Although I have immensely enjoyed the journey of coming up with a business model, I have also had a consistent feeling of anxiety. After I read Sacred Economics, I started to think about what it means to be able to give. If I want to be part of a gift economy and build a business model that works under these conditions I need to understand deeply what giving means to me and how I've been giving to others in my daily life. In exploring that, I saw how I was denying myself of a peaceful way of living when pursuing this dream. I would try to get work done while my 2 years old son was around wanting to play with me, I would deny time to my husband after we put our son to bed, because I had things to move forwards. And I am not saying that is wrong. If your conditions allow it to be that way that is great, but in my case it wasn't a matter of mutual consent. I was straining my own relationships with my family and myself. I think that in the context of a gift economy, that doesn't make sense at all. How can I expect myself to give to others in the community and, as Charles Einstein suggests, know the needs of my community when I don't even fulfill the needs of my own family, which indicates I don't fulfill my own emotional needs?!?
To me, the experience of building a business model implied to be able to know the needs of people. In a way I think I nailed it: If people were to have their basic needs covered, they (we) would be doing something very different with their (our) lives. How we would be able to establish a system that would allow us to keep our basic needs covered became part of the value proposition and the gift economy was the environment in which it would evolve. But I was following books' strategies and methodologies that, while I still deeply believe in them, where taking me deeper and deeper into my status of anxiety, many times without knowing what I needed to do next. At some stage one night in front of the computer I stopped and thought: "Why am I doing this to myself?? What am I putting so much stress and pressure for?? And why am I taking my family with me down this hole?!?" And then the most powerful thought I had that let my idling until today: "Regardless of what I do, the world is going to where it needs to go!!" That sentence has taken me to an entire new dimension in my life. One that has much more to do with my spiritual/religious believes than anything else. I haven't been able to keep working on the business model. From that day on, I feel like I am in "The Matrix" and a huge program of spirituality is being downloaded and I needed to stop the doing-stage.
Also, Charles argues that the foundation of the problems in our societies today, lies in the sense of separation from one another and everything we see around us. I immediately felt connected with these words, I have been feeling that for too long and had never found anybody who would relate it to the topic of economics. The sense of separation is one that connects with my own experience of spirituality, which has been framed in Christianity. And this insight, or seeing my thought expressed in Charles' book has propelled me to explore more of my own understanding of Christianity and the role it plays in my life. It is unfortunate that I might be turning off some people by acknowledging this, but I can assure you that I'll be turning off more Christians once I start sharing my thoughts on Christianity. Surprisingly enough, having left Catholicism many many years ago, I found someone who being a Trappist monk would agree with Charles almost completely and adds that "unless this radical problem is addressed, societies, which are made up of a bunch of false (apparently separate) selves, is not gonna do to well. And that is why to take a determination not to contribute to the messiness of the world by adding our own false self projects to it is one of the greatest gifts you can give to humanity, and if enough people do this then society will be transformed and without it I don't think it can be" (emphasis and comments added).
Although I truly believe that I nailed the problem, I am also unsure as to whether the solution I am offering is not one of many of my false-self's projects. In a way, it feels like it is and that is why I have to go deeper and start from that place. Every time I have said that this project has moved forwards, I realized now that what I meant is that I have been moving inwards, which is probably more important or more essential than moving forwards. I nailed a problem, but this problem is not real in the sense that it has been created by our false selves, our false sense of separation from anything and everything, by our selfish and lost selves and accumulated through many generations of selfishness, which is not who we really are. I also think that the problem I have found is at the bottom of the spectrum of the false self. We can't go any further down or any lower than this. Think about it, we have reached a point where we think that people have to "earn" and "deserve" the right to live!! If we want food, clean water, clean air and live in harmony with the rest of humanity and the rest of life itself, we have to "earn" it and "deserve" it, which is, we have to enslave ourselves to do something we find absolutely purposeless to create false value in our societies and be able to survive, as if we could!!. Once life is conceived and a baby is born, they have to learn how to 'earn and deserve' their spot in the world. Being alive is not enough of a fact to deserve the entitlements that life brings with it (nurturing food, harmony in and with nature, the safest and greatest of the inventions of the human heart). What can be more dysfunctional than that??
Any solution or set of solutions to this ultimate reality created by the false self, has to come from the true self and to do that, we have to discover who we really are so that we can act from there. Any solution that would ensure your basic needs are covered regardless of who you are and what you do, the same way a baby's needs are covered by its parents regardless of how many poos they do, or how many nights they leave their parents sleep deprived, requires the one and only real form of love which is unconditional, and that love only comes from who we really are because that is what's in us ever since we are born. From my perspective, a solution from a true self involves being able to love anybody regardless of their acts, involves being able to see the madness, absorb it, forgive it and transform it, it implies to be able to give ourselves completely to whatever the situation is that appears in our lives, even if we decide not to be involved in that situation, the decision is made from our whole selves. In a gift economy we don't give ourselves selectively and conditionally, we can decide not to give, but the decision is made from the same place of unconditional love to the situation and when when we do give, it is wholly...or I should say holy. We want to help the world and be to others what we struggle to be to our own families and in turn, to ourselves. "Being the change we want to see in the world" is a huge task and it starts internally by helping and forgiving oneself first. We are activist for the health of the environment and we struggle to look after our own health. we want to be gentle to others and we are harsh to our own minds with a draining self talk. And I'm not saying this is wrong, I am only stating my observation of my own life and concluding that I want to love myself so that I can love others. I can't fill up others' love tank if mine is empty. I don't believe that there is only one way to get to know who we are, but I find in my own understanding of God and Jesus Christ, a message that rings true.
I think it is time for Love: The Verb to come to live and share many of the conclusions and insights I've had lately. I don't know what will happen from now on but it is very likely that future writings will come through that blog. I want to offer this space, New Economics for Humanity, to anyone who wants to share their journey in learning and building the new cultural/economic story. I've been using it as the space where I unload my brain and heart and it has been an absolutely beautiful journey...it has taken me where I am and I think I am at a very good stage right now. I want to offer that opportunity to anybody who feels like it. You can write your own experience of your own project here as a contributor to the blog. I am not sure how blogger contributions work but just in case, every entry you make would have a tag with your name plus any additional tags you choose so that people know your work. Contact me if you're interested.
Last but not least, here is the 15 min video of Father Thomas Keating, the trappist monk I mentioned before. I wrote part of his explanation below in the hope that it will invite you to actually watch the video. It is a conversation with an former alcoholic who gives a scientific perspective to the topic from the field of psychology. Comments are welcome.
"The separate self sense...is the basic source of every human problem...because is the separate self sense that deposes reality...and which creates our own self and ultimately our own hell...so on one hand you have this basic oneness of everything that is in its source, and the basic issue of separating ourselves from that oneness which then means we are separating ourselves from our true selves and from everybody else and from the cosmos in the various degrees in which we sin, meaning we miss the mark. To miss the mark is to fail to recognize the truth of a situation. So the separate self sense is what all the religions are trying to cure, as far as I can see.
...Happiness is confused with the gratification of the instinctual instincts of a child (security, power and control, affection, esteem and approval) and these grow into the false self and the ego and so you come to adulthood with this baggage of possessive attitudes towards yourself and the world and other people. That can't possibly work in an adult life, but unfortunately you have to live with 6 billion other people who have the same problem, so it's no wonder there is social problems!! Because unless this radical problem is addressed, societies, which are made up of a bunch of false selves, is not gonna do too well. And that is why to take a determination not to contribute to the messiness of the world by adding our own false self projects to it is one of the greatest gifts you can give to humanity, and if enough people do this then society will be transformed and without it I don't think it can be. That's why religion, whatever its forms are...is the only foreseeable path that leads most people to the experience of God...other things can...but the holistic and concentrated ways that religion addresses the human problem are unmatched but they also have to be gradually transcended not by rejection but by taking the steps in which we relate to God more and more maturely as we grow as human beings into adulthood and love is certainly very crucial in motivating us to do so.
The dramas that we couldn't face as children (including religious dramas)...are still lingering there...cheerfully reinforcing the separate self sense and the ego and its projects which are oppose to contemplation. But the problem is that contemplation by itself is not enough...it opens the unconscious in a way that is a contribution to this process but we also have to embrace daily life and to bring to it this sense of responsibility to the transformative process in which we are prepared to see our mixed motivation...and this is what retards the process and instead of being able to complete it in 4 years, it may take 20, 30 or 40 or never!! The central issue and the complementary movement towards divine love is growth in humility, which is the acceptance of the reality of ourselves, our own weaknesses, limitations or as AA put it, our unmanageable lives, and contemplative prayer will bring you to the same stage of feeling that your life as you are living it is unmanageable. So that is a triumph not a disaster and it happens through Contemplative Prayer without the inconveniences of being an alcoholic (laughter). It's a more humane procedure (laughter)."
(emphasis and comment added)