“…Before our white brothers came to civilize us we had no jails. Therefore we had no criminals. You can’t have criminals without a jail. We had no locks or keys, and so we had no thieves. If a man was so poor that he had no horse, tipi or blanket, someone gave him these things. We were too uncivilized to set much value on personal belongings. We wanted to have things only in order to give them away. We had no money, and therefore a man’s worth couldn’t be measured by it. We had no written law, no attorney or politicians, therefore we couldn’t cheat. We were in a really bad way before the white man came, and I don’t know how we managed to get along without the basic things which, we are told, are absolutely necessary to make a civilized society…”; Lakota Sage Lame Deer (from John Lame Deer, Seeker of Visions)
Facts I – 9 years
COULD YOU SURVIVE WITHOUT MONEY?
MEET THE GUY WHO DOES
DANIEL SUELO LIVES IN A CAVE. UNLIKE THE average American—wallowing in credit-card debt, clinging to a mortgage, terrified of the next downsizing at the office—he isn’t worried about the economic crisis. That’s because he figured out that the best way to stay solvent is to never be solvent in the first place. Nine years ago, in the autumn of 2000, Suelo decided to stop using money. He just quit it, like a bad drug habit.
His dwelling, hidden high in a canyon lined with waterfalls, is an hour by foot from the desert town of Moab, Utah, where people who know him are of two minds: He’s either a latter-day prophet or an irredeemable hobo. Suelo’s blog, which he maintains free at the Moab Public Library, suggests that he’s both. “When I lived with money, I was always lacking,” he writes. “Money represents lack. Money represents things in the past (debt) and things in the future (credit), but money never represents what is present.”
On a warm day in early spring, I clamber along a set of red-rock cliffs to the mouth of his cave, where I find a note signed with a smiley face: CHRIS, FEEL FREE TO USE ANYTHING, EAT ANYTHING (NOTHING HERE IS MINE). From the outside, the place looks like a hollowed teardrop, about the size of an Amtrak bathroom, with enough space for a few pots that hang from the ceiling, a stove under a stone eave, big buckets full of beans and rice, a bed of blankets in the dirt, and not much else. Suelo’s been here for three years, and it smells like it.
1. Why Do You Live Without Money?
This is the only way I know to live with a clear conscience.
The reasons are many. Here are some main ones:
(A )It’s Instinctual. It’s for (B) Political reasons, (C) spiritual reasons, (D) health reasons (mental & physical health), (E) economic reasons, and because (F) it’s just plain fun, seriously:
(A) It’s Instinctual
Actually, you and I and everybody lived moneyless, without Consciousness of Credit & Debt, when we were born. Our true selves already live moneyless. The rest is bogus illusion. This lifestyle is the nature and desire of children. Any child or young person I talk to, not yet too programmed by the Man, thinks it’s cool.
All creatures, all the universe, outside the walls of civilization live moneyless. That’s why nature outside commercial civilization’s constricts, is perfectly balanced. Yet no nation on earth, even with its PhD economists, can even balance its budget!
This requires little explanation. Look at politics. Look at America’s & the world’s rampant materialism. Look at the droves of churches backing these politics, trying to hide greed under masks of piety. Look at corporations, world trade. Need I say more? Their fruit speaks for itself.
Mixed with my kid instincts, I grew up in an Evangelical Christian home. I took my religion seriously. But I started wondering why professed Christians rarely follow the teachings of Jesus – namely the Sermon on the Mount, namely giving up possessions, living beyond Credit & Debt, freely giving & freely taking, giving, expecting nothing in return, forgiving all debts, owing nobody a thing, living beyond payback of either evil-for-evil or good-for-good, living and walking without guilt (debt), without grudge (debt), without judgment (credit & debt), living by Grace (Gratis, not by our own works but by the works of the true Nature flowing through us).
As I grew older & opening up my mind, I started learning that these principles of Christianity are the principles of every religion – like Taoism, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism, Islam, Mormonism, Shamanism, Paganism, etc. (Despite the institutionalized bastardizations of each of these religions, selling their Spirit for 30 pieces of silver).
No religion has a monopoly on truth. And those farthest from their own truth are the ones who think themselves the only true church. The core principles of the world’s religions are the very principles of Nature, “the Law written on every heart.” And you know this at your deepest core. Did not Jesus use the examples of the ravens, lilies, rain raining on the just & unjust, sparrows, seeds, and our own hearts, to drive home these points?
However, this brought me to a point where I was sick of studying & blabbing about religion & philosophy, because I did not, could not, practice them. Nobody did, nobody could. Then I entered a phase of cynicism, bitterness, spiraling into clinical depression, & disdain for all religion and talk of things spiritual, disdain for conceptions of God.
I had lived in Denver & Boulder, Colorado, and decided I was sick of the rat race. So I gave up my job and moved to Moab, Utah. I eventually started realizing that the only way to overcome depression was to simplify my thoughts, let them go. This is Buddhism 101, the inevitable result of anybody wanting to heal. And then I realized my stuff was also my thoughts. As I let go of useless thoughts, I let go of useless possessions. And as I let go of useless possessions, I found more and more that I needed less and less. It was not an effort, but more like a tree dropping its leaves or seeds. And with my possessions, possessions of thoughts and stuff and people, flew away my depression. But this odyssey continued to go even deeper.
Every time I made a resume for a job, signed my name to a document, opened a bank account, or even bought a banana at the supermarket, I felt a tinge of dishonesty, like I was not letting my yes be yes and my no be no. Yup, you know what I am talking about. Everybody does. I was becoming supersensitive to this basic knowledge. Even the slightest seed of dishonesty was just that–a seed. One seed can populate the mind, the whole earth. One dark eye can darken the whole body, the entire universe!
One year I went to Alaska with my 2 friends, Leslie & Mel, in their van & spent the late spring, summer, and early fall there. At first I worked on the docks. But none of it felt honest. So I quit and decided to go on a solo pack trip and try to live off the land for a few weeks. Lo & behold, I ran into a Basque dude named Ander who was also toying with thoughts of living off the land. So that’s what we did. We speared fish, ate mushrooms & berries, and lived very well. Then we hit the road, hitch-hiking, and realized how generous people were, and were astonished at the plethora of magical “coincidences” that kept happening to us. Eventually we split up and I decided to hitch all the way back to Moab, Utah, with $50 in my pocket, just to see if I could. When I arrived in Moab, I had $25 left. Then I realized I had only used money for things I didn’t need, like snacks and a beer. For the first time, I realized I could live totally moneyless.
During my time in Alaska, I was also thinking about the concept of the world’s debts, banking, corporations, war, and poverty. My constant mantra was: “Forgive us our debts, even as we forgive our debtors”. For I was realizing, more and more, that there really isn’t a line of division between physical debt and spiritual debt. Physical & Spiritual debt are Siamese twins. I knew, from gradually becoming liberated from clinical depression, that mental debts, called guilt & vengeance, were inextricably linked with physical debts. And mental debts are also inextricably linked with physical disease. And compassion does not judge debtors but forgives them, just as healers don’t judge the sick but heal them, make them whole, accept them as a whole. The love of money, the attachment to Credit and Debt, truly is the root of all evil, all dis-ease, all un-easiness.
Nothing I am saying here requires research or proof, because all the evidence is right within you. Just take time to look.
(F) It’s Just Plain Fun, Seriously
I became fascinated with Hindu Sadhus, who wander in India without money and possessions. I wanted to become one. A couple years after my Alaska odyssey, I went to India with a close friend, Michael. Actually, since we’d gotten killer-deal tickets to Thailand, we went to Thailand first. There I ran into a Buddhist monk named Sumetho and got whisked away to a Buddhist monastery in northern Thailand, outside Chiang Mai. It was a life-changing experience. Then I hooked up with Michael again and we hopped to India. After wandering in India for a couple months, I ended up at McLeod Ganj, near Dharamsala, where Tibetan refugees are. And the Dalai Lama happened to be there, and I got to hear his talks for a week. Then he turned to us westerners. He said he thought it was admirable that people come from all lands to explore Tibetan Buddhism. But he emphasized that truth is found in every religion, and perhaps only a few could find fulfillment in another faith. Otherwise, he recommended that everybody go back to where they were planted, rather than trying to find greener grass on the other side of the fence. This cinched it for me. What good would it do for me to be a sadhu in India? A true test of faith would be to return to one of the most materialistic, money-worshipping nations on earth, to return to the authentically profound principles of spirituality hidden beneath our own religion of hypocrisy, and be a sadhu there. This idea exhilarated me. I can be a sadhu in America, I thought. To be a vagabond, a bum, and make an art of it – this idea enchanted me. The idea of it was just plain fun.
So months later, over 8 years ago, that’s what I did.
To become as a child is to return to understanding fun.
2. Do You Think Money Is Evil?
No. Money is illusion. Illusion is neither good nor evil. Attachment to illusion is evil. Attachment to illusion is called idolatry.
Few will even question what money really is, because it is so pervasive, like air. Yet, unlike air, money does not exist outside the mind, but is only pervasive in the mind.
Contrary to common definitions, money is not gold or silver, cowry shells or cattle; money is not bills, it is not credit cards, it is not numbers in a bank or tabulations on paper. Money is purely belief in the head. Money exists no place else but in the mind. Money is a strange phenomenon that exists only because two or more people believe it exists.
To say that I live without money isn’t saying anything, really. That’s like saying I live without belief in Santa Claus. Now, if we lived in a world where everybody believed in Santa Claus, you might think I’m stepping out on a limb to live without Santa Claus, who never existed.
What if we saw gold for what it is? Gold is pretty, but virtually useless in most cases. But somebody decided it has an inflated worth, and everybody decided to believe this decision. Now few people see gold for its reality, but they see fictitious values. The natives in the Americas thought Europeans were utterly insane because of their lust for such a useless yellow substance.
Imagine if you had eyes that saw reality rather than your own belief. Imagine if you saw a $100 bill as a piece of paper with a pretty work of art on it, and nothing else.
Our real selves live without money, always have, and always will.
Only our pretend selves can live with and use and own money.
Think about this, please.
I am tired of living in the pretend world. I am tired of being a pretense.
People of commerce often tell children and people like us to get real, to join the real world.
Now I want you to reconsider who is really in the real world.
Really consider this, please!
It’s kind of funny how those most attached to money always tell me emphatically, ‘Money is not the root of all evil, but “The love of money is the root of all evil”!’ (quoting 1 Timothy chapter 6, verse 10)
If only they believe what has just come out of their own mouths. People get emphatic about defending what they most love.
Alcoholics in denial are quick to emphatically tell you that alcohol isn’t the problem, it is dependence on alcohol that is the problem. They assure you they can quit any time. Same with a heroin addict in denial or any other addict in denial.
No, heroin is not evil. The problem truly is addiction to heroin. But, I ask you this: do you know of anybody who shoots heroin who isn’t addicted? And I also ask you this, what is more addictive, heroin or money?
Now any AA attender will tell you that the first step in overcoming addiction is to let go of your denial and admit your addiction. Then you can proceed to the next 11 steps, one at a time.
3. What Do You Do For Food?
I freely take what is freely given, with no obligation on either side.
I forage for wild, feral, and domestic edibles. I also freely rely on human generosity. I live on waste: dumpster-diving, trash can fishing, table-surfing, and sometimes asking people and food-service institutions for extras and throw-aways. I don’t ask people to give me what they don’t intend to throw out. I also eat roadkill, if it is fresh, of course. I’ve eaten squirrel, racoon, rabbit, and deer, so far. I’ve also eaten ants, grubs, grasshopeers, crickets, termites, lizards & snakes.
4. What do you do for shelter?
My primary home is a cave in the desert canyon near Moab, Utah. The latest cave I’ve been staying in is maybe 5 feet wide and 5 feet tall inside and 15 feet back. It has a tear-drop shaped opening, part of a crevice in a cliff wall. I cover it with plastic in the winter & it stays fairly warm even without fire. But I built a little wood heating & cooking stove out of a large tin, with connected cans as a flew, which takes the smoke out a small hole conveniently above the entrance. Just a couple small sticks will cook a meal & make the cave warm & toasty. The cave is very stealth, hard to find, & doesn’t even look like a cave even when you’re close by. The entrance is south-facing, high on a ledge, meaning it gets sun most days in the winter. I can sunbathe naked up there in the dead of winter while the temperatures are frigid in the canyon below as well as in town!
I usually have a ringtail cat (which isn’t really a cat) companion who periodically tries to move into the cave with me. Ringtails are only seen at night, so I feel priviliged seeing such a rare sight.
I also house-sit for people who leave town, which usually includes taking care of their animals & such. I also have various camp-outs near town when I’m not house-sitting & I can’t make it up the canyon. I sometimes crash at friends’ houses or in their yards, too.
When I’m on the road I camp in random places, including in groves of trees, prairies, farm fields, sheds & abandoned houses. In cities I’ve slept in open spaces, parks, on roofs, & abandoned buildings.
I usually carry a tarp & sleeping bag with me when traveling. But I’ve ventured out without tarps or sleeping bags or blankets & have always found everything I needed, like large pieces of plastic or tarps from construction dumpsters & such, and blankets & sleeping bags. Strangers have also offered me a place in their homes. Whether I’ve gone out with a lot or nothing, I’ve never ever found myself lacking shelter & bedding. Even so, I still find myself doubting, lacking faith.
5. What do you do for transportation?
When I am traveling, I hitch-hike and train-hop. When I am in town (either Moab or Portland), I walk a lot and ride a bicycle. There is usually a spare bike around that somebody is willing to give me or lend me. I can find perfectly good bicycle tubes & tires in dumpsters, and often tools & parts in random places like sides of roads. I’m often astonished how things come when & where needed.
6. Do you get sick from dumpsters & roadkill & living in the cold?
All I know is I am sick way less often than when I lived with money.
Yes, I’ve sometimes gotten a little queezy from being careless, but I less so than when I lived a moneyed, sterile life, I can asure you. I’ve been sick & vomiting 3 times these past 8 years living moneyless. Ironically, the first two times were not from my usual dumpster dine-outs, but the first time when a friend had me over to her house for dinner and the second time when a friend bought me food at a restaurant. The third time I got sick and vomited was when I carelessly ate a poison cactus.
The immune system is like your muscles. If you don’t excercise it, it will atrophy, and you will get sick more often. If you live too cleanly, you will get weak and sick more often. This should be common sense.
I never, ever get colds & flu when I live outdoors, even in below-freezing weather. The only times I’ve gotten colds this whole past 8 years has been when I house-sit. Constantly going from indoors to outdoors, from warm to cold and cold to warm, as well as being in stale indoor air, is hard on the body.
There is nothing more detrimental to health than worrying about health. I’m not talking about thinking and caring about health, but worrying about health.
7. Do you take food stamps or other government aid or institutional charity?
No. I am not opposed to food stamps. I just don’t take them for myself.
Neither do I take government assistance, and usually not organized do-goodism. If somebody is paid to help me, I don’t want their help. If they are volunteers, I will take their help. The whole philosophy of living this way is to receive what is freely given, from the heart. I want all my human contacts to be sincere, with no motivation but the motivation of giving itself. It’s about being real. I prefer to go hungry than to recieve food not given freely.
8. How long do you plan to live this way?
I have taken no vows. I don’t know what tomorrow holds, and I’m open to anything. But the more I live this way, the more absurd it seems to go back to living in the prison of money. I was unhappy under money and I’m happy free of it. Why would I trade happiness for unhappiness again? Why would I trade freedom for slavery?
9. What will you do when you get old?
If I live to get old, I will get old and die, like every living creature. Who can prevent it. Who has ever prevented it? Would it be better to die in a nursing home with tubes stuck in me or would it be better to die in a canyon or by a wild animal or a virus?
Sufficient for today is the evil thereof.
How many robins or alligators or chimpanzees do you know of who have life insurance policies? Walk into a hospital geriatric ward and ask yourself if we are any better off than the chimpanzees. Go ahead.
Many religious people freak out when I speak of chance and natural selection, betraying themselves that they do not really believe that God is omnipresent. If you say “chance”, they think you are talking of something apart from God. But chance is the very mind of God. Chance sends its rain on the just and on the unjust alike. Chance is no respecter of persons. Chance formed me and continues right now to mold me from the dust of the earth. Chance evolved me from an ameoboid to a human. Why, after millions of years of honing me down, would chance forsake me now?
Pure and simple, faith is trusting yourself to chance (*Tawakkal).
Again, don’t get all high-minded & smart, you materialists. If you’re a materialistic Darwinist, and you really believe you came about by chance, then why do you not trust yourself to chance? All science and all religion are one, and all are faith and came about by faith.
If you’re a religious, and you really believe that God is all sovereign, why do you think chance is somehow apart from God?
Chance created us.
Both of you, religious and materialist, can you honestly look at your beautiful hand or your complex brain or your lymph system or your splendid eye and think that the universe is somehow going to fall apart if you stop worrying about it? What has worry ever accomplished?
On the flip side, do you think you or anybody can ever, ever, ever stop decay and death? Will worrying make it better?
Every moment is death. Every moment is born again. Ye must die and ye must be born again. If you can’t embrace death voluntarily right now, do you think it will be easier when it inevitably crashes onto you against your will later?
Plan for the future by living your fullest now, by being fully present now. There is no other way to plan for the future. There is no other way to be at optimum health, now or in the future. None.
10. What happens if you get sick or injured?
If I or anybody else need help and fellow humans are around to freely help us, then we are meant to be helped. If a doctor or anybody freely offers me assistance, then I will take it. If nobody can freely offer help, then so be it. That’s natural selection. Natural selection is going to eventually select every single one of us physical creatures, without exception, for death. Natural selection is the Mind of God. Natural selection formed us, evolved us, from the dust of the earth, and continues to do so. And Natural Selection will without doubt also knock us off. Natural Selection giveth and Natural Selection taketh away. If we avoid natural selection, we stop evolving. If I am way out in the wilderness and break a leg and die, what’s the big deal? If I don’t die and heal or find help, good! People and creatures have been getting sick and healing and in the end all getting sick and dying for billions of years and will continue to do so. Why now is it such a drama? Will getting tubes stuck in you in a hospital and maybe avoiding inevitable Natural Selection for a couple more years lessen the drama?
11. What would happen to society if everybody lived like you do? What if everybody raided dumpsters?
Yes, what would happen to society if everybody renounced money and gave up their possessions to the poor. What would happen if all people stopped taking more than they need? Then they wouldn’t have to throw away obscene amounts of goods & food every day – enough food to continually feed, cloth, & shelter every person on planet earth. Would anybody anywhere have to raid dumpsters and dig through dumps? Would anybody have to be ostracized or thrown in prison for speaking obvious truth?
What would happen to society if everybody in Christendom actually practiced the teachings of Jesus? What if everybody in the Buddhist world actually practiced the teachings of Siddharta Gautama? And everybody in Hinudstan practiced the teachings of Krishna & the Sages? And everybody in the Sikh world practiced the teachings of the Guru Nanak Sahib? And everybody in the Taoist world practiced the teachings of Lao Tzu? And everybody in Islam practiced the teachings of the Muhammad and the Faqirs? And everybody in the Bahá’í Faith practiced the teachings of Bahá’u’lláh?
What would happen if everybody in “godless” liberalism actually practiced the teachings of Emma Goldman and Henry David Thoreau and Karl Marx and all their unknown heralds who were assasinated for social justice? If everybody practiced these things, would you have to sell yourself for even one hour a day?
What do birds and fish and lions and mushrooms and bees do? How do they do it?
What would happen if everybody practiced what they themselves know to be true? Stop pretending you don’t know what I’m talking about.
12. You look well-fed and well-dressed; are you a trust-funder?
No. When I say I don’t have, take, or use money I mean just that.
This is the abundant life.
I have neither poverty or wealth.
Poverty and wealth only exist in the world of possessions and trade.
13. Why don’t mooches like you work?
Why do you assume I don’t work?
Let’s use a simple example. If somebody is paid for taking photographs, you call them employed workers. If somebody takes photographs for no pay, you call them playboys. If you act for ulterior motivation, you call it work. If you act from your heart you call it play.
So, then, let everybody play. Let us see no distinction between work and play. Only then will this society work.
Also, I ask, do you take more than you need?
Why do those who take more than they need condemn those who take only what they need or even less than they need?
You have no problem feeding your cat or your dog, so why not your fellow human being?
And, one last question. Why do goods flow from the poor to the rich, from the workers to the non-workers, from those who produce (laborers) to those who produce nothing (bankers and brokers and CEOs and landlords) as it has been ever since the beginning of money civilization? Now tell me who are the moochers, and who is taking advantage of whom!
14. You say you don’t use money, yet aren’t you using products of the money system & relying on the hard-earned money of others?
Are swallows nesting in house atticks dependent upon money? Are pigeons nesting on bank skyscrapers dependent upon money? Are barnacles clinging to aircraft carriers and corals living on buried artifacts dependent upon money?
Money is a figment of the imagination. Only the deluded think anything real is dependent upon a figment of the imagination.
If you still doubt me, please see “What Money Is and What Money Is Not”
I Am Dependent Upon You & You Are Dependent Upon Me,
But we are not dependent upon money, despite appearances. I do rely on the hard work of others just as others rely on the hard work of myself. Money is just an illusion, and nobody can rely on illusion. If you call your work Santa Claus and believe it, then you also believe that I rely on Santa Clause.
Every creature and every atom in this universe relys on the hard work of another.
Where does virtually all the energy on earth come from, including the energy running this computer? The sun. Now when was the last time the sun demanded payment for any energy ever used on planet earth? Even if the sun could demand payment, how can anything anywhere pay the sun back? All energy on earth is freely given!
Now we begin to understand the world-wide myth in most every culture about some trickster stealing fire from heaven. This myth explains what separated humans from the rest of nature. See “Our Fall From Grace: Our Departure From Gratis: The Beginning of Money”
The Unconscious Trade of Creatures
Take a look at non-human creatures. The only difference between, say, a deer and yourself on this issue is that the deer freely takes grass without any idea of obligation (money, debt). And some cougar might freely take that deer without any idea of obligation (money, debt). And some bacterium, and then fungus, might claim that cougar without any sense of debt, returning that cougar to soil. And grass will then claim that soil without sense of debt. And a deer will claim that grass without sense of debt, starting the cycle over again. All is freely given, freely taken, with no sense of barter, debt, money. And everything gets paid back perfectly, with no debts. This is called Perfect Justice. Because this system does not rely on a fictitious idea of money, it is in perfect balance, Perfect Justice. Then there is clear vision and true gratitude, a true realization of what we are really dependent upon.
Is there an economy on earth that can balance its budget? Is there a monetary system that even comes close to being just? Justice cannot exist within monetary civilization’s walls. There is none just, no not one. And the more a society tries to balance credit and debt, the more unjust it becomes. Every nation is unfathomably in debt to every other nation. How senseless does it have to become before we get it?
If you are indignant about your percieved reality that I am dependent upon the money system, should I be indignant about the true reality that you and everything in the world is completely dependent upon Gift, with no strings attached. Where is the sense of gratitude? No, if I were indignant about this, then I would not be like the sun, who doesn’t even expect gratitude. But gratitude & true generosity are signs of life, aren’t they? Gratitude & generosity are the very force that drives the universe.
15. What do you do if somebody offers you money or buys things for you?
People buying me things:
I prefer that people give me what is already at hand in the present moment. Sometimes I let people buy me things. They dearly want to give and just their freely giving is a release from the system of credit and debt. The spirit of generosity supercedes all. But I’m liking it less and less to have things bought for me. It causes too much confusion. If something is not available in the present moment, then I surely don’t need it or want it. This is the point of not using money. Money represents everything except what is at hand. And only the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.
People giving me money and what to do with it:
I often try to tell people that I don’t take or use money before they try to give me anything. If they then try to give me money, I refuse it and tell them again, “I am not joking, I really don’t take or use money”, and I thank them for their intention. If they don’t know I live moneyless and they give me money, I often take it and then leave it some place random, at least within 24 hours. This way I am accepting people’s generosity but not their money, and everybody is happy, including a third party stranger who finds that random money. Once in a while I pass it on to somebody I encounter who might need it.
Give to everyone who asks.
Render to Reality what is Reality and render to illusion what is illusion.
Most people are dependent upon the illusion of money and I respect their need and pass money on to them. Contrary to conventional wisdom, if I find a beer and I encounter an alcoholic who asks me for a beer, I will give him the beer. Not giving him the beer won’t lessen his alcoholism even a bit. In fact, I dare say, withholding the beer will make his alcoholism worse.
The root of addictions is lack of love, judgmentalism, not the addictive substance itself. The next time you feel judgmental toward an alcoholic or a meth addict or feel like you have to parent him, remember your own addiction to money, and your expectation that somebody give you money when you feel you need it. However, it is better not to have any beer to give to the alcoholic, and it is better not to have any money to give to the moneyholic.
Then we all have to deal with the reality of circumstances beyond our own power (called the Law of God). Then the addict faces his addiction without anybody judging him or trying to parent him and you are forced to be creative and give love that goes beyond material things.
In other words, it is better not to have money than to pay taxes. It is better not to have anything that belongs to Caesar, because all that belongs to Caesar is unreal.
If you depend on money, you are no better than the Caesars who depend on your money. If you don’t want to pay taxes, then don’t own money. Don’t be a hypocrite about it. If you don’t like the Wal Marts and the Exxons, then don’t buy from them, don’t own anything from them, and stop thinking you can’t live without them. Make it up in your mind that you would rather die than be dependent on Wal Mart or Exxon, that you need absolutely nothing from Wal Mart or Exxon or any corporation or bank.
If you think you can’t survive without corporations or banks, then you are declaring that you are their life-blood. They wouldn’t be the monsters that they are without you. Money is their life-blood, and all who rely on their life-blood are one with them. I don’t care what Christian or any other faith you profess, if you think you cannot possibly survive without corporations, then you believe corporations are greater than God. And you believe God is not in control, is not sovereign. If you think you can’t survive without corporations and banks, you have no faith, and all your talk of God is utter nonsense. You are using the name of God in vain. Then you wonder why the word “God” is so loathsome to people.
Everything just written here is one principle.
16. What do you do if you find money?
I usually leave it right there. It’s an excercise to see everything as it is, not filtered through the mind of belief.
If my eye lusts after a dollar bill on the ground like it is something special, then my mind is still not the infant’s mind. The infant mind sees everything as it is. The infant has no thoughts, no value judgments. The Infant mind is the Zen mind. Eccept you become the Zen mind, you cannot enter the Kingdom of God. An infant has no regard for money, because she knows money does not exist. She does not know money. She does not know illusion. She might see a pretty piece of paper with designs & a picture of a man on it, and is attracted to that for what it is, but that’s all she sees. One time I found a $20 bill and decided to play with it in this way. I cut it up and made a collage out of it. Bills are works of art – but only a rare few see them as such.
However, if there is a person near me who believes in money, I will pick up the coin or bill and pass it on to him or her. Why? Please see 15. What do you do if somebody offers you money or buys things for you?. Otherwise, coins or bills usually stay right where I find them.
People often say I don’t touch money. If they mean I don’t touch coins, bills, or credit cards, they are mistaken. If they mean I stay away from consciousness of credit and debt in my mind, they are more accurate (though I am still in the process of letting go of touching money in my mind)
I must make clear that I have no aversion to touching coins or bills or credit cards. Aversion to touching coins or bills or credit cards is just as superstitious as attraction to them. Either attraction or aversion to bills, coins, or credit cards is attributing a power to them that does not exist. Attraction or aversion to coins, bills, or credit cards is idolatry, in other words.
To be attracted are aversed to anything that has no ears, eyes, nostrils, or mouth is to become deaf, blind, without sense and without taste. Most adults on earth have become deaf and blind, without sense and without taste. We become what we trust in.
Their idols are silver and gold, The work of men’s hands.
They have mouths, but they do not speak;
Eyes they have, but they do not see;
They have ears, but they do not hear;
Noses they have, but they do not smell;
They have hands, but they do not handle;
Feet they have, but they do not walk;
Nor do they mutter through their throat.
Those who make them are like them; So is everyone who trusts in them.
On whatever form a person continually contemplates,
that same he remembers in the hour of death,
and to that very form he goes, O Kaunteya.
(Bhagavad Gita 8:6)
We die moment by moment. And that which we trust in when we die is that which we become.
17. Do you barter?
No. Barter is simply money in a less convenient form. So you use a cow to trade rather than a coin; what’s the difference? Except that it makes more sense to use a coin or a bill than a cow, if you’re going to trade. Why not use what’s more convenient?
Better yet, don’t use any of it. Give up all conscious trade. Just freely give what is needed and freely take what you need and don’t think about trade. Let God take care of trade. Give up all consciousness of credit and debt, and only then will everything balance out. “Vengeance is mine, I will repay,” says the Universe.
Go to a “progressive” barter fair and you will see the same glazed-eye greed as you will see at a Wal Mart.
18. Isn’t it hard living your life of asceticism?
By the common definition of ascetic, I am not an ascetic. I live the life of abundance. There is nothing I don’t need or want but what is right here and now.
When I lived with money, I was always lacking. Money represents lack. Money represents things in the past (debt) and things in the future (credit), but money never represents what is present. If a dollar bill represented itself, it would no longer be money. It would simply be a piece of paper with pretty art on it.
To be bound to money and possessions is asceticism, self-flagellation, lack, need, debt. Forgive us our debts even as we forgive our debtors. To be released from money and possessions is freedom, the end of self-hurt, the end of lack, the end of debt, the beginning of wealth. To accumulate stuff is to take on poverty and suffering.
Why own petty mansions and cars and lands when you can own the whole universe? When you own nothing, you own everything. When you own a house & stuff, you have to be in your house & have your stuff to be secure. When you give up your house & stuff, then you start to realize that every place is your home, everything is yours. There is no place you can go where you are not home. There is nobody you have to fear. You find that everything you need is right at hand and everybody becomes familiar, becomes family. You can love your neighbor as yourself because your neighbor is yourself and everybody becomes your neighbor.
All that I’m saying you know by direct experience, direct proof. Deep down, you know that it is impossible to enjoy the things you have if you take more than you need. Eat just enough candy, and it is delicious, it is wealth. Eat too much candy, and it is sickening, it is poverty. Our society has become sickening. Those who take only what they need are wealthy. Those who take more than they need are in poverty.
Taking more than you need betrays you. If you don’t think you are lacking, then why would you take more than you need? Stop being needy. Nobody sincerely likes being around a needy person. Faith is realizing everything you need is right here and right now. If your hand is grasping something, it can’t be open to receive the next blessing. Take climbing a ladder: it takes faith to let go of one rung of a ladder to reach the next rung. Climbing is faith. It takes faith to lift your foot off the ground to take a step. You take walking for granted, but every step you take is balancing on the brink of disaster. It is only because of grace and faith that you can walk!
Give up possessions. Start trusting! Be grateful! Be Grace Full! Be Generous! Be Open! Start walking! Then walking becomes automatic, natural. This is faith. Every particle in the universe is walking. Every particle in the universe runs on faith. That which doesn’t run on faith is illusion and delusion. So get out of delusion and join the universe. Start enjoying life.
In old English, want means lack. To want is to lack. To lack is to want. When you trust that everything in the universe is under sovereign control without your manipulation, then that 23rd Psalm you hear on Hollywood funerals will finally take on meaning, and you can say “I shall not want.”
It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for somebody who takes more than she needs to enter into the Present Moment.
23. Do you want to change the world to a moneyless world?
The moneyless world already exists, within us and all around us. I envision the downfall of the delusion that money even exists outside the human mind. I envision the downfall of the delusion that anybody owns anything.
All of the infinite universe around us exists without money. Why don’t we? Already, our true selves exist without money. Already, nobody owns anything. Why can’t we realize this simple truth?
Yes, your true self already lives moneyless. Your self that lives with money is your false self, illusion. Everytime you give something to somebody expecting nothing in return, you have returned to the moneyless world. You have laid down your delusions and opened your eyes to the Reality that has already existed and always will. Everytime you do something spontaneously, from your heart, without sense of debt (obligation), you have returned to the moneyless world, you have become Real. You have returned to Simple Trust. Either be an imitation or be real. That part of you who does things out of debt and out of desire for credit is the fake part of you, the part that acts from ulterior motivation.
I know people thinking we need grand plans to restructure the world, to find and work up an alternative system to the money system. Barter schmarter farter & all that, which is all just money under other masks. However, the whole point of living moneyless is giving up control, giving up systems, and letting the Law of Nature take its course. All of our efforts to find an alternative to the money system are in vain. You can’t create Utopia. Utopia already exists. And when you stop trying and stop looking for it, it comes. The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand. The point is to give up effort and let work flow through you – work that is not your own. Nothing is our own. If you want to spread the Gospel of moneylessness, of Grace, then simply work from your heart, not from manipulation.
Money is doing unto others that they may do unto you. The Golden Rule is doing unto others as you would have them do unto you.
In other words, do, expecting nothing in return.
24. Your ideas sound nice, but naive. Let’s get real. Don’t you think, with all the thieves, the lazy, the mooches & the greedy that a moneyless, free economy just wouldn’t work?
Let me ask you this: do you think the money system does away with thieves, mooches, the lazy & the greedy? Have you considered that thieves & mooches & lazy & greedy people might just be a product of the money system?
The greatest thieves and mooches and lazy and greedy people are at the top of the money system: bankers and stock brokers and CEOs, who not only contribute little or nothing to society, but bleed the goods from the workers at the bottom. The very pattern of money society since ancient Sumer & Egypt has been for wealth to flow from the workers to the non-workers, from the industrious to the lazy. When you take more than you need, you are a thief. The very nature of the system of commerce is robbery and extortion.
As with creatures in nature, the thieves & mooches & lazy & greedy people return to the natural balance, and if they don’t, they are naturally selected out. Natural selection abhores thieves, moochers, the lazy & the greedy. Even the very force of people being accountable to each other in a tribal situation usually eliminates even the desire to steal or mooch or be lazy or greedy. You see it in animal societies & hunting & gathering societies.
We can see it in our own society, beginning to happen on a temporary scale at Rainbow Gatherings. There are lots and lots of moochers at Rainbow Gatherings, called “drainbows.” And “So what?” is the prevailing idea. It’s actually amazing how few thefts and what little violence there is at a Rainbow Gathering of 20,000 people, especially compared to a town of the same size. Towns of the same size, which have police and locks and laws and lawyers, have much more crime. Think about that. The Rainbow Gathering still miraculously works out, due to the droves and droves of hard-working, generous people, who don’t give a hoot that somebody else might be “taking advantage.” What is taking advantage? The philosophy is to do, expecting nothing in return. And that philosophy becomes infectious. There is a lot of rif-raf at gatherings, and a lot of true compassion that overshadows it. The idea of compassion is to have patience with thieves, mooches, the lazy, and the greedy, who are people still detoxing from being programmed by the money system.
When you have been taught all your life that nothing is valuble unless you get money for it, you will initially be lazy, because you aren’t paid. You haven’t yet learned the true reward of doing itself, and the reward of community with others, which makes money look ridiculous. When you have been programmed into thinking that possessing and not sharing are virtues, you tend to steal, and it takes you a while to deprogram from that. The Rainbow Gathering is a hospital, and those who caretake the hospital have a natural sense of patience with the patients, giving them all the time they need to heal. You can only be idle so long before you get sick of being idle and start wanting to contribute. It might take a while, but it happens, naturally.
Facts II – 13 years
Heidemarie Schwermer (67) worked for many years as a psychotherapist and teacher in Dortmund, Germany. Like most people around her, she spent most of her time working and earning money in order to buy the things she needed – and things she didn’t really need. As a psychotherapist she met many who were depressed and frustrated, over-worked and with very little spare time. Among the unemployed and poor she found that they often considered themselves worthless.
Heidemarie got the idea to start an exchange circle, where people without money could trade objects and favors. Through the exchange circle people came in contact with each other in a new way. They felt useful and worthy, and also appreciated the social aspect. After a while, Heidemarie decided to do an experiment. She cancelled her flat, donated all her things to friends and started a new life based on exchanging favors – without the use of money. Her goal was to create a greater awareness of the relationship to money and consumption.
At first she stayed with friends and acquaintances, took care of their houses when they were away for holiday or journeys and in return she received food and a place to live. Over the years, she has inspired the start-up of exchange circles throughout Germany. She wrote a book about her way of life, and the word about her lifestyle has spread. Today, she has lived without money for 12 years, and claims she has never felt so free. In the film ”Living Without Money,” we follow Heidemarie in her daily-life and learn about her life story and philosophy.