The Transformation

Radical Trust

A quick shout out to Scott, without whom this conversation would never have begun, and never would have blossomed.

This article is intended for people who are already familiar with the datti project. The following articles offer a good background for those who wish to know more:

Since I originally wrote about radical trust 5 months ago, enough has changed to warrant a rewrite of the introduction. If you have become a keeper of a datti coin, then you may have begun to recognize in yourself a personal and interpersonal transformation that marks the transition from a trade-based economy to a gift-based economy. It is a drastic paradigm shift-- far more drastic than the mass cultural adoption of a scientific viewpoint that has taken place over the last 300 years. If you are one of the people lucky enough to be struck by this incredible possibility of a gift economy, as I am, then you are now standing on the threshold of a transformation that must begin with a period of silent reflection, and will, at some point, require you to actively engage-- giving and receiving gifts freely, and with an open heart.

A change in direction: The transformation seems to begin with a cognitive dissonance that comes from first trying to grasp the concept of the datti. It is a form of money that flows in the reverse direction from all other money that has ever existed. Aside from introducing a beautiful new paradigm, it also puts into stark contrast the paradigm of trade-based currency, which has been so all-pervasive that it has remained invisible for the duration of civilization. Trade-based currency, because it is a tool of exchange, flows in the opposite direction of everything else in the world. In other words, everything that can be monetized flows in one direction, while money, which is being exchanged for these goods and services, flows in the other.

When someone is introduced to the concept of a gift-based currency, she is often confused. It usually takes several attempts to successfully describe the datti to her. Gift money flows with everything else in the world.

Even people who have given many dattis with gifts, and have integrated the idea into their perception often slip up. About a month ago, I was telling my friend Lisa that another friend Leslie owed me a datti, because she had helped me set up a Facebook fan page for the project. Lisa looked at me with a blank stare for several seconds. She did something for you! Why would she owe you a datti?! Then she started to laugh when she realized her own confusion. We are deeply conditioned to perceive ideal relationships as being those in which fair trade is achieved.

It's nothing personal, it's just business: The second stage of the transformation logically follows from the first. People begin to realize just how deeply the existing trade paradigm is affecting their lives. They begin to realize that trade-based relationships, due to their basic structure often cause people to try to get as much as they can from those people with whom they are trading. If I am buying a car from you, I might well try to get the car for as little money as I can, while you may try to get as much money from me as you can. This isn't a moral judgment, it's just a measurable trend, based on a structural reality. Another way of saying it, more in context with the first stage of the transformation, is that trade-based currencies cause people's intentions to de-align. People in trade-based relationships generally end up with conflicting intentions. They are at cross purposes-- two arrows moving in opposite directions. The work of the trade is to come to a compromise that both people can live with, even though neither person gets what they want. Inversely, the structure of a gift-based relationship causes people's intentions to align-- I want to give you what you want to receive. Our intentions become synchronized. The upshot of this is that trade structures become impersonal, while gift structures become personal. People begin to experience the depth of their own isolation when they are presented with the possibility of a gift economy.

Where the transaction originates: In simplest terms, the third stage of this transformation comes with the contrast between a trade-based transaction and a gift-based transaction. At this point, the transformation moves from the head to the heart. People begin to realize, usually not on a conscious level, that trade-based interactions are always initiated by the buyer, while gift-based interactions are always initiated by the gifter. In today's economy, if I am hungry, then I buy a sandwich, if I am cold I buy a jacket, If I am bored I buy a movie ticket. I, as the buyer, initiate every economic transaction, with my attention on what I want and need. I am trained by my economy to do so, especially when I consider that, if I don't, someone is likely to take advantage of me. I need to focus on my own needs in order to ensure that the the transaction is fair, or, if I wish, to try to make it unfair to my advantage. Again, this isn't a moral judgment, it's just a reflection on the basic structure of trade economics. Inversely, in a gift economy, because each economic transaction is initiated by the gifter, each person's attention shifts from self to other. You are hungry, so I give you a sandwich. You are cold, so I give you a jacket. You are bored so I tell you a story. The reversal of the money's direction causes a dramatic shift in a person's attention from self to other. This shift initiates the final stage of the transformation.

Radical Trust: So, to recap, a person receives a datti-- he is, at first confused, and then begins to integrate the implications of a form of money that flows in the the opposite direction of all other money. He starts to realize that money that flows against goods and services trains him to focus on his own wants and needs, and causes his own intentions to move out of alignment with those of the people with whom he engages in economic relationships. He then begins to realize that, in order to reverse the direction of money from trading to giving, he will need to shift his attention from his own wants and needs to those of other people. In some cases, he will need to adopt the intentions of the very same people that he has come inherently to distrust. The shift that is demanded of a person moving into a gift consciousness is one of complete radical trust. I trust that you will take care of my needs, as I begin, in essence, to ignore them. You, in turn, trust that I will take care of your needs as you shift your attention to my own.

Being somewhat in the middle of this transformation myself, I lack some clarity here. But I can say two things:

First, it is a move into pure love.

Second, as a function of love, it is a shift from the perception of self-as-separate, to a perception of self as a larger whole-- as that which flows between 'us'. In other words, we stop being members of a community, and we become the community itself. Our sense of self expands. It's where such expressions as 'my heart goes out to her' and 'try spending a day in her shoes' comes from. A friend of mine named Anna, who is an acupuncturist, recently described the datti as being like a needle that opens the flow of human energy. We have become largely blocked in our ability to experience our own interpersonal nature because we have largely blocked the interpersonal flow. We have functioned within an economic structure that reaches, at best, for an ideal of 'fair trade'. In such a world, there is so little room for a gift. If the trade is unfair, then we can take, or we can be taken from. But we can't give. If the trade is fair, then the energy level between people remains static. That is the very definition of the term 'fair trade'. Nobody walks away with more, nobody walks away with less. A shift to gifting with radical trust unblocks the flow, and, as a result, we start to move with that flow-- we start to move into it. We start to become it. As we give ourselves to each other, we start to become each other.

Our gift is love. We are love. We are the gift.

My friend John has said this about radical trust:

Living into radical trust unlocks the massive creative potential inherent in serving something greater than the ego. I submit that striving to understand and meet the needs of other persons is a higher pursuit than the mundane quest to understand and fulfill one’s own needs. If we are all focused on our own needs, we are all limited by our narrow views on what is possible for ourselves or our happiness, trapped as we are within our own limiting beliefs and attitudes. We are all unwilling or unable to take a risk, to make a playful stab at how we might better be served in this life, worried that we may be wrong about our needs and thereby not meet them. But other people are not so limited. We may easily see what another person not only wants, but what they NEED, when they can’t see it themselves, or are too afraid to even seek it. I’d wager that the best gifts you have ever received are not the ones you knew were coming, or the ones that represented things you already knew you needed. I suspect the best gifts you ever received were things you didn’t even know you needed, the ones that filled a new need or a hidden need. Therein may lay the key to spiritual and cultural evolution: seeking to find and fulfill the needs of others sets the stage for a world of beauty that none of us could possibly manifest while focused on ourselves.”