Powered by Caritas
Welcome to the home for Powered by Caritas, a formalized gift economy experiment. My name is Andrew Marc Rowe. I am a lawyer and author from St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada.
Anyone with even a passing understanding of current events is probably quite dismayed and alarmed at what is happening in our world. Between climate change, the menace of AI, and indelicate political jousting, it is easy to get caught up in the idea that this world is a nasty and unforgiving place, a train off its track and barreling towards disaster. You won’t find any fuel to add to the flames of our anxieties in this place. Instead, what is being offered is my humble desire to be part of a solution.
Years ago, I read a remarkable book called Sacred Economics, by Charles Eisenstein. It is a treatise on an alternate economy model for our world, one that does not depend on the implied selfishness and hoarding of capitalism nor the enforced and corrupt sharing models of communism. I won’t get into the nitty gritty details of negative interest and the other well-thought out ways that such an economic model might work, but the essential idea is that an economic system in which people simply gave what they produced to their neighbours, without the taint of compulsion and coercion, would result in something harmonious. Of course, practicing what he preaches, Mr. Eisenstein gave Sacred Economics away. It is available online here.
Right now, the world at large does seem to be in disharmony. Again, I am not making a political statement about any of it. And yet, in spite of all of the negativity that we our fed by our television screens and the Internet, I look around me and I see something entirely different. I see loving souls yearning for connection, calling out from beneath unhelpful social programming.
Over the past few years, I have undergone a personal transformation. Through a series of serendipitous events, I found my soul, buried beneath the rubble of a selfish and arrogant person. One of the things that led me out of this cave was engaging in pure acts of charity. By giving of myself utterly, without question, without thought for myself in the gift, I have found an imperturbable loving peace.
This is our essential nature: loving peace. It is what we are all seeking. Loving and peaceful people do not seek treatment for anxiety and depression, nor hoard money offshore with worries about what is to come next in life. What loving and peaceful people do is co-exist in harmony with nature. Because nature itself is love and peace, beneath it all. It is abundant and caring and it will not let you fall, if you unfurl your fist into an open palm.
If indeed our essential nature is love and peace, which has been my experience and the experience of so many people who have become okay with the world, then what has occurred when we think otherwise is something akin to forgetfulness. If you do not think that human beings are by nature loving and peaceful, you simply have forgotten your true nature. It is easy to believe otherwise - as I said, I used to think much differently. But you do not need to take my word for it - this is exactly what Powered by Caritas is about.
Yoga is not just postures in a gym. It is an ancient Indian science which has as its purpose this recollection of the soul. Its reason for being is to provide a system that anyone can employ to try to come to the ultimate understanding of one’s true nature. That’s why yogis call it a ‘science’ - because it’s something that anyone can pick up and do, provided they have the will for it. It puts names on different activities that encourage one’s remembrance process and calls each by a different name. One of those branches of yoga is called ‘karma yoga,’ or ‘the yoga of action.’ Basically, karma yoga is doing things to achieve self-realization. You can also meditate, or devote yourself to another, or contemplate knowledge, or a whole host of different things. But, karma yoga is what we are engaging in when we give selflessly to people.
‘Caritas’ is the Latin word for ‘charity.’ Another definition of the word is ‘love for all people.’ This is what charity is really about: acts of love. The thing is, when we do act charitably, we start to remember. We start to recall, ‘oh wait, perhaps there is something more to this world than bits of happiness interspersed with much sadness and vanity and misery and death.’ But the acts of charity must be pure to have this effect. There can be no expectation of return. In the result, I am changing my definition of caritas to ‘unconditional love for all people.’
This is part of why a gift economy model might be an effective way to change the world for the better. In a gift economy, we give without expectation of return as a matter of course. It is how we ‘get by’ in the world. We do not trade, we do not pay, we do not take more than we need, we do not hoard, we do not protect against an unknown future. There is nothing coercive in the act. We simply give. And if everybody gives of themselves, their art or what they produce tangibly on a farm or in a lab, then the world starts to become a better place. Because we all start to take care of each other. We start to remember ourselves.
I am not so doe-eyed to think that this is something that might happen overnight, nor am I so self-important to think that I’m going to single-handedly ‘save the world.’ I am simply offering an idea - as well as every single bit of artistic production that I will ever make in my life. I have a day job, so I am lucky enough to still be able to pay my bills, but there are plenty of other bills related to writing. Between web hosting costs, video production costs, editing, proofing physical copies, graphic design, software costs, and a bunch of other hidden costs that go into self-publishing books and videos, my budding author career has not been a free undertaking for me. I owe quite a bit of money to investors and I have not made very much in profit from sales of my books. But I am happy to give it all away nonetheless. And I will do so until my dying day.
I would like to set an example of how giving can be successful. I encourage others to give what they can, when they can. I am not the first ‘spiritual dude’ to tell you that what we get out of charity is worth more than all the gold coins, castles, and status symbols in the world, but I have experienced the truth of it. So let me repeat the idea for you here. What you get from unconditional giving, actions of pure love, untainted by expectation of return, is the most awe-inspiring treasure in the universe.
As I said, I do not expect reciprocity for my act of giving. It is not the reason I am doing any of this. I am prepared to never receive a dime from anyone. I already have found my spiritual jewel. But a gift model economy relies on the idea that everyone gives to everyone. As this is the case, I am setting up a GoFundMe page with no expiration date, as well as a Patreon account. You will be able to give to me there if you want. There will be no ‘reward’ tiers with exclusive stuff nor will you get anything in return from me for giving to me. You will have the same access to all of my work that anyone off the street will will have. All of my e-books will be freely available to everyone and all of my print books will be at cost from the printer. I want whatever gift you make to me to be perfectly motivated by love.
It does not matter to me if you give to me, or give to a person living on the street, or give your mother hug, or give your time to your son or daughter or partner. The only thing that matters is the giving. This is what Powered by Caritas is about - a reminder of the power of unconditional love. If you exercise it towards everyone in your life, that is a pathway to liberation. Freedom from suffering, from misery, from the brutality of the world. A freedom to spread your wings and fly upon the thermals of life. It is no less than you deserve. You deserve to hold the world in the palm of your hand and give of its inexhaustible supply it to your neighbour.
If you want proof that this works as a business model, just look at the success of In Rainbows by Radiohead. This was offered for free on a pay what you want model back in 2007. And it did extremely well. Other artists have thrived on the pay-what-you-want model. Again, this is nothing new, just another formalization / iteration on a basic idea: that we are charitable beings who want to give to one another.
That all said, if you do want to join this movement, you are free to take the logo from the Google Drive link here and use it however you wish. I am putting it on the front cover of all of my books from here on out. My brilliant graphic designer, Cynthia Dunphy, has kindly provided a number of different variations on the logo. It is yours, if you desire it. But you are honour-bound to use it in the way it was intended. When you give something with the ‘Powered by Caritas’ logo, you must ensure that you do not put any restrictions on it (I recognize the paradox of this itself being a condition). You must give of your art, of your offering, of yourself, without any strings attached. More formally, here are the ‘rules’:
1. You must not make a profit on anything that you produce.
2. You must only take no-strings-attached donations.
3. You must not give anything out anything in return for these donations.
If you do decide to participate in this movement, from the bottom of my heart, thank you. The snake eating its own tail in the logo is the Ouroboros, a representation of eternity. What we find in eternity is exactly what is happening at this present moment and it is glorious. Presently, I am offering you my gratitude, just for being you.
Let us give love away and catch the world entire.