I am currently about half way through Charles Eisenstein's wonderfully thought-provoking book, Sacred Economics.  We have, of course engaged on this terrain in other places within the Cafe, including this discussion thread tied to the Cafe Call last December on which Charles was our guest "conversation starter."  I felt called to start a new conversation however, given that I am feeling so inspired not only to read but also to share this book.  

If you are not familiar with Sacred Economics, you can still join the conversation based on your response to this brief and compelling video.  You can also read the book online here (please consider a contribution back to Charles if you take advantage of this gift!).  

I also am feeling called to explore further this idea of a "hosted" conversation.  Here's what I wrote many months ago when this idea was first proposed:

Please note that this is a hosted discussion.  We want to focus on dialogue and collective/creative thinking, not debate or the promotion of personal agendas.  If the activity gets heavy, we will periodically ask people to step back or step up, to make sure the dialogue is balanced and there is space for all voices to be heard.  We will also ask that side conversations that emerge be taken onto new discussion threads so that this core conversation remains focused and readable.  Thank you in advance for your help with this, and if you are interested in hosting a discussion yourself, please email connect@occupycafe.org.

I would like to resume our experiment in this terrain, and perhaps stretch ourselves a bit more than the  framing above implied.  I want to try this in three ways, all of which might be serve to give this conversation that special and sacred quality of "aliveness:"

  1. Explore our willingness to collectively pursue a particular intention for a conversation
  2. Invite all participants to think of themselves as "hosts"
  3. Invite the possibility that connecting emotionally, showing compassion and being in relationship can be just as much a part of what we engage in here as the intellectual exchange of ideas

So... here goes!

My intention in convening this conversation is to see to what degree the ideas in this book can inspire and help us articulate a "Story of Now" and a "Story of Us" for the Cafe.  Marshall Ganz describes the former as a story that can inform "the challenge this community now faces, the choices it must make, and the hope to which 'we' can aspire."  And the "Story of Us" illuminates "what your constituency, community, organization has been called to: its shared purposes, goals and vision."

Some basic questions that we can explore are:

  • In what ways, if any, does Eisenstein's diagnosis of our current situation resonate for you?  In what ways, if any, does it challenge you?
  • Is the invitation Eisenstein issues for co-creating "the more beautiful world our hearts tell us is possible" compelling and inspiring to you and if so, in what ways?

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The closing words of the Sacred Economics video almost moved me to tears:

There's a lot of healing that needs to be done, and... it's almost impossible, actually.  You can say that, really, we're in the business of creating a miracle here on earth.  I'm saying that it's something that is "impossible" from an old understanding of reality, but possible from a new one.  And in fact, it's necessary.  And in fact, anything less than that isn't even worth trying.

To which I say: YES!!!!  There is something enormously compelling to me in the notion that a change in understanding can make the impossible possible, and that this Shift is available to us right now.

Jerry: welcome again to Occupy Cafe, and thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts here.

So what I'm hearing is that from your perspective, government is "the problem," or even "the enemy."   Taxes, lawyers, middle men and regulations.  All familiar targets in our current political debate.  And you are hearing Eisenstein's diagnosis as suggesting that "free enterprise" is the problem, rather than government, hence your "beautiful story, wrong enemy" conclusion (not sure where he said that, exactly, by the way).  It seems pretty likely to me that if we frame our conversation in "conventional terms" (what I think Eisenstein is referring to when he speaks of "an old understanding of reality") we are likely to have the old paradigm's politics coming between us, and a fairly familiar debate will ensue.

And yet, it's interesting to me that you did feel aligned with some of Eisenstein's critique of money.  I wonder if you might be willing to dig a bit deeper into what he has to say based on that bit of alignment and your sense of his sincerity. Here's the link to the book online (for free, or whatever donation you care to make).

The purpose works for me, Ben - to discuss to what degree the ideas in the book might serve to help us articulate a more useful "Story of Now"... than the one in which we are embedded.

The first step for me is to Buy The Book.  Second is to read it.  Third is to get clear about how it might serve.   I'll get back to us.  Love,   Harvey Austin

Thanks Harvey.  Glad the purpose makes sense to you.  As we have engaged in this New Stories dialogue recently, the notion that the Cafe would be well served by having its own stories of "self," "us" and "now" (inspired by the work of Marshall Ganz, to which I also linked above) emerged for me, and this is one result.  I invite you to join the conversation even before reading the book, based on your response to the ideas in the video.  If everyone has to read the whole thing before replying, it's going to take this conversation a while to get going!

Thanks for starting this, Ben.  I finished Charles' book a short while ago and have been very inspired to explore and experiment with new possibilities, from the way Pia and I conduct HoloRising, our personal business, to how we might conduct Occupy Cafe, to how we might explore ways to accelerate transitioning our economic habits as communities and social networks.  

I agree with Charles that the healing necessary for our world is impossible—via the mindset we currently engage.  It's currently a great mystery—one which is further evoked by poking into a phenomenon such as awakening a Global Brain—how we might transition to a radically new mindset, in an unprecedented period of time, that is capable of imagining a solution.  Imagining includes, not only a new model, but the way in which humans can revolutionize their behaviors and corresponding consciousness to effect an emergence of a new paradigm.

It is no coincidence that there is a constant and ongoing tension between those committed to action and those committed to "being".  Eventually, these streams must merge and mingle as one stream that feeds the ocean of our future that, indeed, works for all.

I remain wholly convinced that our dominant economic system will sustainably shift at the rate at which a critical mass of our consciousness shifts in its assessment and assignation of whom and what is valuable and how that value is exchanged...see A New Inner Economy: Restoring Dignity to Our Human Experience.

It is no coincidence that there is a constant and ongoing tension between those committed to action and those committed to "being".  Eventually, these streams must merge and mingle as one stream that feeds the ocean of our future that, indeed, works for all.

Yes, Jitendra!  It seems obvious now that you've stated it, and I expect you've said this many times before, but it's really landing for me now.  The "being"/"doing" tension does indeed make sense in this context, as we struggle to nurture a new consciousness in a world that is always pulling us back into the old one.  This really adds depth to my sense of the way in which the inner and outer transformation go hand in hand.

What does this suggest about the Cafe and the Story of Now we want to tell?  Increasingly, I am seeing the value of this space simply in it's manifestation of a new sense of possibility.  I hear the critique from others, and also very much in my own head, about our not being a place of action (yet!).  Yet calls like last Monday's, with it's spontaneous eruption of "sacred silence," tell me that what we are doing is more than "good enough."  Indeed, it might be the most important "action" we can take.

Indeed, it is no coincidence that there is a constant and ongoing tension between being and doing. These are the two reflections of the nature of Life - Eternal Awareness, with its utter and constant sense that all is well, and Energy, with it's utter and constant sense that something needs to emerge. This incredible mystery and miracle are what so many of us are beginning to find as we ground ourselves in this rich Nowness we call Life.

I read Sacred Economics about 3 months ago, and led a   discussion over 3 evenings.  To my   disappointment, the discussions did not lead to any action.  I’m oriented towards action.  I have some difficulty separating being   and action.  During the first 12 years   of my career, I was “being an engineer.”    That is, my actions were engineering.    Some of my youth was spent “being” a Baptist.  That involved some action: going to   church, etc.  When is "being" separate   from "action?"  Can this separation be an aspect of the spiritual/material separation Eisenstein discusses?

" I have some difficulty separating being   and action."

Yes, that makes sense.  I would say it is because they are NOT separable.  But they are distinguishable.   Just as the back of the hand and the front are distinguishable.   Yet they are also inseparable, for where the back of the hand goes, so travels the front. 

The usefulness of 'distinction' is that this concept allows us to speak of  'being' and 'doing 'as though  each existed alone, but with the background understanding they are, nonetheless, inseparable.

I was in the 1st grade when Japan attacked Pearl Harbor.  I lived my first 19 years in a blue-collar neighborhood on the edge of Springfield, Missouri. These facts seem relevant to the discussion because I imagine the “world that is possible” to be closer to my youth than any period I’ve experienced since.  This is what I experienced:

  1. Giving was an important part of the culture.  We always had a large garden and gave away fruits and vegetables,    as did many of our neighbors.  Men who went fishing often gave away part of their catch.  Older women spent much of their time creating quilts to give to relatives.  My mother knitted many beautiful afghans to give away.
  2. We felt the war acutely because many of the boys in the neighborhood were in the military.  Some gave the ultimate gift. 
  3. We did not have television.  We talked to other people in the family and to the neighbors.  We built things with our hands.
  4. None of the students in my neighborhood had cars.  We would meet at the municipal bus stop and ride with other     students and adults going to work.


The possibility of going back to such a time seems impossible.  Shortly after I enlisted in the Air Force during the Korean war (to avoid being drafted into the army), I read the Thomas Wolfe book “You Can’t Go Home Again” and took the title to be the truth.  Is it?


I guess the important question isn’t whether you can go home.  What I tried to do, and I guess what we need is to envision a place better than home.  Home wasn’t perfect.  Home, for me, was simply a place to start envisioning, and that might not be the best place to start. 

One criterion for selection of such a vision is whether we can also envision first steps for getting there, and I can't imagine what steps might take me home. 


The Hippie Movement gave me some hope back in the 60’s and 70’s that some of the things listed could be achieved from spillover into the larger culture.  There was some spillover, but very little of lasting value.

One thing that encourages me is that much of it was driven by White youth alienation.  What would it take for alienation among the 99% to begin to form Hippie-like enclaves and how could those enclaves be shaped to form “the more beautiful world?” 

However, one problem that nags me is this:  If the occupy movement withdraws to shape local environments, what happens to national and global changes that are needed.  For example, how do we mount a campaign to get the fed to move to negative interest rates?  The Hippies didn’t seem to care about such concerns.

As I wrote in an earlier comment, I led some discussions on "Sacred Economics."  The creation of money and a negative interest rate seemed to be difficult concepts to grasp.


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