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Monday, June 18, 2012

Toward a Perfect Economy, Ancient Economy

I'm at my parents' house in Fruita, Colorado, leaving for Vermont today.

Travels and Such

Since I blogged last in Seattle, Mark and I went to a reading in Olympia, and our last one together in Bellingham.  We then went back to Missoula, Montana where I stayed a couple days.  My friend Katie (who was on the panel discussion with me last time I was in Missoula) wanted a mini-vacation out of Missoula and took me back to Moab.  We camped several days at the "guest cave", and I gave her a tour of most all the caves and camps I've lived at over the years.  Having her company was splendid, hanging out, cooking foraged and dumpstered foods, drinking spring water, and playing guitar together.  I'm feeling very close to her.

I didn't get a chance to see many folks this time back in Moab, but, shortly after Katie left, I thumbed here to Fruita.  I had to be here for a satellite interview with Dylan Ratigan from a TV station in Grand Junction.   It turns out the station's signal was down, so we had to cancel.  But it got rescheduled a couple days ago, and then the signal went down again.  So I ended up interviewing over my parents' phone while Mark Sundeen was there in person:

Okay, for being a moneyless dude, I've not been my usual and been a bit busy these days.
Here are also a couple print articles I've done from the past few weeks:

A short article I wrote for Earth Island Journal:
In the Wild, There Is Such a Thing as a Free Lunch

An interview with Joshua Becker for Becoming Minimalist:
The Man Who Quit Money: An Interview with Daniel Suelo

Tomorrow my friend Leslie is swinging through from LA to whisk me away to Vermont.  No interviews, no book readings... just visiting one of my best friends, Michael, his wife, Sarika, and their new baby girl, Satya.  They're having an ecumenical christening ceremony and asked me to be Satya's godfather! 

Considering A New Economy: the Ancient, Everlasting Economy, the Only Economy Proven to Work

Okay, I thought this was going to be short and I'd stop here.  But I'm just too excited to keep quiet. 

Yeah, I'm recalling an epiphany I had after long philosophical discussions with our host friend, Laura, when Mark and I were in Seattle.  She beautifully challenged my ideas on nature, gift economy, and barter, helping me refine them. 

(I'm hitting the road soon and don't have time to refine and simplify these ideas to a few words.  So bear with me as I spit them out here).

In the above articles I talk about the Pay-It-Forward economy of nature being the only economy that works.  But as Laura questioned me on these things, and shared her ideas, it dawned on me that there is a perfect barter system happening simultaneously with the Pay-It-Forward system.


Now this might sound as if I'm back-tracking, since I'm, after all, supposed to shun conscious barter. But I do still shun for myself what we usually define as barter.  The barter we think of is most often is not just, not even, not equal.  But now I'm going to say that all true gift giving is perfect barter!  Yes, giving, expecting nothing back, is the only perfect and just barter!

In gift giving, we think of the giver and receiver being two different things, when, in true nature, the giver is also the receiver and the receiver is also the giver.  How so?

First, ask yourself: are you as able to receive a gift as you are to give a gift?  Think of how you feel if a stranger gives you something.  Can you accept it or do you feel too proud, or do you feel too guilty in taking it? Now think of how you feel when you give a gift to a stranger you think is in need.  Do you feel equal with that person?  Or do you feel frustrated if that person is too proud to accept your gift? 

 If we give a gift out of a sense that we are doing a charity for some poor soul below us, or that we are going to get some praise or reward in heaven for being "good", then our giving is corrupt, not just.  Just means exactly even, level.  To justify means to make level, even, equal.  To not give freely is to not be equal, equitable.  If we are not giving freely, we are living in injustice, inequality, iniquity.  Iniquity is the true meaning of sin.  Sin means debt.  Inequality means one side is in debt to the other.

When somebody gives to you and you receive their gift with joy, then you and the giver are experiencing simultaneous joy, simultaneous benefit.  By accepting freely, you are giving joy  to the giver.  If you are playing guilt or pride games, you are depriving the giver of joy.  The free giver and free receiver are bartering an exactly equal service toward each other.  The giver is the receiver and the receiver is the giver.  "It is more blessed to give than receive," especially when the receiver realizes he or she is also the giver.

Now, think of this.  When you "give" to another person, and you think that person "owes" you, you have  immediately created iniquity, sin, debt.  Conversely, if somebody freely gives you something, and you can't accept it out of a sense of debt, guilt, or pride, you have immediately created inequality, iniquity, sin, debt.  In a "sinless" (debtless) world, then, every single action and interaction must be a completely equal and simultaneous barter in the exact present moment!

Now you might think that is impossible, and we, hence, live in a world of iniquity.  However, "to the pure, all things are pure," which is a quote from both the Buddhist and Christian scriptures!   Is this being naive?  This would mean if our minds are pure, we see all things as pure, sinless.

Re-Examining the Pay-It-Forward Raspberry and Bear Scenario

Now let's go back to that raspberry bush scenario I'm always harping on, which I call an example of the perfect pay-it-forward economy.  A bear eats a raspberry, with zero sense of debt or guilt toward the rasberry bush.  And the bush demands absolutely nothing back from the bear.  It is totally freely given and freely taken.  Then the bear later poops out digested raspberries, providing food for soil organisms.  And, not only that, raspberry seeds in the poop propagate more raspberry bushes.  Both the bear and the raspberry bush are paying it forward, with zero sense of credit and debt.  There is no accountant sitting by the bush tabulating who owes what to whom.  It is precisely  because there is no thought of credit and debt that this economy is in perfect balance.  Credit and debt exactly balance out because nobody is controlling it.  As soon as we start thinking of credit and debt, as soon as we take on the knowledge of good and evil, we lose balance. 

Up until now, I have not recognized any barter, but a pay-it-forward system that works perfectly.  Then, it dawned on me that perfect, simultaneous barter happens in the present moment also simultaneously with the pay-it-forward system! 

At the exact moment the bear takes a raspberry, the raspberry bush is receiving an equal and opposite service from the bear!  The bush needs, in that very moment, for the bear to take a berry.  The organisms in the soil need the bear's poop in the very moment the bear needs to poop.  There is absolutely no delay between thing bartered and thing bartered for.

All things are One in the Present Moment.

This is fundamental the law of every particle in the universe: for every action or force there is an equal and opposite reaction or force.  Every single particle in every single moment is bartering simultaneously with another particle.

Every positive barters exactly and simultaneously with negative.
Every sincere male is matched with an equal sincere female.

We have lost faith in this most fundamental law of all the universe!  And this loss of faith, this desire to control positive and negative, yin and yang, is our fall from Grace.

This Economy of Grace Hidden in the World's Religions

Anyone who sincerely practices Tai Chi or any martial art  knows that it is about giving up control.  Focus on the center (Chi), and yin and yang reach automatic equilibrium.

In Summer, 2009, my friend James, teaching me some Tai Chi, quoted Jesus' words to me, to get my body in balance:

"Do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing."

Jesus says this in reference to good works.  Don't do deeds for credit, to be seen of others, or for reward, but do them in secret.  Do you see it?  It's all one principle!  The more self-conscious you are, the more you stumble, fall from balance!

In the Hindu Baghavad Gita, the fundamental message is to do for the sake of doing, not for the sake of reward.  The Gita says you are deluded if you think you are the doer.  Nature is the doer, if you but sit back and observe.  You are not even your body, but your body is nature, and you are the observer in the body (nature).  It says that all of nature is made up of three modes: Rajas (positive), Temas (Negative), and Satva (Neutral).  As in Buddhism and Judaism, the Gita says if you keep to the middle path, not straying to Positive or Negative, you realize the 3 modes of Positive, Negative, and Neutral automatically do, and you are not the doer.  This is also Tai Chi, fundamental Taoism.

A Jew or Christian who has learned about Moses' Ark of the Covenant in the Torah knows there are two archangels (cherubim) on top of the ark, facing the center invisible throne, where invisible Yahweh dwells (The Hebrew Yahweh literally means Eternal Present).  One archangel is Right and one is Left, the Two Witnesses.  When both have their focus solely on God in the Center, they are in perfect balance, "Do not stray to the right or to the left.".  But when either takes focus off God in the Center and compares self to other, envy and imbalance happen.   Knowledge of good and evil, thought of credit and debt, happen.  Left Hand knows what Right Hand is doing.  But balance happens only from the Center.  The Center takes care of Credit and Debt.  ("Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says Yahweh").  'All Credit to Jah' is the meaning of Hallelu-Jah.   All debt, all credit, resolve themselves in the Center, the Middle Way of Buddha.

Later in the Tanach (Old Testament), in the books of Isaiah and Ezekiel, we learn that one of the two  cherubim, Lucifer, is lifted up with pride (self-credit) and falls from Grace, falls from Heaven, and enters the garden as the Serpent of Credit and Debt.  The Perfect Angel becomes the Devil.  And notice how Lucifer, the fallen angel and antichrist, in both the Tanach (Old Testament) and the New Testament, is the Spirit of World Trade, Commerce, destroyer of the earth.

Every pair of brothers, every pair of spouses, every pair of partners, in the Bible, are earthly manifestations of the two cherubim, the two archangels on the ark of the covenant.  Everything in the universe is perpetually a manifestation of Yin and Yang, the Two Witnesses.  Cain and Abel are incarnations of the two cherubim.  Every positive and negative particle in the universe is the two cherubim. 

The Hebrew word for envy and jealousy is Cain, as in Cain and Abel.   This word Cain also means 'purchase'!  After Eve had eaten of the Serpent's fruit, she bore Cain and said, "I have purchased (Cain) a man from Yahweh" (Gen. 4:1), a play on words showing that Cain was the son of Purchase (the Serpent) while Abel was the son of Grace (Gratis, Free).


Now, check out the Genesis story: when Cain starts comparing himself with Abel, envying Abel, Cain falls from Grace, outcast from Eden.  He is Purchase, Envy.

Envy is what persecutes and kills the just.

These two witnesses are manifest as Two Sons in Jesus' parable of the Prodigal Son.  One remains good, one is lost, then returns.  This is the great mystery of this whole credit and debt mess we're in.  It's another subject I can discuss later.


For the non-religious, simple observation of ourselves and of nature  teaches us that if we keep our minds on the present moment, staying grounded in the here and now, without worry, se see that credit and debt take care of themselves in perfect balance.  Stay in the present, and Past and Future balance themselves out.  In nature, we see giving without sense of credit and debt.  This is something you don't need to find out through books, but simply by direct experience, self-observation.  Give, expecting nothing in return and receive without sense of debt, and you'll see for yourself.

For the religious, the world's religions teach us to  keep our focus on the Eternal Present, i.e., stay grounded in the Here and Now, without worry.  When we do, credit and debt take care of themselves in justice, as they have for zillions of years. 

What goes around, comes around, in the pay-it-forward economy of all nature.  At the same time, every action of every particle is a perfect barter.  In other words, the fundamental law of the universe is that, for every acton or force, there is an equal and opposite reaction or force.  Trust that law.  

As waves calm on the water, so nature brings to everything to justice (even-ness, equality), automatically.  Trust that law.  


  1. I had a direct experience of this balance of giving and receiving today. I agree that within our current culture there is definitely an art to receiving. Happy travels.

  2. enjoyed your new interview and your thoughts about trusting in justice

  3. Thank you for your words Suelo. As I continue my practice of paying attention to the world, I can see more clearly what you are trying to impart on us in your blog posts. It's been gratifying for me to heat these old teaching expressed in a more tangible way. It's been my experience that when I have gone out to seek a deeper understanding of the bible, torah, tao de ching, etc; that I come up short in how to apply these things to life. I come from a place of needing a 1,2,3 step in the beginning (in terms of practical application). But once I learn to live within principles, the results are always astounding. Could you maybe explain justice a little more clearly? I am still having some difficulty in seeing justice in terms of decisions I am making for my life. Most of the people around me think that I am nuts for considering a life much less dependent upon money, and I am trying to instil a sense of justice so that I can properly explain why I am choosing this path to the people that I love and care about. But maybe its better to come from a place of surrender. Let me know. Thank you, as always for your inspired words. Love

  4. On a card I sent to my daughter while she was in college was a picture of of baby crow nestled in two human hands. Inside read "One can both give comfort and receive comfort at the same time". I think this illustates what you are saying. You are an interesting person. I am reading Mark's book & reading about you has given me a new perspective on many things. I will never look on what appear to be homeless people in the same way again. Jude

  5. Mr. Suelo,

    It is very interesting your article, and very important to learn about the life in the nature and viceversa. Sometimes we forget that we are nature because everything that we need for living is natural: air, water, fire and food. If we feel everything like nature, maybe we won`t feel guilty before anything. But nothing is easy to do, overall, when we are accustomed to living through material things.

    The best

    PS: I`m sorry for my English. My first language is Spanish.

  6. Suelo,

    I feel like I just sat through a teach-in reading this. My question/statement is, as a receiver, I always feel somewhat shy about accepting what I'm given. Perhaps it's the pounding of my parents' will to "never accept charity" that I grew up with; perhaps it's my own guilt for all the years that I mooched off other people with a selfish attitude of getting what I want. But when I am offered a gift now - like when someone picks things up for me from the store and won't accept cash in exchange - I'm constantly second-guessing. Do they really want to give freely? am I somehow tying myself into their debt? I suppose I would do the same for them, given that town is so far away and we could all use a little help out here. But I never really thought of my attitudes as a giver and how they relate to my attitudes as a receiver... this was a very insightful post. I've been given quite a bit to think about.

  7. First, let me say that I strive to live with as little money possible. I prefer to be in nature and wish I could gather more from it. The fact is for me, that the DNR is very restrictive in my state on hunting and gathering wild plants. Technically, you're not supposed to even take road kill without lugging it miles to be recorded properly and that is ridiculous if you don't have a vehicle immediately available to transport it that far.

    The people value their large tracts of forested, wild property so much they will leave you to the buzzards if you try to spend a single night on it. Asking for permission in exchange for work in my area is a crap shoot too. An good number of people will call the cops in the middle of the night after you do the work as will honor their word(even a personal experience of this; turns out they got paraniod from watching a drifter horror movie before bed).

    Living on the government land will give me a warm, cozy cell eventually. Although divorced, I have children and I just can't run off far away yet when I still get to see them now.

    I understand there are risks for everything but how do you work around staying out of jail when one night in a secluded place could land you in jail or being turned in for eating a ran over deer? There isn't one inch of land that someone doesn't lay claim to and you can't always find a place where someone you know says it is O.K.

  8. I just found this today. Glenn, and everybody please check this out:

    I think there is a lot to this.

  9. Great post: My hope is that this kind of thinking will fuel the change in mass consciousness that will change everything.

    I just outright quit my job after working full-time for 25 years. Luckily, I have family to live with and practice giving and receiving. I have $3 and some change right now and was making $34 per hour. The freedom is worth it to me, and I need to focus on my health, not health insurance.

    I stepped out of my "financial self", also known as the "straw-man", that the government imposes on us as a part of a debtors nation and economy. I have looked up the bond on my birth certificate and just wish everyone else would wake up to our enslavement, but if things are just good enough for the majority, change is slow.

    I will work towards a vehicle just big enough to have some camping supplies and sleep in while going between places and enjoying the good weather periods.

    My perspective has definitely changed and everything "looks" different and better.


  10. I think that your philosophy is interesting. Drawing from various religious traditions, you point to equality and justice. The reality for most on Earth today is that many have, and most have not. Islam teaches that the reason some have is because others have not. Islam teaches that those who have resources must recognize the rights of others on those resources. The resources are to be stewarded in the best possible way to continue to provide for others without squandering them or hoarding them. Just my 2cents on zero currency.

  11. In the Wolof language of West Africa, "you're welcome" is "n~o ko bokk," literally "we share it." So the idea of the gift being a shared pleasure and not a debt still exists in some cultures...

  12. it's not that I disagree with relationship. it's not that I disagree with how we do business. that zero equilibrium spoke like nothing can to me as if it's the only thing I've searched. not that I want to be alone, not that I don't want wealth. not that I hate society.

    1. what I meant by wealth is healthy human interaction, that is perhaps my definition of economy and I could see that from the line "Do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing"...the true interaction is when neither both of the doers realize who's the giver and the receiver.

  13. Daniel,

    The Supreme Court is going to require mandatory Health Insurance. How will you handle that as a man without money?

    1. People below a certain income won't have to buy insurance. They'll be eligible for medicaid.

      One small step toward becoming a civilized society.

      --David E.

  14. Suelo,You are an inspiration.I have been learning toward creating more gift economy in the world here in California.Though i am not ready to forgo a job and regular pay at this time I find great value in your path of life.I try to support the better things(small scale business,organics,etc) with the work i produce.I find it ironic also that many christians look down on people who wish to live a more humble me this is what christ was trying to teach.Thank You for shedding light on your journey.

    1. I attend a Christian church and I have noticed this irony as well. It is troubling. So many of them have forgotten and now seek after wealth and success instead.

  15. My wife and I are moving towards the exit of the global economy. We have left our jobs, sold are cars, left our insurance behind as well as our home. Currently we are traveling between homesteads working for room and board. It has been the most amazing experience of our lives. Thank you for showing us that we can go even further. http:/

  16. Suelo, I have been following your blog for years. I love what you stand for. I bought a copy of the book your friend wrote about you and I love it, learning more about your life and philosophy.

    I have four freshly-grown children (just over 18 years old) who are already disillusioned by the way the western world works, and are looking for alternative ways of living out their lives.

    There is a lot of pressure to conform.

    I really hope that you are able to continue to stand firm in your beliefs and to not conform to the pressures to be like everybody else...because you are in inspiration to me, and through me to my children.

  17. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  18. ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^Amazing!! Even this site gets an advertisement from a spammer.Greed truly knows no bounds.As a permaculturist,i have realized that sharing is the answer to our problems.If we all shared more,we could easily cut power usage(and therefore pollution created in its generation)to one half of whatit is today.That is while living a BETTER life than we now know.Cooperaton not competition,will heal the world.Keep the Faith Suelo.