My Mind On Money

How money affects our hearts and minds.

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Navigating Through the Financial Crisis/kabbalah.info

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(Note:  This article taken from the Media section of Kabbalah.info, website of the Bnei Baruch Education and Research Institute.  Go to kabbalah.info to sign up for free, online, live interactive lessons.)

We are more than a year and a half into the largest financial crisis since the Great Depression and it seems as if the long wished for solution is still far away. As we observe governments struggling to contain this financial crisis by injecting huge amounts of money into the economies of their respective countries, one cannot prevent oneself from asking the simple question: isn’t there another way?

Well, actually there is. But it can be taken only if we’ll allow ourselves to look at things from a different perspective.

First things first: Don’t let the words “sub-prime crisis” mislead you. The sub-prime market is not the reason for the collapse; it is only where the financial crisis surfaced. It could just as easily have been the “environmental crisis” or the “humanitarian crisis,” or even the “nuclear proliferation crisis.” What really started this snowball rolling was not a financial body of any kind, but rather avarice, uncivilized lust and irresponsible opportunism, or simply said, the self-centered nature of humans. The only reason it hit the monetary system first is that this system embodies the corrupt nature of people’s relationships and interconnections.

Unfortunately, this nature cannot be changed by pouring absurd amounts of taxpayers’ money into the markets. So far, the trillions spent in the United States, England, France, and elsewhere have increased neither the lending nor the liquidity. It was all done so recklessly that now no one can get the bailed-out companies and banks to admit what they’ve spent the money on. Those trillions disappeared, just like the billions that slipped through the hands of the big billionaires.

Money didn’t cause the financial crisis and money won’t fix it. To cope with today’s financial and social challenges, a completely different bailout plan is needed – a plan that bails us out of our own self-centered ways.

A Financial Crisis of Trust

Everyone uses the expression, “the stock markets tumbled,” but does anyone even know what this phrase really means? The stock market is, after all, nothing more than a conglomeration of estimations and speculations: a sophisticated platform for successful bets and extrapolations that are immediately translated into rates and indexes. So the stock market is not what collapsed. What really collapsed is the trust between people. Credit companies distrust the insurance companies, which lack confidence in the banks, which were disappointed with the real estate agents, who blame the insurance agents for causing the fall of the average Joe, who was forced, as usual, to pay for all of this… big time! And as if all that isn’t enough, along came ‘Madoff’s Ponzi Scheme‘ and shattered whatever trust we had left in the system.

Now, everyone is carefully holding their cards close to their chests, stashing their money back where it used to be in the good old days – under the floor tiles. This is why the seemingly endless spouting of capital has dried up and created what the self-proclaimed mavens refer to as “a liquidity crisis.”

Now hold tight. Despite all the above-written, all is not lost. Things are actually improving. Why? Because that same trust that appears to be broken was never really there. It was no more than an illusion, which is the real bubble that burst. The situation where everyone is concerned only with personal profits is what brought us to this financial crisis in the first place. Also, if real trust is nowhere to be found in the world, it’s better to discover it now, before it is really too late.

But, this is only the tip of the iceberg. The real bonus that comes with this crisis is that now we are ready to see the world for what it is: one global boat.

A New Navigation System

An important quote in the wisdom of Kabbalah states:

Two people were in a boat, and one of them took a drill and began to drill a hole beneath himself. His companion said to him: Why are you doing this? He replied: What concern is it of yours? Am I not drilling under myself? The other replied: But you will flood the boat for us both, and we will both sink. (Kabbalist Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, Midrash Raba, Leviticus 4:6)

In the global boat we all share, whoever thinks he can drill a hole under his or her own seat and ignore the well being of others is gravely mistaken. The brokers and investors who believed that only their clients would be harmed if their gambles failed are now plowing the deep water along with everyone else. And by everyone I mean “everyone,” from the Hypo Real Estate Bank in Berlin and the AIG in New York, to the Chai Ling Shiu and Sons Inc. shoe store in North Thailand. If one person drowns, everyone drowns right along with him.

Why is it so important for us to understand this? It is because we live in a new reality, a reality where we all depend on one another, for better or for worse. From now on, we have no choice but to work together, as one big family. Only then will we be able to navigate our global ship through this winter of our hardship toward the haven of bounty and prosperity.

Written by Ilana

March 26, 2010 at 7:00 pm

Is Money The Root of All Evil?

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The saying “money is the root of all evil” comes to us from the Bible – which actually states, “the love of money is the root of all evil”.

My extensive study of spiritual and metaphysical subjects has led me to the conclusion that, in fact, it is evil that is the root of all money – at least our modern monetary systems.

Money was first created as a means of exchange or trade, to replace clumsy systems such as barter.  It was later exploited by those who wished to accumulate wealth and wield great power over others.

All monetary systems are based upon one very basic (and incorrect) assumption; that it is necessary to get something in exchange for any product or service delivered to another person – and this “something” must come directly from the one who received the product or service.

This false assumption (and all evil is a result of mistaken assumptions, or false beliefs) has led to many thousands of years of suffering, war, poverty, corruption, and greed amongst humans.  One need only look to the natural world, which has succeeded and thrived for millions, perhaps billions, of years to see that if nature had adopted such an insane policy, we never would have been created in the first place.

In nature, the sun shines, the rain falls, microbes create soil, plants grow and produce flowers and fruit, insects eat the plants, birds eat the insects, animals eat, breed and enrich the soil with their waste – all WITHOUT THE DIRECT EXCHANGE OF ANYTHING.  Imagine if the sun would only shine on the plants that could pay the utility bill, or the plants only allowed animals and insects to eat their leaves and fruits if they could “pay” directly for it, or if animals collected taxes to compensate for being killed and eaten.

Sound ridiculous?  That’s because it is.  It is just as ridiculous and ludicrous as the human invention of barter, trade, and money.

Money can only limit and inhibit the free flow of resources required for life to flourish, develop, and evolve to higher levels.  Humans are currently stuck at a certain level – the level of separation, competition, and fear.  To evolve, me must abandon this insane way of looking at our relationships with each other and with the earth.  We must realize that cooperation, community, and love are what makes the world go round, not money.

Nature has developed amazing technologies, ways to utilize and store energy, and incredible systems of interdependence and cooperation.  All we need do is study, observe, and follow her example.  We can do this.  We must, if we are to continue enjoying the infinite and abundant resources we have been given.  We must reunite with the family of life all around us, and let go of the evil (mistaken beliefs) that are at the root of all money.

Written by Ilana

February 19, 2010 at 9:23 pm

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Are You A Consumer? Or A Creator?

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One of the reasons it is so challenging to envision a Resource Based Economy is that most of us (especially Americans) think of ourselves as Consumers.

Consumers ask the question, “Where can I get the money to buy the stuff I want and need?”

Creators ask the question, “Do I have the resources to create this?”

If we see ourselves as Consumers, then the process of creating often boils down to, “Where do we get the money to buy the stuff we need to create what we want?”  This unfortunate process detracts from the creative process, and can leave us feeling frustrated and empty.

In a lecture on TED Talks,  Daniel Pink explains how financial incentives interfere with the creative process.  (The video is embeded on website here: http://www.metaphysics-for-life.com/mind-on-money.html) Money motivates action that requires no problem solving or creative thinking.  And yet, money is considered the primary source of motivation in our economy!

Before we can successfully move from a money based to a Resource Based economy, we must begin to redefine ourselves – to make the quantum leap from seeing ourselves as Consumers, to seeing ourselves as the Creators we truly are.

Economies do not run on money.  Economies run on people!  We can have an economy without dollars, trade, barter or exchange.  We can create a society that is fueled by the creative genius within each and every one of us – that creative genius that is crushed by financial incentives.

The key word is “CREATE”.  To create the peaceful, abundant, healthy, and FUN world we all want – start seeing yourself as CREATOR!

Note: Please share your experiences with creating and consuming, and how those two experiences have impacted your own personal “economy” (ie. how rich do you really feel?)

Written by Ilana

November 19, 2009 at 12:34 am

Changing The Economic Story – Yes Magazine “New Economy”

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July 2009
Comic by Stephanie McMillan for YES! Magazine

Reinflate the Old Economy? Get Real!

The current economy is undermining the health of the planet and the well-being of all but the wealthiest few. It’s time to let it go.

Here are the commonly-held beliefs that keep us stuck in the current economic mess. What if we base our economy on a new story: one that is true for everybody, not just for the rich…

Old Economy script Get Real script
crumpled money Money
The measure of a healthy economy is a growing GDP.
A healthy economy meets real needs within ecological limits.

All you need is money.
You can’t eat money. What we need is healthy families, communities, and ecosystems.

Booms and busts are inevitable in a modern economy.
The boom/bust cycle is a result of letting banks create money.

cumpled dollar note Finance
Wall Street is the engine that powers our economy.
Most real economic activity is local.

Corporate banks are too big to fail. We need them to keep our economy going.
Small, responsible banks and credit unions build real wealth in our communities.

The smart investor insists on high returns.
Slow community investments pay back in dollars and quality of life.

crumpled money money
Well-run businesses require a hierarchy of highly paid executives.
Worker co-ops are efficient and democratic, and workers keep the profits.

The freedom to do ecological damage improves the business climate.
If we destroy the environment, there is no business … or climate.

Large corporations are efficient, innovative, and create jobs.
Locally rooted small- and medium-sized businesses create the jobs and innovations we need.

:: NOT YET A SUBSCRIBER TO YES! MAGAZINE?
Take us up on this introductory offer to subscribe today, starting with the New Economy issue.
[Free with subscription: David Korten’s latest book]

:: CHANGING THE ECONOMIC STORY
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Written by Ilana

July 11, 2009 at 6:23 pm

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The Obsolete Monetary System

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this is another chapter from Jacque Fresco’s essays on redesigning our culture…to read the entire essay go to http://the venusproject.com and click on A New Social Design… I am posting this here because the font is a little bigger and easier to read, and hopefully to make it a little easier to find

THE OBSOLETE MONETARY SYSTEM

Although skillful advertisers lead us to believe otherwise, in today’s monetary-based economies, whenever new technology is introduced, the human consequences are of little concern to those introducing the technology – except, of course, as customers. In a monetary-based system, the major concerns of industry are profit, maintaining a competitive edge, and watching the bottom line, rather than the wellbeing of humanity. The social problems that arise from mass unemployment of people, who are rendered obsolete by the infusion of automation, are considered irrelevant, if they are considered at all. Any need that may be met is secondary to acquiring a profit for the business. If the profit is insufficient, the service will be withdrawn. What industry seeks to do is improve the competitive edge to increase the profit margin for their shareholders. It does not serve the interest of a monetary based society to engage in the production of goods and services to enhance the lives of people as a goal. With rising public concern regarding the greenhouse effect, acid rain, polluted air and water, etc. some companies are also beginning to realize that for sustained market presence it is in their best interest to heed social and environmental concerns. While such trends are commendable, they are insufficient as a method of solving the overall problems of waste, environmental degradation and unnecessary human suffering.

The monetary system has been a useful, but interim tool, it came into being as a means of placing a value on scarce objects and labor. The monetary system of course replaced the barter system, which involved direct trading of objects and labor. However, just as there was no universal-bartering standard in the past, there is no global monetary system today. Individuals and groups, now as in the past, however, still need to exchange objects and labor for today’s goods and services. The unequal distribution of skills, resources and materials throughout the world necessitates global trade.

Until the last few decades, the monetary system functioned to a degree. The global population of three billion was not over consuming world resources and energy, global warming was not evident, and air and water pollution were only recognized by a relative few. The start of the 21st century however finds global population at an exponentially rising six billion, with resources and energy supplies dwindling, global warming a reality, and pollution evident worldwide. Planet earth is in crises and the majority of world population cannot meet their basic needs because people do not have the means to purchase increasingly expensive resources. Money is now the determinant of people’s standard of living rather than the availability of resources.

In a monetary system purchasing power is not related to our capacity to produce goods and services. For example, in a recession there are CD’s in store windows and automobiles in car lots, but many people do not have the purchasing power to buy them. The earth is still the same place; it is just the rules of the game that are obsolete and create strife, deprivation, and unnecessary human suffering.

In today’s culture of profit, we do not produce goods based on human need. We do not build houses based on population needs. We do not grow food to feed people. Industry’s major motivation is profit.

The monetary system is now an impediment to survival rather than a means of facilitating individual existence and growth. This imaginary tool has outlived its usefulness. The limitations on earth’s population now caused by the monetary construct can be phased out. It is not money that people need but the access to goods and services. Since humanity requires resources to exist, the replacement system should provide those resources directly to people without the impediment of financial and political interest for their private gain at the expense of the lives and livelihood of the populous. The replacement system is therefor logically a resource-based economy. This global resource based economy would be gradually phased in while the monetary system is phased out.

All of the world’s economic systems – socialism, communism, fascism, and even the vaunted free enterprise capitalist system – perpetuate social stratification, elitism, nationalism and racism, primarily based on economic disparity. As long as a social system uses money or barter, people and nations will seek to maintain positions of differential advantage. If they cannot do so by means of commerce they will resort to military intervention.

War represents the supreme failure of nations to resolve their differences. From a strictly pragmatic standpoint it is the most inefficient waste of lives and resources ever conceived by any creature on the planet. This crude and violent way of attempting to resolve international differences has taken on even more ominous overtones with the advent of elaborate computerized thermonuclear delivery systems, deadly diseases and gases, and the threat of sabotage of a nation’s computer networks. Despite the desire of nations to achieve peace, they usually lack the knowledge of how to arrive at peaceful solutions.

War is not the only form of violence in the developed and underdeveloped countries that is superimposed upon the populace by inadequate social arrangements. There is also hunger, poverty, and scarcity. As long as there is the use of money, the creation of debt, and economic insecurity these conditions will perpetuate crime, lawlessness, and resentment. Paper proclamations and treaties do not alter conditions of scarcity and insecurity. And nationalism only tends to help propagate the separation of nations and the world’s people.

Even the signing of a peace treaty cannot avoid another war if the underlying causes are not addressed. The unworkable aspects of international law tend to freeze things as they are. All of the nations that have conquered land all over the world by force and violence would still retain their positions of territorial and resource advantage. Whether we realize it or not, such agreements only serve as temporary suspensions to conflict.

Attempting to find solutions to the monumental problems within our present society will only serve as temporary patchwork, prolonging an obsolete system.

In this world of constant change it is no longer a question of whether we choose to make the necessary changes; it is now mandatory that we take on this challenge and adopt these new requirements or face the inevitable decay of our present social and economic institution.

This is the dilemma we must face head-on, and the solutions we arrive at must fit the circumstances of the “real-world.” There appears to be no other way than to update our outlook and create a newer direction by relegating the old values to past civilizations. Unfortunately, this may not be accomplished prior to the point of no return in the global economy.

Written by Ilana

April 23, 2009 at 5:42 pm