This is the only way forward for humanity… an economics that restores to wholeness our fractured communities, relationships, cultures, ecosystems, and planet.
If there is ONLY one book that you should read, in the year 2012…this IS it!
“There is nothing more powerful than an idea whose time has come.” – Victor Hugo
Even after all this time The sun never says to the earth, “You owe Me.”
Look what happens with a love like that, It lights the Whole Sky. – Hafiz
The converging crises of our time all arise from a common root that we might call Separation. Taking many forms — the human/nature split, the disintegration of community, the division of reality into material and spiritual realms — Separation is woven into every aspect of our civilization. It is also unsustainable: it generates great and growing crises that are propelling us into a new era, an Age of Reunion…
In the beginning was the Gift.
We are born helpless infants, creatures of pure need with little resource to give, yet we are fed, we are protected, we are clothed and held and soothed, without having done anything to deserve it, without offering anything in exchange. This experience, common to everyone who has made it past childhood, informs some of our deepest spiritual intuitions. Our lives are given us; therefore, our default state is gratitude. It is the truth of our existence.
Even if your childhood was horrific, if you are reading this right now, at least you were given enough to sustain you to adulthood. For the first years of life, none of this was anything you earned or produced. It was all a gift. Imagine walking out the door right now and finding yourself plunged into an alien world in which you were completely helpless, unable to feed or clothe yourself, unable to use your limbs, unable even to distinguish where your body ends and the world begins. Then huge beings come and hold you, feed you, take care of you, love you. Wouldn‘t you feel grateful?
In moments of clarity, perhaps after a narrow brush with death, or upon accompanying a loved one through the death process, we know that life itself is a gift. We experience an overwhelming gratitude at being alive. We walk in wonderment at the riches, undeserved and freely available, that come with life: the joy of breathing, the delights of color and sound, the pleasure of drinking water to quench thirst, the sweetness of a loved one‘s face. This sense of mixed awe and gratitude is a clear sign of the presence of the sacred.
…While I believe in the fundamental divinity of human beings, I also recognize that we have embarked on a long sojourn of separation from that divinity, and created a world in which ruthless sociopaths rise to wealth and power.
Today‘s economic system rewards selfishness and greed.
Circulation is a better word.
…While gifts can be reciprocal, just as often they flow in circles. I give to you, you give to someone else … and eventually someone gives back to me. A famous example is the kula system of the Trobriand Islanders, in which precious necklaces circulate in one direction from island to island, and bracelets in the other direction. First described in depth by the anthropologist Bronislaw Malinowski, kula, which literally means ―circle,‖ is the lynchpin of a vast system of gifts and other economic exchanges. Marcel Mauss describes it as follows:
The system of gift-through-exchange permeates all the economic, tribal, and moral life of the Trobriand people. It is ― impregnated‖ with it, as Malinowski very neatly expressed it. It is a constant ―give and take.‖ The process is marked by a continuous flow in all directions of presents given, accepted, and reciprocated. 
While the pinnacle of the kula system is the highly ritualized exchange of ceremonial bracelets and necklaces by chiefs, the gift network surrounding it extends to all kinds of utilitarian items, food, boats, labor, and so forth. Outright barter, according to Mauss, is unusual. In any event, ―Generally, even what has been received and comes into one‘s possession in this way—in whatever manner—is not kept for oneself, unless one cannot do without it.‖3 In other words, gifts flow continuously, only stopping in their circulation when they meet a real, present need. Here is Lewis Hyde‘s poetic description of this principle of the gift:
- Sacred Economics: Money, Gift, and Society in the Age of Transition.
- An interview with Integral philosopher Terry Patten on his Beyond Awakening broadcast