The Gift Economy

(Working in the spirit of gift is the need of the time)


Strange is our situation here upon earth. Each of us comes for a short visit, not knowing why, yet sometimes seeming to a divine purpose. From the standpoint of daily life, however, there is one thing we do know: that we are here for the sake of others. ~ Albert Einstein

In last couple of months, I came across two wonderful books, Reinventing Organizations and Sacred Economics which helped in the growth of my spirit and aligned with the thoughts deep down in my heart. These books helped to evolve my ideas related to work, money and organizational models. Now I am trying to apply, the idea of working and living in the realm of gift economy.

What Is Gift Economy?

The idea, is to live in the state of gratitude, from a place where I give my time, skills, passion, and others give back (in money or otherwise) whatever feels right to them. No more contracting, no more fixed prices. Instead, much more love for the work and deeper connection between people.

I will give you my gift — and I trust you to give back what you think is appropriate. I cannot know in advance how valuable my work will be to you; even you can’t know it in advance that’s why it is contrary to the spirit of gift to ask for any fixed price before doing any work . The point is that a conversation, in the general sense, can’t be settled upon ahead of time. We can’t predict the fruits of our labor; we cant even know if we’ll really go through with it. I would even think, ideas and energy to work come from a life force which is not actually mine then who I am to charge the fixed amount for using this given life force.

Human beings desire to work: they desire to apply their life energy toward the expression of their gifts. The consciousness of gratitude requires an unpaid debt and we will be motivated to proceed only so long as the debt is felt. If we stop feeling indebted we quit, and rightly so. A prepaid fee suspends the weight of the gift.

Why Gift Economy?

We were born helpless infants, creatures of pure need with little resources to give, yet we were fed, protected, clothed and held and soothed without having done anything to deserve it. None of this we earned or produces. Our life has given us, therefore our default state is gratitude. It is the feeling of having received a gift, and desire to give in turn.

The primary idea is to do the work to fulfill the unquantifiable needs of human beings like connection, love, play, art, the need to know and be known which all are related to the growth of the human spirit. We are trying to fill these infinite needs with debased art, love, science, beauty, knowledge when we just work for money. We have sold them out. When fixed price commercial app guides science, we end up with not science but pseudoscience in service of profit. When art bows to just money we get art, a self conscious self caricature, when beauty is to sell product and wealth tries to buy love. The age of sell out is over. To meet these unquantifiable needs, I’m open to work in the spirit of gift.

You Must Have This Question?

Most people actually prefer working with a fixed price. I guess it is because the fixed price takes away the possibly awkward discussion about how much you give. And I can fully understand that. I am trying to put myself in your shoes for a minute: If I give less than Raman was expecting, will he be hurt, or think I’m stingy? And if I give more, am I giving too much? But it’s precisely in that question that lies the genius of the gift economy, because it pushes us to reflect on what value we have exchanged, on our relationship with money, and our relationship to one another.

I’m sure this is just the beginning of the journey for me. I sense that our economic system will shift, slowly at first, and then more and more toward the gift economy. I wrote this blog post because I’m eager to open a conversation around this topic and would be happy to work with the people in this awareness.

You could know more about gift economy from here.

Note: I am still trying to find the people who are comfortable in working in this awareness. If you loved the idea and want to work with me in the spirit of gift consciousness, shoot me an email at balyan.raman@gmail.com OR contact via my personal website http://ramanbalyan.com/contact.html