A Money Dojo

Origi­nal post: A money Dojo

First up though, some on­tol­ogy to make it eas­ier to talk about this – “con­crete, sub­tle, causal”.

The con­crete world is the world of atoms. It’s phys­i­cal and literal. (some­times called the gross world)

The sub­tle is the world that sits on top of that. Things like emo­tion and good­ness or the felt/​body sense of things. If I’m hav­ing a “good day” tech­ni­cally that’s in the atom world, but prac­ti­cally when it’s de­scribed its not literal, nor is it always touch­able from in­side one mind to an­other (my good day is lightly trans­fer­able to you but I can’t force you to take my good day).

The causal realm, (yes they are more like “realms” than “wor­lds”) (some­times called the very sub­tle). Is de­scribed as the place where other realms come from phe­nomenolog­i­cally. Where thoughts come from. When I re­mem­ber where I put the keys, that’s a po­ten­tially gen­er­a­tive thought that seems to arise from nowhere. It’s causal in that it can cause me to go “aha!” (sub­tle emo­tional ex­pe­rience) and get the keys (con­crete ac­tion), but when talk­ing about the causal we are definitely talk­ing about some­thing differ­ent from the atom world.

Ideas and con­cepts ex­ist in a causal sense and map down to the atom world. (al­though the way peo­ple use causal can some­times vary and there’s end­less de­bates on it). As sub­jec­tive cat­e­gories they are a bit vari­able. There’s also the edge where some ex­pe­riences hap­pen at the edge. A par­tic­u­lar way of breath­ing might be more like an emo­tion than a con­crete de­spite be­ing both.

I was talk­ing to a friend about money. And I no­ticed that trad­ing money feels very odd. It always has, trans­ac­tions feel strange. All my life trans­ac­tions have been this odd lit­tle awk­ward dance of re­triev­ing the cash, hand­ing over the cash and re­ceiv­ing the change. There’s a lit­tle bit of so­cial in­ter­ac­tion in the pro­cess but it’s a bit more odd too.

My friend talked about a skill swap where the feel­ing of the trade felt more right and they en­joyed the ex­pe­rience much more be­cause it felt like both sides were giv­ing from the emo­tional part of them­selves.

When I make a fi­nan­cial trade it seems to have a con­crete realm swap of coinage but does not carry the sub­tle “made with love” ev­ery time. It’s just coins. Or at least I don’t ever think about it when I pay for some­thing or get paid. All the ways the cur­rency had changed hands on the way through me to the rest of the econ­omy.

We talked about buy­ing a loaf of bread and the bread hav­ing much more of a sub­tle and causal than the money. It could have been made with love, as I eat it, it sus­tains me for ex­tended pe­ri­ods of time and some of those atoms might be here the rest of my life, helping me to gen­er­ate fu­ture ideas and cre­ate more value in the world.

So here’s my con­cept – I don’t no­tice money hav­ing a sub­tle layer to my ex­pe­rience. It’s just this dull thing to me. I sus­pect this is part of the prob­lem I have when in­ter­fac­ing and think­ing about money.

I have an idea for a group ex­pe­rience, of say 10-15 peo­ple, who show up and make cup­cake sized food bits and show up with a stack of 50c coins.

Start­ing with a dis­cus­sion men­tioned above, fol­lowed by a round of trad­ing with an em­pha­sis on notic­ing the in­ter­est­ing sub­tle ex­pe­riences of trad­ing coin for foods. Notic­ing the coins mov­ing around the room. And “feel­ing” this ex­pe­rience as a group.

Call it a toy econ­omy or just an ex­plo­ra­tion of each per­son’s own “my feel­ings around money”. After­wards a dis­cus­sion of what we found or find. And a shar­ing of the ex­pe­rience.

  • What’s it like to “cre­ate” value?

  • What’s it like to trade value for money?

  • What’s it like to want some­thing more than some­thing else?

  • How does this ap­ply to money in the rest of the world?

  • How do we fit this into the rest of our lives and how we act in the world?

  • What does it feel like to no­tice the pas­sage of money around the room?

  • Did you spend more or less than oth­ers? Faster or slower? Did you spend the same coins or differ­ent coins to the ones you re­ceived?

  • Any ques­tions you find.

I’d like to run this ex­er­cise for a group, and I don’t know how it would go. I don’t know what the take aways are and I would like some com­ments on how peo­ple think it would go and what they might find if they par­ti­ci­pated in the ex­pe­rience.

A friend of mine has an ex­pres­sion of, “pul­ling the wings off flies” to de­scribe the way I some­times fa­cil­i­tate ex­er­cises with­out a lot of struc­ture or with­out a point in mind. Some­times throw­ing peo­ple into the deep end and see­ing how they flounder and what they bring to the group. In gen­eral this an­noys my friend and they have a point. Some­times I don’t know what is go­ing to hap­pen. I am work­ing to­wards do­ing that less and hav­ing more of a point to each ex­er­cise.

I be­lieve there’s some­thing valuable to be found but I don’t know what it is right now and I’d like to find my­self some clar­ity be­fore I fa­cil­i­tate the ex­er­cise.


I reg­u­larly run ex­er­cises in the Syd­ney Ra­tion­al­ity Do­jos, usu­ally more struc­tured than this. I hope to see you there.