“To understand money in the deepest sense is to journey inwardly to grapple with the ‘money self,’ to become more conscious economic participants in financial transactions with the world, and last but not least, to work to meet the material needs of others so that our economic needs are met through others’ work. This formulation describes a three-fold virtuous cycle, one that represents a radical transformation from our current world circumstance, which tends to revolve around and end with self-interest, unsupportable accumulation, and fear born of never-enough.” —John Bloom
Coming to terms with money is one of the great transformational challenges of our time. This collection of essays and interviews is an invitation and inquiry addressing that challenge on a systemic and personal level. The book presents an engaging worldview that emerges from the intersection of money and spirit. Practical, spiritual, and unwavering, it investigates the financial world as it plays out in daily life through our transactions.
The first section, called “The Poetics of Money,” is framed on historical and contemporary works of art that reveal some of the cultural history of money. From the Renaissance to Pop Art to the Conceptual, artists have recognized the iconic power of money. They have moralized through it, played on its replicability, and suggested some of its archetypal power. The author explores these modes to better understand how our own attitudes about money are formed—unconsciously and consciously—through our culture.
The second section, “The Topography of Transactions,” explores the inner landscape of financial transactions. By looking at the various qualities of money and how we work with them inwardly and in our relationships, the connections between money, human development, and consciousness emerges. Faith, hope, and love—powerful forces in our lives—are central to our financial well-being.
The third section, “A Wealth of Transformation,” consists of interviews with individuals who have transformed themselves as they transformed the world through social entrepreneurship, philanthropy, philosophical inquiry into money, investing, and spiritual practice. These exemplars represent the many who have recognized that the financial world needs to change if we are to have peace in the world.
Here is what the author has to say about our situation today:
“We are being forced by economic crisis to look at the deeper issues of money—its shadows, light, power and its evanescence. It is a great bellwether of the state of our consciousness. It is time to look at the hard issues, especially money, in a new way that incorporates spirit and social values. If anything has been made clear, it is that when money is disconnected from real economic activity and human productivity; it too easily becomes an end unto itself. Financial transactions then become impenetrable, opaque, and unaccountable in the true sense of the words. When money is an end rather than a means, transparency is an enemy, trust a victim. Money has become so abstract it can no longer be weighed, though it weighs on us, and each of us, with our credits and debits, lives within its meaning….
“Each of us now has the capacity to initiate ourselves, to develop our own consciousness. Along with this capacity, the wisdom to be a ‘treasurer’ and economic citizen needs to develop. We can no longer afford to cede that capacity to those operating in the old consciousness of ‘priesthood.’ This collection of essays and interviews is an exploration of the origins and expressions of this transformed consciousness through the window of money and financial transactions. The essays look at cultural artifacts, art, events and research as indicators of that consciousness. The interviews provide insights into the capacity for self-transformation in the economic and money realms, to demonstrate and practice the integration of values, intuition (deep inner practices) with outer action.”
About the Author
John Bloom is Vice President, Organizational Culture at RSF Social Finance in San Francisco (rsfsocialfinance.org), where he has developed innovative philanthropic programs and contributed to the organization’s thought leadership in the field of social finance. As part of his work at RSF he has been developing and facilitating conversations and programs that address the intersection of money and spirit in personal and social transformation. He writes frequently for RSF’s Reimagine Money blog on aspects of the new economy, and has fostered collaborative dialogues on the topics of: Money, Race, and Class; Money and Intuition; and Money and Biography. He has worked with over 100 nonprofits over the last seven years in the areas of capacity building and culture change. John has founded two non-profits, served as a trustee on several, including Yggdrasil Land Foundation (yggdrasillandfoundation.org), an agricultural land trust, and worked as the administrator at San Francisco Waldorf School for eight years before joining RSF in 1998. He was part of founding Live Power Community Farm, the first CSA west of the Mississippi (1988), and has been actively involved with helping to develop the CSA model and awareness of biodynamic agriculture across the US. He was appointed as General Secretary of the Anthroposophical Society in America in October 2016.