“There must always be a discrepncy between concepts and reality, because the former are static and discontinuous while the latter is dynamic and flowing”
William James

Some Problems of Philosophy

Crisis: Taking a Stance

n

Though its 2 or 3 years old this talk by Maria Scordialos feels even more relevant on this day that Greece is holding its referendum. Two ideas shimmered for me in her talk:

  1. That the word for “crisis” in Greek does not mean something broken or tragic but that it means taking a stance.
  2. That the crisis Greece is experiencing is practically forcing it to become ecological … that relationships and community is being forced upon a society who’s history has nurtured separated individuals.

I discovered her yesterday in a talk with Charles Eisenstein where she raises an interesting point I have wondered about too … how conscious are the current Greek leaders of the shift in story that is manifesting through them?

Offered in respect for the hardships that Greeks have endured on behalf of us all.

Posted in AltEco, Greece, Intake, Money, outside | Tagged , | You are welcome to read 1 comment and to add yours

Obama’s Stealth Startup

n

It seems that Obama has launched an interesting information technology experiment: the United States Digital Services program. In large part thanks to the fiasco of the original Healthcare.gov launch after which a small group of Silicon Vally tech experts were hired to get the job re-done. Open-source goes to government?

via Matt Mullenweg

 

Posted in AltEco, Design, Intake, outside, Tech Stuff | You are welcome to add your comment

Euro as “Creative Destruction”

n

Can it be that the Greek (and Portugal and Spain and … ) crisis is inherently built into the design of the Eurozone?

“The euro would really do its work when crises hit … Removing a government’s control over currency would prevent nasty little elected officials from using Keynesian monetary and fiscal juice to pull a nation out of recession … It puts monetary policy out of the reach of politicians … [And] without fiscal policy, the only way nations can keep jobs is by the competitive reduction of rules on business”

from the Guardian: Robert Mundell, evil genius of the Euro

 

Posted in Greece, Intake, Intellect Run Amok, Money, outside | You are welcome to add your comment

Spring Allergy

n

Since being in Romania I’ve been dealing every year with an almost month-long period of allergy. When nature comes into abundance (and the air is filled with pollen) my body responds with disproportionate self-defense. I use faith, curiosity and loads of patience to deal with it, no medication. I am trying to signal to my body and my consciousness that everything is OK and that there is no need to respond with such intensity. I don’t use any medication. I am hoping that over the years a change will occur.

This year I arrive at my potential allergy season with a few preparations in place:

  1. I was in the midst of a continuous and quality period of practice including advances in my pranayama practices.
  2. I was in a relatively stable emotional state with less potential obstacles to effect me.
  3. I was drinking mallow tea (together with nettles and yarrow) from the day it grew enough for me to harvest, after discovering last year that it eases my breathing quite a bit.
  4. I was starting to introduce into my diet some wild weeds.

It seemed to work … there was no sign of allergy, despite plenty of flowering and pollen in the air, until the end of May. Then at the beginning of June it erupted. Though I can’t definitively correlate the two there seemed to have been a triggering event. I went out one night to a movie screening during the TIFF (Transilvania International Film Festival). It was an outdoor screening, at night (when I am usually already winding down). It was a cold night and I arrived home late at night (and the movie was the disappointing documentary about Kurt Cobain). I woke up the next morning with noticeable allergy symptoms.

It is now the end of June and the symptoms are finally winding down. The main expression of the allergy was in my breathing. My nasal passages seem to be inflamed because there is very little congestion and yet my breathing was blocked. As a result I experienced many sleepless nights. Though I was usually able, with patience and a constant flow of tea, to find some rest, there was an accumlative effect of restlessness during this period.

I quickly lost access to my on-the-mat practice. I tried holding on to it in the first days but my breath could not support a practice. Trying to practice made my breathing worst. About a week ago I started consciously sampling my breath and found that if I took a deep ujjayi breath it collapsed into coughing. Yesterday was the first time I was able to practice since this episode started. It was in the second half of the day (my morning and evening breath is still disrupted) and because of the rain I was indoors (instead of being outside working on the new deck).

My breath did NOT deteriorate into asthmatic symptoms which was a definite improvement over last year. I came close to a bit of asmathic trumpet-wheezing two or three times, but was able to softly care for and contain it so it did not escalate.

I feel there was an improvement. Next year I will try to be more caring and avoid any potential triggering events during this period of the year (which means a further increase in my already monastic tendencies). I hope my diet will continue to evolve and include more wild edibles. And I am curious to see if there is an improvement over the years.

 

Posted in About, Myself, Yoga, Yoga & I | Tagged | You are welcome to read 2 comments and to add yours

Stop Crying

n

and in my dream I was sitting on the floor, unpacking my back pack
my back was to the door but I felt him walking in behind me
in an obvious way he walked past me and into the room
he started singing and I, and others in the room, joined him
I sang fully, not in a whisper as I usually do
when we reached the words “brother, brother …” tears of surrender flowed from my eyes
those tears carried me out of my dream but only half way into waking
in that in between place I felt him come behind mehe put his hand gently on my shoulder
he said to me in his soft, ringing voice “stop crying”
it was a strange kind of soft command, not demanding, but inevitably inviting
his words completed my journey into waking
I lay in bed awake in the early dawn
I was peace

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Paul Ford – What is Code?

n

An enteraining read (warning: 38,000 words) on what code / software is –  “It’s a comedy of ego, made possible by logic gates”. My interest in the people and culture behind code pulled out this quote:

“Coding is a culture of blurters. This can yield fast decisions, but it penalizes people who need to quietly compose their thoughts, rewarding fast-twitch thinkers who harrumph efficiently. Programmer job interviews, which often include abstract and meaningless questions that must be answered immediately on a whiteboard, typify this culture. Regular meetings can become sniping matches about things that don’t matter.”

via Matt Mullenweg

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Thanks to Peacemakers

n

Fresh from Charles Eisenstein … read the entire post for the backstory:

“It has taken a journey for us to reach this place, and the future may hold new challenges … To get here, we had to let go of all kinds of victim stories, hurts and resentment, reasons why one is right and another wrong … what feels more true to me is that we are being carried by a wave of change, a wave of transcendence, a wave of peacemaking … Deep thanks to you, peacemakers … “

 

Posted in Expanding, inside | Tagged | You are welcome to add your comment

Greece and Changing the Rules

n

It seems that the standoff between Greece and its creditors is reaching yet another critical point. What shimmered for me in this article is:

“At issue is just a €2bn financing gap between what the Greeks are prepared to offer and what the creditors are demanding, but the problem goes deeper into questions of power and rules.”

I think / hope / feel that everyone involved knows that the rules need to change but that very few can contain the extent of this (relatively simple) truth – that it is getting more and more difficult to hide the fact that debt, no matter how you shuffle it around, cannot be repaid. If the creditors do see this (in their private circles) it would mean a devastation of the world as they know it … making it reasonable for them to prefer the devastation of (just) Greece.

I have a feeling that the Greek government do see the problem. They have a unique, first hand perspective on the future outcomes of the currently dominant policies – they are speaking to the rest of the EU (and the rest of the world) from a future that potentially awaits us all. They also seem to realize that the rules can only be gradually changed for those changes to be embraced within the existing socio-political landscape. This is apparent in this post by the Greek finance-minister.

Interestingly it seems that the realities of (European, if not beyond) inter-being are acting as the cohesive and balancing elements in this situation. Greece is already on the edge of the cliff … leaning over the edge, holding on to a rope held by its creditors. Its creditors may think they are on safe ground and can let Greece fall with no harm to them. But the story of the EU may be tying a rope that binds their feet with falling Greece.

I can’t and am not interested in understanding all the financial minutae, however I noticed that the Greek minister is opting for transparency and doing so on a WordPress website (hosted on WordPress.com) and it reached me via Falco Valkenburg on Twitter. The other players seem to think they can hide within the privacy of their power trappings. That, to me is, a valuable indicator of who is siding with the future and who is siding with the past.

Most amazing to me is that this debate isn’t about changing reality itself (the reality of people living their lives) but about how we view that reality. It is a story that is changing … and that story changing is an inevitability. That is why I am more interested in who is clinging and who is changing. For me Greece, BECAUSE it is economically devastated, is a tired scout returning with valuable information about our shared future.

 

Posted in AltEco, Greece, Intake, Money, outside, Wordpress | Tagged | You are welcome to add your comment

Ambitions and Exhales

n

The Hebrew word for Inhale (she-ifa) also means ambition … and so it is that after ambition comes exhale.

 

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Why Efi?

n

Efi, the oldest chicken at Bhudeva, died. I found her unmoving but breathing yesterday and carried her outside to some soft green grass and sunshine, placed her back inside in the evening and found her dead this morning. She had a mixture of grey (her name came from the Hebrew word for gray) and white feathers.

If I remember correctly she was a Bhudeva native … she was first an egg here and then hatched in the first generation of chicks that were born here (though she may be from the initial batch of chicks that Andreea’s aunt gifted us when we moved to Bhudeva). Andreea was still here and she used to spend time with the chickens (more then I did/do). Efi was the chicken that most clearly responded to Andreea’s affections. As a result she, unlike the rest of the chickens, actually came up to people asking for attentions. When I went to give the chickens food in the morning she would come up to me so close that I would have be careful not to step on her. She let me caress her neck (and would lower her head for better access), massage her chest, she would lift her wings for some under-wing touching. More like a dog then a chicken.

Over the last two years I thought about culling her (it wasn’t personal, just flock management) … but didn’t. She hasn’t been productive for a long time. She had to be separated from the main flock because the males would be too hard on her. She had patches of missing feathers and sometimes and raw skin from the males mounting her. She spent the lat couple of months together with an old(ish) male – they became very intimate … like a couple of pensioners. I left the two of them in the barn when I moved the rest of the chickens to pasture. Sometimes I let them out for some sun and grass … but only when I was around to supervise so that they didn’t damage garden plants. He was more active. She would find a comfortable spot to sit … and just sit there. When I was around she sometimes stayed close to me.

P1070270

P1070271

Yesterday I felt she was nearing her end. This morning she was gone. I asked myself what to do with her – compost or bury? An answer came: “bury”. I asked myself where? An answer came “next to the experimental swale”. I asked myself now (I had just come out of my morning practice, I wanted to make breakfast and it was raining) or later? An answer came: “now”. So off I went …

I carried her up the hill to the swale and started digging a hole. It then came to me to plant a tree on top of her. I asked myself which tree? An answer came “the acacia tree on the path next to the house”. I started walking in that direction to dig up the tree … on the way I passed the prune orchard and asked myself “how about a prune tree?” An answer came “no”. I continued to the tree but it was too big and too established to dig out and transport. I was sent to another tree on a path that winds up behind the house. It too was established but it was willing to go. I found myself digging and working hard … the rich clay soil is saturated with water … and the tree has strong roots. I had to bring an axe to cut through some of the roots. I got it out … the root system was large with two large stems growing out of it. I dragged the tree with me to the swale and continued digging a larger hole to accommodate the large roots. It was an elongated hole. I placed Efi’s body gently in on one end, covered it with some soil, then added the tree and covered it all.

I got home tired, wet, sweaty and dirty (I had only planned to step out for a short/soft morning round). I got out of my clothes and had a short shower. I dressed in a random selection of mismatched colors. I then resumed my breakfast plans … centered around an omlette with freshly harvested after-the-rain-mushrooms, wild nettles and spinach leaves from the garden. An abundant experience … an abundance which Efi is now a part of.

During all this I was wondering – why? What was so special about Efi? I am not an animal lover … certainly not an emotional one. Why would I delay my breakfast, go out in the rain and mud, carry a dead chicken and an uprooted tree up a hill? Efi’s behavior was not a result of my caring for her … it was Andreea’s relating to her … and THAT was why. Efi was and continues to be a reminder of a quality of relationship that Andreea nurtured. A vibration I deeply appreciate. I didn’t put Efi in the compost pile (where she would have been recycled into nutrients which would have nourished the Bhudeva ecosystem) because I wanted that vibration to cycle more deeply into the ecology of Bhudeva.

An acacia tree signifies a deeper relationship than a prune tree. The prune tree may have have produced fruits for me, but the acacia tree will nurture the soil it grows on and its surrounding ecology creating longer lasting effects. The location is at an experiment of healing and restoration. The tree has two stems sticking out in a V shape … a shape of expansion that Andreea introduced into our life and Bhudeva.

All those vibrations (and more than I am conscious of) resonated through me, through Efi, through Andreea … and into the earth here at Bhudeva … on this delicate, rainy spring morning.

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Matt Mullenweg on GMO’s

n

Matt on GMO’s a comment about a pro-GMO article. I commented on it and am reposting the comment here:

If that is scientific then it would seem that science is broken … and science doesn’t seem to know it.

Science has a clear view on one aspect of climate change: the past. Scientific community is able to study effects of our past actions on the present state of climate and ecosystems. It has much less to say and even less paths-of-action to offer about how to meet and act on the climate change front (and some of what little it has to offer is ecologically even more dangerous).

GMO’s are a relatively new scientific domain. Science and scientists have no way to scientifically say much about the effects of GMO’s because there is little evidence to observe and research. In a generation or two (or ten), assuming of course that GMO’s proliferate, we may have a body of evidence with which scientists can work and draw conclusions about the effects of GMO’s.

Saying that GMO’s are safe / healthy / ecological is speculative and wishful thinking … not scientific. GMO’s are an experiment … and should be treated and presented as such. It is one thing to tell a farmer that we have developed a genetically modified plant that is pest resistant. It is another thing to tell a farmer that we have developed a GM plant that is pest resistant but that we don’t yet know its effects on human health, on soil fertility or on a wider ecosystem.

What about inquiring into why the pests are there in the first place? What if the proliferation of pests is an indication that the ecosystem is out of balance and it needs to be treated. What if that is a signal for us to change our relationship with land and ecology? The GMO intervention, regardless of its biological merit, represents an attitude of manipulating, controlling and overpowering.

That attitude also treats weeds as “pests” … but what makes them weeds is the fact that they are growing where we don’t want them to grow or we want to grow something else. A different view of weeds is that they serve two complementary and valuable functions. First they are indicating that the soil ecology is out of balance… there is too little or too much of something(s) … looking at weeds can tell a knowledgeable about the condition of soil and the life in it. Second they are, by growing in those conditions, working to create a healthier soil ecology by adding missing elements and removing excesses.

It gets even more interesting when you learn that some of those weeds are edible and much more nutritious then cultivated foods. In my climate, at this time of year (early spring) there is still very little cultivated food and what is available comes from greenhouses. However I can go outside and pick a salad from 4 or 5 different “weeds” that are growing abundantly … without me having to plant a single plant.

That shift in attitude toward “weeds” represents a shift away from a deeply rooted underlying mentality of control, manipulation and subversion of nature (and ourselves!) to our will, towards a mentality of co-creation. Working with nature rather then dominating it.

There is scientific evidence that we have been mistreating our soils for a long time. A long time ago someone realized that plowing fields resulted in better yields (the “scientific explanation” was that plants have little mouths and the broken up soil is easier for them to eat). Over the years it became clear that the initial improvement was a short term effect … that the yields did not improve the same way year after year … they actually got worst. So we invented more and more technological interventions to increase yields. Modern agriculture is this stack of interventions … one technological patch on top of another … leading up to petrochemical fertilizers and pesticides … and now that those are failing we are applying more force in the form of genetic modification.

Since then (but fairly recently) microbiology has revealed that plants get their nutrition in chemical exchanges with life in the soil (fungi, bacteria, etc … there is an entire living food chain in soils.). Microbiology also teaches us that every time we plow our soils we injure the life in it. Most agricultural cycles are therefor cycles of soil fertility depletion … and whatever we are giving back (such as cow manure is some of my neighbors do) is not enough … or even causing further destruction of soil life (as is the case with petro-chemical fertilizers).

We are doing something similar to ourselves. I recall that you once posted about research into bacteria. It turns out that our excess technological intervention in our own ecosystem (a living bacterial pool) via antibiotics have left us bacteriologically deficient. Your post linked to a long research paper which, if I remember correctly, stated that because of a drastic increase in c-section, births there is a generation of human beings which are bacteriologically deficient because they have been deprived of exposure to bacteria that takes place during vaginal birth. A technological solution was of course promised … someone will develop a magic pill filled with missing bacteria. Another approach would be to inquire why we are drifting away from natural birth, is that a direction we want to go and if not can we change course?

I worry about GMO not so much because of genetic modification (for which we have little evidence either way) but because of the underlying attitude that leads to simplistic manipulation of complex ecosystems which we are just beginning to grasp. If scientific truth is inherently temporary (science is a process of constantly challenging our theories and replacing them with better ones) … why do we like to treat it as permanent with “truths” such as “GMO’s are safe” or “plowing increases yields” or “antibiotics are god”. Doing so is scientifically wrong!

… and there are other expressions to the GMO story that are worth addressing. A social one … for example: thecompanies that are lading the way in GMO’s are also working to lock in their discoveries with patents. They are trying to take over one of the most obvious commons resource we have been gifted with … nature and food. There are places (like here in Romania) where they are also actively working to pass legislation that will outlaw traditional seed saving and trading. They are working to create a world where it would be illegal for me to save seeds from my own tomatoes and grow tomatoes from them next year. They want to force everyone to buy seeds from them … and those seeds cannot be saved because they have been genetically modified not to grow from second generation seeds AND they (the seeds) are patented and “legally” owned by their producers.

There are other solutions to care for the health and livelihood of peasants in poor countries. Solutions that come with long term vision of human, social and ecological well (and inter)being. A mono-culture crop of a genetically modified plant is one of the poorest technological solutions that mankind has to offer.

… for more on the systemic faults in science I recommend Rupert Sheldrake and The Science Delusion:

… for more on the transformation from a story of controlling and manipulating nature (and ourselves) to a story of interbeing I recommend Charles Eisenstein and Sacred Economics:

“In our journey of separation, we have developed amazing creative tools of technology and culture that would never have existed had we not departed from our original wholeness. Now it remains to recover that wholeness and bring it to a new realm, to create with nanotechnology and social media things of the same life, beauty, and soul that the old masters created with adzes and song. Let us insist on nothing less. For what purpose have our forebears sacrificed, if not to create a beautiful world?”

I also believe that there are interesting examples of how these worlds come together in the ecosystem that makes and is WordPress … but I think I’ll stop here.

Posted in AltEco, Intake, Intellect Run Amok, Open Source, outside, Tech Stuff, Wordpress | You are welcome to add your comment

Decades of Introverts

n

In this interesting commentary on Mozilla’s intention to deprecating non-secure HTTP I came across this example of a “developer profile’:

 “In the last couple of decades, the answer to the introvert’s dilemma was easy: get a computer and learn to code. Like a novelist (another popular introvert career path), you can create a new world using only words. Being an introvert is even beneficial here, because writing good code is time-intensive and you don’t have idle socialization competing for your time.

This is where I was as a kid. I couldn’t build physical things, because I’m a klutz and we didn’t have the money for parts. I was socially inept, to say the least. But I could spend time at the school computer lab, and I could borrow time on the PC of a friend who probably only put up with me because we’re both named Ben.

I sometimes worry that I’m stuck in fifth grade, where I got lots of positive feedback for being good at solving little problems and writing code-like things. I certainly still spend most of my time doing things along those lines.

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Is Social Change (in the USA) Accelerating?

n

from This Is How Fast America Changes Its Mind
speedofsocialchange

via Matt Mullenweg

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Goodbye to Apple, Google and Microsoft

n

A good article about the technologies we use in our day-to-day lives and how we can bring back value, consciousness and choice into selecting our relationship with them:

“More important, I’ve moved to these alternative platforms because I’ve changed my mind about the politics of technology. I now believe it’s essential to embed my instincts and values, to a greater and greater extent, in the technology I use.

The tools I use now are, to the extent possible, based on community values, not corporate ones.

Posted in AltEco, Business, Intake, Open Source, outside, Tech Stuff | You are welcome to add your comment

MyBubba

n

These two beautiful vibrations toured with Damien Rice in the USA:

Posted in Enjoy, inside | Tagged | You are welcome to add your comment

Cyanogen and the future of Android

n

I’ve been told that to activate an Android phone you have to have and sign in with a Google account. I hope that isn’t true but I haven’t confirmed it. I think it would, sadly, be difficult to confirm because most people have google accounts and think that having their phone logged in to Google is a good (or at least not a bad) idea (so I haven’t asked people about it).

When I hear of Android being referred to as open-source I cringe. While technically it is (the code is freely available for anyone to review / change), the version of it most people use it code written by Google with honey-traps set by Google. That is not in alignment with the spirit of open-source as I understand it.

CyanogenMod however is an open-source (in fact and spirit) project. It, as I understand it, is a version of Android that has stripped of its Google trappings. I have only heard of it, not used it. Today I came across this bit of news:

” … Microsoft would partner with the truly open-source, Android-based Cyanogen OS to provide a bundled suite of apps … “

Granted I have difficulty thinking of Microsoft being involved in anything as good news … this story has an interesting twist:

“… failure to gain traction may be why Microsoft has recently embraced a push to put its software on its more popular rivals … By working closely with Cyanogen, Microsoft now essentially has its own Android OS, which gives it a potential reach far greater than its own homegrown platform has found so far.”

In failing to penetrate the market with its own operating system and hardware Microsoft is turning to an alternative strategy based an open-source project which is an extension of Google code. Reading this (together with this: Microsoft may open-source its code) made me feel that good is an inevitability. As if no matter how much big companies try to twist things around to serve themselves, they are, in the end, going to get spat out … unless they come into service of something greater than their own profits.

Though I do feel the article is poorly titled “Microsoft Just Took Android’s Future Out of Google’s Hands”. It is Cyanogen that took Android’s future out of Google’s hands and gave it, and maybe Microsoft, a shot at a better future. Cheers to open-source.

You may want to check if your smart-phone is compatible with Cyanogen and step into your own better future.

 

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Hey

n
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Suggested Price

n

Iulia has communicated to me that there is an issue with money around the upcoming Yoga workshop, specifically that some people have expressed a feeling that the price is too high. I am going to try to speak to that in this post.

If you are looking for a short answer that will give you immediate satisfaction then you are probably going to be disappointed. If you are interested in reflecting on this subject with me then I invite you to read on.

I’ve been reflecting, thinking and inquiring a lot into money in recent years and I am, as I write these words, in my 2nd reading of Charles Eisenstein’s Sacred Economics (which has been translated to Romanian) and before that David Graeber’s Debt: The first 5000 Years.

Personally …

My relationship with money has been difficult for as long as I can remember it. When I opened my first bank account I put in 100 shekels (the Israeli equivalent of the lei) and, following my father’s advice and common wisdom I put it all into a short-term savings plan … and immediately found myself in debt of 20 agorot (the Israeli equivalent of bani) due to the cost of the transaction. Though even by then I was under the impression that money is hard to get, that you can never have enough and it is an endless source of worry and anxiety.

Even when I had a good career and I was getting paid a good salary and living a modest life I felt insecure. I felt I had to carefully measure how I spent money and I was always worried what would happen if I were to lose my job … how would I manage financially. I ultimately ended my career when I realized that 1) no matter how much money I was making it wasn’t enough to meet anything that felt remotely close to financial security and 2) that I was unhappy in my pursuit of this ghost called “financial security”. So I decided to set it aside and give myself a chance at happiness.

To make a long story short (er) … happiness found me (at least for a while) but living even a modest life in a western-priced country continued to be expensive and insecurity took over once again. This time with a sharper bite … money was running out … and then it did … run out.

By then my questions about money had transformed into a single very different question. In my mind money came to represent a relationship between me and the community or society I lived in. Not having money meant not having a relationship with the society I lived in. Offering my gifts and being rejected meant that the society I was living in didn’t need or didn’t value my gifts. Either way it became a question about relationship and community … it was no longer about money itself.

To make an even longer story short(er) … my hope in coming to Romania was to create a life in which money would have a smaller role. For the most part, that has, in a surprising way and via a demanding journey, happened. Now I am in a place where insecurity is slowly starting to be replaced by security (though that journey is far from over). However one of the few things missing in this new life is me being able to express my gifts.

Gift

Charles Eisenstein (and others) speak about a gift-based economy. My impression is that many people interpret this in a superficial way to mean an economy in which things are given as gifts … “for free” … as in without an exchange of money. I think that is misunderstanding and can be misleading.

I believe that a gift-based economy describes a world in which people live their lives in their gifts. Underlying this view is a belief that we are all gifted in some special way, that we are here to manifest our gifts and that doing so brings us to an experience of fulfillment and alignment with a sense of purpose.

One of my gifts is Yoga and living in a Romanian village (with a basic grasp of the Romanian language) doesn’t offer me an opportunity to express that gift. Iulia’s invitation to give a weekend workshop in Targu Mures is an exciting opportunity to be in my gift.

That still leaves us with a question of exchange and how money fits into it.

Giving as a Means of Exchange

Before diving into money I do want to touch a bit on “gift” as an act of giving. Though we are typically taught that before money came barter (10 chickens for one goat) but it turns out that is not true, it is a disproved assumption (there is evidence that proves otherwise) at the heart of modern day economics.

A more typical form of exchange was an a network of giving that creates debt(!) within a community. This form of exchange taps into an interesting human quality: responding to generosity with more generosity … wanting to give back more than you are given. The reason for this, it turns out, isn’t some deep sense of altruism but rather an intuitive understanding of indebtedness (very different than money-based debt because it doesn’t have to be quantified). If I help you in your time of need, you will want, in return, to help me.

However, the threads that tie a community together are not the actual exchanges but the resulting (unquantified) debts. A community is a collection of debts – when everyone owes everyone else something. All those small (or large) debts create a continuous sense of dependency and relatedness. An exchange based on money is one in which all debts are canceled and there is no need for further relationship. If I bring bottled water to my neighbor when I go drive to the village center she wants to give me something in return … maybe eggs … and she will give me a generous number of eggs … and I will want to help her again … and so on and so on. If I buy eggs from an old woman in the village market there is no need for relationship between us beyond that limited exchange. (Do you care about your supermarket, who owns it, who made the produce, who stocked the shelves, the woman at the checkout counter?, etc …)

For an exchange based on giving there needs to be relationship – a community. There needs to be a web of continuous, trusted relationships over time for giving to be able to flow. Such an exchange is not likely between strangers who may never see each other again. Indeed, the evolution of money is tied in numerous ways to wars. A debt based giving exchange may have existed in historical villages but when a soldier passed through a village, you wanted him to pay in coins … you may never see that soldier again, he may be dead by tomorrow … he is not someone with whom you want to form a long-term reciprocal relationship.

I am recalling two realizations that surprised me here in the village. The first realization surprised me in its obviousness: that it is easier to give something of which you have in abundance. If I have a generous yield of pumpkins it is easy for me to give pumpkins. The second realization struck me as disappointing … most giving in the village is indeed a means of incurring (or paying) debt … there is very little gifting.

So it seems that “gift economy” is a misleading name  because it is really based on debt which is incurred through giving so maybe it should be called a debt-economy?

… which brings us to money as a means of exchange.

Money as a Means of Exchange

There are many definitions and applications of money. One of them is as a means of exchange. This can be a slippery subject to approach because we take money for granted without really knowing what it is and how it is created. I would like to try to see money in a different way … money as an expression of giving which does have a sense of community and gifting … lets let the rubber meet the road and apply this to a real scenario … a Yoga workshop in Targu Mures.

We are going to come together … I don’t know any of you and you don’t know me (though some of you may know each other). Hopefully the workshop will be a good and valuable experience for you. I am looking forward to sharing with you teachings that are precious to me and to do it in a way that will make them precious for you. You will naturally want to give something in return and you will want to do in a spirit of gift … you will want to feel generous and you will want to maintain a sense of continuity, relationship and community. How to do this?

Since we are not (yet!?) part of a continuous living community you are not likely to have something that I want or need (you barely know me, how can you know what I want or need). Therefor, suppose you could give me a token of your appreciation – something that says “this is to indicate you have given me something valuable and I am indebted to you”.

That token could be symbolic … to you. I could hold on to it until a time in the future where we met again and you gave me something I want or need and I would return the symbolic token to you. Or maybe you have a friend which is indebted to you (you have a symbolic token that friend gave to you) and your friend gave me something or did something for me and in return I gave your friend the symbolic token you gave me. Now you and your friend each hold a symbolic token from each other … and this is where things can get interesting. You can exchange your tokens and cancel your debts to each other … and bring that flow to an end. Or you could hold on to those tokens, stay indebted to each other and trade those tokens with others … allowing your giving (debts) to continue flowing.

Now lets say we want to “go with the flow”. Wouldn’t it be great if we could have tokens which are symbols that we all agree one … that represent a shared sense of value? These tokens could flow farther, smoother … they would be easier to exchange … that could touch more people. Money is such a token … or it can be … if we can gently move away from the less pleasant qualities we associate with it.

Suggested Price

To make this experience softer for me and for you I have chosen to do experiment … to transform an exchange of money into a softer token … to give us all an opportunity to reflect on our relationship to each other and our relationship with money.

This is why the workshop has a suggested price and not a fixed price. A suggested price communicates to you a reflection of my valuation. A suggested price invites you to make your own choice. This reflection will be much more relevant after the workshop … when you have a direct sense of experience. Setting your own price gives you an opportunity to reflect not just about a number, but about value, giving … and money itself. It is an opportunity to inform a relationship with me, with Yoga, with your own practice, with money, with giving.

I realize that this may be challenging for you … it is for me too. The world we currently live in feels out of alignment in many ways. The money system we live in has made money scarce and stuck instead of abundant and flowing. I am opening myself to exploring a new story and new relationships and by offering a suggested price I am inviting you to join me in that exploration.

If this workshop shimmers for you but you are thinking to yourself “I can’t afford this” … then think again … it isn’t true … it is a limitation you place on yourself. Though there is a registration fee, how much you give is ultimately up to you. At the end of the workshop you can decide how much to give. You can give the suggested price, you can give more, you can give less. If you feel it is right you can ask for a refund of your registration fee and pay nothing. I trust myself, I trust my teachers, I trust the teachings I have been given … and I trust you.

 

Posted in Expanding, inside, Money, outside, Yoga, Yoga & I | Tagged | You are welcome to read 2 comments and to add yours

Yoga Teacher

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“What do you do?” is one question (of a few) I don’t look forward to encountering. The question seems to imply that I should to be doing something. It also seems to imply that if I am doing something it needs to be something specific that fits into a coherent, preferrably short & simple title. Even when I had a “career” which I could have leaned on for a clear answer I never felt comfortable with the question nor the answers it provoked. I felt that I was being asked to put myself into a nice, clearly defined box which always seemed to leave out some parts of who I am.

For the last … I would say third of my life … I feel I’ve been blessed with diverse and rich experiences. I’ve had opportunities to experience myself in different contexts, to see myself from different perspectives. I (and I think people who know me well) can sense there is a thread that brings it all together … however it is elusive and very difficult to put into words.

However, during this last third of my life (even longer) I have also been in a relationship with Yoga – studying, practicing and to some extent teaching.  While still living in Israel I taught a few groups, but felt that I was being asked to be more of a “Yoga entertainer” then a “Yoga teacher”. Most people seemed to expect me to provide an experience that confirmed with what they wanted Yoga to be, few seemed genuinely interested in inquiring into what Yoga is. There was a gap between my interests in Yoga and the expectations I faced as a teacher … a gap I had difficulty bridging. So I stopped trying (except for, over the years, one-on-one students with whom I’ve had precious interactions).

And yet … I am surprisingly comfortable describing myself as a Yoga practitioner and teacher. When I do teach Yoga, or even just find myself in a conversation where someone is interested in Yoga, I feel vibrant and alive … as if I’m doing something good … something I should be doing … with a clear sense of purpose … and actions that flow smoothly from me. I’ve done (and do) other things too … but almost everything I do is either in alignment, or comes into alignment, with my Yogic views. Yoga shapes and is expressed in almost everything I do. And so … if I have to be something, at least for now … I am a Yoga practitioner and on occasion teacher.

… and suddenly I find myself facing a new invitation … a first of its kind … I’ve been waiting for it so long that I have sometimes forgotten that I am waiting. Iulia asked me “When are you coming to do a weekend workshop in Targu Mures?” … not “if”. And so for the first time I’ve put together an offering that is in alignment with me. An offering that I feel respects my teachers and the teachings they have offered me. An offering that I feel respects the people who come to share in the teachings I have been given. I am touched and excited to have been asked to offer this weekend Yoga workshop. I am intrigued that it is taking place in what may well be my karmic-home-town of Targu Mures.

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Introduction to Yoga: a Living Practice

Purpose

This weekend workshop will cover basic concepts of Yoga. It is intended to provide a core understanding and experience for people who are interested in welcoming Yoga as a regular practice integrated into their lives.

Previous experience of Yoga is not required. Practitioners with past experience are welcome to join and revisit foundational ideas of Yoga and their own practice.

The weekend will be guided by Ronen Hirsch. Ronen has been practicing Yoga for over 15 years. His teachers are Paul Harvey (UK) and Ziva Kinrot (Israel) who carry forward a Viniyoga tradition developed by T Krishnamacharya and his son TKV Desikachar.

If you can breath and are curious about life or yourself you are welcome to join.

Topics

The weekend will include practice and conversation around:

  • Yoga views on philosophy and psychology: mind & body come together in practice.
  • Viniyoga: adapting Yoga practice to individual needs, circumstances and abilities.
  • Yoga and life: taking yoga beyond a practice mat and into daily life.
  • Basic asana: learning to move correctly, safely and effectively.
  • Basic breath: ujjayi breathing and its relationship with movement.
  • Basic pranayama: introduction to breathing practices.
  • Practice planning: lightly touching on the potential of creating practice sequences.
  • Yoga as meditation: nurturing meditative qualities in practice.

The program will be given in English (with some group support in translation to Romanian when needed).

Please address questions about workshop contents and practices to iamronen@iamronen.com.

What to Bring

  • Stationary
  • Yoga mat & 2 sitting blocks*
  • Comfortable clothes,(layers for regulating warmth)
  • Food for yourself

* It is useful to have two blocks sized ~ 20 x 20 x 5 cm that can be stacked or used individually as needed. There are standard (thicker) fitness blocks available online in Romania (here and here). We were able to find a local foam producer who is able to provide us with blocks cut to size for 12 lei / block. If you are interested in these blocks, please let us know when registering how many blocks you wish to purchase (recommended 2 per practitioner).

Schedule 3-5 April 2015

  • Friday,3rd of April, at 11:00 – 17:00
  • Saturday, 4th of April, 09:00 – 17:00
  • Sunday, 5th of April, 09:00 – 16:00

Registration

  • Location: Targu Mures. Exact location will be communicated in time to confirmed participants. If you come from outside Tg. Mures, we can arrange sleeping places here (informal, welcoming friends, for free). When you register, please let us know if you need this.
  • A suggested price is 540 lei / participant. If you choose to come together with your partner / a friend the price will be 900 lei for both. Please send a registration fee of 180 lei to reserve your place no later then 20 of March, 2015. At the end of the program you are invited to adjust the price accordingly to your experience.
  • To register contact Iulia at iulia.sara@gmail.com. Please include your name, email address and phone number, for keeping in contact for further details (location, registration fee, etc.).

1 On 1

The workshop will lay foundations for taking up a personal practice in day-to-day life. On the day following the workshop Ronen will be available for face-to-face 1 on 1 consultations for individuals that wish to introduce a tailored daily practice into their lives.

It will be possible to schedule consultations during the weekend workshop.

Posted in Yoga, Yoga & I, Yoga & Life | You are welcome to read 1 comment and to add yours

Greek Leadership – Fruits of Austerity?

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Though the Greek prime minister in this video describes austerity as a failure. I would argue that at least in one sense austerity has been a success … there is a new Greek prime minister who is direct, realistic, able to address painful truths and to do softly (even when facing an ultimatum). He is subtly saying that like austerity, ultimatums are also irrelevant – that no forceful attitude will change the difficult and unrelenting financial reality Europe has gotten itself into. He has realized that the old story has failed and is trying to invite his European colleagues to co-create a new story.Regardless of the fruits of actions, his effort is refreshing.

Is this telling of a new emerging flavor of leadership? I enjoyed this.

source

Posted in AltEco, Greece, Intake, Money, outside | Tagged | You are welcome to add your comment