Sunday, October 10, 2010

How to Become Free From Debt

In the last post, I got a comment from Jayme, one of my vagabond Christian friends, urging me to write down and publish these ideas on debt that he, our friend Jesse, and I talked about when I last saw them.  I plan to put it as an essay on the website.  It's partly from a letter I wrote to a friend, and it probably needs more editing, simplifying, for the website.

I also just wrote My Answer to Ayn Rand in the website, responding to an email from a thoughtful challenger.  It also needs editing, but this computer won't let me edit my website now.  Somebody once told me my thoughts reminded of Ayn Rand.  There are a lot of things she says that jive with me, but some that totally don't, like her ideas on money, which she didn't think over very thoroughly.  She was genius in logical intelligence, but a total retard* in the greater intelligence of Intuition, which is usually, ironically, the domain of women. [*Note, added Oct 12, 2010: I'm admitting myself wrong in saying Ayn Rand was intuitively a "total retard", tacking a label on somebody--going against my own principles. Tacking labels on people is a tactic of politicians and is a lazy way of avoiding critical thinking.]

Okay, I've been putting this off for a long time because of the repurcussions it could have.  Gulp... here goes:

How to Become Free From Debt

To state the obvious, people all over the world are dealing with endless debt, slaves to banks, slaves to their own promises. I get lots of emails from folks wondering what they can do. Debt puts us asleep to reality and blinds us to gratitude, compassion, and abundance.

I could easily say, “I told you so. You shouldn’t have gotten in debt in the first place!” But I’m not faultless.

My Own Experience With Debt

Back in my money days I took out a loan to go to school. For years I was plagued by this debt, not making enough money to keep paying it. I had to keep applying for deferments. But the more I deferred it, the bigger it got, due to interest. When I slacked on my payments, the bank would send me notices, threatening my credit rating. I had forgotten that my parents had cosigned for my loan, and when I defaulted long enough, the bank started harassing my parents. I didn’t want my parents to bear my burden, so I decided to hunker down and pay off my loan. I gave up living in a house and camped out, so I wouldn’t have to pay rent, and I ate rice and beans and foraged produce. I became a total slave to the bank. I sent most all my paychecks to the bank until my debt was totally paid off.

At the time I thought paying off my loan was the responsible thing to do. Now I’m realizing that I did not do the responsible thing. I was not paying back my loan to those from whom it was taken.

Let me explain.

Is It Okay to Break Our Promises?

I’m a strong believer in holding to our word. This is why I don’t believe in making promises, because making promises is a guarantee that we will break our word and become liars. Making promises is boasting for tomorrow, the work of ego. When we make any kind of promise we put ourselves in debt.

If we make promises, we should keep them if it’s in our power. But sometimes we simply cannot keep our promises.

Are there situations in which it is not only okay, but mandatory, to break our promises?

Let’s use an extreme example to drive home a point. Sometimes people make promises in an irrational fit of vengeance to do something horrendous, like a gangster swearing vengeance upon somebody in a blood oath. If you promise to kill somebody, is it a “sin” to break your promise?

We in modern culture are making promises in an irrational fit of faithless anxiety and fear, faithlessness that everything we need is not in the present.

Is It Okay to Default on a Loan?

Until now, I've been reluctant to talk about walking away from debt, defaulting on loans, because I surely don't want to encourage anybody to shirk responsibility! But now I am sure that we have fooled ourselves into thinking we are responsible to banks, just as the gangster is fooled into thinking he is responsible to keeping his blood oaths to his peers!

But don’t get me wrong. We must be responsible and pay back our unforgiven debts. But we must pay back our unforgiven debts to whom they are due!

Again, I say, we must pay back our unforgiven debts to whom they are due!

Steps to Becoming Debt Free

1. We must establish that it was bad judgment to take out a loan in the first place. We desired what we didn’t have, or we got scared we wouldn't have enough. We lost faith that everything we needed was available in the present. We must acknowledge and confess, “I was wrong in ever taking out a loan.” Now that we’ve acknowledged and confessed this error, forgive ourselves and move on.

2. We must acknowledge that we made a promise to pay back our debt, and we want to be responsible and keep our promise.

3. We must also acknowledge and confess that our promise was more than a simple “yes” and “no," because we signed a contract promising we would pay back our debt. We must realize that going beyond a simple yes or no comes from a corrupt mind and reasoning. A lie is a lie, and to sign a contract is to water down Truth, to say that a simple yes is not a yes, that a promise or oath is somehow more worthy than our word. Both the mind that requires us to sign a contract and the mind that signs the contract are equally corrupt: both are lost in faulty, irrational thinking. Now that we've acknowledged this error, we forgive ourselves and move on.

4. We must now ask ourselves where our loan came from so we can pay it back. Every banker and economist knows that a bank does not lend us what belongs to the bank. The bank lends us an illusion it creates out of thin air with the stroke of a pen or a typing of a keyboard. This fiction is called fiat money. The bank wants you to think it is lending to you from its own reserves, but it is lending you nothingness, then has the audacity to charge you interest on this nothingness, creating more nothingness. Every banker knowingly practices this pure deception. But every bank justifies itself, not because it does not know that what it is doing is pure deception, but because what it does is tradition, and all of commercial civilization depends on this tradition! The bank, however, does deceive itself and us into thinking civilization will end if it does not practice this pure deception.  If you doubt what I'm saying, see the video, Money As Debt.

5. Now that we realize we have entered into a knowingly-deceptive contract, this invalidates the contract, and frees us from any responsibility to the maker of the contract. The fact that the whole world uses deceptive contracts does not validate any of those contracts. It is, in fact, irresponsible to hold to a corrupt contract in the same way it is irresponsible for a mafioso or gangster to hold to a blood oath to his peers!

6. We must not stray from our integrity, from our responsibility to pay back our debt! Thus we must continue to ask ourselves where on earth our loan really came from! When we step back and look at the world scene, it becomes clear. In the greater world economy, we see, obviously, that most money and goods flow from workers to non-workers, from the poor to the rich, from the creative to the non-creative, from those who are productive to those who produce only illusion, from the givers to the moochers. These who produce only illusion are called bankers. The bankers take, and do not borrow, from the world’s workers and creators, and they pay nothing back. By doing any business with the bank, you have become an accomplice to this theft and must reconcile it. You have taken money, which is not a real substance, but an illusion you borrowed from the bank, and used it to trade for actual goods created by the world’s poor. 

Ah, now you see who you must pay your loan back to, don’t you? If you find out you have stolen property, the only ethical and responsible thing is to return it, and it definitely must not be returned to the one who stole it! This is called redistributing the wealth.

The bank will probably turn you over to a collection agency. But if you have already returned your stolen goods to those from whom they were stolen, the bank has no more power over you.  Perhaps in many countries the bank can jail you.  This is where you must have faith in the Power of Persecution, as Gandhi, Martin Luther King, and Jesus demonstrated.

An Appeal to Your Own Faith Tradition

I have already appealed to your basic logic and to your heart, and that should suffice. But if you don’t trust your own judgment and want assurance from past prophets of your faith tradition, then I appeal to that:

Charging interest is considered criminal by the world’s religions and ancient philosophers (the Bible, the Quran, the Vedas, the Buddha, Greek philosophers, all the early church fathers, etc).  [See Is Banking Criminal?  What The World's Ancient Philosophers and Religions Say in my website].

However, since everybody relies on banks, we think it's okay or unavoidable for this day and age, even though charging interest has ultimately never, ever caused anything but grief in the world. It is ironic that the followers of religions that most clearly condemn banking are banking's best supporters! Banking creates poverty, then throws a few bones to those from whom it stole, giving the appearance it is helping them. I wager that poverty would end if most everyone practiced their own religion and agreed to never use a bank again. That means default on loans and, instead, be truly responsible and pay what we owe back to those who actually need it. Yes, there probably will be chaos first, but everything good and worthwhile must "have a falling away first." A seed begins by falling to the ground and dying.  What do your prophets say?  "Babylon is fallen, is fallen." 

It is our responsibility and common sense to redistribute the wealth to those from whom it was stolen. History shows us this does not work by Marxist redistribution through government or organized programming, but through basic, instinctual, natural human conscience, expressed in truly conservative religious values especially forgotten by self-proclaimed "conservatives".

Stop Thinking We're Do-Gooders!

We who think we are do-gooders must finally stop fooling ourselves that we are giving charity to the poor, thinking we're righteous! Philanthropists do "good" because they think they are owners.  The Human Spirit just does what's natural. The poor widow puts her penny in the temple donation box and gives way more than the wealthiest philanthropist.  Nature's creatures do what's natural: be like the ant or rabbit or redwood tree, which don't do "good," because they possess nothing.  Instead we who have excess must realize we have to simply pay our debts to the poor we robbed from! We must wake up and realize that sharing is no act of goodness, nothing that deserves reward or praise, but simply a natural act like breathing free air in and out, or a natural act like the sun sharing its energy on ALL life forms, expecting nothing in return!  Working with no thought of reward or ownership is a constant theme of the Bible, the Baghavad Gita, the Quran, the Buddhist Sutras, the Tao Te Ching, the Guru Granth Sahib, the Bahai scriptures, the Book of Mormon, the Jain sutras, and the practiced philosophy of Native Peoples all over the world. Christians, what does Jesus say but to be like the servant who works because it is his duty, not even expecting thanks.  Only we who fool ourselves think we own anything to give!  Muslims and Mormons, your Quran and the Book of Mormon especially stress this fact.  See Here's the One Point We Know the World's Religions Agree Upon.

To Possess Nothing is to be Under No Earthly Power

We ourselves who realize we don't need anything must forgive those who "borrowed" or "stole" from us, erase all grudges, simply for our very own mental health, if anything! Everything I am saying is directly provable if you but look inside and find what brings you Peace.  Actually, when we finally realize we own no possessions, we have nothing to steal, and nobody to trespass against us, and nobody can have power over us!  In other words, to give up the idea of possession is Perfect Forgiveness, "forgive us our tresspasses (debts) as we forgive those who tresspass (are debtors) against us"

"Neither Borrower nor Lender Be"

Banks will starve if you have the faith to not use them.  And you will find mental and spiritual health if you live by faith.  The health of the individual is the health of the whole world.  That is Pure Selfishness Divine (This is where I sound like Ayn Rand ;-)  Again, "forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors," as Jesus prayed, and, as Muhammad stated, there is no difference of blame between lender and borrower.  There is no difference of blame between corporation and consumer, owner and owned, ower and owed. It's a bit comical to see consumers blame corporations, when consumers are corporations' life blood. And there is no difference between physical and spiritual debt (also called "sin").

What really would happen in the world if every follower of religion woke up and actually practiced his or her own religion?

Courage to Follow What You Know For Yourself to Be True

Of course this would mean taking on persecution, meaning courage. This is why the central message of Christianity is the Cross. To live and speak any truth in this world is to risk the Cross, to believe in the Cross, regardless of your religion. If we call ourselves Christian and can’t live and speak truth, perhaps because we're afraid of losing our jobs or losing the respect of our church peers or losing our comfy McMansions, all our talk of believing in the death and resurrection of Jesus, all our talk of "not being ashamed of the Gospel," all our talk of salvation by “grace”, is utter nonsense. By Grace, not our own egos, we will live and speak truth. If we don’t live and speak truth, whereever and whomever and whatever religion or science that truth comes from, we aren’t under the Power of Grace, we are not living by faith.

Faith is the realization that debt is not necessary, that everything will work out if we follow truth, that everything we need is forever in the present, which means, as basic Buddha teaches, abolishing all wants (debts), which means taking on happiness & abundance.

I don't know if these ideas are conservative or liberal. All I know is they are simple & natural instinct in all life.

Don’t take mine or anybody else’s word for it. I am asking every human being to act on what you know to be true in your heart, by both your reason and your intuition.

Do you have the Courage (the Faith, the Hope, the Love) to act on what you know to be true?

Waiting For Messiah

You can keep procrastinating and wait for zillions of years for Messiah to come to zap everything right. Or, you can realize what your own scriptures teach you, that Messiah is in you, your Hope of Glory. You are the Hands and Feet and Eyes and Mouth and Breath of Messiah. Wake up and realize that Messiah will never, ever, ever come, except through you.

Take Responsibility.