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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.

Barter?

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.

Conclusion

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.