This Pitfall of Commercialism . . .
I recently shared the following with everyone: “It is in this spirit of Brotherhood, then, that you are invited to join with us in the extension of brotherly love, where caring, embodied in action, is the rate of exchange, love is the currency, and conscious giving replaces mindless transaction which is grounded in “you can’t have it until you can pay for it.”
I invite you to consider your experience as you surf the web, stopping here or there at various spiritual websites and gather nourishment from them. I ask you to consider what you see—what generally dominates the Homepage. They are advertisements, aren’t they? Advertisements for books, calendars, seminars and workshops—all with a price tag—and many eagerly check for anything new that they might buy.
I am not passing judgment here. They are naturally following the traditional “business” model . . . that of transactional exchange—the mindless process I referred to above where cash is the currency, not love. And what I mean by that is that caring, embodied in action, is not the rate of exchange—an object is exchanged for an object. True, you may respect and honor the author of the book, but it is what is between the covers of the book that your attention is given to, and which you have purchased. The business model thus allows one to become lazy and uninvolved, and seldom does it occur to him that the price paid for the object is anything more than permission to walk out of the store with it or have Amazon ship it to you, when it could be a moment of conscious connection with the author—the humanity which made room for divinity and gave it voice.
Commerce holds objects in a state of suspended unavailability, a “demonstration” of your lack which, if you have enough money, you can overcome. And the extreme form of this is that the less there is of something desirable—the less of it there is available to you—the more you will have to pay for it.
Commerce is a loveless, selfish-oriented activity, and is part of an old paradigm which must be replaced because it has everything backwards. It must be replaced because of the dehumanizing effect it has. The simple fact is that the fundamental concept of business/commerce, properly understood and practiced, was to serve man, but because greed became dominant, commerce now requires man to serve it, and this is inhumane.
This pitfall of commercialism was not recognized in its formative stages. It was convenient, useful, and relatively benign. But its premise was flawed, and that flaw had an increasingly distorting effect as commercialism grew until, in its extreme form today, “the accumulation of wealth instead of the extension of love”—the flaw—has created a small group of the “super rich” and everyone else labors to keep them that way. It is a modern-day “sophisticated” form of the feudal system in which the laborers (serfs) work on the lord’s or king’s estate without attempting to leave because they are seduced into believing that wealth will trickle down, allowing them to earn more and become one of the super rich, themselves. After all, how could you be in the proximity of wealth and not have some of it rub off on you?
But it isn’t true! You can only give to have or get to lose.
Mind you, it takes two parties to pull of this charade: The kings/lords (the super rich) and the serfs (the laborers), and although they may shift roles, the flaw and its effects remain the same and the charade does not end. The solution lies only in abandoning the flaw. The ethic of getting must give way to the act of giving—giving because one lets brotherhood, in all the fullness of caring, replace his selfishness, his preoccupation with independent self-determination.
Making this shift requires adjustment, changing fundamental attitudes in order to embrace what seems impossible. Certainly, “to look into a brother’s eyes and remember God” sounds inspiring, true, and awakens new perspective within, but translating that into actual behavior with your brothers/sisters and their actual eyes requires stepping up to the edge of what you don’t know and reaching through it to the Knowing which lies beyond your disbelief.
You have watched Paul do this with me. I have told him that everything we do will be on the basis of Gift, and having will never be manipulated into the picture. And for thirty-six years of edge-standing we have operated in this new paradigm—sometimes to the consternation of those who are invited to participate in this gift-only mode when it would be so much easier not to have to be so consciously and conscientiously caring.
At this very moment, Paul is having to look at a payment the Foundation must make of $4,405 on the 20th—three days from now—without succumbing to the seductive call for the exercise of control in order to get . . . and instead give! This, in spite of the fact that there are no funds available. Oh, how easy it would be to simply charge for what we give away. How easy it would be to create some great ads to put on the Homepage and promote everything for a price! And how much easier it would be to do things the way everyone is used to doing them without stretching them too far. But, then, everyone is used to being mistreated. Everyone else hears the same Siren’s Song.
Waking up requires determination and commitment in the face of the pull of the status quo that says, “snooze a little longer.” “Get and lose for a little while. It’s not so bad. You’re used to it.”
Well, we haven’t done that for thirty-six years and we’re not going to start now. And we invite everyone to join us in the new paradigm of giving, where having is natural, not an artificial transacted result of pretending that what is yours, isn’t yours, but you can buy it for a price.
December 17th, 2016
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