December 20, 2011

A Tantric Economy: Free Cooperative Economics.

Photo: Marc Johns

Free.Co.Nomics: Free Cooperative Economics

I recently spent time traveling around Southeast Asia. I was studying Tantric Yoga and had the opportunity to witness firsthand how the Western economic model has spread; I observed both the benefits and failing of this system as it’s been superimposed upon a variety of cultures.

What I have noticed about this system is that it is indeed a siphon of sorts which tends to pull resources from the bottom to the top. It is profound to me how a few minds from our past have created such a lopsided system that is so readily and easily adopted and yet – so very costly ultimately to those who adopt it. All one need do is look around to see the byproduct of this philosophy.

I’m a salvager. Not literally of course, but I tend to think that pretty much everything can be altered, changed, tweaked and generally repurposed so that it finds a use somewhere. I find that this is a general theme amongst certain creative types.

Thus when I am referring to our current system of economics I’m not saying the whole thing needs to be trashed. There’s always a way to make something work. And don’t get me wrong – if you could ask the architects of this system they would likely tell you that it works just fine. It’s just that, what makes it work, leaves you and I out of the picture or uses you and I as a functionary to its own ends. Hence the terms, rat race, hamster wheel, the grind, etc

What is curious to me is what this lopsided system is based on… and why do we seem so unwilling to alter or tweak it as needed to make it truly work for the most amount of people instead of the least?

I would say two things initially but really, if it’s broken down further,  it is ultimately one thing.


But this is an oversimplification. How did we come to be so fearful in the first place? You can blame your DNA and an overactive and poorly trained brain for that one.

The pivotal idea of our current system is that we humans are inherently greedy. Ok, well, that is one quality we can have and exhibit among hundreds of others. But this economy acts as if this were pretty much the only behavior humans are capable of.

…and given some of the behaviors exhibited on Black Friday across America one can be left wondering if perhaps they are correct. But seriously, this is obviously a limiting belief about our nature and it’s emphasis does our species a collective injustice in it’s implementation economically.

It’s interesting to notice that as our technological capacity for shortening and democratizing the thought to manifestation gap increases – along with access to – at least at this point, intellectual resources. Our need for absolute ownership seems to decrease.

Music, books and films are the first of many things that will soon lose that “limited supply” status thanks to the evolution of 3D printers.

Resources have always been about access and our Western economy is about controlling access. But access to what?

The things that should mean the most to us, by way of supporting life, are in fact the most abundant:

Water (though we are screwing this up rapidly)

Air (see water)

and Food (see air and water).

While the things we don’t need, we are told to be of the “highest value.”

Why? Because marketers tell us so.

Why do we believe them? Because these things are supposedly rare.

But if they don’t support life then who cares how rare they are. What value do they offer?

Ahhh…now, here it is. They appeal to our ego – don’t they? They make us feel good by giving us a sense of superiority, freedom, power, status, class, so on and so forth. This is of course an illusory game of which much of “civilized” society has chosen to engage in.  But make no mistake. It is illusory.

Unlike a King in ancient times who had his castle high above on a hill where he did in fact have a distinct and literal advantage by way of geographic location – most of us are simply left with beliefs and ideas to make us feel superior.  Which, if we are honest with ourselves, are obviously ephemeral.

What these “things” appeal to is our sense of separateness and what gives us some perceived advantage over another and sets us apart. Knowledge itself can do this too as I can readily attest. My own process after leaving high school and never having been super popular and generally a “hit” with the ladies was to use knowledge to impress and intimidate people. The difference with knowledge though was the fact that anything I thought I knew, anyone else could know! It was not special. It was “open source,” if you will.

I simply had a motive to seek it out. And in the process gained far more than I bargained for.  Part of what that knowledge gathering process inculcated in me was the idea that cooperation was better than competition. That we need not be a culture who considered valueless those things which are free and or readily available. In fact we’d better not if we want to keep going as a species.

Writer Gene Rodenberry, of Star Trek fame, had set up a world in which the value system of humanity had been radically altered to put personal and collective growth, expansion and understanding as paramount for the human journey. In this alternate reality we no longer fight over the vagaries of belief systems or the basic resources we humans need to survive. We are not interested in hoarding a bunch of so called “valuable” stuff just to leave it to entropy or our progeny when we die. In this story, what we hold most important is understanding. Understating ourselves and the universe we live in.

Personally, I’m glad to see a shift in our collective value system slowly emerge. With the mark of the Occupy Movements around the globe, it’s clear that people are waking up and really questioning what has been slowly and insidiously creeping into our midst.  But this idea is not new. Other cultures have carried some version of this philosophy throughout history.

The idea of a country measure success by GNH (Gross National Happiness) instead of GNP (Gross National Product) is one such example.

Books Like Free: The Future of a Radical Price by Chris Anderson, give an inkling as to what may be in store as we progress.

Give it away now!

“Free” is a word like most any other, except that it fits into a particular class of words often more nebulously defined, as all good marketers well know. It can convey a number of things but what is more important here is the essence of the message of a word like “free” in this context, which is an exchange of value.

If someone gives you something and you by a feeling of reciprocity you give something back, but no money has changed hands is that free?  Yes and No. Yes if free is only about our limited ideas of money and no if we are thinking in terms of exchange in value. The point is that ultimately what we always come back to is an exchange of value.

We as a species, can be very much hung up on stuff. Most of us if we are sincere will admit that we’re materialists to a greater or lesser degree by nature. And we see this behavior displayed in our literalist interpretations of spirituality, relationships with each other, relationships to ourselves and so on. And up to this point we’ve had to be thus to evolve and survive. That’s fair enough.

But even though we have progressed in numerous ways that would otherwise allow us to not be so materially-focused we are still operating from old software that keeps up afraid of what we may lose, believing that our very life depends on it.

But unlike the more simple minded animal who just wants to exist and continue to exist by way of reproduction our species has developed beliefs we think we have to defend. Our beliefs about God, country, family and the complexity of our personal identities give us the needed reasons to stay divided from one another.

It is particularly entertaining to watch this in the spiritual community – for obvious reasons. The irony is, we are not even talking about literal life and death here.  Just the mere idea of potential death of some portion of our ego’s identity is enough to set us scrambling to escape or ready for battle.

And this is how we are operating much of the time in life. Defending, protecting, hoarding and owning things that don’t even exist in a material form. They are just electrical impulses firing away in our brains.

So how do we move away from one system to another? We start by seeing past and through the existing system. With minimal amount of judgment if we can help it.

We change by understanding the reasons why it exists in the first place and replacing those reasons with a consciousness that simply makes the old system obsolete. We don’t have to fight to change old computer programs do we.

New ones come out that simply put the old ones to shame and, if we are open to the change, we adopt them readily.

It is simply a matter of practical use and what works best for the most amount of people. Seems easy right?

Next we start adopting a practice of seeing and experience in ourselves that source from which all things emanate. It is both infinite and abundant. And this is where the idea of a Tantric Economy beings to emerge.

Going further, we begin to use the powers of our mind to focus consciousness on creation and to absolutely manifest a new reality personally before shifted things collectively. It is this shift in our personal consciousness that is having the massive ripple effect on our ever expanding circle of influence that we are witnessing everyday.

To make things more practical, here are a few things to experiment with:

1. Consider exploring the realm of barter. Craiglist.com is ripe for this and even has it;s own section. There are usually barter groups in every major city. If there isn;t one. Consider starting one!

2. Free up the flow of energy by giving without expectation of direct return but instead realize that you will and are always GETTING too.

3. Focus on developing  an abundant internal world before focusing on “stuff” gathering.  Realize how lucky you actually are. And if you have the ability to get online and read this and not stuck in a mine, prison or foxhole somewhere, you are lucky!

4. Engage in activities that you would be doing regardless of whether you got paid or not and see how it feels to offer that which what I would call a “pure action” to others freely, again trusting in the flow that will come back to you.

Try these things out and observe your mind as you do.


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