Walking the Talk

I Am On A Role…

and a roll…when it comes to writing the future of a gift society. Remember Fuller Banks, a character in my novel The Potluck?  For those of you who have not read or don’t recall earlier posts containing excerpts from this book, Fuller is a financier who brings the expensive Russian caviar to a gathering of spiritual adventurers. Later, he explains why he was invited to join that group, “I would say that it’s because I am a rich man, and I view that as a blessing. And blessings are spiritual, aren’t they? It makes me happy to give people gifts that they can’t afford for themselves. I do occasionally help people in need, but it makes me a lot happier to give some ordinary person an unexpected luxury item. Something that gives them pleasure.”

So is that a perfect example of what happens in a gift economy or what?! I am continually amazed at what I wrote in that book and how so much of it was leading me to this specific future that I am now living as a present (double entendre totally intended).

Like Fuller, Eisenstein has a similar impulse to give his gifts to those who will find them exciting. While Fuller’s gift is money, Eisenstein’s is an understanding of sacred economics, and although his book Sacred Economics can be purchased as a print or e-book from various sources, including bookstores, it is also available for free: Read Sacred Economics Online. And, as he explains in his author’s note of the print version, readers are allowed to gift it as well: “In order to align principles with action, the publisher and I have chosen a creative commons copyright which allows you to freely share this book for any non-commercial purpose. That means you can photocopy material from the book, put it on your blog, and so forth, as long as you don’t sell it or use it to carry advertising.”  At the same time he wants people to respect his unique contribution to the commonwealth: “We also ask that you provide attribution, in order that people who want to find more of my work can do so.”

Wow! Isn’t that just the coolest example of walking the talk ever? And that’s not all. Eisenstein also humbly gives credit to those who paved his way: “Standing atop the shoulders of thinkers far more illustrious than myself, I absorb, digest, and transmit ideas from our cultural commons. Such is the gift I have received and from which I give in turn. That is why I cannot, in good conscience, consider myself the morally legitimate owner of these ideas. Thankfully, my publisher has had the courage to explore a new model of handling intellectual property. I look forward to the day when artists no longer need to maintain, through intellectual property laws, an artificial scarcity of their work, yet still receive abundant returns borne of the gratitude of those who receive it.”

In that context of abundant returns, Eisenstein suggests that readers can offer their own gifts of gratitude as a pay-it-back to the giver. On his website is a donation page where readers can send him a monetary gift in an amount that indicates how valuable his gift is: charleseisenstein.net/gift/. As he so wisely observes, not everyone gets the same value out of a book–or a gift of any kind–so one person may pay nothing while another gives $1,000.

I am now motivated to put some of these concepts into play with my own book by offering my own free version online. Thanks, Charles!



5 thoughts on “Walking the Talk

  1. Lisa

    So cool! This reminds me of a talk I had with my Mom. My cousin makes really beautiful jewelry. It’s on her lovely website. I’ve asked her many times for the prices but she ignores all my emails. I think I have figured it out – she doesn’t really want to sell it! She loves making it and her husband makes enough 4 for both of them to live nicely, so she enjoys making her (expensive) art, and I think she doesn’t want to market or pack or ship or insure or sell it. My Mom thought that was “too bad.” I, on the other hand, thought it was awesome! Why do we have to sell things so that either the objects are considered worthy – or spending our time doing it is considered worthy? Isn’t the satisfaction of creation worth it? Why does every frickin’ thing have to be SOLD? It doesn’t! Thank you cousin for being a stealth example of that.

  2. Trudi

    I am trying to understand why this is such a unique idea. Other than the obvious that our society isn’t arranged to do it ..exactly .. The idea that there is “not enough” to go around as an example of sibling rivalry . We “fight to get what someone else has “. Wars are begun from that poor understanding .A lot of folks were raised( or were they simply born with a generous spirit?) to give of their abundance of talent or money or art. or just because they saw something that needed to be done so they did it. When I used to camp we were introduced to the idea of bartering on a blanket set on the ground . At night .someone would begin by offering their item and then we would go “around the blanket” with each one having a chance to offer something in trade or pass the opportunity. It was great fun to see but i was always shy about it because the items were often handmade and I was not skilled in those skills …yet. I will always remember when one man took over the night . His wife was terribly ill. at home and they had tried everything to get her well. He purposely came because he wanted to introduced an Indian custom of a give away . to bring good things to his wife .He put out everything he had ..everything !. and said we could take turns choosing what we liked… for free…. no trade accepted.’ We argued with him at first and then we saw how much he wanted to do it as a sacrifice . so we did, and his wife got well a few months later! They have since lived a good life .
    I began doing massage with the idea that I could offer it cheaply so that people who could not afford one could receive the benefits. but hardly anyone was comfortable with that idea.So now I charge and folks seem to feel they can receive if they pay me . It’s nice to be paid in the “coin of the realm” but hugs are wonderful and the experience is wonderful . … anywho I am enjoying playing with my mind and trying to “get it.” Thanks

  3. jkwinters Post author

    Has it occurred to you that you just may be more evolved than most of the population when it comes to money and spirituality and there’s really nothing for you to “get” because you already got it?

  4. Lisa

    love your story Trudi. It always returns to the old maxim that things worth “having” aren’t something you can buy with money. Although even that isn’t true because food, clothing, shelter are certainly worth having. I’d amend it to say, once you get past a certain level of survival needs, things can be fun and interesting and useful, but the really meaningful stuff can’t be bought with $.


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