Unleashing Personal Abundance

Virtue and Abundance by TiepoloCreating an Abundant Society through Sharing

As we come to think of ways to improve the world, we are often drawn to the construction of utopia within our minds, yet find it hard to take actual steps to realise its potential. A central theme to many of these visions is the idea of a society within which scarcity has become a notion of the past and abundance reigns supreme. But how can abundance be manifested in the present? How can we take the crucial first step towards abundance right now? The answer is both simple and scary, because there is nothing external to hold us back from its implementation and there is no excuse for delay:

Unleashing personal abundance.

We might not be aware of the fact that we can all draw from our personal source of abundance. The dominant paradigm of scarcity and false ambition urges us to cut our natural connection to this source. It woes us into buying the illusion of an inherently greedy, malicious human nature and a society within which the only road to any kind of wealth is the domination and exploitation of other human beings. Yet we find that by taking this detached path, no matter how much we have looted from others, we may never be truly satisfied. The security and abundance we yearn for can only come from within and consequently manifest in the profound connection with our fellow human beings.

Ravi Varma Lakshmi

Unconditional love of life and truth constitute the core of this personal source of abundance. Reverence for life and the courage to face reality enable us to come in harmony with our environment and share our abundance. When nothing else remains, love might be the one inexhaustible source we can freely draw from, with all other forms of abundance being its manifestations. It might be likened to, and indeed represent, the universal laws of nature, giving rise to life in all its myriad forms.

When we choose to share our personal abundance drawn from our inner source, we help to support society and nature with what it requires and thus contribute to making it a more plentiful, secure and pleasant – indeed life-supporting – environment for ourselves and others. Sharing abundance means that we are able to share unconditionally and without expecting personal gain. It also implies that neither threat nor scarcity are created when letting others partake in our wealth.

What are the concrete manifestations as we realise and share our personal abundance?

The basic, material necessities for survival and maintaining the physical heat in our bodies are the most external, yet vital resources we may share. In a society within which we assume control over shelter, food and clothing, these necessities exist plentiful but they may only be used by their owners. We can offer a spare couch to the tired, share excess food with the hungry and give our old clothes to those who seek protection from cold weather. As these basic needs are met, we can concentrate ourselves on contemplation, co-operation and creativity to improve ourselves and the environment we share.

The various types of equipment many of us possess often remain under-utilised. Sharing tools for construction, gardening, communication, computing or the creation of art usually doesn’t reduce their life-span or usefulness but may help someone else to grow food or create cultural goods and communicate their ideas.

Modern communication technology allows us to easily share all forms of cultural goods which can be digitally reproduced such as literature, visual art and music. While we should acknowledge those who initially created the goods we share, we may freely share the culture we feel worthy of reproduction and appreciation by a wider audience. The creative achievements enabled by the open source practice in programming and the sampling method in music are prime arguments for increased sharing of cultural goods.

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Abundance by JaydotMany forms of sharing abundance take a more personal and immediate form. When a fellow human being is confronted with a problem we have previously encountered and given thought to, we may share our experiences in order to help the search for a more suitable solution. In a discussion, we may share our insight to resolve a conflict or clarify an issue – not to aggrandise ourselves, but to contribute to the common quest for peace and truth. We can share our skills working towards common goals or teach others to empower themselves. Realising the potential of unleashing our abundance can also take seemingly trivial forms: As we encounter a confused tourist, we may offer our expertise of the local area, give a handkerchief to a crying stranger, or help a blind man across the street.

As we are surrounded by distractions and those who seek to profit from diverting our concentration, it is attempted to turn human attention into a scarce resource. Sometimes, sharing our abundance may mean to listen, to be mindful and take someone’s argument serious while respecting their view. It may simply mean to share some of our time. It can also go beyond: To the depressed, we may offer emotional support. With the lonely, we may share companionship. To the lost, we may offer a cue to help them find themselves. With the dull, we may share our enthusiasm. To the desperate, we may offer hope. With the sad, we may share our joy.

Abundance by RubensWe should feel encouraged to share with friends as well as strangers. When we share our abundance with a stranger, we have the unique opportunity to build trust and establish a new relationship – through sharing, a stranger may become a friend. Sharing abundance in all its manifestations is always a conscious process, and we should only choose to share in situations we are comfortable with. It is important to be considerate when sharing our wealth, as many of its manifestations limited to the physical realm within economy and nature are only of relative abundance, which we should strive to both share and maintain accordingly. If we share with moderation, they can never be exhausted. On the other hand, sharing love, joy, hope and enthusiasm seems to most often result in their amplification without ever thinning out. We continue to draw from our abundant inner source and are mutually reinforced by those we share with.

It is within our own discretion to choose the purposes we support, the resources we share and the people we choose to share with. It is natural that we are personally responsible for the ethical standard we set for sharing our personal abundance. Within these considerations, we should feel encouraged to share as much as we may, since it only serves to bring about the society we strive for. We should be aware that every bit of personal abundance we choose to selflessly and consciously share improves the overall condition and creates a more worthwhile environment. The consequences might not always be apparent, yet the experience of selfless, unconditional sharing speaks for itself, no matter how modest the contribution. We shall ask for what we need, contribute what we can, and show gratitude for what we receive. As we dedicate our time to share our personal abundance in all its expressions – intellectual, emotional, physical and spiritual – we all contribute towards a more abundant, ethical, peaceful and human society.

And if we are unsure where to start, we may share a smile. 🙂
I’d appreciate any feedback you have on this topic – please share your comment below.

Please see Page 3 for Resources, Inspirations and Image sources.

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World of AbundanceRelated Resources:

My share page
The Foundation for P2P Alternatives
The Technate
Resources for a Solidarity Economy (Vienna)

Immediate Inspirations:

Elf Pavlik (World Wide Elves)
Henry David Thoreau (Walden)
Manly Palmer Hall (Love of Truth)
Michel Bauwens (P2P Foundation)
Mitch Altman
Armin Risi (Die Macht hinter der Macht)
European Organisation for Sustainability
The Commons
Albert Schweitzer (Reverence for Life)

Image Sources:

Virtue and Abundance by Giovanni Battista Tiepolo
Abundance by Jaydot
Abundance by Rubens
Lakshmi by Ravi Varma
World of Abundance by Aynur Karaman

Starfish: A Vision of a Distributed Network

Network Types

The most prominent internet services such as search engines (Google, Yahoo, Bing), public information repositories (Wikipedia) and social networks (Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn) are highly centralised. Blogging platforms, cloud computing and online storage add to the amount of information and processing power which is not under direct user control but entrusted to third parties. This makes internet users dependent on suppliers of all these services in addition to their internet service providers. Furthermore, it raises concerns about security, privacy, network neutrality and freedom of speech, all of which might be violated intentionally, by accident or even by design.

The majority of internet users is unaware of the basic logic behind the seemingly all-knowing search engine Google, and its exact algorithm is a well-kept secret. Yet if information is not being listed on the first page, few users will ever stumble upon it. The world’s biggest social network is being entrusted with private details such as addresses, phone numbers and birthdays. Due to its very nature it also contains detailed information about any contacts and networks one belongs to. Upon including private pictures and the propensity of users to share their current location one might start wondering about the use cases of this veritable Face-book. Other examples of centralised services include Flickr, YouTube and blogspot.

The business of having users cede their sovereignty over information sources, publishing methods and private information is highly lucrative but renders users dependent and potentially vulnerable to exploitation by such entities. However, there is an alternative.

The goal of Starfish is to enable the creation of a world-wide user-controlled network based on a distributed mesh architecture. This is to be achieved through developing the necessary software and hardware which allows users to form such networks in an ad-hoc fashion independent of any centralised control. Its conceived advantages are the strengthening of net neutrality while diminishing the digital divide, improving local communications and resilience, increasing network capacity and renewing personal responsibility. Many of the required technologies are already available, so it is mainly a matter of developing and integrating them into a coherent structure to achieve these goals.

UPDATE: My original intent to create a separate organisation to further these goals is currently suspended. My contributions in conceptualisation and promotion are listed below. During my work, I have come across like-minded individuals and organisations aiming to achieve the same goal. Many relevant projects are listed on the P2P Foundation pages NextNet and P2P Infrastructure. If you are interested in these topics, you are welcome to contact me for further information.

Presentation at Mindfield Festival ‘Sharing Trust; Sharing Power: How the Starfish outlives the Spider’ (Article) Presentation at the Emerging Communication Conference ‘Power through Self-Responsibility: The Potential of Distributed Networks’ (Prezi)

Original Concept and Presentation (Video). International Summit for Community Wireless Networks 2010 Notes.