Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Charles Eisenstein on Sacred Economics

Charles Eisenstein, the author of Sacred Economics, gave a talk at the Timucua White House. Harlan Wallner got on stage to introduce Charles. He stood there for a long while beaming. He said he had planned a long time on how he might introduce Charles but instead he just wanted to smile. He said, we were in for an enlightenment.

Charles stood at the very edge of the stage his toes reaching towards the audience. He began by saying, "This is the first talk I have given at the White House." Which broke the ice with laughter. Behind him two spot lights created a heart shaped pool of light on the painting in the corner. I began by sketching that pool of light.

He outlined how our society today is surrounded by product, not true nourishment. Most people feel that community is missing from our lives. Money tends to block us from the natural expression of our gifts. Community is something that is woven from gift relationships. In ancient societies, wealth was a matter of how much you shared. If a hunter brought down a large catch, he couldn't eat it all himself before it spoiled. He would share the catch with the community. Today, financial independence means you don't need others. The dissolution of community to a shallow consumer society relates as well to the high number of divorces today. Community comes from creatively producing together.

Existence is a matter of giving. Our default state is gratitude. The world is a web of gifts. Growing up we accepted the gifts of our parents. When we are older we seek to give those gifts in return. Joint consumption doesn't create intimacy. Only joint creativity and gifts create intimacy. Anything we do has significance. Perhaps our society doesn't place a high monetary value on someone sitting with a person in hospice. But a shared moment of forgiveness at the end of life has an immense value. How will that change the world?

Look for gifts in the unspoken. Bow in service to what you need to create. You have to be in service of something. Everyone wants to live a life of meaning. Something wants to be born, to be created. It's light will bring up pain. You might think, "It's impossible" or "I'll be left behind." Pay attention to that pain, give it space, then move past it. The logic of the heart wants to be of service. Love is the felt experience of connection to another human being. An economist feels, more for you is less for me. But a person in love knows that more for you is more for me as well. If you love someone, then their happiness is your happiness. Your sense of self expands to include others. That is a different kind of revolution. We want to create a more beautiful world our hearts tell us is possible. A sacred world. A world that works for everybody. A world of peace. "You can't evict an idea whose time has come."

After the talk, I spoke with Dina Peterson who had recently lost her job and is considering moving to Indiana. Regardless, she wanted to buy one of my calendars. I was touched. I realized I only had a single dollar bill in my wallet. Rather than take the money, I suggested she "gift" the money to Charles. I felt good knowing I had made a contribution. When she came back, she said she felt rich being able to give the extra cash to the speaker. This was our shared experience in Sacred Economics for the evening.

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