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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. ...

9/28/17

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 The rural lifestyle has been replaced by the Cash lifestyle.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.

9/27/17

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. 


9/26/17

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.

9/25/17

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.