Sacred economics operates on four levels: it offers a fundamental analysis of what has gone wrong with money; it describes a more beautiful world based on a different kind of money and economy. It explains the collective action necessary to create such a world and the means by which these actions can come about; and it explores the personal dimension of the word ‘transformation’. The personal dimension is the change in identity and being that the author refers to as ‘living in the gift’.
Part I of the book illuminates the economic system that has arisen on the foundation of the story of separation. Separation is not an ultimate reality but a human projection, an ideology, a story. It is a story of separation of the human realm from the natural in which the natural world is ultimately reduced to resources, goods, prosperity and money. And built deeply into this economic system is anonymity, depersonalization, polarization of wealth, endless growth and ecological despoliation. The author raises some compelling questions, “If the true nature of the universe is abundance and gift, then how did money become a force of scarcity, greed and evil? If the purpose of money is to just connect human gifts with human needs, what power has turned it into an agent of scarcity?”
He further argues that the assumption of scarcity is one of the two central axioms of economics. The second is that people naturally seek to maximize self-interest. Part I also examines in depth the illusion of ‘scarcity’, the trouble with property, the corpse of the commons, the economics of usury and the crisis our civilization is facing. The author links all these to the stories we have been telling ourselves. The story of the separate self and the story of the world being there for our taking. And our ultimate destiny being of complete mastery or transcendence of nature. To revert the crisis our civilization is facing, nothing less than a transformation of the defining story is needed.
Part II, The Economics of Reunion explores this re-definition. The author calls the sojourn of separation from nature as the long infancy of the human species. For all this while we have treated Earth as the mother and taken from her, heedless of her sacrifice and pain. He calls for a shift in the relationship, so instead of Mother Earth we need to relate to Lover Earth. As he beautifully elucidates, “In a romantic partnership, what you do to your partner bounces back to you; her pain is your pain.”
The author calls the current crisis the coming-of-age ordeal and transition into adulthood for the human species. According to him, a new economic system is emerging that embodies the new human identity of the connected self living in co-creative partnership with earth. He then says that the economic system and money system will be agents of giving, of creation, of service, and of abundance. The chapters in Part II describe the elements of a sacred economy.
What then are the elements of a sacred economy?
A money and economic system that will obey rules of nature like the Law of Return; a money system that will be backed by commons, those things of which we are collective stewards; negative interest economies; local and complementary currencies, gift economies and social dividend. The author believes that the change is not a revolution but a metamorphosis. The Age of Reunion has long gestated within the institutions of separation.
The third part of the book, Living the New Economy is devoted to the shift of consciousness and practice. The author says that as we heal the spirit-matter rupture we discover that economics and spirituality are inseparable. At a personal level it is about how to give our gifts and meet our needs. The author states that by changing our everyday economic thinking and practices we not only prepare ourselves for great changes ahead; we also set the stage for their emergence.
This book is a great read for both idealists and skeptics. It combines philosophical and spiritual depth with practical insights and practices. A broadly integrated synthesis of theory, policy and practice, it can trigger serious worldwide conversations on how we can reinvent our attitude towards money.
It is for anyone who wants to find opportunities in the current crises and believes that possibilities exist.The author in fact dedicates all of his work “to the more beautiful world our hearts will tell us is possible”, even though our minds may think otherwise.