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There is only one goal. That is to be whole again.

There is only one goal. That is to be whole again. How human beings live and work determines whether they remain whole or are split. ...


Although I was born in Bombay I spent the first four years of my life in Hyderabad, the capital of a rambling ancient kingdom ruled by the Nizam until a decade and half before I was born. For those four years of my life I did as I pleased, spending my days, as the song goes, singing long before I could talk. 

Early mornings with birds and our neighbor's water buffalo, days playing with Legos brought to us by our father's friend from Vienna, nights of huge parties on our veranda with our parents' friends from all over the world. 

Music, laughter, dancing, and play. 

Freely expressing the little wild anarchist inside, and aping the Telangana revolutionaries, I even threw tiny stones at jeeps sporting corrupt cops. (A few years ago Telangana was finally recognized as a separate State within India.)

For the first four years of my life I was following life. Then for many years and many decades I tried to make things happen, opted for control over following life, only to come to the point now where I can clearly see that to live following life is the only way to really live. 

And when the holidays come along it is a gentle reminder from life to give up controlling things and to enjoy each other, our lives, and our beautiful earth. 

Wishing all my friends a wonderful Christmas, happy holidays, and a fabulous new year in which we let our little anarchist within sing and leap for joy!



Rural folk have an innate grace that city folk like me lack. Jeffrey, a local friend, helped me with some things yesterday afternoon that I would not have been able to do myself.

I have learned in these months on the island that offering people cash like we do in the US is a big no no. There is nothing more embarrassing than holding out money like we do in America and the intended recipient smiling and saying gently, "There is no need for that."

So yesterday I agonized over what to give Jeffrey. Of course I could have just let him help me and let that be the end of the matter. But I didn't. In the past my go to present has been cake. Really. Filipinos, like Indians, love love love cake. I am a rather helpless foreigner in their midst and I need a lot of favors.

So I was on a roll with handing out cake until I realized I was overdoing it. I was pushing on their inherent politeness when I was producing yet another cake for my many helpers. So as I say, I agonized over what to get Jeffrey. Then suddenly in great self-congratulation for my brilliantness I had it: rice! I had bags of organic red rice from the neighboring farm. I would give him one!

When I gave Jeffrey the bag of rice he seemed confused. What would you like me to do with it? he asked. Eat it! At that he smiled and actually bowed. I felt so good about myself I could have kissed him. I had figured it out, I knew what gifts to give my rural friends!

As he was leaving, with many gracious thanks, I casually asked him if he was used to eating red rice. Yes, he replied, that is what we grow on our family farm.


When we saw foreigners we'd run away

As urban areas expand, rural areas contract. The nature of the economy changes. Rural areas are societies that took a very long time to form. They are not cash economies even when money is used. They are social economies, where economic functions are embedded in deep social relations and interrelationships. Rural economies are earth-based economies, where nature plays a big role in providing for people's needs. Things produced come from the earth and return to the earth. 

In the rural area in the Philippines where we have spent over two months, it is easy to see this. Coconuts everywhere! The fiber is used to make thatched roofs, the coconut water is drunk, the flesh used to make coconut oil and coconut milk. The guyabano fruit--a powerful cancer fighter prized by Krista--and papaya grow everywhere. Rice, black as well as red, is easy to grow. People don't earn much in terms of cash but that's exactly the point. They don't need much cash in an earth-based economy. A local friend uses cash to buy a little carton of Dutch Milk as a special treat for his two year old daughter. 

If I were to take the ferry from this island--two hours by fast ferry, five by the slow one--to the city I would enter a very different world. I know that world well having spent two months living there with friends. The city is entirely a cash economy. Nothing grows there so everything has to be bought in markets and increasingly in malls. Everyone I got to know there uses 'vegetable oil', that foul, unhealthy oil made from soy beans. Coconut oil is prohibitively expensive and available only in select pharmacies. People earn a lot more cash in the city than they do here in the rural area, but the cash is spent quickly on Nestle formula ( it is difficult to breast-feed the young while working twelve hours a day), Nescafe 'white' coffee (instant coffee mixed with that vegetable oil atrocity: 'non dairy creamer', 'cheap' clothing at the mall for the family, ridiculously expensive school uniforms complete with black leather shoes and school 'supplies'. The cash based economy destroys the society that rural living built over centuries. 

A local friend reports visiting a village in China and then returning a year later to find an entire city in place of the village. That is the likely fate of the rural area here in the Philippines that we have spent an idyllic two months in. An international airport is being built--one so big that it will cover four barangay (the unit of local government) and permit ten airplanes to take off and land simultaneously--to be operational next year. Already the first 7-Eleven on the island has come up, anchoring the first mall, containing exactly three stores. In a year this place could be hell.

We start to say goodbye to our dear friends in this rural area, this beautiful island. Carlo's house bequeathed to him by a favorite grandmother is over a hundred years old. It is built on stilts, in the traditional manner, with thatched coconut roof and woven grass walls and graceful openings for doors and windows that have no 'doors' or 'windows'. The house is open to the world as it has been for a hundred years. Carlo says, laughing, "When we were young we thought foreigners were ghosts. When we saw one we'd run away!" 

But the land, our earth, can't run away when the 'foreigners' come. She is open, with no 'doors' or 'windows', even as we disfigure her beyond recognition. 


By now we must all agree that poverty is truly global. We can not go on with the illusion that poor people live in poor countries and rich people live in rich countries. 

The fact is that the poor are everywhere, both in so-called poor countries and in so-called rich countries. They are all suffering. 

The cause of global poverty is the thoughtless trapping and destruction of resources. 

Friends, this thoughtless trapping and destruction of resources is not something going on out there, far away from us. This is going on very much in our own midst. We are doing it. Until we understand this and change, global poverty will not be alleviated. 

When Arun Gandhi, one of Gandhiji's many grandchildren, was around thirteen, he spent a few months with Gandhiji at his ashram. Though Gandhiji was, as you can imagine, very busy, he spent an hour each day instructing the young Arun. The lessons were practical, immediate, and unforgettable. 

One day Arun was walking to the ashram on the road and absentmindedly tossed the tiny little stub of the pencil that he used each day into the bushes. He thought no more of it until his daily lesson with his grandfather. Gandhiji had a way of getting young Arun to recount his day for him, turning daily living into a living laboratory of lessons. When Arun reported tossing the pencil stub, Gandhiji interrupted the lesson. Arun was to leave at once and scour the long road for the missing pencil stub, returning only when he had found the pencil. For young Arun it was like looking for a needle in a haystack! It took him two hours of diligent searching to find it. 

When Arun returned to his lesson his grandfather explained to him that everything contains resources and how we interact with things can cause poverty or abundance. 

When we take any action without thought we do not recognize the dignity value inherent in every thing. Any kind of thoughtless action is thus violent. 

When we throw things away thoughtlessly we destroy resources. After all everything contains resources, so when we thus destroy resources we lower values by not recognizing the dignity value of things being tossed. I may think that something is 'used up' and hence worthless (like the pencil stub) but it will be of use to someone else somewhere. When I throw it away I take it away from the person who could have used it causing that person poverty. In my action I am not recognizing the inherent value of the item, its dignity value, and by my thoughtless action am causing poverty. This is what is meant by the thoughtless destruction of resources. 

When we thoughtlessly own things that we do not use, we trap resources. Since everything contains resources, our action of holding on to things we do not use -- our houses, possessions, wealth, anything unused -- we artificially raise values above their dignity values. We think that we 'value' these things since we own and hold on to them but in reality since we don't use these things, we trap the resources contained in them. I don't use these things but I don't let others use them who would use them everyday. In this way I am thoughtlessly stealing resources away from those who would use them. 

If we can be thoughtful in our actions we can create abundance everywhere. 

Firstly, instead of throwing things away that have no use for us, we can recognize that everything has dignity value and that someone somewhere would have a use for almost anything that we possess. We can give such things away to those who would use them. 

Secondly, instead of owning and keeping things that we do not use, we can give away such possessions to people who would recognize and respect the inherent dignity values of these things and importantly, use them. 

If the cause of global poverty is the thoughtless trapping and destruction of resources, the cure is the thoughtful release and circulation of resources. Abundance is available to us everywhere. God did not create us to suffer. We, that is, each and every one of us, needs to change how we live, and if we do, we can have more abundance than we can imagine! 

Every ancient faith affirms that and so do our hearts if we but listen. 


We are gathered amongst friends. The conversation is warm and engaging. Towards the end of the evening I am asked to say something on the two interrelated topics that have sprung up -- human nature and freedom. This is what I say: 

It is dangerous and misleading to talk about 'human nature' being this way or that way. When we do that we are in the world of half-truths.

Are humans rational? Sure, but they are also irrational. Are we driven by self interest? Yes, but we are also moved into other interest.

To pick a few extreme tendencies of human nature while ignoring their opposites -- opposites that are just as much a part of human nature -- as does modern economics, is wrong.

Modern life has made us split. Instead of whole people we are consumers, producers, 'economic agents' casting 'dollar votes', profit maximizers. 

When repeatedly told that and forced into situations where these ideas are reinforced -- work life separated from family life -- an education that identifies and extolls certain extreme tendencies of human nature -- a cash based economy combined with money-controlled television and social media which dramatically change and shape lifestyles -- we are thoroughly conditioned into the 'products' that can be fed into the ever hungry, ever greedy system of modern life. 

And then we behave largely, though not entirely, as modern economics describes us: not as people but as products.

But therein lies the beauty of God's gift to us -- that of free choice. We can never be completely conditioned! So how do we find our way out?

We must watch ourselves very carefully, and that watching (called meditation in many traditions, awareness or mindfulness in others) is the key.

It is this watching of ourselves that allows us to see successively:

1. That our lives are unsatisfactory

2. That we are expressing a very limited number of extreme proclivities

3. That there is a system at work that shapes society

4. That it is possible to break out of the system

5. That we can live lives where we are no longer split but rather whole, expressing a beautiful range of tendencies lead by love. 

The way God has created us we have every proclivity as well as its opposite. Our work on this planet is to find a way of appropriately expressing the right balance of these proclivities and develop ones we may initially be unaware of. That, to me, if freedom. 


It is accepted without question that so-called poor countries need a) an economic policy b) guided by foreign experts c) funded by international entities.

This unquestioned idea is the cause of the misery in those countries not the solution to the misery.

The very idea of economic policy is erroneous. Implicit in the term is the idea that whatever social relationships that exist and would exist in the absence of the colonial and post colonial influences would not and could not possibly be adequate. That the naturally developed economy or that that would emerge naturally in the absence of the corrupting influences of the colonizer can not be accepted as appropriate. That it must be changed. This is utter nonsense. Common sense tells us that societies can and do develop sustainable economies when left alone.

The idea that foreign experts and its corollary, foreign-trained indigenous experts, can somehow direct this misguided at best and disingenuous at worst, economic policy has been accepted at all levels and has caused untold suffering in the so-called poor countries. Instead of allowing natural social-economic relationships to be sustained and developed, foreign experts forcibly direct economic policy, which actually destroys the fragile social-economic ecosystem that is developing on its own.

The final blow comes from foreign money. Large sums of money created by governments and banking systems in the West with the single purpose of making a profit in the short run and gaining control of / owning resources in these so-called poor countries in the long run, are funneled into these countries. 

Debt results first. The debt becomes so large that the foreign experts then demand privatization which is essentially theft of resources (a stock) from the so-called poor countries by the rich. 

Debt gets even bigger as the country's resource base shrinks. Economic policy now takes the form of Austerity. People work long hours for less and less, with income (a flow) increasingly diverted to paying the foreign lenders.

People everywhere! Don't fall prey to these blood-sucking strategies wearing the 'respectable' clothing of economics and economic policy. The economists will destroy your countries and enslave you. Please let us wake up to this.


What do you make of rural folk who are disconnected from the earth?

I grew up disconnected from the earth. I am very aware of that. Even while growing up I had no illusions about this. You see, I grew up in the concrete jungle called Bombay. But growing up I didn't know of any rural folk who, like me, were disconnected from the earth.

When I was nine we visited my father's village. He grew up there and life was pretty much unchanged when he took us there. Food was cooked on wood-fires, there was no electricity, and we got around on foot, bicycles, and bullock carts. His village was right on the Arabian Sea, so aside from what people grew on the land (grains, vegetables, amazing fruit) there was fresh sea-food available. I remember a woman coming by with freshly caught lobsters one day. My mother (who was and is a strict vegetarian)said she'd buy them for us kids if the woman would prepare them. The woman went home, grabbed a couple coconuts (these grew everywhere), and made us a delicious lobster curry, the taste of which I will never forget.

Rural India has changed beyond belief and this is happening everywhere in the world. The rural lifestyle has been replaced by the Cash lifestyle. Emulating urban life, the rural dweller consumes much like her urban counterpart. Which means cheap and shoddy mass-produced goods, fast foods, and a digital lifestyle, all of which require Cash.

The very idea of living off the land is bizarre to people everywhere, both in urban and rural areas. The idea that our food, our shelter are gifts of God go diametrically against the Cash lifestyle. And thus it is that our rural folk just like our urban folk are completely disconnected from the earth.
Later, we are in Cebu, Philippines. The family we stay with has four servants. They work seven days a week, every day of the year from around seven in the morning until around nine at night. The family is considered liberal - they let their servants go home at night while most others make their servants stay close by in bamboo shacks so as to be of service twenty-four hours a day.

The servants are paid cash every Friday. They rush to the mall on pay day to buy their families cheap T shirts, packaged snacks, fast food. Each week they spend all that they earn.

The servants live in the Cash trap with no way out.
Chottu is 15 years old. He lives in the boardinghouse for mostly foreign tourists that we are staying at on our visit to Jodhpur, in Rajasthan.

He is married. His wife lives with his extended family back home in the village. He owns agricultural land in the village.

So what's Chottu doing living in a boardinghouse ten hours by road away from home? He is a servant, almost a slave. He works night and day every day of the week cooking, cleaning, serving, visiting his family once a year.

This is a very common problem. Granted Chottu's land is not very productive. However it is productive enough to feed his family. But his family is not interested in simply growing food on the family land and living off it.

The problem is that the prevalent industrialism has created a lifestyle for his family in the village that can be lived only with the means of cash. Young men from all families are hence sent far away to the cities to work as indentured servants, almost slaves, so that the families can have cash to support their cash-based lifestyle.

It is no longer enough to approach the problem as a production problem, the way E. F. Schumacher brilliantly did fifty years ago. He came up with the idea of intermediate technology - agricultural methods that would be small and simple but far superior to the old ways. For if today somehow Chottu's family was equipped with such intermediate technology and was able to grow crops such as juwar and bajri, the sad thing is that in all probability they wouldn't know what to do with these grains.

I was fortunate to have grown up in India at a time when my grandmother would prepare bhakri - unleavened bread made from local grains such as juwar and bhakri and stubborn enough to be the only boy in the history of our school who insisted on studying traditional cooking as an elective.

However when Krista and I tour India now we rarely find anything other than mass produced wheat flour anywhere. Even when we are occasionally able to find other grains and a stone mill to grind them in, only the very old know how to prepare breads (like bhakri) made with anything other than wheat.

So the problem now is a lot more complicated than it was a generation ago. Cash is a lifestyle that creates a vicious cycle of enslavement of young men who are torn from their families, while the families live a life increasingly disconnected to the earth.


What are the real constraints of change in the economy? 

The only real constraint is that everyone and everything has its dignity value. When I created the concept in 2008, I defined dignity value as the inherent value of all things and beings. I have not changed my definition since.  

Organic change recognizes and respects dignity values. Such change is sustainable and enriching. This is the approach of Gandhian economics. We use words like wholeness, interrelationships, society, to describe such change. 

Any other kind of change, such as that effected by industrialism, development economics, and foreign aid, disrespects dignity values. Certain things such as 'infrastructure', 'privatization', 'progress', are given exaggerated values while others such as traditions, crafts, the extended family, are devalued. When an economy moves away from its dignity values, bubbles are created. 

Bubbles give the illusion of the excitement of change, of great power over nature, of a new, ordered, rich society. That is what much of the world is experiencing right now. However bubbles always burst, returning us to dignity values. What appeared to be great change is seen to be mere maya, illusion. 

People everywhere, in rich countries as well as poor, have wasted time enmeshed in such maya. The entire field of economics is maya

The Ancients said that there was only one cure for what ails the human being - to wake up from illusion and start the hard work of building real relationships. 


I always pick the simple over the complex. The direct over the indirect. The essential over the inessential.

I would pick the individual collection of rain water over the building of a dam. Help among neighbors to a scheme of assistance. Farming, community building, and allied businesses over so-called infrastructure such as electrification and road-building.

Health services need to be built around what is a healthy way of life, not illnesses and pharmaceutical practices. If we live healthy lives we do not need medicine.

There is no need for a banking system, the most rotten and corrupt of all systems.

There should be no systems in general.

Modern life has reduced vibrant societies to masses of people. Gandhiji said that while a group of people was a mass, a group of people with interrelationships was a society.

We need to recreate our society everywhere in the world, in rich countries as well as poor. People are hurting everywhere.

As we develop real societies built on genuine interrelationships we will reject the complex edifice of the parasite of modernism that is sucking life away from us.

We can start today by picking small over big, interacting with neighbors for our social and business needs over faceless commerce and so-called social media, and picking love as the only answer to all questions.


The trick is to find our selves when our upbringing, our society, works to create a false self.

This false self values status, believes that we are our bodies and nothing more, and blindly follows religion (falsely called) whether that of an organized kind or of science.

We are programmed to reproduce the values and material expression of modern society, of industrialism and consumerism.

That we are not our bodies at all is banished from the set of possibilities. That we are not separate individual beings is a thought that is considered 'backwards'. How do we dare go against the idea of 'progress' - that imaginary linear march of conquest of human proclivities?

For the most part we don't. While the most political action in reality would be to meditate we waste our precious moments of life supporting certain causes and fighting others.

None of these actions ends suffering. None of these actions, our very lives, recognize us as the wondrous powerful beings that we are. That we are energy, that we are capable of profound insights about life, insights that lead to the evolution of human consciousness.

And so I find myself at the end of my life profoundly disappointed.
Not a single day passes by when I am not reminded of my limitations. My ego continually wants to be in charge. I act from greed. I act from fear.

I am drawn into the conditioning that the modern rudderless world creates and reinforces so effectively, even effortlessly.

I am not only a victim of the modern world. I am enlisted, through unconscious conditioning from a young age, to act out the will of the collective modern consciousness.

So how do I live?

The only way to live is to die each day.

Each day I believe to be my last day alive. My very last day on our planet. What do I do, how do I act, knowing these to be my very last actions?

As I die each day I learn to live. In spite of my ego, my crude conditioning as a grasping material being, I discover my real self fleetingly each day.


How have we come to the point where we have accepted a sad, stressful, material existence in place of a happy, robust, spiritual one? How have we been duped into accepting life as it is--a garbage can full of pointless consumption--when existence can be, and should be, blessed and strewn with flowers? 

It must be that we have been unaware. That in the middle of our long sleep our souls have been sucked away and replaced by a chasm that only knows to consume. We see this all around us, everywhere, in rich countries and poor. If someone had predicted such a total and absolute transformation of the world in Gandhiji's day no one would have believed that prediction. How is it that in about 50 years the world went from hope and expectation of a world where small is beautiful to a world where the small, the organic, the truth, have been sucked away by a giant suction machine called global capitalism? 

We must, as I said earlier, have been unaware. And so there is only one solution. We must wake up and become aware.