What do you fight?
I fight against nothing and no one.
Although a portion of society sees explorers as marginals or crazy, they don’t play against it. Explorers listen their inner call and allow them to take shape. In this sense I live an artistic life more than anything else. The life of a researcher, an explorer, a man seeking freedom.
What do you want to achieve?
Because of my research work on collective intelligence, I quickly understood that we can’t advocate synergy, sharing and unity on the one hand, and on the other hand we keep using a monetary system based on scarcity that stimulates competition and predation. This opened my eyes: the economy, and more particularly the monetary system on which it relies, constitutes a big portion of social DNA. My research work quickly placed me in front of this forgone conclusion that we have the capacity to create fair economic systems, controlled by civil society, transparent, plural, that represent the real economy. Only ignorance and obscurantism prevent us from doing it yet.
Ideas had to move into action. On the external side, more and more people feel called to build the technical infrastructure of this new economy. Check olo.host, holochain.org, metacurrency.org. On the inner journey, I don’t see how I can explore and open new paths if I don’t extract myself from the present system, at least to a certain degree, so I can see it from the outside. I don’t know any other way to understand the psychological potency that money has on human psyche. Leaving money puts me in a threat in a society where we need to buy everything, including the most basic needs such as food and shelter. We need to pay to stay alive. All the time. Doesn’t the common expression “to earn a living” show this absolute violence? Doesn’t it implicitly say that we don’t acquire the right to live at birth but we have to conquer it within a warmongering vision of the world? We don’t realize how much common language carries archaic ideologies that perpetuate violence and falseness.
Do you consider yourself a social activist?
No. Without meaning any disrespect to social activism, I see lot’s of people who react to the system and want to fix it. I don’t see myself in this dynamics.
I prefer creation than reaction. I prefer to imagine and invent something so new and compelling that the old system doesn’t need to exist anymore. Eventually it will fall from the branch by itself. Reacting leads to what I call symbiotic polarization: right wing and left wing ; unions and corporations, populace and power ; Jews and Muslims ; pro and anti nuclear energy ; pro and anti GMOs ; ecologists and liberals ; the 99% and the 1% ; the “we” and the terrorists ; etc. Each side becomes the problem of the other, each side evolves proportionally to the other, and therefore traps itself in the paradigm of the other. In the end it produces a very stable social body, set down on two opposed legs.
Even if we don’t declare ennemies to fight, looking at the world like a problem to solve does place us in a form of reaction too. We enclose ourselves in the statement of the problem, therefore in its paradigm. Living in a reality represented as a problem –climate warming, social inequalities, pollution, ignorance, consumerism, imperialism, etc– doesn’t attract me. I feel locked and limited. And I see joy collapse.
I love to lit the spark and make the artist snort! I love to spring up new worlds! And if in these new realities old problems don’t appear again, good!
Art manifests itself in thousand different ways. Some we know them well: music, writing, painting, dance, architecture… I also include science. Yes. The statement of new theories, empirical imagination, technical innovation, the invention of new languages to give substance to new realities of our sense experience… many forms that arise from the being! Like all arts, science faces academism, the sterile repeating of the model. I think most people perceive science from its academic side. It doesn’t interest me. I love art-science, the one that invents new worlds.
Science, writing, martial arts and music thrill me up to the stars.
Do you belong, or see yourself belonging to a political movement or ideology?
No. Communism, capitalism, socialism, anarchism, liberalism, royalism… belong to a long list of ideological categories that belong to pyramidal collective intelligence, to the past. They don’t make sense anymore for who has migrated towards holomidal collective intelligence.
How do you define wealth?
As expressed in the vow, I see wealth as anything that brings us closer to Beauty, Goodness and Truth.
In common language, wealth means someone who has lot’s of money. This underlines the confusion that exists between the means (money) and the goal (wealth). Money offers a mean to access certain forms of wealth, mostly in material forms. Money covers only a small portion of the spectrum of wealth. How can we take it as an end? The end relies in wealth, in its deepest sense.
How can we define wealth then? Well, wealth becomes wealth simply because we acknowledge it as such.
Check the conferences I gave about integral wealth: movable, measurable, rankable, acknowledgeable, potential.
What does poverty mean then?
Poverty means absence of wealth. It often comes from our incapacity to connect to the wealth outside and inside ourselves, to Beauty, Goodness and Truth.
Do you have objections about ownership?
In order to maintain its societal coherence, pyramidal collective intelligence has created its own doxa — a set of unquestionnable beliefs shared by everyone. Ownership represents one of the most powerful ones. We believe that we actually own something: a piece of land, an animal, an object, etc. Owning implicitely tells us that we can do anything we want on it: use it, sell it, destroy it, exploit it, transform it, etc. Most people see ownership and property as a natural trait of human nature. Even the Universal Declaration of Human Rights considers property as a universal right.
From the perspective of consciousness, ownership represents a transitionary step on the evolutionary ladder of a human being. A spiritually grown human being doesn’t feel interested in possessing something. He.she embraces reality as a continuous flow of things that come and go according to the needs and desires.
Given that property stands at the heart of pyramidal collective intelligence societies, most people don’t go beyond this stage in their personal journey, as nothing encourages them to do so. One remains entangled in the social thread of his.her time. Those who want to pursue their spiritual journey and walk the path to freedom realize the illusory aspect of property and possession. They become conscious of the archaic mechanisms of fear and separation that drive the need to own.
So I have nothing against ownership. It exists as a step on the evolutionary ladder. Because I live in a society that has put ownership at the core of its belief system, I have to adapt and make pragmatic choices. I don’t need to own something to use it, and even if I legally own something, I don’t have to buy into the belief system. For instance if I legally owned a land or a house, I would consider myself as a transitory steward of the place.
Do you receive a salary?
No I don’t have a salary. The money I receive from my company from time to time comes from the gifts it received, once it paid the taxes. Hence the source remain a gift, an act of kindness that we transform into an invoice for legal reasons.
Do you feel afraid?
What important challenges do you face?
My journey provides me with such an experience and opens so many new perspectives that I often feel that I live in a blind world, still enclosed in obscurantism and barbary. I do my best to welcome life in its current form, with serenity, patience and joy. How can I plainly and freely live my true nature, with no compromize, while keeping a harmonious relationship with my peers? This question feels more challenging to me.
Did you get rid of everything you had?
Almost, except some small sentimental objects that I received as gifts and marks of love. I have also refused objects coming from my family, as I see them as an emotional burden.
Today I only possess the functional and mobile stuff: clothes, books, computer hardware, motorbike, paraglider…
Don’t your economic choices and lifestyle place you above the law?
I invite you to read this article.
How do you get your food, an everyday need?
I buy my food with conventional money, the money I received as a gift.
How do you pay for your child’s education?
During his childhood my boy Estéban went into a Waldorf-Steiner school, which required some conventional money. I received an amazing support for this. Will Estéban want to follow costly studies? He doesn’t know yet. I trust that whatever he decides, the wealth will show up.
Don’t your choices make you irresponsible in regards to your family obligations?
I left the notions of “duty” and “morals”, as these lines feel so deadly and outdated. I see myself as “amoral” because I follow the creative drives of my being. Therefore I don’t need external containers.
Check “How I became useless“.
How many people do you expect to live with post-monetary technologies?
I hope that soon the whole humanity will shift to post-monetary technologies. It doesn’t take much efforts to predict a soon to come massive economic crisis, not because of external circumstances, but because of the very fabric of money. An evolutionary leap may happen much faster than we think.
Don’t you miss certain things?
So far so good, no.
How do you save for retirement?
I don’t believe for one second in the sustainability and future of the current retirement system, public or private. I hope that when I have to withdraw from the world, the monetary system has evolved (if the world hasn’t collapsed), leading to new forms of social solidarity. Meanwhile I take the risk of ending my life without financial resources.
Do you keep a bank account?
When I began my journey in the gift economy in Sept. 2011, I stepped out of the current banking and debt system. I needed to make a clear cut first.
Because lot’s of companies ask me to support them, I accepted to reactivate a bank account and to hook myself again in the conventional system. So, when people in a company want to gift me with money, I send them an invoice from the company I created for this purpose. So, from a legal perspective, I operate in the standard economy, I pay my taxes, etc.
I see it as a transitory situation.
Do you accept gold or precious metals as money?
No, as they represent early forms of the scarcity model. I want to use technologies that don’t create artificial scarcity.
How do you pay your taxes? Do you expect that governments work with other forms than money?
As a company owner, I pay taxes and my company pays taxes. Whatever money the company gives me, half of it goes to the government.
I don’t expect current Nation-States will soon work with other currencies than money, until this becomes the next standard. However we an expect new nations to show up, with much better currency systems and transparent tax systems.
If governments did only things you liked, like working on ecological issues, ending poverty, public health… would you then use money issued by these governments?
The discipline of collective intelligence demonstrates that poverty, pollution, social inequalities, mass extinction exist as the consequences of using a scarce monetary system called money. Selfishness, cupidity, the drive for conquest and domination on animals and life certainly represent traits of human psyche, but in most cases scarce money stirs them up. It then activates predatory and patriarchal ideologies such as neo-liberalism and other forms of fascism.
I can hardly see how States, large organizations and society in general, will evolve towards a sustainable and virtuous future while using today’s monetary system.
Last but not least, the money we use everyday today doesn’t come from the governments, but from the banks, therefore from private companies with private interests.
So, because I don’t think money can ever solve today’s problem, I use it reluctantly and will continue to work on better options.
If you get sick, access to treatment requires conventional money. Would you rather not get medical support than pay?
Let’s not forget that I do not separate myself from the society, even less from its most beautiful solidarity principles, on the contrary! If I get sick or if I have an accident I will likely benefit from the French healthcare system. Taxes partly finance healthcare and solidarity. My own contribution to society, via taxes and the gift economy, allows me to benefit from social solidarity without any shame.
Can you clarify what you call Truth, Goodness and Beauty?
If you want to explore this question more deeply, I invite you to check the article called Integral Wealth.
Beauty refers to the creative impulse that lives in every human soul. Every human being possesses this spark, this impetus that invites him/her to manifest beauty by means of an art or a know-how. It doesn’t matter the means of expression, the level of mastery, the kind of art, the style, the canons of culture… Beauty emanates from the intimate subjective expression of the I. At the societal level, we link it to Arts.
Goodness introduces the other, the alter ego. We cannot consider something as good unless another consciousness has acknowledged it as such: a human being, society, nature, the universe, who expresses directly what a creation provokes inside him.her, in a verbal or non-verbal way (a tree that flourishes or withers for instance). Goodness comes from the You. At the societal level, we link it to Morals or Ethics.
Truth refers to reality principle, the external outsider differentiated from the I and the You. Reality principle works as a mirror in front of which we confront our capacities and creativity. Reality principle impartially tells the engineer if the nuclear plant can resist earthquakes or tsunamis. Reality principle provides us with harsh lessons on the consequences of our actions and choices. It operates like an external master from which we learn how to perfect our art. Truth emanates from the It. At the societal level, we link it to Sciences.
I for Beauty, You for Goodness, It for Truth. This ontological structure reflects our construct of the world, revealed by the basis of grammar.
Beauty, Goodness and Truth intertwine with one another. How can beauty exist in the face of lies? How can goodness manifest without truth? What use of truth if not infused with beauty and goodness? Beauty, Goodness and Truth operate like 3 diffracted colors coming from one same unique source of light. They compose what we name “wealth”.
How do you envision the day you definitely stop using conventional money?
I will celebrate!
No matter what, you access things and services that others have bought with their own conventional money! Don’t you find it hypocritical?
Most of the time this question comes in a sarcastic way after I shared how wealth comes to me in the form of a gift. Something like “yeah, sure… don’t you think your generous donors did have to purchase these gifts for you, or hunt for the money they kindly offer you?“.
Here comes the mental again, playing its old usual tricks. If you think the same way, I invite you to think in an organic way. The world changes because a few persons begin something, and that somethings grows on the soil of the old system, at least for a certain time before it becomes its full autonomous ecosystem. Do you really believe that the first anti-slavery people lived 100% out of the slavery economy, right off the bat? It takes a few persons, then a hundred, then thousands and millions before the deep structure of the collective transmutes. The entanglement with the old system doesn’t mean we don’t have to make a step.
So for now, I patiently play with other gift economy aficionados like me around the world, active people who want to create technologies and infrastructures that will carry this evolution. Some good news here: this community grows quickly, some day it may not need the market economy to exist anymore.
House, car, electricity, insurance, clothing, train and plane tickets… a shortlist of the many things we access through money in our societies. How do you get these necessary things?
Some of these material riches come as direct gifts, sometimes I buy them with the money I received as a gift. However we can’t consider train and plane tickets as gifts, but as overheads related to the gifts I can offer.
Do you recognize society’s rights to tax its citizens for the communal obligation to support the roads, the health care system, education, etc?
I do agree that anyone should contribute to the community by sharing material wealth, and benefit from the community in return.
Conventional money does not serve well the process of community contribution and solidarity because of the perverse effects induced by its very structure (Pareto condensation, centralization, scarcity, opacity, proprietarization). If we really want to honor our communal contribution, we should use appropriate technologies that sustain mutualism rather than power concentration. We have such technologies today. Soon they will kick in.
Where does the vow of wealth come from?
This vow sprung in me in the early morning of September 7, 2009 during a retreat I did in Mexico. I experienced an instant shift, like a phase transition in physics.
A long inner alchemy had operated before, fed by my research on collective intelligence and the post-monetary society, combined with meditation. I see it as the combined result of an intellectual and spiritual journey.
What steps do you see for the practical application of this vow?
This vow implies that I transition from conventional money towards post-monetary technologies (free currencies). Such a transition goes through many steps and faces many challenges. It cannot come out of a lonely work. Only a collective move and effort will allow us to migrate towards a society freed from money.
Do you expect other people to take the vow of wealth?
I have no expectations at all.
Did you take this vow because of social activism?
Not at all. It came because of my inner journey, and because of my experimental life.
Doesn’t the vow of wealth resembles the vows of poverty that exist in many spiritual traditions? Will you become a beggar? A homeless?
The vow of poverty exists in every spiritual tradition I know of. In order to develop a wider consciousness and open to the Divine, one must not entangle or distract or trap himself into heavy material possessions. Leaving material possession leads to liberation and opens the path to true wealth.
Many confuse the vow of poverty with begging and misery. Although some spiritual practices rely on begging, most spiritual communities have built and generated incredible forms of wealth because of everyone’s contributions in the context of a gift economy. Look at monasteries, ashrams, temples, and most spiritual places: they surround themselves with astounding beauty, built with the finest arts of their time, organized around fair economic principles. When authentic spirituality thrives, no one claims ownership on wealth. There we witness one of the deep aspects of the vow of poverty.
Today we live in a world where both material and spiritual poverty have reached peaks like never before, where consumerism and materialism became the form of poverty in industrialized countries, where people enslave one another other for miserable wages. At the same time wealth surrounds us. It exists everywhere around us if we allow it to exist inside us. We just have to expand our view. Hence this practical question: what kind of collective intelligence do we need to access, build, share and allow wealth emerge at a global level?
The vow of wealth stresses that material forms of wealth can leverage our capacity to become realized beings and realized societies, but only if we fulfil certain conditions:
- that wealth doesn’t come from stealing or looting (otherwise we don’t meet Goodness);
- that, on the contrary, wealth becomes additive. The use we make of it benefits to others and the environment;
- that we don’t consider ourselves as owners, but as trustees and stewards. Even better: as creative artists;
- material wealth nourishes our joy and creativity, and vice-versa.
That said, it doesn’t matter how we call this vow – vow of wealth, vow of poverty or anything else – as long as we cultivate a genuine and authentic journey.
For you, does buying mean owning?
The means we use to access material goods influences the relationships we establish with those goods. Did we acquire them via a robbery, a conquest, a barter, a purchase, a loan, a donation, a gift? Did we use a currency, and if yes, which type? Depending on the mean of acquisition, the fates and social dynamics attached to each good differ wildly.
Purchasing and owning, as neutral as it may seem, binds us to an original robery. Proudhon wrote: “Property is theft“. Theft of a land, of a thing, of a living being. The scarcity of money we have to “earn” triggers the spirit of conquest, of competition, of proprietarization, of possession. It floats in the air, in the culture, to the point we don’t think about it anymore. These flows will fade out when we use sufficient currencies that will flow in direct proportion with our individual capacity to engage economically. As for the gift economy, it will take us to a whole new level if we know how to scale it up.
Therefore the way we design of a currency triggers specific states of consciousness. Predatory, archaic, conquering in the case of scarce money. Open and generous in the case of sufficient currencies. Compassionate and creative in the case of technologies supporting a gift economy. The obsession of possessing torments us less in an economy of free currencies than in an economy of scarce money. It leaves us completely in the case of gift economy.
More and more people will realize how the evolution of consciousness of humanity implies the use of a new alive language: the language of flows. A revolution as important as the writing in its time.
Don’t you find it risky, unconscious, idealistic?
Exploring the unknown makes our life risky and uncertain. People call it idealistic until it has become part of their reality. So, yes, idealism drives my actions. Trials and errors provide empirical learning.
Risky? Yes, of course.
Unconscious? Today’s statu quo seems much more unconscious and dangerous to me.
Even in the case post-monetary technologies become successful, won’t you reproduce the same world as before?
Take a deep look at how these technologies work. Even better: contribute to their development. It will answer your question.
Don’t you just have yet another utopian dream by imagining a post-monetary society? And doesn’t it trigger all the same dangers of dehumanization as all other utopian and social engineering experiments?
Utopian dreams become dangerous when they don’t pass the test of reality principle, in other words when they don’t cope with the laws of the universe (Truth).
Those utopians who wanted to make objects heavier than air fly had to confront the laws of physics. They passed the test, we know what followed.
A typical dangerous utopia arises when someone wants everyone to live in a specific way, to comply to a unique model. It creates an “industrialization” of one’s idea onto everyone else, hence the “-isms” from the industrial era. When we deny the diversity of a living system, we kill it. The famous French poet Boris Vian wrote so rightly: “What interests me is not the happiness of all men; it’s the happiness of each man“.
I do confront myself to the reality principle when I postulate that we can design post-monetary technologies that acknowledge, organize, measure wealth. Wealth technologies stick to the “physics” of living systems. At the biological level, they already exist in our bodies. Therefore I believe the utopia of a humanity that has upgraded its language of wealth and its related technologies will brightly pass the test of reality principle. Indeed, doesn’t this same reality shows us how the current monetary system doesn’t respect the laws of physics and life? Who dreams here?
An example illustrates this well. If I offer my child a built toy – a medieval castle for instance – it doesn’t mean the same thing whether I offer him wooden blocks or Legos. In the latter case he.she can infinitely create, re-create, evolve, invent more sophisticated things in an infinite way according to his.her own evolution. He.she remains free and sovereign whereas in the first case we imposed a form which he.she can only have a single experience with. Same with wealth technologies versus money. Wealth technologies offer an infinitely composable language while money imposes a unique form of society, the opposite of life.
Don’t you live off your friends and supporters?
Life weaves itself on a web of mutual support, we can’t live alone. We need our friends, our family, our neighbors, colleagues, peers, ancestors and children. The vow of wealth acknowledges and celebrates this fertile social soil from which we grow from and that we enrich in return. I want fair relationships with my fellow brothers and sisters, based on generosity during every phase of our existence.
What difference exists between the gift economy and the market economy? Market implies a major condition, the one of an immediate counterpart: I give you this if, and only if, you give me that in return. Gift doesn’t need this symmetry. It implies an act of trust towards the universe and others. From a pragmatic point of view, the gift economy has more power and efficiency than the market economy because it frees itself from lot’s of restrictive conditions. But until now no one knew how to apply this principle to a large scale due to a lack of appropriate technologies made to regulate the exponential complexity it creates. Today this barrier does not exist anymore, except in our head.
So, do you see the difference between receiving $1,000 from a salary and $1,000 from a gift? Do you really think that in the first case you deserve it because of your productive work, and in the second case you don’t deserve it because you behave like a lazy parasite that lives at the expense of the others? Don’t you make gifts to people you appreciate and love? Do you consider them as useless and needy? I find quite revealing these preconceived ideologies about utilitarianism, that state what people deserve to earn or not. Hence why I decided to become useless. “Earning a living” belongs to pyramidal collective intelligence violent doxa. Gift economy definitely cuts off from these poisonous roots.
Hence the reason why I commit to offer – not sell – my skills and gifts. On this basis, I welcome generosity in return, even if it doesn’t come from a reciprocal exchange.
As far as living off others, the current monetary system enables 1% of humanity to live off the other 99% (actually much worse than this)… So I don’t see how people immersed in the conventional monetary system can judge who lives off who.
Furthermore, gift economy means to create wealth for all. It rises the capacity to contribute more than in conventional economy.
The wealth you desire goes beyond basic needs and shows a taste for expensive stuff. How do you feel bad about it?
Check the asking unconditionally article.
Why does the word “wealth” appear so confusing?
In the common sense, wealthy means having lot’s of money. The opposite, poor, means having no money and no material means. The word wealth feels ambiguous because it locks us down in the materialistic part of our reality.
I may not have any material possessions, but still might experience myself as the richest man on Earth, thanks to love, thanks to the beauty that surrounds me, thanks to my health, thanks to my inner practice to cultivate happiness. I know some multi-billionaires and millinaires who live the most miserable life, surrounded by corruption, harsh competition, greed, cheating, superficiality, plots…
Don’t you find interesting that we don’t have good words to express what truly makes us rich or poor? “Rich and poor” perpetuate some of the most ontological jamming I know. Hence why we need a language of wealth.
By leaving money, don’t you basically say that you do not recognize Nation-States?
As far as my understanding and knowledge goes, modern Nation-States use constitutions as their collective ground. None of the constitutions I know stipulate that money defines citizenship. Citizenship builts itself on fundamental and universal values. The vow of wealth not only respects these agreements, but brings them to the next level by means of a greater freedom. For instance in France, how can one honor “Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité” (Liberty, Equality, Fraternity) in a society where conventional money triggers competition and predation? Humanity will make a great step the day when Nations respects their own constitutions. A requirement that they follow very poorly today.
Doesn’t the Vow of Wealth push you to have exclusive relationships with those who chose the same lifestyle?
Not at all. Most people practice generosity in their daily life, they just don’t realize it. I just chose to explore this practice further to understand its consequences on society and for myself, if we upscale it.
Do you no longer put a coin under your child’s pillow from the tooth fairy?
The tooth fairy also wants to evolve. She has already found lot’s of cool new ideas!
Assume we agree with the goal your vow aims to fulfill, haven’t you chosen an incredibly impractical, not to mention risky and extreme, way to go about getting to your goal?
Explorers only come to know the level of risk they took after they tried. Until we haven’t tried, all elucubrations remain possible.
From a more global perspective, I feel more risk – for myself, and mostly for the next generations – in coping with and perpetuating the current system. Somehow we face the emigrant’s dilemma: emigrating sends him/her into an uncertain and risky future, but it still remains a much better choice than not moving.
That said, beyond these rational explanations, a creative call drives me at a deeper level. How can an explorer resist to the call of the open sea?
Do you see any relationship between the vow of wealth, and conscientious objection to military service, or to paying taxes that go to pay for war?
Although I support peace, the vow of wealth hasn’t emerged as a response to today’s issues.
That said, a part of our taxes contribute to financing violence, war and armament. Governments don’t let their citizens decide and don’t offer any transparency on these matters. The vow of wealth places me in a consciencious objection that I manifest by trying to build an alternative to the current monetary system.