Gandhiji revolutionized economics by putting love at the heart of life, where it rightly belongs. Gandhiji said,
"It is my firm belief that it is love that sustains the earth. There only is life where there is love. Life without love is death."
If we find that we live in a society where love has been displaced by self-interest, we can do something about it.
We can love more. With more love we will find life once again invigorated and self-interest will fade away.
Clearly, Gandhiji did not want us to blindly go about repeating what he said but rather to actively create new understanding with our own experiments and gain our own inferences from these experiments. So this blog is not an attempt to recount all that Gandhiji said about economics--that would be creating a sect, which is what Gandhiji clearly did not want. This blog is an attempt to share my expanding understanding of Gandhian economics as I live and grow and experiment over time.
Furthermore, Gandhiji was interested in the creation of wholeness in life. Any study, any experimenting must be done in the spirit of wholeness. Gandhiji said,
*Both quotes above are of Gandhiji. They may be found in Tendulkar's 'Mahatma' vol IV pages 66-67 and 212.
An important principle given to us by Gandhiji is
means = ends
After all, only truthful means can lead to truthful ends and only nonviolent means can result in nonviolent ends.
From the definition above we focus on the term "limited means." We must agree that
limited means = limited ends
If our means are limited our ends must by necessity also be limited. Furthermore if our ends are limited our wants can not be unlimited: After all a want is a desire for an end!
We can thus redefine economics as the study of meeting whole but limited wants by whole but limited means with the goal of creating whole and unlimited people.
I have found that simply noticing two related but split ideas in our daily lives is the first step to wholeness. The two ideas to notice are fear and greed.
When I am aware of my fear moment to moment, pay attention to it without trying to change it, I grow towards truth and nonviolence. When I am aware, however fleetingly, of my greed, pay attention to it without trying to be any less greedy than I am, I grow towards truth and nonviolence.
Friends, awareness precedes action. We must fully accept that we are split and deeply notice the manifestation of that splitting in the form of fear and greed. When we do so we take our first steps towards embracing truth and nonviolence and hence wholeness.
It is in man's nature to do good for all selves are one. Since that is so, the apparent separateness of each self has no significance. When this is realized man's ego melts away. Man's essence, which is the atman, is all-pervading, because he who has realized it will not see himself as different from others, but will see all in himself. For such a person, therefore, doing good becomes part of his nature. When he seems to be serving other creatures, he is doing so not out of kindness to them, but is merely following his own nature. To us who are enveloped in maya, it might seem like he is practicing virtue, but in truth it is not so; he is acting only according to his nature towards all creatures.
What is demand? Is it not desire?
What is the ultimate desire for? What is behind your desire of this or that? We do not desire things for their own sake. Rather our desires are expressions of a primary impulse, that is the desire for the darshan, or being in the presence, of God.
And where does supply come from? You may say it comes from this company or that government. But ultimately all supply comes from God.
So the law of demand and supply thus reformulated is the law of wholeness. It is a gestalt, parts of God (us) seeking God (the whole) while God (the whole) offers its parts (us) a chance for a reunion.
When thought of as wholeness, demand and supply make a lot of sense.
The Bhagavad Gita has given us this beautiful economics formula. You can see from it how different our conception of work is from that of the West.
Karma is action. We work, that is action. We engage in karma. Vikarma is how we engage our souls in our work. Our souls are simply our inner essence. Work without soul is mighty effort indeed! When we engage in work of that nature in our society we are proceeding incorrectly. Wrong work leads to exploitation. Tomes have been written analyzing the nature of exploitation. But friends, exploitation is only a reality when work is devoid of soul.
When work is done with the engagement of the soul one hundred percent something magical happens. Right work results in akarma, or unwork. Akarma can not be analyzed in terms of exploitation because there is none.
If work is the basis of economics it seems to me that we must start by understanding the nature of work. We would all do well to meditate upon the simple formula, the very foundation of our new economics and keep Krishna's wise words in our hearts, "By going there you will understand how utterly serene the mind can be while performing continuous service; you will understand how, though action rages without, the heart can be tuned to produce unbroken music."
Meditation: karma + vikarma = akarma
Exercise: How can I today wholeheartedly engage my soul in my work?
Affirmation: I can separate my work from the fruits of that work, letting go of the fruits!
We must exist in harmony before we can do anything in the world. Harmony is not the common image of the happy individual (happily) consuming a wide variety and large quantities of material and spiritual goods. Harmony has nothing to do with commerce. Harmony is an inner strength, and inner peace that must be earned. The only effective way that I know of to develop harmony is long and rigorous meditation.
This has nothing in common with the modern economist's conception of equilibrium. Balance can not result from opposing forces acting against each other, such as the case of supply and demand, which are mere inventions of modern economics. Balance comes from following the inner voice in each and every action that one engages in. It comes from right action without considering the fruits of the action.
Once harmony and balance become a way of life one naturally opens, much like a flower, to take in and express one's inner essence. Openness means never using history to make judgements, rather responding in the moment, improvising in the moment.
These, in my opinion are the preconditions for allowing the new economic reality to come into existence. Friends, it is hard work but what do we have to lose? Can we tolerate another year, another month, another day, another moment even of the reality that we live in?
I for one can not.
A. When you talk about 'a practical way' do you not assume that the fundamental nature of our economic organization can not change?
Q. I don't see any evidence that there is a natural progression towards sharing so I say that the redistribution must take place by the use of rules and regulations.
A. And yet we can not begin to talk about a new way of living or organizing ourselves until we do two things. Firstly, we must accept that our old ways of thinking have not worked and will not work in the future. Secondly, we must accept that each of us must go through a period of intense soul-searching, that society itself must go through such an intense period of soul-searching. What will result from that is a very different way of being and living and thinking about things.
Q. You do not accept the evidence of what is as the basis of the formulation of your new policies.
A. Not only that, I do not accept that the way things are are a reflection of human proclivities let alone human potential. The fact is that the reality that you point to me is the result of a profound splitting of the human being. When people are no longer whole their organization, their foundations, their very lives are no longer whole. What is simply points to the fact that we are split. Surely that can not be the basis of understanding wholeness.
Q. Would trusteeship, the idea that each may earn what they want to as well as keep it as long as they don't believe that they own that wealth but accept that they are simply trustees of that wealth provide a solid and sustainable basis to our economics?
A. Which economics are you talking about? If you plan to simply tack on this idea of trusteeship to all your other ideas such as self-interest, survival of the fittest, and so on that would be no firm basis for trusteeship.
Q. Then what is needed? What about human rights?
A. What is needed is a complete reinvention of the human being in its original and natural form as someone who is deeply connected to his inner voice, inter-relates meaningfully with others based on tenderness and duty rather than demanding of rights, and strives to be whole in all spheres of life. Such a renewed human being will be aware of many of his or her God-given talents, develop them fully with the cooperation of others, in turn helping others to realize themselves. The rights that you are talking about come about as a result of an integrated, whole life. They are not the starting point.
Q. Can this change happen in our lifetime?
A. It can happen in the blink of an eye. Right now, right this moment pledge to be kind, pledge to be whole, to live and work for universal oneness. Let go of fear, do your work, and don't always be looking to see if your rewards are on their way. Do this now and your life changes now! If you assert that life changes only when the results, the rewards come, you misunderstand the purpose of life. In Gandhiji's words, ours is simply to "do or die," and as the bhagavad gita says, "you are entitled to your work but not to the fruits of the work."
We must bear in mind that the true test of civilization is not our material possessions or our manner or mode of life but the thought we bestow on the well-being of others. *
And what exactly creates well-being? It is certainly not the so-called consumption championed by modern economics. Consumption is a one-way street. It is a using up of resources. It is the least mindful and most thoughtless of actions. Well-being is created by a sense of purpose, a sense of belonging, a sense or responsibility and a spiritual understanding that we are One.
When we gauge our own lives or assess the life of our society we may confidently use the yardstick of thoughtfulness to measure the standard of living.
* Why the Village Movement by J. C. Kumarappa 1949 page 3.
We can never say, "Well the ends are so lofty so we may accept the means, whatever they may be." Instead we must ask ourselves, "Regardless of the ends what is the nature of the means? Are the means the right action?" If they are, they will be consistent with truth and nonviolence.
Next we must examine whether the proposed policy leads towards wholeness or towards splitting.
Modern economics, with its idea of raising standards of living leads directly to the splitting of the individual. Work is not meaningful, it is wrongly seen as a "means to an end" and separates the worker aspect of the person from all of his or her self--moral, religious, loving, social, creative, earth-intelligent.
We must only accept policies that move us towards wholeness. Work that uses all of a person's abilities, that enriches their moral and social consciousness would be accepted while work that is demeaning, soul-less and self-defeating such as that under modern economics must be rejected.
This is just a start. But I challenge us all to start implementing it, starting right now! Only then can we see change in our lifetime.
How human beings live and work determines whether they remain whole or are split.
Modern man is split. That is obvious to anyone who inquires into the human condition. In spite of tremendous increase in measured wealth, in the so-called standard of living, humans are more miserable than ever.
So the question emerges, why are humans split?
Human beings are split because of their economics. How they live and work is generally profoundly disconnected to the natural order of things. In place of harmony and balance, most people, especially in the West, but increasingly in the East as well, live lives of meaningless, disconnected work and neglected family and community lives. There can not be a rich web of interconnections when the core is rotten. And that rotten core is the system of modern economics.
In an act of absolute violence modern economics split the means from the ends. This way of looking at life involved using whatever means possible, guided only by self-interest, to maximize tradable output. Instead of seeing people as inherently good, as responsible caring members of families and societies, modern economics emphasized the individual, that too one that only seeks maximum satisfaction. This way of splitting means from ends led to the justification of the use of horrific methods never before used or even imagined by mankind. Nuclear power, dependence on fossil fuels, global and constant war are all considered to be appropriate means.
This has gone on for so long that the sickness of split humans has spread worldwide and violence and war, greed and exploitation have become the norm. In the name of peace we wage war, in the name of feeding people we poison the earth, in the name of the future we destroy the present. Everywhere we create a race of obedient workers working meaningless jobs, blindly following their politicians and leaders, ignoring their children, families and community in their restless (and pointless) attempts to get ahead.
Modern economics can be summarized in the following schematic:
Everywhere people are engaged in means that seek only to maximize production. Then there is an arbitrary and usually unjust distribution of that production. How else can we explain CEOs making billions while ordinary workers make less and less? The tax system is generally regressive in effect so that the poor are getting more and more destitute even as the rich get richer. Where I live the number of homeless people has easily multiplied by four times in the last few years while the simplest single-family house sells for well over a million dollars.
Consumption is the 'opiate of the masses.' By flooding the markets with cheap, shoddy goods and entertainment services, modern economics ensures that people stay too busy consuming to really question their lives.
This consumption is supposedly the ends of the whole corrupt, repressive, exploitative and splitting system of modern economics.
But there is an alternative--Gandhiji gave that to us a hundred years ago! Gandhiji said that means and ends are convertible terms, that there is no difference between means and ends. In other words
means = ends
and what follows from this equation is the total collapse of modern economics. For the system of
can only exist as long as means and ends are violently and forcibly separated.
Once we are enlightened with the deep understanding that means are the ends and ends the means, we will never again use violence (means) to achieve peace (ends), never again work meaningless jobs (means) to support our families (ends), never again follow individual self-interest or greed (means) to achieve a meaningful and happy life (ends).
Instead we will understand that only nonviolent means will lead to nonviolent ends, only meaningful work will create meaning in our lives, families and communities, only doing things for the good of all or One-interest rather than self-interest will lead to wholeness.
Friends, I am as scarred as you are by the violence of modern economics. I have been guilty of being seduced by modern economics for much of my life. I have paid the price for that with a broken family, lost friendships, and the malaise of meaninglessness. I have been there and continue to struggle with many of these issues each day. I am not a saint, just a very ordinary human being who lost his way in modern economics and was saved by Gandhiji.
Will you join me today in building a whole life for your self? Even if there are just two or four of us in the whole world we can make a difference. The point is to start, today.
In the world view of modern economics the symbol deeply inherent is that of self interest. That mankind is slave to, indeed is driven by, the need to satisfy its self interest.
Gandhian economics has a very different symbol inherent in it. That symbol is love. Mankind is capable of love. Love at the level of love for another, love for family, love for society, love for everyone and everything in our world.
The thing is self interest is very easily accessible. If I do not live a life of meditated action, of deep and consistent contemplation, I know that I myself fall into a very self interested state. It is a very small minded, a very small hearted state.
When I work hard to be more mindful of my life, of others, of mother earth herself, I find myself capable of love. Sometimes I am so overflowing with love I want to hug everyone around me. In my hardest moments, in my trials, I find gratitude towards God, that which is infinite love.
So we could say that Gandhian economics is economics as if love matters.
buying = selling
However the fact is that whatever is bought is in fact sold! This is a trivial observation, what we would mathematically call an identity, rather than an equality. An identity is true by the very way in which we define the terms and tells us nothing novel or interesting about how magnitudes may potentially relate to one another.
While buying is identical to selling, the idea that buying equals earning is far from trivial. Mathematically, it is a true equality rather than an identity.
buying = earning
How we buy ends up equalling, over time, and through the complex and drawn out process of what we call the economy, how we earn.
So we must pay a lot of attention to how we buy. When we buy from neighbors, from businesses that promote wholeness, that are integrated in the society that we live in, we create the foundation for whole earning for everyone who resides in our society.
It is simple as that!
Not what we want. What we need.
So supply has to do with needs not wants.
Sometimes we need suffering in our lives. Often we don't want it, but we may need it. Just as much as we need joy.
Supply is the unfailing flow of resources from God to meet our needs.
"How can you begrudge self-interest? It is what is universal, what connects us all, each to each."
What is truly universal, what truly connects us is God. I have traveled the world and I have yet to find even in the farthest reaches of the earth families, communities and societies that do not believe in God. They may call their God by different names but they all have the sense of something much bigger than themselves, far greater than their miserable self-interest, which is based only on fear and greed. So I say that God is what truly connects us and God is who is universally considered to be holy or hallowed, both words that mean 'whole'. What connects us, each to each is wholeness.
When asked by the distinguished Christian leader Dr. John R. Mott what had brought deepest satisfaction to his soul in difficulties, doubts and questionings, Gandhiji replied quietly, "A living faith in God."
God connects us all, everywhere in the world. To create wholeness in our lives we need to bring God back inside our homes. Back to our work. Back to our lives.
"When I entered the country of the Marathas, I thought myself in the midst of simplicity and happiness of the golden age, where nature was as yet unchanged, and war and misery were unknown. The people were cheerful, vigorous and in high health, and unbounded hospitality was an universal virtue; every door was open and friends, neighbours and strangers were alike welcome to whatever they found."
This description is not a figment of du Perron's imagination. I know that for a fact for my wife and I visited this mythical-seeming land of the Marathas during my Fulbright in India. It is after all this time still the same. I must also inform you, dear reader, that this is my ancestral land.
That it is unchanged, untouched should not come as a surprise. After all Kumarappa, the father of Gandhian economics, called it the economy of permanence.
Not how what they produce grows but how they grow. Whether they grow into fearful and greedy souls or whether they come to the realization that all life is one. The former has been the path taken by the modern economy, which is to say most of the world, while the latter is the clear path that Gandhiji lighted up for us with his wisdom and love.
These are simple matters but we have to care to listen.
Why do we accept greed and competition as the basis of economy? Is it not a wonder that we do so? Stop for a bit and think about it. Do we have any tradition anywhere in the world of sustained wisdom, something that has had lasting value and was passed on through many stages of the society that taught greed as a principle to be adopted in living and working?
No, all sustainable traditions have taught, as did Shukracharya, that morality was inseparable from economy. In modern times this idea found its clearest expression in John Ruskin's Unto This Last, the book that was to profoundly influence Gandhiji's life and make him, in the words of the great humanitarian economist E. F. Schumacher, the 'greatest economist of our age'.
Gandhiji taught us that
means = ends
so that the adoption of violent means would create a violent society, the adoption of greed as a means (as Adam Smith and most economists following him have argued for) will only lead to a very greedy society and the adoption of competition as the means will create a society of cut-throat competitors.
Survival depends on cooperation rather that competition. If we cooperate to create good work and good families we will have a society with people who are fulfilled by their work and loved by their families. The creation of a new economics is well within our reach. All we have to do is let go of fear and greed and accept wholeness as our guiding principle.
We should love our work and work our love. We should love our families and we should love our neighbors. We should work with others instead of against them. That is all that Gandhian economics asks of us. Would you join me in making this happen one person, one workplace, one family, one society at a time?
True swadeshi sees everyone as one.
Since it makes sense to use our resources wisely we turn to our neighbors first both to share the fruit of our labor and to seek that which they may have produced.
We are truly one.
Let's be sensible about it. We are all one but let's turn to our neighbors first.
When we do that we end up creating a real society. That is all that Gandhiji wanted us to understand about economics.
Is it because we have been trained like Pavlov's poor dogs to respond a certain way to certain stimuli? I think it is. In my own case the Pavlovian analogy is not so far-fetched. My so-called teachers carried canes in their hands and beat us mercilessly if we did not do exactly what they wanted us to do. I remember once I was caned for speaking in Hindi, once for eating 'Indian food' out of my plastic lunch box. Both those were forbidden. So for me it is not hard to understand why I would 'buy in' to the brainwashing that passed for an education. With that sort of education it is a wonder that I ever 'got out'.
And the only reason I 'got out' was because of Gandhiji.
Growing up in a system far worse than the one I was subjected to, Gandhiji managed to find his bearings and with strength and dignity declared freedom from the stupid bigoted colonial education that all of us in India grew up with. Which is why he is my bapu, my father.
He is our bapu.
And he is the bapu of what we may now call Gandhian economics (though he never called it that). This would be an economics, a study of how people live and work in the 'ordinary business of life' as whole beings. People not split into consumers and producers but whole people who do many things: Live, work, love, laugh, enjoy their families, their friends, contribute to the building of complex inter-relationships and hence society itself. That is what we are exploring in these pages.
We are inspired by our father's example in rejecting the conventions of what passes today as economics, just as it did 100 years ago in Gandhiji's own time. We are building up, bit by bit, ideas, principles, theory and applications of a multifaceted, pluralistic and above all whole body of ideas that replaces the conventional ideas held by economics today which serve only to split each of us, split our families and destroy what is left of society.
We can change the world. We have to start with ourselves. We have to deprogram ourselves from our Pavlovian training and think for ourselves, chart our own paths across the sea of our life.
Gandhiji can serve as a useful compass on this journey. Which is why I write and which is why we should read him in his own words.
Rationality gives precedence to cold reason over human considerations. Rationality is the path urged by modern economics. It is rationality alone that made it possible for the British to tax salt in India at levels that were unsustainable for the poor but immensely profitable for the government. India being a land of the poor, its very spirit was broken by this law. The salt lay in plain sight in the earth and yet its harvesting was forbidden even when done for the sake of the cattle who needed an occasional lick to sustain themselves.
There are accounts of cattlemen taking their cattle out late at night so that the cattle could lick some salt. Often such attempts were aborted by the overzealous police. The men were beaten, their cattle impounded. Such was the use of rationality in economic policy-making in British India.
It was a very profitable policy. All it lacked was humanity.
And that missing humanity makes all the difference between bad policy and good policy, between life wasted and life sustained. It is hard for me to believe that in my own country of birth (and that of Gandhiji) and all over the world people still, to this day, buy into the idea of rationality as the guiding principle of economic policy.
Friends, that is not just silly, it is downright dangerous. That attitude has brought the world to the brink of destruction. Only humanity can save it.
And yet, and yet, unless we truly try something different, something our fathers and fore-fathers and mothers and fore-mothers never tried, unless that is to say we can break out of our entire world-view, created for us through the modern family, society and schooling, we are unable to create something new.
This something new is waiting for us. It is our future. The question is, is it going to be realized?
Unless we change in the now, this very moment, the past continues into the future. Our only hope is that we may awaken in the now and change. We must break that continuity from the past to the future to truly have a future that is different from where we have been.
Yesterday the people suffered. Everywhere, not just in the so-called poor countries. Tomorrow people will suffer. Unless we can break the curse and that breaking of the curse has to happen in the present moment. It has to happen now.
So what we are up against is a monumental challenge. I am not saying: We have to go to such and such a place and do such and such a heroic task. I am saying that we have to change. And we only have a moment to do so.
We have to change now! Without each one of us changing in this very instant, all the things that we are saddened by, all the stupendous unrealized potentials of human beings and Mother Earth, that is to say our past and our cherished future will remain, as it has for eons, a tragedy.
It doesn't have to be that way. All it takes is for one of us to embrace change in the now.
When we embrace that change, we change. We no longer operate from our automatic programming of school, family and society. We let go of the twin feelings controlling us, fear and greed.
And suddenly we are free.
Whether we explore the microcosm, the mesocosm or the macrocosm we find the same economic relationships hold true for the economic system.
In what I call the economy of use the microcosm consists of whole individuals living whole lives as parts of whole families and whole societies. Gandhiji said that a group of people did not make a society. A group of people by themselves are what he called 'the masses'. It was when people had interrelationships that a society was created. Interrelationships are impossible without wholeness. The modern split is fundamental because it precludes society by negating wholeness.
Such a whole microcosm is reflected in the mesocosm. The village is not just a source for labor or raw materials or markets. It is all these and much more. It is itself a society by which I mean that there are interrelationships that are fundamental to the well-being of the village society. Production is with local materials, found within a five mile radius around the village, using local labor and enterprise and for local use in the village and neighboring villages. The city is not just a center of production, drawing resources in from far and wide. In fact the city, just like the village, uses local resources, local labor and produces for local use.
In the macrocosm the entire country produces not for export but for use. It produces not at the cheapest cost but at the appropriate cost that would sustain the local economies. Imports are largely unnecessary because the micro- and meso- components of the macrocosm are self-sustaining and self-reliant.
Friends, once again: As above so below. As in the small so in the medium and so in the large. So when we examine our present economic system or what I call the economy of more more more, we find at all levels the basic disconnect, the splitting that is at the heart of modern life.
In the microcosm of the economy of more more more is the split individual struggling to juggle relationships, keep up with paying her bills, working at a job at a company owned by unknown entities, generally directed by someone far away. It is a struggle to know who exactly one is, once stripped away from one's labels: what schools did you go to, what recognitions did you receive, how much are you worth? Just as the individual is fragile so are her relationships, especially vulnerable being the family. Work keeps piling up, debt keeps piling up, the kids are disrespectful, friends unreliable, the pressure is always on. There is no time to sit around and tell stories, to work together, the laugh together, to tend to the garden together, to hug trees.
I hope I have not lost you by now dear reader. Perhaps you are thinking, what nonsense! This ain't economics! Well hold on. This all is decidedly economics, just not the economics that you were drilled in. You will have to step outside your schooling to see what I am talking about. Let us continue. In the mesocosm the village is seen simply as a source of three things: raw materials, labor and markets. Thus in country after country rural areas have seen food production replaced by so-called cash crops. Good land that could sustain millions of families on the whole grains is used to grow sugar cane for the sweet-loving city folks, corn to feed animals who live their entire lives in cages, cotton to make billions of items of cheaply made cloth such a T-shirts that are used for a little while and thrown away and so on. In village after village young people leave looking for work. They head to the cities and leave behind clean air and water, the beautiful land itself to live in slums to make money to send home to their families. And finally the crap produced in giant factories in cities far away are shipped back to the villages for sale. Traveling in my ancestral lands in India I found that the red rice that I grew up on was no longer available where it once originated from. The hand-pounded rice, nutty and brown of my childhood is also not available. Bajri, Juwar and the other grains of my childhood are available only in the cities! In the villages themselves, where they once grew all these things locally, the only grains that you can buy is white polished rice and wheat, both of which come from the cities in branded form. And what about the economy of the city? Overpopulated to the point that it is difficult even to walk around such as in my city of birth. There are people everywhere! They have flooded in from the villages and keep flooding in every day. People working so hard that in many families I talked to children were sent away to live with grandparents because with husbands and wives working twelve hour days, commuting for another two to four hours a day, six days a week, there is no time for family life. Overpopulated, incredibly polluted and filthy are our cities as they keep pumping the economy of more more more.
And what about the macrocosm of the economy of more more more? The history of the world since the Industrial Revolution should make that very clear. When the system creates an appetite that can never be satisfied, what modern economics calls 'unlimited wants', there is a need for ever larger sources of raw materials, an ever larger source of labor and ever larger markets. Since this is in fact impossible, since the earth is only one and life itself is limited, it only means one thing: war. The macrocosm involves constant battles big and small for more more more. More raw materials, more command over labor, more markets. When every country starts doing that someone's got to get hurt. That someone is the innocent who bleeds to death in the economy of more more more.
Let us wake up to this madness. Let us spend more time with ourselves in thought and contemplation. Let us spend time with our children. Stop buying them things and start buying them time. Time to do projects together. Time to simply sit and laugh. Let us examine our work and let our work sustain us. Let us let go of two things in our lives that make us slaves to the economy of more more more: fear and greed. Letting go of fear allows us to be ourselves instead of being judged by our degrees and job titles and how much money we make. It allows us to leave the pack racing towards more more more destruction of the human being, families, societies, and the human race itself. Let us let go of greed and learn to be happy with what we have. Everything we need is available to us simply and with very little effort. We must work to live but let us not live to work. Let us be the owners of our own destiny by starting to be the owners of our own time, our own tastes, our own wholeness.
We don't need to wait for the world to change. We can change. Now.
Once again my friends, as above so below. As in the small so in the medium and so in the large. When one of us changes we change the world.
What is Gandhian banking?
The banking system is raw power, like horses, bullocks, steam or electricity, that may be used for evil (as it has so far in modern times) or for good (as I propose). The principal tool of this magnificent system of unrivaled power is interest.
The banking system flows capital to various channels and receives a reciprocal flow called interest. That is natural and the way it should be. Interest is ever flowing in the opposite direction of the flow of capital.
However, interest has been misused so far to create poverty rather than wealth, to drain communities of wealth rather than build communities. This has happened because of the misuse and abuse of the concept of interest.
A Gandhian banking would involve the simple proposition:
That interest is ever flowing as a reciprocal flow to capital and that interest should be paid on productive loans but be unpaid on use loans.
When money is borrowed for productive purposes, to start or expand a business for instance, a profit is expected to be realized, new wealth is created in the world, and so the paying of interest is the most natural thing in the world. It is simply sharing of the new wealth so created.
When money is borrowed for use, to buy food or shelter for instance, no profit is expected, no new wealth is created, and so the paying of interest would be the most unnatural thing in the world. In this case interest if paid would lead to the impoverishment of the borrower and would make the world a poorer place.
For much of the history of the modern world interest has been charged and paid for both productive loans (where it is natural to do so) and use loans (where is is unnatural to do so). The result of this is that wealth has multiplied (as a result of the former) even as people have been impoverished (as a result of the latter).
Understanding the difference between productive loans and use loans is crucial and has so far been ignored in the modern economy since the industrial revolution. But the ancients understood this distinction perfectly, always allowing interest on productive loans while frowning upon interest on use loans. The ancients called this latter practice usury, meaning 'wearing down'.
Let us summarize the economics of Gandhian banking:
1. Interest flows always as a reciprocal flow to capital.
2. In the case of productive loans interest is borne by the borrower. This is a business transaction. The profits are shared out of new wealth created.
3. In the case of use loans interest is borne by the lender. This is a social transaction. There are no profits involved and to charge interest drains the borrower. By charging no interest wealth is maintained and not drained.
4. The system of Gandhian banking is a sustainable system of banking. Like the ancients we recognize that charging interest on productive loans is simply sharing profits while refraining from charging interest on use loans keeps wealth from being drained from those in need.
The banking system is indeed raw power, like bullocks, horses, steam or electricity. Together let us use it for good.
And then there is also this: If we see corruption we become corrupt. If we see self-interest we become self-interested.
Krishnamurti said in the last talk he gave in Bombay, "Corruption is not just passing money under the table. Anytime there is self-interest there is corruption. Self-interest is corruption."
What is the task ahead of us? It is not to change anything 'out there'. It is to change ourselves bit by bit. I am the most selfish man alive, the most greedy. However my task is not to judge. My task is not to make a leap.
My only task is to be a little less selfish and a little less greedy each day. Every single day. And to share this profound change with you, my readers.
Change, however small, can be seen. At first only we ourselves see it. And we change. And then others see us change. Then they become the change.
Friends, you, me, we, are One.