Posts tagged #charles eisenstein

The Evolver Convergence: A Report

I was privileged to help organize (along with Sophie Batchelor, Annie Derek, Chad Mosesso, all the fab people at Evolver HQ and a ton of volunteers) the first Evolver Convergence which happened in Pittsburgh this past weekend.

Since I'd been sporeganizing for the past year I thought I knew all about the wonders that can come from bringing together gorgeous geniuses. I figured that the Convergence would be lovely and I'd have a great time and meet some grand people and business as usual, etc. etc.

What a vast, vast underestimation. By the end of the Convergence on Sunday, our outpouring of love and wisdom synchronously brought us an astounding quadruple rainbow which we all rushed out to see.

So how did we do that?

Energetically speaking - with so much deep heart opening and harmonizing. I felt not only that we were talking about evolution, but actively bringing it about just by being with one another in such an environment of intention and deep thought and beauty. I've been to a lot of spiritual retreats and festivals and parties in my lifetime, but I've never experienced so much optimism, joy and deeply personal connection at an event. From talking to others, I gather that this was a shared sense. I'm still so awe-struck.

Here's a loose summary:

On Friday at the Wherehouse (a freaky visionary art studio made extra-special with extraordinary and unique-to-the-Convergence art installations by Sophie Batchelor, Zev Rechter, Laurie Shapiro, Hannah Thompson and North Star), Jonathan Talat-Phillips activated our chakras and loosened us up with his own bold story of spiritual awakening and extra-terrestrial encounters. Then we heard the meltingly strange music of Ivory Weeds and Dean Cercone Jr.

First thing on Saturday, Charles Eisenstein led us to speak freely and deeply to one another of our most cherished dreams for the more beautiful world our hearts tell us is possible and also to name our own gifts and the gifts of the person next to us. And all of this occurred in the auspiciously super-golden and angel-crowned sanctuary of the First United Methodist Church in Shadyside (a very progressive church and community center that we in Pittsburgh are so blessed to have). With this help, we were vibrating and resonating and open at all levels, most especially at the heart level.

Throughout the day on Saturday we enjoyed workshops and panels from truly gifted leaders, teachers and healers that continued to ground us in our bodies and sense of connection to the cosmos and each other.

Daniel Pinchbeck anchored the day with a talk on enjoying the transformation of our world. What I got from Daniel's talk was a momentous sense of possibility and inspiration.

On Saturday night we returned to the Wherehouse Art Studio decked out in eye-popping costumes for the Inner Divinity Costume Party. I saw incarnations of Kwan Yin, Venus, Sai Baba, Adonis, Freya, Odr, and Artemis. Also present were Kabuki demons, wild wolf women, forest nymphs and glow-stick elves from the future. I was thrilled to hear a sumptuous spectrum of sounds throughout the night - everything from mind-bending electronica to progressive rock to conscious hip hop to psychedelic gypsy accordion brass!. I was most excited by Lungs Face Feet (the gypsy-ish brass band) who performed in red Mandarin suits and took us fully into another dimension.

The talks and panels resumed on Sunday at a leisurely pace as we were all recovering from the grandness of the party. For me the highlight of the day on Sunday was getting to participate in the Evolver Network Roundtable wherein sporeganizers from around the country spoke about what they've been doing in their city and what Evolver means to them. It was beautiful to realize that so many of us doing this deep work are brilliant and powerful women. Daniel and Jonathan-Talat both mentioned the need for us ladies to step up and do speaking engagements in more places and I could so feel the need for that.

On Sunday night we sporeganizers managed to get ourselves over to the lovely Verde Mexican Restaurant for a fantastic meal together (we totally took the place over and Evolver'd it up! I loved our raucous toasts!) and then, by a miraculous feat of spontaneous organization, got it together to have a bon fire over on the other side of town at the magnificently beautiful Bandi Shaum plateau. Bandi Shaum is a spot not many in Pittsburgh know about. It overlooks the city's downtown and it's also a quite glorious wilderness. Professional musicians from Chaibaba showed up and drummed for us.

Sitting on a blanket cuddled up with old friends and new ones I felt continually dazzled - between the beauty of the bright brilliant full moon, the fire itself, the vista of the city, and the faces of the incredible beloved evolvers all around.

On Monday we gathered together once more, now just the sporeganizers, to talk about our dreams and get help with our challenges. That conversation was so energizing - and so glorious for me as the lucky Pittsburgh sporeganizer deluged with new talented volunteers!

After the Sporeganizer's Summit I was treated to a dream massage by two pairs of loving and gifted hands. (Thank you Jeanine and David!!) Those of us still in town were treated to a beautiful dinner at Verity Grace's place in Highland Park.

Today I quite unexpectedly and synchronously ran into Verity again while getting lunch in my neighborhood (she's a Pittsburgher but I'd never met her before the Convergence) and she took me to a Venus Transit Viewing party.

I can tell the synchronicities are just beginning to super-speed up for me. I'm starting to feel that Terrence McKenna was really really really right on when he talked about how the interconnections just start racing together in 2012. I can feel the shift evolving into presence - how about you?

I hope that everyone will write about their experiences with the Convergence - I've just scratched the surface with this summary, I could go so much deeper into my own personal reflections and processing - and I know I'll need to soon.

In the meantime, here's a video of us prepping the Wherehouse for the festivities - gives a sense of the scope of the amazing art present:

httpv://youtu.be/17sHWVrEGik

Living in the Gift Interview with Andrew R. Long

 

Andrew R. Long runs the wonderful Excellence blog.  He's someone who not only thinks about gift economy and the gift world, but who actually takes phenomenal steps to put it into practice — he's not philanthropist-style rich, but he's giving away thousands of dollars this year as part of his Get Giving Project.  Which I find intensely admirable and fascinating.

Andrew and I share a commitment to giving and - what's a little more rare - a mutual distaste for interest and usury. ;)  He interviewed me in the fall and I got to thinking I would really love to interview him.... so I did!

We tried doing a video interview (since I hear those are the kinds of thrills and chills the interweb loves these days) but it failed to record properly. So now we bring you... a good old-fashioned text-based interview!

Carolyn: Okay-- so how about -- tell me how you first got interested in gift economy stuff?

Andrew: It was a combination of reading Douglas Rushkoff and Charles Eisenstein. Rushkoff came first with the excellent Life, Inc, which alerted me to the degree to which modern consumer society has been created by and for the large corporation, and how society used to be arranged in a fashion that was more conducive to what today we'd call 'the middle class'. Rushkoff is really good at articulating what it means to make a profit, and the mechanism by which profit is made. Eisenstein recently came out with Sacred Economics, which digs quite deep into the idea of a gift economy. And before that, it was Lewis Hyde's 1983 classic "The Gift", which is probably the best anthropological or ethnographic treatment of gift societies.

What all of these writers really conveyed to me was that there was something natural about gifting, and that explained to me why the for-profit world always felt so twisted.

Carolyn: Wow, you just said it-- that's what resonates about it for me. Where do you feel you see the most twistedness in the for-profit world? (and as I ask that I realize it may be hard to choose)

Andrew: People thinking they have to turn themselves into mini-corporations just to survive.

Really, that's what disturbs me the most -- people see that big companies have all this money, and power, and they decide that that must be the way to do it, so they essentially emulate the corporate form, right down to creating their own personal corporation -- and the crazy thing is, that's not a crazy thing to do. It actually works! If you want to be seriously self-employed, you don't just start working with clients -- you incorporate as an LLC and pay yourself a salary and (the corporation) pays a lower tax rate and so forth and so on.

The modern corporate world has really changed the game -- in order to transact or do commerce now, there's got to be this layer of a corporate structure that mediates between people. That's what I dislike.

Carolyn: That's a really interesting point you raise-- I've just begun my self-employment and it's just really hit me that the tax rates I'm expected to pay are crazy-- but the thought of making myself an LLC gives me the chills.

Andrew: Yup. My sister is a successful self-employed writer and I helped her set some of this stuff up. I guess you don't have to view it as pathological -- certainly it's rewarding to be your own boss -- but as Rushkoff points out so adroitly, it's really a problem that the world is now built on a corporate scale, which is much bigger (and less humane) than the human scale. The corporation doesn't care about you. People in the corporation might, but to the extent they obey the corporate bylaws and follow the policies, they can still act as a group in a really inhumane way.  Look at Apple (and other tech companies) and the worker's conditions in Asia where the products are manufactured. Horrible stories come out of there! But you know what? That's actually capitalism working! Production is taking place where the cost of production is lowest! It's efficiency! It's working!

Carolyn: Horrible stories indeed-- I just started talking to my students this semester about the ills of corporatism-capitalism and they get it but they're all like, "But what are we supposed to do? We're marketing majors!" and I'm like... "Well, we need to get creative about changing stuff, because the current employment landscape undeniably puts us in compromising situations just to live..."-- I feel those compromises myself all the time. I'm wondering-- what are your thoughts about what people like us and even younger people like my students can do to get along in the world as it is while helping to move us into a more sustainable, gift-intensive future?

Andrew: Well, I'm incredibly optimistic at the level of awareness and hope that people younger than me seem to have. Occupy is just one example.

The basic thing, I think, is to cultivate a personal integrity. What I mean by that is be informed, and from information you get, make a decision about what you're going to do. Where does your coffee come from? Where do your clothes come from? What is your company doing in the world, really? What system(s) are you contributing to? And do those align with the most beautiful world you can imagine? It sounds really idealistic when I type it out, but I have to remind myself that the Founding Fathers of this country were idealistic (though not ideologues). The other thing, of course, that I would encourage everyone to do right now, young or old, is to throw away anything that isn't working and give your gift, wholeheartedly, and trust that your needs will be provided for, one way or another.

Carolyn: That last sentence so resonated with me.  It's the essence of so many spiritual teachings, and I think about it all the time. I know that that trust can be tough to cultivate-- we get so many messages that are anti-trusting-- things like, "You have to save for retirement! And have excellent health insurance! Or else you'll die alone in a gutter and no doctor will touch you!" Which is part of why I felt so touched when I learned about your experiment this year in giving money away-- something many folks who aren't uber-rich are very shy about doing. Could you talk about what's motivating that experiment and how you came to the place of trust that makes you feel good about doing it?

Andrew: The Get Giving project really just came out of realizing that I didn't have anything left to buy. You know all those studies about how happiness doesn't increase above a certain income level? Well, they're right. I've also made some fairly unusual (I think) choices in life, such as not having a mortgage, not having a car, not owning pets or raising children at this stage, so I can keep my expenses pretty low. It really boiled down to - I have the money, and I have my every material need taken care of and then some, and I know many people who don't have their material needs taken care of, so why wouldn't I give? It really just became a mental place where I couldn't not do it. This was a pretty big deal for me, personally, because I grew up in a fairly chaotic environment, and all my life I've been a big worrier -- mostly about my own security in the future. And then I had the realization that there was literally no pile of money big enough to calm my worry. And once that happened, I realized that the pile of money I had accumulated to date was really irrelevant. Plus, I was earning interest on it, and that also sort of became reprehensible to me. I realized that my interest earnings could be some other guy's foreclosure notice. Like, I may not be Scrooge McDuck, but I was paying somebody else to be for me. I was making money by having money. And what kind of sense does that make? I mean, really?

Carolyn: Oh boy, yes.  I remember reading in Lewis Hyde's book about how interest and usury used to be considered sins, abominations... money growing out of money.  Which was thought to be unnatural and monstrous, like cancer.

Andrew: Yup. If you look at our economic system today, it's just all wrong. The underlying conceit is unlimited growth, and that's plain crazy. I recently read Clinton's latest book, Back to Work, and it was just "jobs, jobs, jobs." And the crazy thing is, he's right -- we could have more jobs, and we could have more growth. But we're at this brilliant juncture in history where we actually have the opportunity to ask, Is that really what we want? Like, let's say the GDP starts growing 10% a year. Is that really going to make me happier, personally? Because I'll be able to buy more stuff? What would actually make me happier is if I could work 10% less and have 10% more amazing conversations with my friends, or 10% more sex. Or 20%. Or 30%, you know? In the modern age we seem to be collectively confused about what actually makes life worth living.

Carolyn: I hear you. I notice that the more I let go of my concerns about security and practice generosity, I seem to center myself in the present and become available for better relationships, which surprised me when I first noticed it. Have you found an unexpected spiritual or emotional (or otherwise) benefits to your practice of giving?

Andrew: I would say it's calming. And it generally gives a big rush of energy when you let go of a substantial amount of money, and send it on to somewhere it can do more. I really think money has a spirit, in a sense, like it wants to be used and spent and put to a good use. And that's certainly not happening if it's sitting in my bank account.

Carolyn: That's a beautiful truth, about money having a spirit and wanting to move. I can see how keeping it in a bank account is a bit like caging an animal that wants to roam.

Andrew: For sure. If you think of money as energy, then we have these massive pools of energy just sitting around in the banks and the corporations right now, going nowhere. And at the same time, there are huge challenges facing humanity right now, like our climate, and we're doing virtually nothing. Even though we have the resources! It's a form of madness that I believe we're slowly recovering from.

Carolyn: I agree-- it looks like more and more people, both within and without those institutions are realizing the madness and wanting to put a stop to it.

Andrew: Likewise :)

Carolyn:   :::warm fuzzies:::

Sacred Economics with Charles Eisenstein - a short film by Ian MacKenzie

What if we lived in a world based on the free giving of gifts, rather than on scarcity and competition? What if our money wasn't based on debt and usury but rather on natural increase and abundance?  Charles Eisenstein helps us imagine that world in his book Sacred Economics, which you can read in its entirety here.  Filmmaker Ian MacKenzie aids that process of imagining with this beautiful short film. Dig it!

httpv://youtu.be/EEZkQv25uEs

 

Living in the Gift Interview Series: Matthew Stillman - Part 1

  httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UFvhzwApoPc

This is the first part of me (Carolyn Elliott) interviewing problem-solver extraordinaire Matthew Stillman of stillmansays.com about creativity and living in our genius with grace.

I asked Matt to tell us about his radically generous experiment wherein he sits in Union Square and helps folks solve problems.

I also asked him an ever-thorny question: how do we make a living while living in the gift?

We touched upon Jesus' far-out injunctions, Charles Eisenstein's gift business model and the importance of getting in touch with our own inner greedy stock broker.

An illuminating and wonderful time. Part 2 coming soon.

Please excuse any awkward cuts. I kind of suck at iMovie right now.

 

Love!

Carolyn

A Sufi anarchist sage + Share or Die + Glasgow Corpse Pop

Hello wonder,  

These are intense times we're living in. The Occupy Oakland encounters with police and their General Strike yesterday, the foggy weirdness of All Saint's Day and the tanking economy have got me in a funny mood. I go from exuberance to sadness back and forth. Here's whats helping me think:

 

THE GEMS

 

Hakim Bey on the idea of Temporary Autonomous Zones 

 

 

 

Hakim Bey is a stunningly original thinker. Wikipedia notes "his ideas evolved from a kind of Guénonist neo-traditionalism to a synthesis of anarchism and Situationist ideas with heterodox Sufism and Neopaganism" -- in other words, not your average bear. I've been thinking about Sufism a lot lately (perhaps because the most-read poet in America and one of my own personal favorites is Rumi, a Sufi mystic) and in conjunction with the Occupy movement, I've also been thinking about a phenomenon that Bey identified: the Temporary Autonomous Zone-- a space of magical communion that can emerge under certain conditions and undermine political oppression. You'll have to watch the video to learn more. ;)

 

Share or Die - Ebook from Shareable.net 

 

 

 

Shareable.net is an incredible gathering place for ideas about gift economy and other warm, conscious ways of dealing with the cold economic realities at hand. Their free ebook (also available in hardcopy for $15), offers essays gathered from the site. Some of the essays gesture to solutions-- some just describe the present hardship with the compassion and tenderness wrought of first- hand experience. Both are healing and vital.

 

Corpsing - by How to Swim - free music download

 

 

You may have noticed by now-- I love to play on bandcamp. So much incredible, free music! My selection for you this week is gleefully dark. When the singer crows, "I drag your body / out on the dance floor" he's not necessarily talking about your living body. It's a morbidly wicked incredibly bouncy dance track and (die-hard Morrissey fan that I am) I can hardly resist it.

 

UPDATES

 

The wonderful Andrew Long of the compelling Excellence Blog interviewed me. You can check it out right here.

 

My latest essay is In Defense of Dirty Hippies.

 

I'd like to send a big Thank You out to Sam Wise, who came and performed his super-fun magic show for the weary campers at Occupy Pittsburgh to the delight of all.

 

If you're in the Pittsburgh area, I highly recommend that you hire him for any children's parties you may have. Check out his site.

 

Remember to feel free to drop me a line about anything on your mind. I also invite you to sign up for llow-cost life coaching sessions with me.

 

Love!

Carolyn

Occupying Your Heart - Guest Post by Samuca Love

Samuca Love is a visionary and sweetheart who's committed to opening up into the freedom of the gift world.  When I read his simple statement to the Occupy movement, I melted and opened.  I know you will, too.

 

Occupy Your Heart

 

Who are you?

What is it that you desire?

What kind of world do you want to live in?

 

You are a unique and beautiful being that has infinite potential. In fact, you are the only expression of you that will EVER exist. You are loved and you are part of this vast web, our community here on Earth. I know that sometimes it doesn't feel like it; sometimes it feels like you're the only one here, isolated, alone in an alien world. You might sink to the depths of despair, of hopelessness, feeling so small and inconsequential. But here I am telling you that I LOVE YOU! Just for being you.

 

I know who you are, because ultimately you are who I am- a human being on Planet Earth who wants connection and deep relationships, who wants to love and be loved, who wants to help others and be a part of something greater than oneself, greater than that skin-encapsulated ego, that Cartesian mote of consciousness, that bubble of psychology. Who are you, really? See we've come to live in a world where people are scared of each other, scared of ourselves because we've forgotten how special we are as human beings. You don't have to be afraid to hug people. You don't have to be afraid to love people, to look in another person's eyes and SEE them, to see your own humanity mirroring back in those big, bright eyes.

 

I want to live in a world where people don't just understand this as an intellectual concept, but feel it so deeply and viscerally that it melts into a daily, lived reality of being. I AM BECAUSE YOU ARE. I AM BECAUSE THE TREES AND RIVERS ARE. I AM BECAUSE THE BIRDS AND THE BEES ARE.

 

Ultimately this movement (Occupy) isn't about the 99% v. the 1%- it's not about further fragmentation and separation, because even the financial elites are part of this community, even THEY are because YOU are. They've just forgotten, compensating for their lost deficit of being by accumulating to assuage the searing pain of disconnection, the painful void of being cut off from the rest of one's self, that is to say, from everything else. When one is being one's SELF, it's impossible to clearcut a forest, or dump toxic waste into a river, or profit from the suffering of other beings, because one feels quite immediately that she is clearcutting and polluting a part of her self, that she cannot be fulfilled when other parts of her self are suffering. No matter how hard we may try to insulate ourselves from our actions, from the harm we've inflicted upon 'others', our efforts will be in vain, like pouring cement over a toxic waste dump. CEOs, bankers, and politicians weren't put on this planet to increase market share, nor were you put on this planet to do anything other than participate joyfully in a beautiful, healthy world.

 

I encourage everyone to listen deeply to your SELVES, listen deeply to your hearts, and envision with all your imagination the more beautiful world your heart tells you is possible, then go do whatever it takes to realize that world. The time of settling for anything less is over. We're the ones we've been waiting for.

 

Wasn't that lovely? Now go ahead and check this out...

Here's Samuca and Liam Madden proposing a radical new demurrage currency system to Occupy Boston:

 

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ebqrmMKPmfw

The poetics of occupation: pressing reasons we need to "occupy" our own cities

The Poetics of Occupation

I've been thrilled and privileged to participate in the Occupy movement via Occupy Pittsburgh. While sitting out in the cold and rain, I got to having some deep thoughts about the poetics of the occupation and I figured I'd share them here with you.

 

 

The term "occupy" has obvious military connotations.  The poetic use of the term as a metaphor to describe a peaceful protest demands some reflection.

 

Currently, the U.S. military is just winding down a massive, costly and controversial occupation of Iraq. This occupation of Iraq is the  prominent cultural back drop in the minds of most Americans when we hear the term "occupy." "Occupy" in this sense suggests going on to foreign soil where we're not particularly wanted or welcome and ensuring that our interests are protected there.

 

Thus, the notion that we would need to Occupy Wall Street, for example, frames "Wall Street" as a kind of hostile foreign nation, a place where we need to send "troops" (of peaceful protesters) in order to control the situation there and to protect our interests.

 

But Wall Street IS American soil, right? Why should we feel we need to "occupy" it?

 

How Wall Street Made Itself a Foreign Land: Usury

The answer to this, I believe, lies in the spiritual dimension of our financial institutions and failing economy. The spiritual malaise of Wall Street, the banking industry, and the corporations has created a sense of alienation and violation so potent that those institutions can no longer be perceived by Americans as even belonging to their country. There's a sense of these institutions and corporations as alien and hostile.  This sense is not imaginary or paranoid.  It's completely correct, and it has its root in the alienating and hostile actions of those institutions towards the American people.

 

In order to make my point clear, I need to explain a few rather arcane (but fascinating!) points which I first learned from Lewis Hyde's brilliant book, The Gift: Creativity and the Artist in the Modern World.

 

To begin, the banking industry's practice of usury is a practice that was recognized in spiritual traditions throughout the ancient world as an act which promoted division, suspicion, and alienation within a community. I think we need to reconsider ancient and indigenous attitudes towards usury in order to understand the extent to the unity and spiritual virtue of the United States has been violated by Wall Street.

 

Today, "usury" means "lending at unbearably high interest." In the ancient world, usury just meant charging any interest at all on a loan.

 

Lending at interest itself is now widely accepted and taken for granted as perfectly acceptable and normal.  Loan-sharking, or lending at really high and outrageous interest, is the only stuff that raises eyebrows now.  Loan-sharking on the part of the banks is a large part of what created the sub-prime mortgage crisis.

 

We can keep in mind that the banks have practiced the intense form of usury-as-loan-sharking and that this practice has led to the current widespread poverty and outrage, but in order to understand the severity of loan-sharking, I want to start by discussing the problematic spiritual dimensions of usury, period.

 

In order to understand why usury (which is now so widely accepted) would be seen as a spiritual problem, we first need to understand a little bit about the way gifts work.

 

The Increase of the Gift

An interest-free loan is a form of a gift. For example: if I give you an interest-free loan of $1000 dollars, and you are able to use that loan to invest in a business which then makes you money. A year later, you return to me $1000, but you've still been able to create an "increase" out of the loan that I gave you, an increase that you wouldn't have been able to enjoy if I hadn't loaned you the $1000 to begin with.  So the increase that you make on account of me loaning you $1000 is a kind of gift from me to you.  Theoretically, if I had held on to my $1000 and not given it to you, I could have used the $1000 to invest and thereby enjoyed the increase myself.

 

Gifts are really cool because they create relationships of community and connection.  There's something magical and in harmony with the natural growth and decay of nature in the increase that properly treated gifts can create.

 

In indigenous cultures which maintained gift economies, it was always considered imperative that the increase generated by a gift  be passed on or used up, and never hoarded or used as capital itself. This passing-on or "paying it forward" was thought to be necessary in order to keep the "spirit of the gift" moving. So, for example, if you were able to make $2000 out of the $1000 interest-free loan I had given you, it would be good form for you to spend that $2000 on necessities for you and your family or to throw a big party and share the wealth. It would be very bad form for you to keep that $2000 to invest as capital or to hoard in savings.

 

The idea behind this is that gifts in a community should be kept in circulation and not used to unduly benefit or to create an unfair advantage for any one individual. When gifts are hoarded or used to create only private benefit, the spirit of the gift dies and the nihilism of separation, meaninglessness and isolation arises. This nihilism of separation creates a general atmosphere of cruelty. It's the atmosphere we're living in now.  It's the atmosphere that the Occupy movement has arisen to protest.

 

The Spirit of the Gift

We can think of the "spirit of the gift" as a sense of gratitude that puts human beings in an attitude of reverence and love for each other, nature, and divinity.  When gifts are kept moving and circulating, no one person has giant storehouses of money or goods to use as "security." The "security" and "prosperity" of an individual is instead intimately tied to the security and prosperity of the community, and thus to relationships of good will, love, and interdependency. Furthermore, a person who is living in the spirit of the gift, rather than seeking to extract and hoard the riches of the earth in warehouses instead respectfully fosters and tends for the earth so as to continue to enjoy the bounty of her gifts in a sustainable fashion.

 

Living in the spirit of the gift is an act of faith.  It involves a surrender of control.  This surrender entails two spiritual attitudes that are largely unknown to our control-obsessed modern world: 1) A general trust that the community / nature / divinity will continue to provide and 2) A graceful willingness to accept death and suffering in the event that the community / nature / divinity does not provide.

 

The act of living in the spirit of the gift is something which my favorite poet and all-around-awesome dude, Jesus, pointed to many times, perhaps most memorably in his Sermon on the Mount, when he suggested that everyone live "like the lilies of the field."  The lilies of the field, J.C. pointed out, don't do any work or save for rainy days, and yet they're gorgeous and happy. The lilies live in the spirit of the gift, accepting the nourishment of the sun and earth and giving forth radiant beauty.  Then they gracefully die when it gets cold and they don't whine about it. They don't control or hoard anything.

 

The Nihilism of Usury and the Control Freaks of Wall Street

Usury, in essence, is an expression of fear and clinging to material existence.  It's a refusal to surrender control. Usury hears about the notion of living like the lilies of the field and says "screw that!"

 

Usury seeks to maintain control over the increase generated by a gift.  It thus kills the spirit of the gift and creates disconnection.

 

When I give you that $1000 interest-free loan, I'm letting go of my say over that money. I'm letting you "use" it.  In turn, in our little gift society, I trust that you will put your "use" of the gift (the increase you accrue from investing it) to benefit all of us.  But I'm trusting. I've surrendered control of the "use" of the gift.  Through my trust, I'm making space for the spirit of the gift to live and breathe.

 

When I give you a $1000 dollar loan with 20% interest, I'm not letting go of my say over that money. I'm not trusting that you will use the increase of the gift to ultimately benefit our community and thus me. I'm demanding that you put the increase that you generate through your "use" of the gift back in my pocket. Thus I am controlling the "use-stuff" or "use-ury" or of the gift. In my control, I don't trust you and I certainly don't love you.

 

Usury = commerce between foreigners

Lewis Hyde explains:

 To ask for interest on loaned wealth is to reckon, articulate, and charge its increase.  The idea of usury therefore appears when spiritual, moral, and economic life begins to be separated from one another, probably at the time when foreign trade, exchange with strangers, begins. As we saw in an earlier chapter, wherever property circulates as a gift, the increase that accompanies that circulation is simultaneously material, social, and spiritual; where wealth moves as a gift, any increase in material wealth is automatically accompanied by the increased conviviality of the group and the strengthening of the hau, the spirit of the gift.  But when foreign trade begins, the tendency is to differentiate the material increase from the social and spiritual increase, and a commercial language appears to articulate the difference.  When exchange no longer connects one person to another, when the spirit of the gift is absent, then increase does not appear between gift partners, usury appears between debtors and creditors. (144-145 The Gift: Creativity and the Artist in the Modern World)

 

The key point that Hyde makes here is that usury begins when foreign trade begins.  It's an economic relationship forged between groups of people who have no necessary bonds to each other communally or spiritually and who do not trust each other.  It's a relationship of outsider to outsider.

 

Think about this: usury now colors every exchange in our financial institutions.  The banks lend to us, the people, at interest-- and in the case of the sub-prime mortgage crisis at insanely high, loan-sharking interest.  They might call themselves things like "Bank of America" but to them, we, their debtors, are obviously foreigners.

 

The Occupy Movement as a Gift Society

Therefore, it makes perfect sense that the movement against the banks, against our financial institutions and corrupt government and corporations calls itself an "Occupation" and takes the form of physical encampments.

 

We are occupying Wall Street and occupying symbolic squares and parks in our hometowns because the banks have made themselves foreigners to us through their usury.  We have no fellow-feeling and good-will for them because we have no trace of a gift relationship with them. They've destroyed the spirit of the gift through their rapacious lust to control and their absolute unwillingness to trust.

 

They've treated us, the people, their fellow citizens, like strangers.

 

To speak in biblical terms, our financial institutions have committed grave sins and the consequences of those sins are alienation and disunity.

 

It is absolutely no accident that the Occupy encampments in NYC and throughout the world are operating as communal gift economies with free healthcare (in the form of medic tents), free education (in the form of teach-ins, speakers, and lending libraries), free food, free shelter (in the form of donated tents, clothing, sleeping bags, etc.), and free entertainment (as people share their musical and artistic skills).

 

The Occupy encampments are modeling the living power of the spirit of the gift which the banks, corporations, and corrupt government of the United States had sought to destroy through usury, among other means.

 

Debts create suspicion, scarcity, distrust and death.  Gifts create love, abundance, trust and life.

 

Why doesn't Occupy need to articulate demands?

In the Occupy movement, the spirit of the gift is rising up and roaring through the hearts and minds of people throughout the world. This is what makes it enormously powerful and wonderful.

 

This is why it doesn't need to "articulate demands." The demand of the movement is implicit in its very existence.  The medium is the message.  Gifts, not debts. Consensus, not tyranny. Community, not commodity. The time has come. The spirit will prevail.

 

Check out this tour of the gift community at the Occupy Pittsburgh encampment, given by yours truly:

 

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nTMvFWhjNq8

 

Love!

Carolyn

Getting Started with Digital Entrepreneurship - for Artists and Other Fluffy Types

 

Why? Because most jobs just suck.

 

I'm heavily disillusioned with the world of jobs and bosses and the general lack of dignity afforded to wage slaves. Most of my friends are, too.  This means that we're often broke because we refuse to work for people and companies we can't stand.

 

So we've started talking about entrepreneurship.

 

Don't get me wrong. I'm no unqualified fan of capitalism (especially the globalized corporatism that we have now).  I'm thrilled with the Occupy Wall Street movement and plan to stay for the long haul with Occupy Pittsburgh.  I look forward with high hopes to us one day having a sacred economy and I offer a lot of what I do as free gifts (Talk to Me - Gift Economy Style).  But I do however recognize that I need to make money. Without having a boss.

 

How to Succeed in Business By.... Really Trying

 

So I plan to launch my book Awesome Your Life: The Artist's Antidote to Suffering Genius later this year via this website. I'm inspired by all the success stories and great resources I've found around the web, and I'm eager to share these stories and resources with my friends.  I guess I've become something of an digital entrepreneurship evangelist.

 

So here's what's helping me:

 

The Business Goddess eCourse by Goddess Leonie Allan

As you may have noticed, I'm kind of fluffy.  I needed someone equally fluffy to explain online business stuff to me.  Goddess Leonie makes her living online offering lovely hand-illustrated creativity guides and she happens to dress in flowy velvety dresses.  So I felt like she might be on the same wavelength.  Boy, was I right.

 

In the Business Goddess eCourse Leonie breaks down all the technical stuff that just plain mystified me (how to set up a shopping cart; how to receive payments via pay pal; how to create digital products; how to get the word out).  And she does it all with such guileless kindness! Click here to view more details - this'll take you to the Business Goddess eCourse page

 

Dave Navarro's Online Business Tool Box

 

The online product launch coach, Dave Navarro, recently decided to take a break from the interwebs.  As a parting gift, he made available an incredible resource-- ALL of his programs (which formerly cost 100's of dollars) for FREE!

 

Sadly, Dave is not very fluffy and does not dress in long flowy velvet dresses.  His style is rather more gruff.  He has a kind of "grab 'em by the balls and sell 'em stuff" attitude which doesn't completely vibe with me.  But he offers really great in-depth information, so we'll forgive the hyperbolic guy stuff.

 

As a caveat, I don't know if I would have been able to grasp all the technical stuff in Dave's free offering first if I hadn't already taken Goddess Leonie's course.  But you might be a bit savvier than me.

 

Here are just a few of the (ball-grabbing) courses you'll find in the Toolbox:

Creating Products That Sell

Building a Responsive List

Becoming a Big Player in Your Niche

 

Click here to view more details - this'll take you to the Launch Coach Online Toolbox

 

The Middle Finger Project by Ash Ambirge

 

I may have said it before, but I'll say it again: I love Ash Ambirge. A lot of what you really need to get started as an entrepreneur is attitude and willfulness and Ash has plenty of it to spare.

 

The Middle Finger Project is a blog that wakes you up and gives you a swift stiletto kick.

 

The title of her brilliant book, You Don't Need a Job, You Need Guts rings through my head about five times a day, each time I consider giving up.  I'll catch myself looking at "help wanted" sign and I'll think to myself, "Hey, Carolyn-- you don't need a job, you need guts." And then I smile and feel much better.  Because I just feel in my heart that it's true.

 

Click here to visit Ash Ambirge - This'll take you the page for You Don't Need a Job, You Need guts

 

In Conclusion

 

I hope you find these resources as useful as I have.  I'll be sure to keep you posted about my own entrepreneurial progress.  Right now, I'm working on increasing the readership of this here blog.  So if you like it-- tell your friends!

 

Also-- be sure to sign up for the weekly Genius Updates letter below.  I send it out every Thursday with 3 incredibly rad FREE gems that I find during my web surfs (fantastic whole books, video series, and albums that are... FREE) and updates & offers concerning Awesome Your Life.

 

Here's where I brag: last night no less a personage than the urban shaman of Union Square in NYC, Matthew Stillman, told me the letter was "brilliant."  So. Maybe you'll like it, too.

 

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