I wrote this back in 2016…
FROM DEATH TO LIFE
M-C-M'/C-M-C → U-I-U'/I-U-I'
I am currently organising an 'unconference'. I'm inviting a diverse group of around 30 people to a weekend workshop in April focused on the issue of transformation. That's intentionally left very broad.
One of the people I have invited, a gent by the name of Matthew Painton, has so kindly offered to give me the gift of five free hours of his time. Matthew is a 'life coach'. This title has perhaps cheesy connotations, but there is nothing cheesy about what Matthew has done for me. There are no words to express my gratitude to him...And we're only two hours in!
What I'm asking you to read for me below, dearest reader, is probably the most important thing I've ever written in my life. I wrote this immediately after the experience I describe in the writing. This experience came soon after Matthew and I had completed our second session. The experience I describe took place about 10 hours ago. It's now 21:10 and I've tidied what I wrote up a bit, added a few explanatory sentences, but intentionally left it as raw as possible.
If what you read here resonates with you, if it moves you then please do let me know. You can leave a comment or you can email me at joel underscore lazarus at hotmail dot com. I would love to hear from you.
With thanks and with love
M-C-M' (M = Money; C = Commodity; M' = More Money)
This equation – the equation that reveals the alchemic secret of money – comes from Capital, Vol I by Karl Marx. What it shows is that, in our world, money isn't the object we think it is. Money is the subject. Money capital uses us! It uses us to grow, to incessantly grow. We are the objects it uses for self-valorisation. Hence vampire and zombie analogies in Capital and many popular cultures. Capital is vampire; we are zombies.
But if we accept this real abstraction as the total force forming the organising principle of our world, the subject controlling our lives, we must also be open to the possibility that we are or could be the objects of an alternative subject. Something else could drive our lives instead of money capital.
Today, with the help of Matthew Painton, I found that subject – it is the universe, the totality of life itself. It is inside me. It is inside you.
We cannot possibly feel it constantly. How could we function in our daily lives? We need, to an extent, to suppress it and, in the process, we anaesthetise ourselves. But the totality and incessant pressure that money puts on us inevitably makes us unconsciously and almost permanently repress this subject in favour of serving money.
But what we suppress or repress doesn't go away. It is there.
What motivates us to stand up for, to even give our lives, for others – for family, for friends, for community, society, for a forest, for a mountain, for Nature? First and foremost, it's not an argument, it's not an idea, an ideology; it's a feeling. We feel the injustice, the pain, the suffering. Only then comes the intellectual rationalisation. And that's crucial, but that rationalisation does also function to limit the feeling, the raw emotion. So...
What if we turn off the mind for a bit and just let the feelings flow?
Can one possibly even begin to feel the totality of pain and suffering in the world? I don't know. But today I tried to do just this...
I sat still, closed my eyes and tried to feel the pain and suffering in the world. I felt the searing, shattering pain of a parent's grief; I felt the physical and spiritual agony of a human being violated, of another imprisoned, another tortured; I felt the stabbing hunger of a starving belly. I felt the humiliation of a Muslim woman vilified, a disabled person taunted; a young black man demonised.
I felt the numbing silent devastation of a forest burned, a river poisoned, a sacred mountain decapitated.
There is a unity to every living thing on this planet. There is a unity to body and mind. Until today, I couldn't see the unity that connected Marx's revolutionary science of historical materialism to a spirituality that emphasises above all the interconnectedness of all things, of materiality and consciousness. Today I see it.
In our society, it is money capital that is the organising principle, the totality, the subject, the absolute Emperor of our society. Marx's revolutionary formula reveals this:
Money feeds on our bodies and minds to grow. In this Emperor's world, we are objects. We are C-M-C. We sell our bodies and minds, our labour-power, for money in order to use this money to sustain our existences and consume the energy needed to reproduce ourselves once again for money.
The money world, the society of capitalism, is ecocidal and it is genocidal. This is the death equation.
But, there is another revolutionary equation – the equation for our time, the equation that tells us the true source of life, the life equation. It is, I think, this…
U-I-U' and I-U-I'
In this pair of equations, U stands for the universe or universal life. I is I, myself. This is the life equation.
In the first pair, the death pair (M-C-M'/C-M-C), money flourishes at our expense – a zero-sum situation. In the second pair, the life equation, life itself and I, as both independent subject in and object for life, flourish. A positive-sum situation.
Rather than money, the totalising subject here, the Emperor, is the universe, universal life, the totality of all living beings. Universal life is expressed and embodied in specific living beings (I) and through us all it seeks to flourish and grow. In contrast to living in order to serve the money emperor of death, if I seeks to live its life guided by and in harmony with the infinite power of U, I itself flourishes.
U is life. U is truth. U is beauty. U is love. For some, U is God.
This is an intellectualisation of U and we do need to think about U and how we live practically, how we organise our society, in a flourishing relationship with U, but U is not primarily an idea. U is not an ideology. U is a power, a power that is felt.
Today I felt U. I sat, closed my eyes and flowed...
I was the whale deep down in the dark blue sea. I was a blind pelican being fed fish by other fellow pelicans, the sun on my face, a writhing fish in my mouth. I was a murmuration of starlings, thick, pulsating. I was a bison. I was a herd of bison. I was a penguin sheltering with others from a blizzard. I was a hare running. I was a chimpanzee perched in a tree, eating fruit. I was even a spider creeping forward slowly. I was a child running towards the sun...
Do this for me, for yourself, for universal life today. Take 10mins that you think you desperately need in your work (to serve M). Sit down, close your eyes, breathe with all your belly, deep breaths, and explore what you feel. What do you feel? Feel the feeling, be in the feeling, and let it take you on a journey.
I'd be honoured to hear from you what you felt and where you went. This is inside all of us, all the time – a feeling of infinite power and goodness there to guide us.
The goal is to destroy the deathworld of money, yes, but through empowering the world of life that money is sucking dry. The feeling will guide us. Through it, and only through it, we see that what we think is impossible, we feel and know to be possible and the only real way - the loving way.
To the flourishing of all life!