Philosophy

As The Grace Foundation is not just a grant-giving agency but aspires to be a catalyst in transforming our thinking about money, we give a lot of space to our philosophical sources. In this section we share some of the ideas that have inspired us from the work of thinkers in this field. In our understanding a new economy needs a fundamentally different cultural base and we believe that the following texts can contribute to it:

Sabine Lichtenfels, 2006, excerpt from the book: “GRACE. Pilgrimage for a Future without War”

The pilgrimage is to lead us to Israel-Palestine, to the so called Holy Land, a region which has been dominated by war, conflict, struggle and division for a long time.

If this pilgrimage is to be a success in terms of inner and outer peace work, then a spiritual source will be needed. This will make us as pilgrims act in both a correct and healing way despite any difficult situations. In search of a name for the pilgrimage we came across the term GRACE. Grace has many connotations and in English comprises more than the word “Gnade” does in German.

GRACE is mercy, favour, charm, sweetness, readiness, charity, consideration, congeniality and also stands for the act of Grace itself.

GRACE reminds me of walking in the service of the higher mission, in the service of life and its inherent justice.

Those who are walking in the name of GRACE do not come to accuse. They do not come to impart a new ideology on a country or on a land and its people – they come in the service of openness, of perception and of support.

GRACE pledges not to wage a war but rather to end it wherever it happens to be. In the name of GRACE I am always on the lookout for a non-violent solution, a solution which creates justice and healing amongst all concerned. Often clear judgement is necessary to do this, but never condemnation.

GRACE says: I am willing to end the war and to understand the means by which it can be ended and I place myself in service of a solution.

You can easily examine just how far you have committed yourself to act in this way by the way you react, especially when you feel that someone has tried to hurt you or treated you unjustly. In such situations we are quick to forget our determination to live in peace and readily enter into disputes and wars, large or small.

Here is a small example, perhaps a little humorous, but it makes the point. If you hear that the car of a distant acquaintance has been stolen, you will probably take the news very calmly. If you hear that your best friend’s car has been stolen, you will probably get a bit agitated but still stay cool enough just to pass on a few words of commiseration. When, however, your own beloved car has been stolen, inner peace is shattered and perhaps for some time. The deeper directions we take are being decided on totally different levels of consciousness. We can, however, understand more about the correlations on a large scale when we have learned to become witnesses to ourselves on the smaller scale.

GRACE is not manmade.

GRACE always refers us to the higher level of order in life itself. It is not me that will judge, but life itself may.

No matter where I happen to be and where I am going, I put aside all prejudice and judgment.

I do not arrive with preconceived ideas of who the other one might or might not be and I do not make those opinions the yardstick for my actions.

I practiced and learned to see the Christ in every human being wherever I was and throughout the pilgrimage.

At first I turn to the human being who happens to be my counterpart and let myself be touched by his or her history. To do this, I anchor myself as far as possible in the present moment. Again and again I imagine that the person sitting in front of me could just as well be me. I could be a female settler, a Palestinian woman or a young Israeli woman about to enter the military. I could be the soldier just shot tear gas at Palestinian kids. I look for the core of the human being in all its roles and behind all the roles and masks of alienation. It is often difficult to be in this kind of presence. How often have I been outraged about the ideologies which I had to endure listening to, for instance from an extremist rabbi or a fanatical Muslim? And how often did I feel an inner defensiveness or a reaction of disgust when listening to the never ending accusations and stories of suffering from the Palestinians in the West Bank or to the fanatical speeches of the settlers?

GRACE demands self-knowledge. And self-knowledge is not always easy. To discover flaws in others is much more pleasant and easy, than to unmask oneself. Everything within me wants to cry out in anger and outrage when I sit opposite a young officer listening to his excited explanations about the ideological values of his country.

All of a sudden it occurs to me that he could just as well be my son and immediately I begin to see in him not only the soldier but the human being behind his role. This is a first step which creates an opening. Now everything depends on whether I will be able to tell him the truth of what I see without any fear.

This is where GRACE occurs.

I let myself be touched and I try to touch others. Whenever possible, I enter places with my heart open. This was the case when I met with soldiers and officers, Palestinian peasants and farmers, and Israeli settlers.

GRACE comes from the strength and the connectedness with the source of life.
This must not be confused with a timid attitude where I dare not speak up against injustice when I see it.

I do not condemn anyone or anything when I am in the state of GRACE, rather, I gather the courage to speak the truth. I want to speak the truth in a way that it reaches out to others and changes the other, and not in order to be right, and therefore further waging war. In our everyday reality we shut out both sides. We shut out the truth of the victim as well as the truth of the perpetrator. We then are quick to impose our view of the world on either one of them. And most important of all is that our view of the world is the right one! We do this to protect ourselves from being touched. We can only bear to watch the constant and terrible news because we are so closed up. And we are relieved when we are able to distinguish the good guys from the bad guys. We carry on living our comfortable everyday lives and believe that we are good people when we manage to show a little charity in our lives. This is how the subtle fascism of our time emerges – indifference.

People shut their good middle-class front doors in the face of reality. They do it until suddenly they themselves are caught by a wave of real life which till then they have been successfully suppressing. Suppression now hits back and shows it’s most cruel and violent side. It is not life itself that is cruel. It is through suppression that life appears to be cruel and violent. We see this in marriage crisis, in illness, in growing suicide rates, in psychological sickness, alcoholism and other similar problems. That is until we wake up!

GRACE reminds us of another truth and reality at work behind the terrible dimensions of a culture which will soon have exhausted its last resources. The truth is simple and the same everywhere.

When forming an opinion, we tend to forget that we do this mainly from a level of interpretation. The truth lies beyond all opinions. The truth is distinct from ideology in as much as truth is both simple and true.

I was shocked to realize that conflicts, more often than not, are kindled and rekindled by the ideologies and the convictions which people continually fire at each other. Because of our fear of the truth of life we consider our opinions and views to be true and defend them until the bitter end. This is psychological warfare that finally results in real war. We hold to be true what has nothing to do with truth. This is the story of our socialization with which we identify.

All of a sudden you look into the distorted mirror of mankind, which has separated itself from its roots. You look at the same patterns of fear, anger, powerlessness and trauma, which are everywhere, and at the resulting war with its destructive acts of revenge. It is the suppressed life itself that chooses revenge in order to survive.

At this point appeals to morality are useless. Just imagine – your child is killed in front of your own eyes. Is it not revenge that is your foremost and strongest impulse?
You see it everywhere, in greater or lesser forms, but the basic pattern remains identical everywhere. It can be found behind every ideology, behind all religions, behind all world views. We have, in equal measure, all become victims of an imperialistic culture. Behind this avalanche that rolls across the regions of war on this planet, writing its painful history of victims and perpetrators, behind all this, you suddenly come across the same hunger everywhere – a hunger for life, a hunger for love, a hunger for trust and belonging, a hunger for acknowledgement and a hunger for wanting to be seen and understood. This hunger is independent of any culture. It simply exists in every human being for as truly as s/he still remains human.

When I am out there in the name of GRACE, I try to meet the human being and let myself be touched by them rather than by the world views they represent.

All was lost whenever our meetings started with a debate about world views. Nobody listened anymore and instead an emotional upheaval ensued. The meetings unfolded in a completely different way whenever people were touched by each other on a human level.

GRACE always reminds you of this.

GRACE is like a consciously chosen naivety that helps you not get lost in the ocean of world views so that you recognize and protect the elementary and simple truth behind all things. You create an opening for the cry for life.

You see the collective body of pain in front of you, this body that has presented the Jews with their terrible fate. You equally recognize the collective delusion of the German people who have still not been able to truly look at and heal their past. You see the effects of a patriarchal religion and culture which has taken a wrong turn for thousands of years, and you see how war is an inseparable part of it, just as much as thunder and lightning are part of a stormy night.

The history of victims and perpetrators and our identification with either one of them has to come to an end. At this point world history awaits a big transformation, the final awakening!

GRACE always reminds you that this change does not occur by one’s own power. GRACE reminds you of the sacredness of life itself at every moment.

GRACE reminds you that the only way out of the dead end street is for humankind to successfully return to the very basis of life and love, of trust and truth.

GRACE is the power of a long breath that is going to last because it can see a new dawn at the horizon of history, a paradise of love and compassion, a culture honouring variety while at the same time acknowledging the universal values of life.

GRACE is the umbilical cord that connects us to this vision and guides us, as of this moment, to act and behave out of its spirit, its freshness, abundance and beauty.

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Underneath and driving all of the major problems in our world is the fact that people are more financially incentivized to perpetuate them than to solve them. As long as killing a whale confers a million dollars of advantage to a fishing company, while leaving it alive confers none, we will continue to hunt whales towards extinction. As long as a millennia old redwood tree is worth no specific amount to us alive, but worth $100k as timber, we will continue destroying the tiny percentage of old growth forests we have left.
Based on a very old, primitive and barbaric dominator worldview, our economic system doesn’t ask if they are ours to take, and doesn’t factor whose balance sheet the costs show up on. How different is this in its fundamental rationale, than taking Africans as slaves for the economic value their “free” labor conferred? That was not that long ago. If you look at the conditions of the labor force in the third world responsible for manufacturing almost all our goods, you will realize that this still hasn’t changed as much as we’d like to think. Our goods economy was built upon and requires the continuance of cheap labor resulting from extreme economic disparity. Get that: our current economic system could not function with anything near economic equality for all. Even if a regulation is put in place, when the liability limiting status of a corporation means the consequence for violating it is just a fine, then the price for breaking the law is simply factored as a cost of doing business.

As long as sick people are worth more to a for-profit medical system than well people, then the success of some of the most powerful organizations on the planet will continue to require optimal human thriving not to occur. As long as news stations are for-profit corporations that stay in business by selling advertising to the large corporations that can afford those marketing budgets, airing news that is not in the fiscal interest of their advertisers would put them out of business. As long as coal companies are allowed to externalize the majority of the cost of producing coal-energy to the environment in the form of mercury vapor, carbon dioxide, zinc and nitric oxide emissions, etc, as well as the ecosystem destruction involved in the mining to acquire the coal… we will continue to hear the insane nonsense that solar isn’t cost competitive yet.

If we actually factored into the cost of coal or other fossil fuels the cleanup energy required to achieve a net neutral environmental effect, solar and other renewables would proliferate globally within a year, taking us off the self-induced extinction path we are currently on with climate change and ocean acidification. These issues simply can’t wait for solar to become cost competitive in a rigged game where almost all the costs are externalized on the other side. As long as war is profitable to the tune of trillions, with the military industrial complex being the largest sector of for-profit economics… the most powerful institutions in the world require war and threats of war for their continued existence. Given the percentage of the total profit steam it represents, the economy as a whole requires it.

We have a global economic system developed in the context of managing poverty, sickness, and war… and would collapse from real solutions to any of these issues. We have an economic system that because of interest and fractional reserve banking, requires continuous exponential growth to even maintain homeostasis, which is simply impossible on a finite planet. The extractionary and waste producing system that developed with less than a billion people and relatively low technology, does not work with 7 billion people and high technology.

This economic system is extinctionary, and it is a made up system. It is not a natural system like physics or biology or ecology. It is a system humans made up, based on an old and very poor understanding of our world. The crux of the problem is that this made up system–economics–interacts with and affects a fundamental system–ecology–without understanding it well, in ways that are incommensurate. Meaning, either we change the structure of economics to work sustainably with the inescapable reality of how our planet works, or our made-up system will self-terminate. There are no other options.
If our intelligence and ethics don’t change this system, then the inescapable reality of resource limits will. The only way to prevent the forced collapse of the system is to actively redesign it. The difference between the two paths is how much unnecessary suffering we let happen in the process, and how much earth we have left to work with.
Economics is the codification of our collective human values into a value equation that then determines how science and technology get applied to create industry, infrastructure, and ultimately, society.

Valuing a dead whale over an alive one, or a dead tree or forest, or a lower economic class that can provide cheap labor, or sick people over healthy ones… shows a value system that sees the rest of the world as commodities for us. Not as unique sentient co-inhabitants with their own right to life and intrinsic value.

Valuing something that’s scarce more than the same thing if it were abundant shows a competitive rather than symbiotic interest, that values things that offer differential advantage over others, rather than advantage for everyone.

This worldview of being separate and in competition for scarce resources, where everyone and everything else is seen either as commodity or threat, conditions empathy out of the whole population, leads to rationalizing violence, prevents real connection, and is rapidly destroying our world.

We live on a small, fragile, organic spaceship. We are all co-inhabitants of this tiny, exquisite biosphere, all affecting and being affected by the whole. Our fates and well-being are inseparably intertwined. We need a new story and new global values that recognize this… and a new system of economics based on these new values. That does not externalize or incentivize harm. That is not based on continuous extraction. That does not force ubiquitous competition and the desensitization that goes along with it. That does not require or permit gross inequity. That does… recognize our fundamental interconnectedness and that honors the dignity and rights of all the inhabitants of this biosphere.

This is possible. And it is the necessary work of this generation. Nothing less than this is adequate to address the magnitude and urgency and scope of the self-induced challenges we face… or to realize our true, full individual and collective potentials.
We do not have many separate problems to solve. We just have multiple symptoms of one core issue: a primitive and maladaptive worldview and the resultant global economic system, one that pits individual’s personal desires against their responsibility to the collective good.

The issues are not the result of a few bad guys at the top. The top 1% are as much a result of this system as they are perpetuators of it. The real perpetrator is our collective ignorance of our interconnectedness and interdependence, codified in separate and competitive interest power structures.

The answer is not to rail against the top of this misguided system. That has happened countless times in history, where the energy of againstness itself ensured that the overthrowers eventually become the new tyrants.

The purpose of this book is to make money and human economy as sacred as everything else in the universe.

Today we associate money with the profane, and for good reason. If anything is sacred in this world, it is surely not money. Money seems to be the enemy of our better instincts, as is clear every time the thought “I can’t afford to” blocks an impulse toward kindness or generosity. Money seems to be the enemy of beauty, as the disparaging term “a sellout” demonstrates. Money seems to be the enemy of every worthy social and political reform, as corporate power steers legislation toward the aggrandizement of its own profits. Money seems to be destroying the earth, as we pillage the oceans, the forests, the soil, and every species to feed a greed that knows no end.

From at least the time that Jesus threw the money changers from the temple, we have sensed that there is something unholy about money. When politicians seek money instead of the public good, we call them corrupt. Adjectives like “dirty” and “filthy” naturally describe money. Monks are supposed to have little to do with it: “You cannot serve God and Mammon.”
At the same time, no one can deny that money has a mysterious, magical quality as well, the power to alter human behavior and coordinate human activity. From ancient times thinkers have marveled at the ability of a mere mark to confer this power upon a disk of metal or slip of paper. Unfortunately, looking at the world around us, it is hard to avoid concluding that the magic of money is an evil magic.

Obviously, if we are to make money into something sacred, nothing less than a wholesale revolution in money will suffice, a transformation of its essential nature. It is not merely our attitudes about money that must change, as some self-help gurus would have us believe; rather, we will create new kinds of money that embody and reinforce changed attitudes. Sacred Economics describes this new money and the new economy that will coalesce around it. It also explores the metamorphosis in human identity that is both a cause and a result of the transformation of money. The changed attitudes of which I speak go all the way to the core of what it is to be human: they include our understanding of the purpose of life, humanity’s role on the planet, the relationship of the individual to the human and natural community; even what it is to be an individual, a self. After all, we experience money (and property) as an extension of our selves; hence the possessive pronoun “mine” to describe it, the same pronoun we use to identify our arms and heads. My money, my car, my hand, my liver. Consider as well the sense of violation we feel when we are robbed or “ripped off,” as if part of our very selves had been taken.

A transformation from profanity to sacredness in money-something so deep a part of our identity, something so central to the workings of the world-would have profound effects indeed. But what does it mean for money, or anything else for that matter, to be sacred? It is in a crucial sense the opposite of what sacred has come to mean. For several thousand years, the concepts of sacred, holy, and divine have referred increasingly to something separate from nature, the world, and the flesh. Three or four thousand years ago the gods began a migration from the lakes, forests, rivers, and mountains into the sky, becoming the imperial overlords of nature rather than its essence. As divinity separated from nature, so also it became unholy to involve oneself too deeply in the affairs of the world. The human being changed from a living embodied soul into its profane envelope, a mere receptacle of spirit, culminating in the Cartesian mote of consciousness observing the world but not participating in it, and the Newtonian watchmaker-God doing the same. To be divine was to be supernatural, nonmaterial. If God participated in the world at all, it was through miracles-divine intercessions violating or superseding nature’s laws.

Paradoxically, this separate, abstract thing called spirit is supposed to be what animates the world. Ask the religious person what changes when a person dies, and she will say the soul has left the body. Ask her who makes the rain fall and the wind blow, and she will say it is God. To be sure, Galileo and Newton appeared to have removed God from these everyday workings of the world, explaining it instead as the clockwork of a vast machine of impersonal force and mass, but even they still needed the Clockmaker to wind it up in the beginning, to imbue the universe with the potential energy that has run it ever since. This conception is still with us today as the Big Bang, a primordial event that is the source of the “negative entropy” that allows movement and life. In any case, our culture’s notion of spirit is that of something separate and nonworldly, that yet can miraculously intervene in material affairs, and that even animates and directs them in some mysterious way.

It is hugely ironic and hugely significant that the one thing on the planet most closely resembling the forgoing conception of the divine is money. It is an invisible, immortal force that surrounds and steers all things, omnipotent and limitless, an “invisible hand” that, it is said, makes the world go ’round. Yet, money today is an abstraction, at most symbols on a piece of paper but usually mere bits in a computer. It exists in a realm far removed from materiality. In that realm, it is exempt from nature’s most important laws, for it does not decay and return to the soil as all other things do, but is rather preserved, changeless, in its vaults and computer files, even growing with time thanks to interest. It bears the properties of eternal preservation and everlasting increase, both of which are profoundly unnatural. The natural substance that comes closest to these properties is gold, which does not rust, tarnish, or decay. Early on, gold was therefore used both as money and as a metaphor for the divine soul, that which is incorruptible and changeless.

Money’s divine property of abstraction, of disconnection from the real world of things, reached its extreme in the early years of the twenty-first century as the financial economy lost its mooring in the real economy and took on a life of its own. The vast fortunes of Wall Street were unconnected to any material production, seeming to exist in a separate realm.

Looking down from Olympian heights, the financiers called themselves “masters of the universe,” channeling the power of the god they served to bring fortune or ruin upon the masses, to literally move mountains, raze forests, change the course of rivers, cause the rise and fall of nations. But money soon proved to be a capricious god. As I write these words, it seems that the increasingly frantic rituals that the financial priesthood uses to placate the god Money are in vain. Like the clergy of a dying religion, they exhort their followers to greater sacrifices while blaming their misfortunes either on sin (greedy bankers, irresponsible consumers) or on the mysterious whims of God (the financial markets). But some are already blaming the priests themselves.

What we call recession, an earlier culture might have called “God abandoning the world.” Money is disappearing, and with it another property of spirit: the animating force of the human realm. At this writing, all over the world machines stand idle. Factories have ground to a halt; construction equipment sits derelict in the yard; parks and libraries are closing; and millions go homeless and hungry while housing units stand vacant and food rots in the warehouses. Yet all the human and material inputs to build the houses, distribute the food, and run the factories still exist. It is rather something immaterial, that animating spirit, which has fled. What has fled is money. That is the only thing missing, so insubstantial (in the form of electrons in computers) that it can hardly be said to exist at all, yet so powerful that without it, human productivity grinds to a halt. On the individual level as well, we can see the demotivating effects of lack of money. Consider the stereotype of the unemployed man, nearly broke, slouched in front of the TV in his undershirt, drinking a beer, hardly able to rise from his chair. Money, it seems, animates people as well as machines. Without it we are dispirited.

We do not realize that our concept of the divine has attracted to it a god that fits that concept, and given it sovereignty over the earth. By divorcing soul from flesh, spirit from matter, and God from nature, we have installed a ruling power that is soulless, alienating, ungodly, and unnatural. So when I speak of making money sacred, I am not invoking a supernatural agency to infuse sacredness into the inert, mundane objects of nature. I am rather reaching back to an earlier time, a time before the divorce of matter and spirit, when sacredness was endemic to all things.

And what is the sacred? It has two aspects: uniqueness and relatedness. A sacred object or being is one that is special, unique, one of a kind. It is therefore infinitely precious; it is irreplaceable. It has no equivalent, and thus no finite “value,” for value can only be determined by comparison. Money, like all kinds of measure, is a standard of comparison.

Unique though it is, the sacred is nonetheless inseparable from all that went into making it, from its history, and from the place it occupies in the matrix of all being. You might be thinking now that really all things and all relationships are sacred. That may be true, but though we may believe that intellectually, we don’t always feel it. Some things feel sacred to us, and some do not. Those that do, we call sacred, and their purpose is ultimately to remind us of the sacredness of all things.

Today we live in a world that has been shorn of its sacredness, so that very few things indeed give us the feeling of living in a sacred world. Mass-produced, standardized commodities, cookie-cutter houses, identical packages of food, and anonymous relationships with institutional functionaries all deny the uniqueness of the world. The distant origins of our things, the anonymity of our relationships, and the lack of visible consequences in the production and disposal of our commodities all deny relatedness. Thus we live without the experience of sacredness. Of course, of all things that deny uniqueness and relatedness, money is foremost. The very idea of a coin originated in the goal of standardization, so that each drachma, each stater, each shekel, and each yuan would be functionally identical. Moreover, as a universal and abstract medium of exchange, money is divorced from its origins, from its connection to matter. A dollar is the same dollar no matter who gave it to you. We would think someone childish to put a sum of money in the bank and withdraw it a month later only to complain, “Hey, this isn’t the same money I deposited! These bills are different!”

By default then, a monetized life is a profane life, since money and the things it buys lack the properties of the sacred. What is the difference between a supermarket tomato and one grown in my neighbor’s garden and given to me? What is different between a prefab house and one built with my own participation by someone who understands me and my life? The essential differences all arise from specific relationships that incorporate the uniqueness of giver and receiver. When life is full of such things, made with care, connected by a web of stories to people and places we know, it is a rich life, a nourishing life. Today we live under a barrage of sameness, of impersonality. Even customized products, if mass-produced, offer only a few permutations of the same standard building blocks. This sameness deadens the soul and cheapens life.

The presence of the sacred is like returning to a home that was always there and a truth that has always existed. It can happen when I observe an insect or a plant, hear a symphony of birdsongs or frog calls, feel mud between my toes, gaze upon an object beautifully made, apprehend the impossibly coordinated complexity of a cell or an ecosystem, witness a synchronicity or symbol in my life, watch happy children at play, or am touched by a work of genius. Extraordinary though these experiences are, they are in no sense separate from the rest of life. Indeed, their power comes from the glimpse they give of a realer world, a sacred world that underlies and interpenetrates our own.
What is this “home that was always there,” this “truth that has always existed”? It is the truth of the unity or the connectedness of all things, and the feeling is that of participating in something greater than oneself, yet which also is oneself. In ecology, this is the principle of interdependence: that all beings depend for their survival on the web of other beings that surrounds them, ultimately extending out to encompass the entire planet. The extinction of any species diminishes our own wholeness, our own health, our own selves; something of our very being is lost.

If the sacred is the gateway to the underlying unity of all things, it is equally a gateway to the uniqueness and specialness of each thing. A sacred object is one of a kind; it carries a unique essence that cannot be reduced to a set of generic qualities. That is why reductionist science seems to rob the world of its sacredness, since everything becomes one or another combination of a handful of generic building blocks. This conception mirrors our economic system, itself consisting mainly of standardized, generic commodities, job descriptions, processes, data, inputs and outputs, and-most generic of all-money, the ultimate abstraction. In earlier times it was not so. Tribal peoples saw each being not primarily as a member of a category, but as a unique, enspirited individual. Even rocks, clouds, and seemingly identical drops of water were thought to be sentient, unique beings. The products of the human hand were unique as well, bearing through their distinguishing irregularities the signature of the maker. Here was the link between the two qualities of the sacred, connectedness and uniqueness: unique objects retain the mark of their origin, their unique place in the great matrix of being, their dependency on the rest of creation for their existence. Standardized objects, commodities, are uniform and therefore disembedded from relationship.

In this book I will describe a vision of a money system and an economy that is sacred, that embodies the interrelatedness and the uniqueness of all things. No longer will it be separate, in fact or in perception, from the natural matrix that underlies it. It reunites the long-sundered realms of human and nature; it is an extension of ecology that obeys all of its laws and bears all of its beauty.

Within every institution of our civilization, no matter how ugly or corrupt, there is the germ of something beautiful: the same note at a higher octave. Money is no exception. Its original purpose is simply to connect human gifts with human needs, so that we might all live in greater abundance. How instead money has come to generate scarcity rather than abundance, separation rather than connection, is one of the threads of this book. Yet despite what it has become, in that original ideal of money as an agent of the gift we can catch a glimpse of what will one day make it sacred again. We recognize the exchange of gifts as a sacred occasion, which is why we instinctively make a ceremony out of gift giving. Sacred money, then, will be a medium of giving, a means to imbue the global economy with the spirit of the gift that governed tribal and village cultures, and still does today wherever people do things for each other outside the money economy.
A transformation of money is not a panacea for the world’s ills, nor should it take priority over other areas of activism. A mere rearrangement of bits in computers will not wipe away the very real material and social devastation afflicting our planet. Yet, neither can the healing work in any other realm achieve its potential without a corresponding transformation of money, so deeply is it woven into our social institutions and habits of life. The economic changes I describe are part of a vast, all-encompassing shift that will leave no aspect of life untouched.

Humanity is only beginning to awaken to the true magnitude of the crisis on hand. If the economic transformation I will describe seems miraculous, that is because nothing less than a miracle is needed to heal our world. In all realms, from money to ecological healing to politics to technology to medicine, we need solutions that exceed the present bounds of the possible. Fortunately, as the old world falls apart, our knowledge of what is possible expands, and with it expands our courage and our willingness to act. The present convergence of crises-in money, energy, education, health, water, soil, climate, politics, the environment, and more-is a birth crisis, expelling us from the old world into a new. Unavoidably, these crises invade our personal lives, our world falls apart, and we too are born into a new world, a new identity. This is why so many people sense a spiritual dimension to the planetary crisis, even to the economic crisis. We sense that “normal” isn’t coming back, that we are being born into a new normal: a new kind of society, a new relationship to the earth, a new experience of being human.

A Plan for the Healing of Humankind and the Earth

The ‘Healing-Biotopes Plan’ is a global strategy for peace which has been developed in theory and practice for over 30 years by Dr. Dieter Duhm, Sabine Lichtenfels, Charly Rainer Ehrenpreis and others, with the aim of bringing about a global process of healing on Earth – a future without war.

The plan is based on a clear vision. Dieter Duhm’s ‘Planetary Theory’ describes this vision wherever already possible in scientific terms. This theory explains why and how only a few special centres worldwide, the so-called Healing Biotopes, can replace the existing informational field of fear and violence with a new, globally effective informational field of trust and cooperation.

How can these local centees have a global effect? The answer lies in the nature of holistic systems, whose functions and parameters are described in the Planetary Theory. “Crucial to the success of these local centres is not how big and strong they are (compared to the existing apparatuses of violence), but how comprehensive and complex they are, how many elements of life combine and unite well in them. Evolutionary fields develop not according to the ‘survival of the fittest,’ but the ‘success of the most comprehensive’. Otherwise, no new development could prevail, because they all started ‘small and unimpressive’ start (Teilhard de Chardin).” (From Future Without War, by Dieter Duhm)

What is a Healing-Biotope?

A Healing Biotope is the model of a future society. Just as a new prototype is first developed in a laboratory, the Healing Biotopes plan is based first on building a new society in a model before it can be applied on a large scale.

In a future culture of peace, the global problems which lead today to war all over the world are solved or are in a process of solution. Healing Biotopes are therefore places where these solutions are prepared. The results must be generalizable and available to everyone who looks for them. Healing Biotopes are organized so that the various solutions can be linked to each other until the image of the overall solution becomes visible.

For clarity, we divide the overall solution into different aspects:

1. The material basis of life
2. The social basis of life
3. The mental-spiritual basis of life

Humankind needs new responses in all three of these areas to be able to initiate a non-violent future.

The problem of the material basis of life is expressed in the global lack of water, food and energy and in their in¬equitable distribution. Desertification, famine and peak oil are just some aspects of this lack, which arise as a result of the fundamentally wrong way in which the human being deals with the earth, water and nature. The necessary correction consists of creating human-made systems compatible with the inexhaustible systems and energy sources of nature and Creation.

Specifically, the solution lies in the implementation of decentralized, regionally self-sufficient, water-rich and sustainable centres where up to several thousand people can live. With the help of Water Retention Landscapes, permaculture and peace gardens, and new energy technologies working according to the laws of life, in appropriate numbers these centres will be able within a few decades to supply all of humanity with sufficient food, energy and fresh drinking water. At the same time they heal all of nature’s ecosystems and living beings. The contradiction bet-ween economic growth and the protection of nature is overcome.

The new energy technologies are no longer based on breaking resistances, but follow a ‘line of tension’. They connect the new centres with the everlasting energy sources of the sun and the universe. The fight for resources is over.

The social basis of life in all societies has been destroyed. Human beings have lost the ability to live together in peace. Fear, alienation and mistrust lead to irresolvable conflicts in all systems, from the smallest systems of marriage and family all the way to the global crisis areas and wars. The latent readiness for violence can break out at any time and be used for wars and the cruellest clashes.

Healing Biotopes show how cooperation and trust can be permanently and structurally developed by creating new living environments. The change does not happen (only) through individual therapy or admonitions. It is the social being that determines consciousness. A new type of socialization is the higher level of order at which previously unsolvable conflicts can be solved. The human beings in these new communities support and help each other and their fellow creatures not because they follow an external moral commandment, but because they have recognized that all that lives is part of the great family of life, to which they themselves also belong. Central to building trust is the reconciliation of the sexes. There can be no peace on Earth as long as there is war in love. The patriarchal society dominated by men must be transformed into a form of life in which women and men reconnect with their sensual knowledge and apply it for a future culture of partnership between men and women.

The fight against the mental-spiritual basis of life proceeds today in such a subtle and encompassing way that it is hardly perceived. We only notice its consequences, such as religious wars, structures of domination and subordi¬nation, psychological deprivation and blocked anger reaching all the way to self-destruction. Humanity has lost its authentic religious and ethical anchor.

To return from this “exile” requires a new worldview and the studying of a theory of primal trust that is able to open the human heart again. Autonomous, independently thinking human beings will evolve out of this learning process – people who no longer submit themselves to punishing authorities. Such people have developed a strong humane core and are therefore incorruptible. They make life itself their sacred authority and protect it, wherever they are. Healing Biotopes are spiritual training centres for this kind of human being, for Adam Kadmon, the “Christ nature” or “Marian nature”.
The State of Implementation

The Healing Biotopes Plan is mature and far developed theoretically and in practice. In 1995, the first Healing Biotope was established – Tamera in Portugal. Today about 170 co-workers, students, youths and children are living and working there. In the first years the work was strongly focused on building a resilient community. Over time, various projects have developed – ecology (Water Retention Landscapes), technology (the Solar Village), the Animal Project, the Children’s Republic, the Youth Place, the Guest House, the Education Program, the Art Department, the Love School, the Political Ashram, and the Institute for Global Peacework. The Global Campus was established with co-operation partners in Israel-Palestine, Colombia, Mexico, Brazil and India. An international network links Tamera with projects and individuals in Europe, North America, Russia, Australia, and most recently also in Kenya and Bolivia. This is how the first bases for further Healing Biotopes could arise.

In its core, the project is firmly established. Now it faces its next step towards a global dimension and for this it requires international support, donors and media specialists.

The Next Steps

First: Creating a global informational field. The idea of Healing Biotopes, the life perspective they represent, the ba¬sic thoughts and the partial solutions that have already been found and can be generalized, have to become known worldwide. Then this knowledge will be ineradicable. This requires a further stage of development for Tamera’s political department, which consists of the Global Campus, the Institute for Global Peacework, the Meiga Publishing House, and the Media and Communications Agency.

Second: By itself, the spread of the idea will result in the establishment of so-called “model universities” around the world, which include the ecological and technological, as well as the intellectual and social know-how for the de-velopment of functioning communities. This process could be supported financially and politically.

Third: Tamera will be the main educational centre until the “model universities” can take on this task. Funding is needed to expand the education facilities, for the scholarship fund and to create sites for practical education.

This is just an excerpt of the full paper, you can download the full piece here.

1. THE GLOBAL SITUATION

Today all of humanity is living in the system of global capitalism, predominantly based on the maximization of profit by the means of exploiting a large part of humanity and nature. The only thing this system cares about is to make the highest profits possible, given the current circumstances, as quickly as possible, regardless of the cost of life on this planet.

Ever since World War I at the latest this motive has driven human beings to ever increasingly create a colossal war society, utilizing the function of money. War is used to keep up the capitalist economic system. More than that: It needs war in order to work – war between peoples aided by a giant arms industry, and war between people against nature with the help of an equally giant chemical and technological industry. Every current economy depends on the modern industries of arms production and post-war reconstruction. Since the globalization of the financial market all members of the money-based society are a part of this system.

Edward Goldsmith, editor of “Blackbook of Globalisation” (Schwarzbuch der Globalisierung), impressively describes the current situation of humankind in the book’s last chapter.

A short summary of his analysis follows:

In 1995 when the World Trade Organisation WTO was founded at the so-called Uruguay Circle to become the most important instrument of globalisation, one told the people that globalisation would happen to the benefit of all creatures on earth. Many believed that since the reasoning made sense and globalisation was “in the air” (e.g. as a consequence of the Internet) it was the logical next step in the development of humankind. It is a fact, however, that the gap between the poor and the rich has increased continuously since then, the environment pollution has worsened, and criminality, unemployment, malnutrition, homelessness and diseases continue to grow.

This is mainly due to the fact that most local economies broke down under the pressure of globalisation. Hardly any former subsistence economies can survive under the competitive pressure of multinationals; no development country can in fact develop under the conditions of the IMF and the World Bank. With the increasing disappearance of local autonomies the social holding together of tribal societies (amongst indigenous peoples) and communitarian entities in the western world have also disappeared. Their traditional social functions ceased to exist, causing huge problems such as the care of the elderly and sick people, increased criminality etc. Well, globalisation has an answer to this problem too: privatisation of all the social functions which had until been carried out by existing communitarian entities. Since these social services now have to be paid, the cost of living for almost all people has increased with the exception of a few rich people who are making money with this system. Simultaneously something like an atomisation of the society starts; i.e. complete privatisation and the isolation of the individual.

Just a hundred years ago social functions were still carried out by big families, communities or parishes. Within these communitarian entities people provided for their basic needs by themselves: their necessary food as well as the clothes, child rearing, care of the elderly and the sick, and the social order (including jurisdiction). This “social economic system” worked almost entirely without money! It was based on the “social capital” of communities and communitarian entities.

Globalization transformed all social activities into commodities; they are privatized, i.e. given into the hands of multinationals so that they can be globally marketed and negotiated. This process, however, isolates these activities form their natural social context, i.e. they are being deprived from their souls.

The same thing globalization does to social bonds it also does to ecological bonds in natural cycles and biotopes. Highly complex ecosystems are destroyed at an increasing rate in favor of less complex mono cultures, industrialized agricultures and over-dimensioned water reservoirs, with the well known results of the greenhouse effect and climate change.

In one sentence: Globalisation replaces the social services of local communitarian entities with the global money economy and the natural function of the biosphere with a technology which is not in harmony with nature.

This process is also based on the increased dissolution of local communitarian entities (big families, tribal communities, parishes) into a mutilated form of the nuclear family. They are no longer autonomous social and economic unities, therefore de-rooting human beings fundamentally from their meaning of life. Also, the term ‘democracy’ is mutilated when original social entities no longer exist. In our contemporary mega systems the individual has hardly any possibility to determine his or her life. In addition, nnowadays worldwide effective political decisions are no longer made by individual states. This practice was discarded with the installation of the WTO, international trade agreements, etc., in favour of a “de-facto world government” (WTO, G-8-summit meetings, Davos etc.) which makes decisions beyond parliamentary or democratic legitimation, hardly making themselves accessible to the public. In this way it becomes less and less transparent how much pressure multinationals put on the politicians who are making decisions, obscuring that it is them – and only them – who are the big winners of globalization.

Consequently, real democracy is based mainly on the re- introduction of local and economic autonomy. This includes rooting the people in the place they live, the production of their food, their clothes and their houses. It also includes re- integrating human beings into the natural ecological systems they live in and the autonomous administration of their resources (land, water, air, animals, plants, etc.). “Only if and when this whole community is healthy also its members can remain mentally and physically healthy in a sustainable way.“ (Wendell Berry, based on Edward Goldsmith). Only in this way will it also be possible to let the environment be what it is in a sustainable way: it is the elementary basis of life which keeps us alive. Local economic systems can take much more responsibly to administer energy and resources in a sustainable and comprehensive way. Additionally, care taking for the needy (elderly or sick people) can be re-integrated into local social systems.

Many people will have to learn once again how to survive outside the globalised economy. Autonomous communitarian entities will have to emerge, bringing the fulfilment of their needs of living back into their own hands. Those communitarian entities will not “develop backwards” though, they will make use of the natural inventions of our times such as decentralised production of energy, insights from modern ecology, nature- harmonious building, alternative medicine, etc.

This amplified anti-globalisation movement, this “party of communities”, will at first have little financial resources and power but in the course of time the number of their members will increase by necessity. “If such a party came to power, it could develop and realise coordinated strategy for a less painful transition towards the kind of society and economy which will be able to offer our children some future on this threatened planet earth“ (Wendell Berry, based on Edward Goldsmith).

That is as far my summary of Edward Goldsmith’s analysis goes.

Would you like to read on? Download the full PDF here.

This is just an excerpt of the full paper, you can download the full piece here.

Why the issue of the love between the genders had to become the central focus of our project

I am the founder of a community project, now called Tamera. Tamera is a peace research center in southern Portugal. The project has received worldwide recognition for its concepts of ecological and social renewal as well as for its global school, the “Global Campus,” which disseminates the ideas of a new earth. Since the beginning of our project, the focus of our research has been the themes of sexuality, love and partnership. A humane culture emerges from the human relationship between the genders. For this work, we founded the “Global Love School” under the leadership of Sabine Lichtenfels. Below, I will explain why we had to put the subjects of sexuality and love in the heart of our work.

On the news, there was another of those terrible stories from everyday life in Germany; While his wife was away, a normally inconspicuous, friendly man kills his three young children and then himself.

An isolated case? And the many similar cases? The daily drama of unsuccessful love relationships and marriages, the desperation of love partners, the suffering of children, and the ever increasing cycles of rage, and then, inevitably the explosion: vengeance, violence and war. The themes of failed love, separation anxiety, jealousy and despair are not just a private matter, but a universal human issue. The drama of humanity is in large part the drama of unrequited love. How many murders must be attributed to unrequited love? How many women are beaten to death because men do not feel accepted by them? How much of the sorrow of children, how much disconsolate desolation is created anew every day in society that has not solved its theme of love and its theme of sexuality? Once we have opened our eyes to the sorrow of the world there is no easy consolation, yet still, global healing is possible.

The spiritual epicenter of the human world is the relationship of the two genders, of man and woman, because man and woman are the two halves of humanity, they are spiritually and corporeally reliant on each other. Man and woman come together to create children. This act of procreation is intimately linked with a high physical and mental pleasure. What a gift from the universe, that the propagation of the human race is connected with pleasure and joy! These two halves have to come together properly to insure that human life can proceed smoothly. If they do knot merge properly, there will be disasters – catastrophes such as cancer, child pornography, sadism, hatred, violence and war. The animal world also suffers because of the pain of man – the daily massacres that are committed against animals in slaughterhouses and laboratories are only possible because people have closed their hearts.

Would you like to read more of Dieter Duhm’s paper Healing of Love? Download the full PDF by clicking here.