than mine! The immutable fact of life! Every cell must die for another to live. Every time I sit down to eat, I must say: "This is My body, do this in remembrance of Me". All life is the Eternal Sacrifice, and must be embraced as such if we are to find Peace.

    A deer has no choice but to eat vegan. Veganism is Holy for the deer. An Innuit (Eskimo) or tiger has no choice but to eat a 100% meat diet, has no choice but to regard its body more worthy than another's. Carnivorism is Holy for the Innuit. Every hunt is total respect for the life taken, as our Native American Sages have testified. Every hunt is Holy Communion. There is no other way for life on earth.

    A raven is as holy as a dove.

    If I am a dove (a vegan), every time I take a plant, I compete with another animal for food. When I compete, I regard my body more worthy than another's. Hummingbirds, who don't kill even the plant to eat, are in life-death competition with other nectar feeders. Last summer I saw some nasty fights between hummingbirds.

    The body I ride in must be selfish (competitive) as much as it must be cooperative. If life doesn't compete, if life doesn't kill life, life becomes cancer. To allow such cancer is lack of compassion. Human population, in its fear of death, has become cancer, full of unbearable, prolonged suffering.

    The wolf must lie down with the lamb, the lion must lie down with the ox.

    Right now, the wolf doesn't lie with the lamb and the lion does not lie with the ox. Ever notice that the lamb and ox are domesticated while the wolf and lion are wild? If the lamb and ox were set free & hunted, Natural Selection would make them strong and noble as the bighorn sheep and the wildebeest, in balance with the wolf and lion!

    The wolf population lies down in balance with the bighorn sheep population. The lion population lies down in balance with the wildebeest population.

    My body lies in rest at night, even as my cells & antibodies battle in life and death.

    Krishna tells Arjuna he can only find peace when he does his duty and realizes Vajna (Eternal Sacrifice, Freely Giving, expecting no reward).

    The Lakota once lied down in harmony with Buffalo. Now the buffalo they see are fenced on the Pine Ridge reservation. The Lakota are waiting for White Buffalo Woman to return to restore the balance.

  21. Hey Suelo

    The path you are on is inspiring the hell out of me so please stay on it, and I don't think it is any different to mine anyway, just a different expression of it. And it is me who is the raven I assure, as I am engaging in things at the moment that are a consciousness of credit and debt! But I believe there to be truth in that too. Truth, for me, isn't sticking to what you believe in 100% all of the time. Truth is acting with love towards the earth, humanity and all the species that dwell on it. Sometimes to compromise, is to act in love, which is truth. Anyway, I digress!

    Yes I agree about agriculture, that was how it started, but I agree we must work with the world we got if we are to transform it. Permaculture is my way. I think we can grow food with that consciousness - I wake up every day these days with no expectation of waking up the next day, yet I still plant seeds as I know that if I do happen to have another day on earth then myself and my friends can eat food that has the minimum impact on the earth and those that are impacted from undustrialised food supply chains. For me, I want to show a way of living that the other 7 billion could replicate if they ever wished. I don't want to live a way that if the other 7 billion wanted to as well then it would rape the earth.

    As regards meat eating, I never say no human should eat meat. I say take the least amount of sentient life as is possible. I draw parallels with energy - I never ask people to use no electricity or no fossil fuels, I just ask for them to use the minimum that they need. Every situation is different, every one has different needs. I say the same with sentient life - take no more than is absolutely necessary. So for an Inuit, that's more, as they need it to survive. But for us in countries that can live off fruits and nuts (the apple tree wants us to take its fruit so it can spread its seed) and vegetables and grains, why take sentient life when we don't have to? The rabbit wants to stay alive, and he now fears me so much he runs when he sees me, even though I pose him no threat. But he runs because he lives in a world where everything it out to take his life away. So everything lives in fear.

    As regards competing with other animals when we take plants, I grow enough for the rabbits too and they take their share I can tell you! But there is still enough for me! I am also not sure about your statement where we have to give up our bodies for some creature who considers themselves more worthy than us, but it may well be because I don't have your understanding of it. There is a chance I will die of old age, the body no longer fit to act as a vehicle for the spirit.

    We humans have been blessed with the ability to increase the abundance of life on this planet just as much as we have been given the ability to destroy life on the planet. If I have a choice to plant more food - with no expectation of a harvest - so that me and the rabbit can both eat and live in harmony with each other, or kill that rabbit, the former is my choice.

    I long for the day the rabbit no longer runs from me, no longer lives every moment in fear of an attacker. I want to sit in a field with it. By taking sentient life, are we not increasing the fear for all life around us?

    I hope you don't mind my questioning these things with you Suelo, it must seem like I am focusing on little differences. But there is so much we agree on, there is no point discussing that so much! As I write to you I am clarifying things myself, so don't feel these are me saying I am right and you are wrong, I just feel that until we refine our thoughts our actions will never change.

    Much love to you brother, I hope to hang out and chew the cud with you one day in person!

    Mark x

  22. I've thought about the whole Raven and Dove thing quite a bit over the years. I've come to think that humans have an animal-centric view of the world and that is why a Raven may be mistaken as less holy than a Dove. By animal centric, I mean that we understand human and animal life and identify with it, because animal life has similar needs such as food, water, shelter, we value animal life as more sacred than plant or fungus only because we have an easier time relating to it. It also helps that an animal screams in fear when we try to kill it, something we can certainly understand in a very direct manner, and the fear of death is probably the most significant fear in this world at this time. But if you step back, and try looking at the bigger picture, all life is in competition of some sort, and it is a beautiful thing when it strikes a balance, but is it really fair to say that animal life is any more sacred than plant life, or fungal life, or bacteria? Just because we would have a hard time relating to the suffering and struggle of diverse forms of life doesn't make it not there.


  23. Mark, I think you & I have known & felt all along that we have a rare & beautiful agreement with each other, & are on virtually the same path. No worries feeling like this could be an argument. It definitely is not - it is discussion, & I am amazingly honored to have it with you.

    I feel the same about sentient life, and I can't hunt in good conscience when I don't need to. But I also feel, like Gary, & like classic Native American belief, that every particle in the universe is sentient and living, one not more worthy of living than another. I can't help but see plants or even soil or rocks as sentient & conscious. Walking as lightly as possible on this sentient soil is what your & my path is about. We are all suelo.

    Out of all the cultures I've looked at, those who hunt & gather walk the lightest, & have the greatest respect for life. But I wouldn't walk the lightest, within our culture, if I hunted when I didn't need to, even while our culture is wasting obscene amounts of precious life (food).

    I have to clarify that I don't see the raven as conscious of credit & debt or symbolic of consciousness of credit & debt. When I speak of the raven, I speak of an omnivore, who hunts, scavenges waste, & gathers. I like to emulate the raven. I'm infatuated with the dove, too, though I don't emulate it as much. A dove is vegan (as far as I know), and the perfect balance of beauty to the raven. I made a wool coat a few years ago & designed on the back of it a white dove and a black raven in a yin-yang form.

    Infinite love rebounded to you, Mark.

  24. First time poster, long time reader. Just another fan and cheering section, Suelo, just up the street in SLC (for now). I love your perspectives and I often come to your site for inspiration and encouragement in my own less consumeristic lifestyle.
    Interesting thoughts about agriculture/hunt/gather...
    I myself have spent the last year and a half "urban homesteading" with chickens, bees, goats, quail, large gardens, etc...thinking I was somehow going to help my impact on the environment and/or dependency on government or monetary and food systems. I've lived in the city and the desert now for 20+ years and it never occurred to me how "unnatural" an act it was until the last year. We don't BELONG here. It inspired me to remove myself from the desert to a more "natural" location for supporting life, and in turn, I can live without as much "managment" of plants and animals. I honestly prefer foraging/hunting, it's sure a lot easier emotionally on me. However so far in my adult life, it's been less expensive, more practical and less time consuming to garden and raise meat animals than to forage or hunt. That is somewhat unfortunate, I think.
    I do know I have a real hard time charging money for anything my animals produce: milk, eggs, meat, honey. I don't mind bartering so much, given the care I give the animals so that they DO give or produce; but such an honest product, given by these fellow creatures, money does seem to taint the purity of it. It's both never enough, and just doesn't apply.
    Anyway- Raising animals for food and farming/gardening has made me appreciate money LESS the longer I do it (as well as eat a LOT less meat). Money may buy city water and endless bags of chicken feed and goat chow from IFA, but when all is said and done, it's not going to buy clean rain or sustainable forage for my urban homestead... ever. It's still relying on a very unnatural system, that in the end, just doesn't feel right. The more I see how nature WORKS, and participate in that process, the less valuable money becomes to me. I love that part. When "agriculture" becomes the machine driven gmo laden monocultures...well... I know I don't want to live that way. I DON'T like that part.

    Thanks again Suelo for your inspiration! I, like most, would love to run into you at some point! Looks like I'm headed to Northern California by fall though!

  25. Dear Suelo, I've recently been reading about "money" in some essays by Merrill Jenkins. I've been thinking about its illusory nature, its abstractness and the absurd power it exudes. I want to free myself from its yoke, and while I think I would love nothing more than to find an abode like yours, I suspect that for me and especially my friends and family this is going to be a gradual awakening. Do you have any practical suggestions about how to begin walking a middle path between your lifestyle and those of the fat pigs on Wallstreet?

  26. I'd say do what you know you can, then what you can't do becomes possible. That means give away as much as you know you can & forgive yourself for those attachments you feel you can't give away. Then watch the magic happen. What more can you or anybody do?

    However, before you do anything, give up all possessions in your mind, meaning resolve that you own absolutely nothing (not even your body or mind), then you know there's nothing to lose & nobody can ever steal from you or tresspass against you. Then you're free, and you can then freely let go of stuff & money.

  27. Dear Suelo, I was curious whether you take an interest in international affairs and politics and stuff like that, or do you see it as total folly?

  28. Hey Suelo

    Thanks bro for the reply, I know your library time is short. If the whole world followed the level of respect that you've shown, I'd die a very happy man indeed.

    I think, for me, it doesn't matter about all the minute differences of opinions, because which of us can put our hands on our heart and say that we know we're right (or wrong) anyway. I believe that if every person had zero discrepancy between their head, heart and hands, whatever their beliefs, then we'd live in such a wonderful world. We do anyway, but you know what I mean :)

    Keep inspiring me and everyone else Suelo, and lots and lots of love to you over there!

    Mark x

  29. In the book, Ishmael: An Adventure of the Mind and Spirit, by Daniel Quinn, the fictional character Ishmael, which is a highly intelligent Gorilla, who seeks students to teach, provides a lesson in the "Takers," and "Leavers." Takers are the decendents of Cain. They are the agriculturers. The Leavers are the nomadics who travel around their world, using only what God gives them, and leaving enough behind for the earth to replentish itself.

    Follows the same principles as you do here.


  30. Thanks Jim, I remember asking a acquaintance about the book and all he would say was, "Read Ishmael". The phrase "Read Ishmael" seemed to be some sort of viral marketing hook. Like I wouldn't get it unless I was fully indoctrinated. I was so annoyed that I avoided the read.

  31. Anon -
    I try to avoid talking politics because they hopelessly divide us. Politics are the symptoms (the branches), not the cause (root) of world problems. When we each focus on our inward heart, the root, then our politics automatically heal. Corrupt politics are the manifestation of individual greed & our inability to change (repent). In America, religion is the life-blood of politics, and zealous religious folks obviously and blatantly don't practice the teachings of their own Jesus, and yet they think themselves "fair and balanced" experts on politics. You can futily argue politics with them, or you can simply refer them to the life & teachings of the man they zealously call "Lord, Lord", which happen to be the most published teachings in all the world, a shining witness against them.

    Jim, thanks for bringing up Daniel Quinn's "Ishmael." That book was a major influence in pushing me into living moneyless. His ideas about Cain & Abel inspired me to research "Cain" in the Bible, & I found Quinn to be right on target, so much so that I had to give up money. I could have sworn I cited Quinn in my website, but I just searched it and found I don't (I cite him in an essay I haven't yet published but thought I did). My apologies to Daniel Quinn.

  32. Hi Suelo, been following your blog for several months now but haven't posted to it before. I admire your anti-consumerist lifestyle greatly and try to practice it myself to the extent that I can in my present situation. Forgive me if you've addressed this in your previous posts, but your comments and fondness for the anarchist author, Daniel Quinn (as well as your anti-civilization lifestyle), made me think of the group of anarchists known as anarcho-primitivists (anarcho-primitivism). Just wondering if you've run across their ideas before, as your thoughts about technology and civilization, as far as I can tell, seem to be similar to theirs (though they tend to be more political in their orientation than you, I think)? Btw, I am also an ex-Peace Corps. Thanks, and take care of yourself. --Mike

  33. Hello! I was wondering what you think about Peak Oil? Also, what is your e-mail address? Much love


  34. beautiful life, thank you for sharing
    i would like to share with you a book entitled "the great cosmic mother" which covers the anthropological and theological roots and radicalism of human spirituality and culture. it does a wonderful job of showing our history as a species, from the beginning of time, paleolitic eras, when we populated enough to form tribes, when we discovered agriculutre, babylon, sumeria, egypt. it covers all of these and shows our split with the universe, the spirit of nature, when we started to farm in ways that were a burden on the earth instead of a practice used to enrich our natural surroundings and foster all the inhabitants of the earth. it shows the consistancy of spiritual beliefs as well as where old stories were usurped and used for fear well as speculates and translates mythology and shows how religious has been used as political propaghanda. i really try not to read too much on these topics, as i believe if you live, observe, and reflect enough you have ability to achieve the same enlightenment...but it is always wonderful to feel as though that enlightenment is not what makes you insane...but what makes you really awake...
    only negative is there are a few digs on "males" in our current culture...which is not necessary as we are all "victims" of the same history..i was lucky enough to find a copy at my library, if you have an address at which you can recieve mail, i wouldnt mind gifting you a copy if you are interested:)

    stay up suelo...i am thankful for every word of yours!

  35. If only we could ignore the last million years of human evolution and pretend that our "true nature" is to have no possessions or war. Christianity is a similar pipe dream, as is socialism. The only ways that human beings are ever going to behave in accordance with this insane pipe dream is through force - something that all despots resort to in the end. Why is it so hard to believe that the true nature of man is merely what you see before you? I know why!

  36. With respect, to glean from the wild is one thing but to glean from the products discarded or given by the current capitalist system you find your self in is another thing all together, in terms of your ethic and philosophy. If you rely on the gifts or discards of a modern capitalist society you are still part of the system of money because you still rely on that system for your survival and it is driven my money. Even if you didn't spend the money yourself, money was spent to create what you now require for your survival like the Kleenex for example. You are in fact still dependent on money for your survival as long as you glean products by any means sourced from of the wider society, as that society sustains you.
    I am accordingly interested in alternative social, environmental, economic systems being a environmental sustainability student. However scale is the test in these discussions, we need to develop alternative means appropriate to the scale of the problem, namely large populations, to ignore this is too to ignore reality. Also all human tools are to an extent illusions existing as ideas created in the minds of humans. A chair exists as an idea in the mind and represented in wood, or metal etc. Flip a chair and it is no longer a chair. Yes money is an idea but so too are all human tools.
    Good luck in your life and thoughts.

  37. Mike - hi, fellow former PC volunteer! I've looked into anarcho-primitivist philosophy & a lot of it jives with me. But I'm not necessarily denouncing civilization but denouncing commercial (trade) civilization.

    #9 - Peak oil? Oil is obviously running out & we're not doing much about it except grabbing every last drop even when we tknow it's futile and even if it means destroying every living thing standing in our way.

    Jessica - thanks rebounded. I'll see if I can find that book in a library.

    Anonymous 1:45 - All I can ever know is what is in me, and all you can ever know is what is in you. If I do a favor to get something in return (reward, credit, money), I know I am running on ulterior motivation - I know I'm being false (not being real). If I do a favor out of love, out of the instinct of my heart, I know I am being real, being true. True nature! If I think I own possessions, I identify with those possessions. I think they are "me". They are my identity, my mask, that I present to the world. They are my self worth, as is even in our language ("so-and-so is worth x dollars"). Yes, possessions are a mask. A mask covers up my true nature.

    All you need do is spend a little while looking within, getting to know yourself, to find out if I am talking archaic religious belief or simple observation of reality existing right here and now. But money & possessions are designed to distract us from knowing ourselves, aren't they?

    Nikki M - Thanks, but I've gotten your same comment (with different wording) hundreds of times, which is why I answer it in the Frequently Asked Questions in the website.

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  39. Suelo,

    I was looking at your FAQ's, and noticed the last one about glasses and dental care. You mentioned cavities and mosquitoes make you question the perfection of nature. Well I can't argue very much about the mosquitoes, but cavities aren't natural. Nearly all cavemen skulls found have teeth that are straight and free of decay. I also read the work of Weston A Price which was extremely informative, and he studied primitive cultures in the 1930's before they had access to modern foods (white sugar, white flour, canned foods, etc...) and many of them were completely free of any cavities. He did find some primitive cultures that depended more on plant food and less on animal food which had slightly higher rates of cavities, but nowhere near like the rates you find in any civilized cultures. So cavities are not an error in nature, they are an error in our food choices.

  40. Thanks for the info, Gary. Hmm, it confirms the balance of pre-agricultural societies. Perhaps it's the same principle with mosquitos - that they might not be a plague if it weren't for cattle domestication & our overpopulation (due to agriculture). The 2 problems the Hadza are having now are polluted water (due to cattle herders invading their territory) & mosquitos - which I'm sure are for the same reason.

  41. And the problem with sickle-cell anemia in Africa (that was commented a couple blogs ago) wouldn't be passed on as an adaptation if it weren't for mosquitos!

  42. I must say... what a most fascinating blog!