Here is an excerpt from a comment on Chapter 7 posted on Reality Sandwich.
I am a 64 year old hippie. The flower children knew capitalism was dead. Its demise has been painful to say the least. Free is what it is, has been, and will be. Freedom is movement and flexibility. Yoga saying-the same energy free creates ecstasy, and when blocked creates disease and suffering. Coupla hints from the sixties-Money doesn’t talk, it swears[Bob Dylan] More men will rob you with a pen than with a knife[Woody Guthrie] Do we really want to train these innocent beautiful children of the future to play with money? They are content with free and giving freely.
I offered the following response: ” We certainly don’t want to train children to play with money-as-we-know it. But what if money were something profoundly different than it is today? That is what this book describes. How can we align money with what is becoming sacred to us? We are so used to associating money with the destruction of all that is good, true, and beautiful — and with good reason! But ultimately, money is a social agreement. What if the nature of that agreement changed, so that it rewarded and encouraged, or you could even say, so that it guided us toward, actions that serve the good of society and the planet? Oh, and I offer you and all the hippies a deep bow.”
As this comment demonstrates, our intuitions about money are deeply conditioned by what money has been in our experience. It has been a force for scarcity, for greed, for the denial of our dreams, for the ravaging of the biosphere, and for the exploitation of other cultures. At the same time, it has been necessary for our survival in this society, and, it would seem, for the acquisition of much we desire. Thus we bear a deeply fraught ambivalence toward money, wanting it and hating it at the same time. No wonder we would have done with it.
The transformation of money that I describe in Sacred Economics is so profound as to turn the intuitions of the Age of Usury on their head. What if money were a way to help you distinguish what choice served the greater benefit of all beings? What if it were an embodiment of society’s gratitude for your gifts? What if it were no longer based on debt and no longer an agent of our enslavement?
Many ancient cultures — universally gift cultures — believed that a spirit traveled along with the gift, a spirit that compelled reciprocation to the giver or to the community, an enforcer of flow. Made famous by Mauss with his description of the hau of Maori culture, it is an immaterial spirit, intangible yet powerful. In its non-materiality and power, the hau is much like money, or at least it points to what money could be. As electronic bits it is indeed quite nearly immaterial, existing in the realm of symbol. When you part with a gift, it is gone, leaving only its immaterial imprint — some symbols inscribed on paper or saved on a computer. And, again like the hau, it has the power to compel flow, to guide gifts back to the one who has given them.
Money today is failing us, causing a stagnation in the flow of gifts, and hence a horrendous concentration of wealth in fewer and fewer hands. Its failure offers us an opportunity to restore money to the spirit of the gift, and make it a suitable plaything for the free children of the future.