Sacred Economics at The Gaia Foundation – Review

• January 31, 2013 • Comments (0)

One blustery evening in January, we ventured to the beautiful Burgh House in Hampstead, London, for an intimate talk with well-known peace and environment activist, Satish Kumar and author and public speaker, Charles Eisenstein, on ‘sacred economics’ (which is also the title of Charles’ acclaimed book).

Charles shared his holistic view and understandings of the organic interrelationship between different domains and levels of human experience, which conjoined with Satish’s spiritual view of oneness and reverence for Mother Nature. Together, the two authors reaffirmed some simple and important values to live by, which we have forgotten along the way. These can be reapplied firstly to ourselves, then onto community and institutional levels to help create a progressive economy.

Consciousness, community and sustainability are the core themes that we at Life Arts Media endeavour to share with our audience and explore ourselves. These principles run deep in Satish, 76, a former Jain monk who walked the world in name of peace at 18; he has been the editor of Resurgence (now Resurgence & The Ecologist Magazine) for over 40 years and founded the Schumacher College in Devon. The Gaia Foundation, who co-hosted this ‘In Conversation With’ event, has been working on community projects worldwide for over 25 years, promoting indigenous people and cultures, helping them to adapt with the many changes on our dynamic living Earth. They met Charles about a year ago and have been interested in his work ever since.

‘We need a change in the underlying mythology and story of the people,’ says Charles, who sees our current systems and institutions falling apart. The ‘old worldview’ has taught us that we are separate selves, individuals in competition, and the only way to master this hostile outer universe is through control, through the next technological and scientific breakthrough. However, Charles believes that we are approaching a transition in our stories, ‘one of inter-being, of interconnectedness;’ a new story which is actually an old one.

Charles speaks of a ‘gift-economy;’ a society structured on the principles of giving and sharing, where goods are produced and bought locally and people come back to the land in a more sustainable way.

‘We’re living in this commodity culture where we don’t know our neighbours anymore, where we don’t feel secure…In a gift economy people feel at home in the universe and this security doesn’t come from what people can control or what they own, but from how wealthy everybody is,’ says Charles, suggesting we create structures for sharing on an institutional level.

By changing the way money is created and circulated by reverse interest, money, like everything else in nature, becomes something which decays if accumulated without being circulated. Charles says it would be in our own interest to share our wealth because once we start, we create a sense of security within our community, trusting it will come back to us when we need it. This has worked with primitive cultures before, ‘It’s just that we have forgotten it,’ says Charles.

Life Arts Media resonates with this vision of gift economy as it links closely to what we do. When we work on something we are passionate about, on a voluntary basis, we step into an interweaving process of sharing, conscious that a reward can take many different forms. ‘Everyone has a gift to give,’ says Charles.

‘Maybe all of our greed and selfishness is a response to this artificial scarcity we’ve created,’ says Charles. ‘Maybe our true nature is that we’ve been put on this planet, after having received tremendous gifts…life, breath, the sun, water…to give in return…All of the consumption we engage in is a substitute for our lost connections and intimacy with the land and between ourselves.’

To help cultivate a healthier economic system, Satish explains that we have to create more manageable, human scale communities in closer relationship to our neighbours. He reflects on the term ‘inter-being’ through a story of the Buddha and sheds light on some words that have lost meaning in modern culture. ‘Sacrifice is a beautiful word,’ says Satish. ‘It comes from the same root as sacred. Life is sacred and life’s sacrifices serve other life. Restraint, frugality, simplicity….but elegance….be courageous and bold, restore these words and put ecological, holistic meaning to them.’

Satish believes that meditation is medicine for the soul and connects us to our inner being. ‘The breath you are breathing is the same breath which is sustaining the entire universe….We are all one…Every soul, every seed, all the information, all the knowledge is implicitly there…nurture, nourish, support it,’ says Satish. ‘We have to take responsibility and say we are going to change,’ he adds, then real change will come when a critical mass become conscious of a new way of life.

A passage in the book The Tenth Insight by James Redfield (1996), points to this transitional shift. ‘For this flow to be optimally established, across the economy, the stated purposes of business must shift into higher awareness….from an evolutionary perspective….Our questions must change. Instead of asking what product or service I can develop to make the most money, ask, ‘What can I produce that liberates and informs and makes the world a better place, yet also preserves a delicate environmental balance?’

Perhaps a gift economy can help answer that question. We left the talk feeling uplifted and in unison with the people, knowing that there are many others who want a sacred system that reflects our true nature. A great way to start 2013 and we look forward to seeing where Charles goes with this.


This event took place on the 11th January 2013 and it was organised by:







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Category: Events, Spotlight

Kristina Georgiou

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Kristina Georgiou worked for Metro newspaper and is currently a freelance writer, most recently working with Positive News and Spirit & Destiny magazine. She writes about holistic health, food, travel, music, the environment - and in particular the 13 Moons calendar, a modern 'natural time' method of living, based on the mathematical insights of the Maya. This she learnt while travelling in South America, and she enjoys giving readings and making arts and crafts aligned with this consciousness. Her passion is music - she is most happy singing or playing instruments, or studying geology and astronomy, travelling, working with the Earth, living with communities, immersing in local culture, writing poetry and spending time with her beloved Greek Cypriot family. She enjoys campaigning for the environment, community and future.

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