Friday, March 31, 2006

My Summary of Why I Live Moneyless

Happy April Fool's Eve!

My very first blog entry ever!

I once had a website on living moneyless - but then zapped it, for several reasons--primarily because of doubts about my path, and the gnawing feeling it was running away on an ego trip.

Right now I live around Moab, Utah, where I stay in the canyon, and also in a back-yard treehouse in town, as well as house-sit for folks. But, for the past 5 years, I have also wandered around the entire USA, hitching & train-hopping. Manna from heaven - that's where it's at.

I gave up every cent to my name in the first year of George W. Bush's reign, the first year of this millenium.

What made me start living moneyless? Actually, I lived moneyless, without Thought of Credit & Debt, when I was born. This way of life is the nature and desire of children. Any child or young person I talk to, not yet too programmed by the Man, thinks it's cool. Mixed with my kid instincts, I grew up in an Evangelical Christian home. I took my religion seriously. But I eventually started wondering why professed Christians rarely follow the teachings of Jesus - namely the Sermon on the Mount, namely giving up possessions, living beyond Credit & Debt--freely giving & freely taking--giving, expecting nothing in return, forgiving all debts, owing nobody a thing, living beyond payback of either evil-for-evil or good-for-good, living and walking without guilt (debt), without grudge (debt), without judgement (credit & debt), living by Grace, by Gratis, not by our own works but by the works of the true Nature flowing through us. As I grew older, I started learning that these principles of Christianity were also the principles of every religion I studied - Taoism, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Sikkhism, Islam, Mormonism, Shamanism, Paganism, etc. (Despite the institutionalized bastardizations of Christianity and each of these other religions, despite each of these religions selling their Spirit for 30 pieces of silver). These principles are the very principles of Nature, "the Law written on every heart." And you know it. Did not Jesus use the examples of the ravens, lilies, rain raining on the just & unjust, sparrows, seeds, and our own hearts, to drive home these points?

However, this brought me to a point where I was sick of studying & blabbing about religion & philosophy, because I did not, could not, practice them. Nobody did, nobody could. Then I entered a phase of cynicism, bitterness, spiraling into clinical depression, & disdain for all religion and talk of things spiritual, disdain for conceptions of God.

I had lived in Denver & Boulder, Colorado, and decided I was sick of the rat race. So I gave up my job and moved to Moab, Utah. I eventually started realizing that the only way to overcome depression was to simplify my thoughts, let them go. This is Buddhism 101, the inevitable result of anybody wanting to heal. And then I realized my stuff was also my thoughts. As I let go of useless thoughts, I let go of useless possessions. And as I let go of useless possessions, I found more and more that I needed less and less. It was not an effort, but more like a tree dropping its leaves or seeds. And with my possessions, possessions of thoughts and stuff and people, flew away my depression. But this odyssey continued to go even deeper.

Every time I made a resume for a job, signed my name to a document, opened a bank account, or even bought a banana at the supermarket, I felt a tinge of dishonesty, like I was not letting my yes be yes and my no be no. Yup, you know what I am talking about. Everybody does. I was becoming supersensitive to this basic knowledge. Even the slightest seed of dishonesty was just that--a seed. One seed can populate the mind, the whole earth. One dark eye can darken the whole body, the entire universe!

One year I went to Alaska with my 2 friends, Leslie & Mel, in their van & spent the late spring, summer, and early fall there. At first I worked on the docks. But none of it felt honest. So I quit and decided to go on a solo pack trip and try to live off the land for a few weeks. Lo & behold, I ran into a Basque dude named Ander who was also toying with thoughts of living off the land. So that's what we did. We speared fish, ate mushrooms & berries, and lived very well. Then we hit the road, hich-hiking, and realized how generous people were, and were astonished at the plethora of magical "coincidences" that kept happening to us. Eventually we split up and I decided to hitch all the way back to Moab, Utah, with $50 in my pocket, just to see if I could. When I arrived in Moab, I had $25 left. Then I realized I had only used money for things I didn't need, like snacks and a beer. For the first time, I was seriously realizing I could live totally moneyless.

I was also thinking about the concept of the world's debts, banking, corporations, war, and poverty. "Forgive us our debts, even as we forgive our debtors" began to be my constant mantra. For I was realizing, more and more, that there really isn't a line of division between physical debt and spiritual debt. One comes with the other, as one Siamese twin comes with another. I knew, from gradually becoming liberated from clinical depression, that mental debts, called guilt & vengeance, were inextricably linked with physical debts. And mental debts are also inextricably linked with physical disease. And compassion does not judge debtors but forgives them, just as healers don't judge the sick but heal them, make them whole, accept them as a whole. The love of money, the attachment to Credit and Debt, truly is the root of all evil, all dis-ease.

I became fascinated with Hindu Sadhus, who wander in India without money and possessions. I wanted to become one. A couple years after my Alaska odyssey, I went to India with a close friend, Michael. Actually, since we'd gotten killer-deal tickets to Thailand, we went to Thailand first. There I ran into a Buddhist monk named Sumetho and got whisked away to a Buddhist monastery in northern Thailand, outside Chiang Mai. It was a life-changing experience. Then I hooked up with Michael again and we hopped to India. After wandering in India for a couple months, I ended up at McCleod Ganj, near Dharamsala, where Tibetan refugees are. And the Dalai Lama happened to be there, and I got to hear his talks for a week. He directed something to us westerners. He said he thought it was admirable that people come from all lands to explore Tibetan Buddhism. But he emphasized that truth is found in every religion, and perhaps only a few could find fulfillment in another faith. Otherwise, he recommended that everybody go back to where they were planted, instead of trying to find greener grass on the other side of the fence. This was cynching it for me. What good would it do for me to be a sadhu in India? A true test of faith would be to return to one of the most materialistic, money-worshipping nations on earth, to return to the authenticly profound principles of spirituality hidden beneath our own religion of hypocricy, and be a sadhu there. This idea exhilerated me. I can be a sadhu in America, I thought. To be a vagabond, a bum, and make an art of it - this idea enchanted me.

So months later, over 5 years ago, that's what I did. And that's when I even started a free website called "American Sadhu" (Though I later realized I wasn't ready to share such things with the world, yet. Too much ego, I s'pose. So I zapped it). Ah, the wonder and magic of these past 5 years. But those tales will have to wait for future blog entries, even as I share with you these day-to-day journal experiences.

Ah, the beauty of it all I want you to understand and share with me - as well as the sublime ugliness out of which such beauty grows!