Sacred Economics: Money, Gift, and Society in the Age of Transition – Charles Eisenstein

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I was born in 1967 and was a very sensitive, intellectual and dreamy child. I was always consumed by questions like, “Where did I come from?”  “Why am I here?”  “Where am I going?”  so of course, embedded as I was in a culture that sees science and reason as the source of truth, I tried to “figure out”  the answers. I graduated from Yale University with a degree in Mathematics and Philosophy, but my development of reason and intellect brought me no closer to any truth I really cared about.

Charles Eisenstein
I didn’t know what I was searching for, but I knew that none of the usual options life presents a Yale graduate attracted me. I went to Taiwan, learned Chinese, and soon found myself working as a translator. I spent most of my 20s there, educating myself broadly in Eastern spiritual traditions. I also read voraciously: books on politics, environment, health, religion, physics, and biology. Translation led to
other business opportunities, and I became familiar with this dimension of the human experience. In Taiwan, I met my dear friend and ex-wife Patsy, with whom I have three children, all boys.

In my late 20s I entered what was to be a long period of intensifying crisis. It started when all my professional work became intolerable. It became excruciating to do work I didn’t care about. Even though a million reasons told me why it was irresponsible, impractical, and foolish to quit, I eventually could not make myself do it anymore. An irrepressible feeling, “I am not here to be doing this!” took control of my life. So I entered a long period of searching. I spent time teaching
yoga, learning about herbs, and teaching at Penn State’s department of Science, Technology, and Society. I wrote a beautiful little book called The Yoga of Eating. All of these endeavors have contributed to my present and future, but none were really me.

I entered the flow of my true work in 2003, when I began writing The Ascent of Humanitya process which took four years. I put my heart and soul into that book. I couldn’t find a publisher for it, so I published it myself in 2007. Soon thereafter, the book’s theme of separation, breakdown, crisis, and emergence took on a personal significance, as I went through divorce, bankruptcy, health breakdowns, and other losses. Much as is happening to our civilization, the old ways stopped working for me. This experience has deeply informed my thinking about money and economics.

I became interested in the money system as I was researching The Ascent of Humanity and exploring how money as we know it embodies and perpetuates the defining stories of our civilization: separation and ascent. When the financial crisis hit in 2008, I posted several articles on the website Reality Sandwich offering this macrocosmic perspective. The articles generated a huge response and were reprinted hundreds of times across the internet. That is what prompted me to enter deeply into the study of economics and to write my latest book, Sacred EconomicsBy now, my previous book and articles had spread widely and I had the connections and audience to consider publishing the new book with a publisher. I eventually reached an agreement with North Atlantic Books, who is publishing it under the Evolver Editions imprint. I admire this company not only for the many visionary books they publish, but also for their courage in agreeing to my unusual demands, including full online text and a Creative Commons copyright.

Since 2009 I have been on the faculty of the Health Arts and Sciences program at Goddard College, where I am sort of the resident generalist and public intellectual. I never thought I would feel so at home in an academic setting. Well, it really isn’t academic in the traditional sense. The educational model is very radical: self-directed learning in a holistic context. My role for the student is to read, to listen, to challenge, to respond, to hold container, offer resources, to mirror, to mentor.

I also do a lot of public speaking, both on money-related topics and on topics of civilization, transition, consciousness, technology, and transformation. You may contact me through the comments of this website or through

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Charles Eisenstein – Sacred Economics: Money, Gift, and Society in the Age of Transition

Recording of this lecture

January 13, 2012  8.30 PM – 10.30 PM

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1025 Commercial Dr, Vancouver, BC V5L 3X1

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A Vision for a New Viable and Practical Economic Reality – Charles Eisenstein

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