Tuesday, June 9, 2009

From a distance

For me, part of mindfulness is being able to step back and look at things. I found a book in the library yesterday that showed me a bit more of how FAR I need to step back.

In 2007 Riane Eisler published a book "The Real Wealth of Nations". Dr. Eisler is trained in sociology and law and has been described as a cultural historian and an evolutionary theorist. In this book she talks about the problems of neoclassical economics and their origins. She steps WAY back.

I have felt for a long time that the solution to the economics problems we have are not to be found in economics. Dr. Eisler agrees. I have felt that it is going to require gut level, individual, attitudinal change. Dr. Eisler agrees - I think. She proposes that it is going to take a profound cultural change to go from a cultural philosophy of Domination to a philosophy of Caring.

Her explanations are so clear and lucid. Her real life business/economics examples are concise and persuasive. All we have to do is change how we organize and relate to one another and nature and change it from a hierarchy of domination within the current domination system to a hierarchy of actualization working within a partnership system.

She has convinced me. Think if we get busy we can accomplish it before Thanksgiving?

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Across traditions

I was at the BALLE conference in Denver about 10 days ago and one of the speakers ended his presentation with this quote:

Rumi says:

Today, like every other day, we wake up empty
and frightened. Don’t open the door to the study
and begin reading. Take down a musical instrument.
Let the beauty we love be what we do.
There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground.

Keeping things in our heads helps no one. Being requires action and yet action requires mindfulness, thinking through the implications of our actions.

These concepts belong to no individual tradition. Rumi was a 13th-century Persian poet, Islamic jurist, theologian, and mystic. And yet what he says is valuable to my Buddhist friends and me as a Christian. We need to be mindful in a broad way, in my humble opinion.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Mindfulness in the West.

I have left Thailand for a while. I have returned to the US to finish my doctoral work.

The return has been memorable.

  • San Francisco is cold - the people are warm

  • The internet is capable of fostering incredible friendships - I have visited Holland, Haney and Thomas and what incredible people they are. I would go to the line for any of them anytime.

  • As I have talked with old colleagues (Haney and Thomas) and new (Fred Block and Mark McLeod) I have realized just how my different pasts come together into my present. If I could only foresee the future.

  • There is something different about America these days. I have not been home since 2006. There was a scary tangible fear then. It doesn't seem to be here now. Do I sense hope? Or is that just me?

  • America is still the seventh heaven of consumerism. How, oh how can that be changed?

  • Thomas has helped me step back and look at myself, for which I thank him immensely.

I have had 4 interviews here that are preliminary to my research and helping me get my head focused. Haney and Thomas helped me realize that the work I am doing probably really started the fateful day I found Omidyar.net more than 4 years ago. It is there that I started developing a deep interest in the organization of communities: communities that work together based on shared values. Dr. Block held up a light for me that was a light of hope for progressive economics where people matter and the light grew brighter in meeting Mr. McLeod of the Berkeley Sustainable Business Alliance and a part of the BALLE Network.

I have a few more days to "chill out" (literally) before I head off to Salt Lake City on Friday. On the way I am going to get to meet another long-time virtual friend who I feel like I already have spent years with.

In Salt Lake City I am anxious to investigate the Church of LDS Welfare Square and find out how they have developed mechanisms to assist the poor and unemployed in their midst. Social justice somehow feels like it has to be a huge and integral part of the solution to our current economic crisis. I will also be meeting with another BALLE Network there.

On the 24th I will arrive in Denver where I am going to get to spend a couple of weeks trying to pull together a number of different networks and start to make sense of what I will be studying over the next months.
  • David Braden, a mindful philosopher looking to find a way to share his vision (Omidyar/)

  • Peter Hurst, a man who shared his vision and knowledge of deep communities with me in Thailand (Naropa/Buddhism)

  • Marpa Center for Business and Economics (Buddhism/Economics/Alternative Currencies)

  • Mickki Langston and Arthur Brock who are working with BALLE in their own distinct ways to build strong, vital mindful communities (Omidyar/ BALLE/Alternative currencies)

  • The 7th BALLE Conference where I hope to find a network and companies that will agree to be a case study for me to look at how they gather together as communities with values and how they organize themselves to do economic activity continuing to support the values

I think I should make this my mantra -

mindfulness ....

thinking about what you are doing
thinking about why you are doing it
thinking about what the effects of doing it are going to be

Saturday, January 24, 2009

A question for Davos

A friend of mine recently used a phrase that hit me strong: Economics - where real people are spending real money.

It really made somethings clear to me. Isn't a major part of the problem we are having now that economics is based on a model using man as a rational creature with perfect information making decisions driven purely by self-interest? That is about as far away from real people as I can imagine getting. And real money? Debt backed money may be equally far away from real money.

I realize we got to where we are with many tiny little steps but now we are at the abyss and need to take big and bold actions to save things. How do we turn around the whole distorted model of economics?

mindfulness ....

thinking about what you are doing
thinking about why you are doing it
thinking about what the effects of doing it are going to be