Archive for the ‘Karmic Economics’ Category

The giving muscle

Monday, April 30th, 2012

There’s this old Zen chestnut where the monk asks, why does the Bodhisattva of Compassion have so many eyes? The master replies: it is like a hand reaching for a pillow in the night.

I love that image, of compassion or generosity as an autonomic nervous response, as natural as breathing. Every cell like an eye, that sees a need and responds to remedy the situation. We see with any one of our thousand eyes and respond with any one of our thousand hands, in maybe the smallest of gestures, to activate comfort—not only for epic wide-screen suffering but also for the most subtle and personal pain, which is equally deserving of attention and care.

I know I wasn’t born with a thousand eyes. Or if I was, then every eye is wearing dark glasses. (more…)

Private property

Sunday, September 25th, 2011

Once when I was a child, I went on a car trip with my parents. We passed through miles and miles of pine forest between Toronto and Montreal. Looking out the window I was mesmerized by the endless, depthless green. I leaned over to the Oldsmobile’s front seat and said “one day i’m going to go live in the woods.” “You can’t,” said my mother. “It’s all Crown land, or else it is owned by people. You can’t just go there and live.”

I felt like I had been punched in the stomach. When we got to my grandmother’s house in Montreal I lay sobbing on the bathroom floor, my face against the cold tiles. The idea that the forest was owned–a place I could not go–was bigger than I could process. (more…)

The end of the arts

Saturday, December 11th, 2010

I’ve been holding the hands of my friends as they try to absorb the funding cuts to the arts, and the steady decline of sales of concert tickets and cd’s. I see the grief in their eyes – who will get laid off, what will be cancelled? – and I don’t usually have the courage or the insensitivity to say this to their faces. But I don’t believe people are going to get paid to make art for much longer.

Its not that I think that artists don’t deserve to get paid – I know how much of their souls they invest in their craft, how much money, how much time, how much sacrifice. And those of us who have made a decent living in the infrastructure of The Arts  – the administrators, the festival coordinators, agents and technicians – have also done it mostly for love, and sometimes at great sacrifice. We never did this to get rich, but we’ve gotten used to doing it to get by. Day by day, cut by cut, around the world – I see this livelihood ending. (more…)

Privilege and power

Wednesday, November 24th, 2010

When I write about Karmic Economics, I am always confronted with the fact that I write from a place of great privilege. People say, “well that is all fine for YOU, who have social safety nets – but not everyone has the opportunities you have.”

Of course, this is true. I speak from my own reality, as it is really the only direct perspective that I have. I have never gone hungry or slept on the street.

That being recognized, I need to move forward from the place I am in. With privilege comes responsibility, and I feel like part of my responsibility is to share the opportunities I have and the lessons I am learning as I go. To feel guilty or let myself be silenced by my privilege serves no one. (more…)

How I got rich

Tuesday, November 23rd, 2010

I am a rich person.

I own almost nothing – never have, and probably never will. My income is so tiny that when I file my dutiful tax return I always worry that they won’t believe my numbers. And yet, I have everything I could possibly want.

I have access to spaces and opportunities all over the world. I have good food, plenty and always. Clothing both practical and fun. And no end of available music and art, entertainment and pleasure. Mobility comes in the shape of my bike, a bus pass, comfy shoes and a will to move. Most valuable of all, I have a symbiotic network of friends and acquaintances, diverse co-conspirers and kindred spirits. And I know that no matter what I may have in my pocket, they will always keep me rich as long as I live in service and keep the karmic wheel spinning.

So how did I get to be so rich? What set me on this path? People have been asking me what brought me to this place, and it is a useful question to ask and to answer. (more…)

Knitting mittens, making websites

Thursday, November 11th, 2010

Ravelling and unravelling, I screw it up, rip it back, start over again. The first one takes forever, the next one only half of forever.  I badger my mentors, ask stupid questions, receive patient instruction and tips. Obi Nine guides me through yet another unfathomable server labyrinth and the wool lady gives me a special needle for tucking in the ends. I feel like I’ll never get it and then I do get it, a bit. And then I forget, drop a stitch, erase the code, lose my way. Rip it back a few rows. Make a cup of tea. Start again.

I just finally finished my first pair of fingerless mittens. Made of local sheepswool thick oily and brown. I wore them out to the woodshed to get logs for the stove, air clear and cold and the stars so bright.

Lend it, spend it, give it away

Sunday, October 31st, 2010

Money needs to keep moving. Money is energy and like fat molecules moving through the bloodstream, it needs to be constantly flushed and recycled. If not used it clots and festers and ultimately shuts down the system. Keep it flowing. Lend it, spend it, give it away.

Money karma comes around fast and just because you don’t have a lot of cash is no reason – in fact it is the worst reason – to hoard it. (more…)

The Universe picks up the phone

Monday, October 11th, 2010

I asked the Universe to send me a home. A quiet place to learn, and focus, and rest.

And this is what that dang Universe has dumped on my plate: the sweetest little lakeside cottage, where I sit now typing by the woodstove. Spacious and bright, with a comfy bed at the top of the spiral staircase. The sky shines down on my bed through the huge skylight, sun and stars and swaying trees. Wooden decks – two of them! – to sit wrapped in a blanket, meditating with the frogs. An enormous red cat who I saw snatch a bird right out the air. A wireless connection. A Polish grandpa next door. A canoe. And an army of huge spiders in the bathtub and sink. (more…)

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