Saturday, 12 September 2009

Ethical Banking: Love in Action

‘Some would term our efforts futile, but if all were to follow our example, what a change would be wrought for our beloved Planet!’
– Margaret Atwood, from ‘Year of the Flood’

This article is of a less esoteric nature, and yet it concerns a subject close to my heart - how we can all create a better, fairer world together.

Ethical Banking: What are you funding with your money?

When we think of banks, we primarily look for a secure place to deposit our money that pays us a good rate of interest. For this reason, many of us bank with traditional High Street banks. But have you thought about how the bank might invest your money when you are not using it? A bank’s core business is to lend the money you deposit with them to somebody else. We generally don’t know who the banks lend to and what the money will be used for. Hence, your money may be – and often is - used to fund wars, animal testing, nuclear power, tobacco or companies that operate in countries where human rights are disregarded.

What are the alternatives?

Unlike most High Street banks, ethical banks are concerned with the social and environmental impacts of their investments and loans. They are regulated by the same authorities as traditional banks, but share a common set of principles, primarily transparency about who they fund. Interest rates may not be as high as those of traditional banks as ethical companies tend to operate on narrower margins, but a better, fairer and healthier world might be the pay-off.

Switching your bank account, even though it may seem arduous, is actually very easy. Banks are now able to automatically transfer your standing orders and direct debits to your new account, meaning that your main task is to notify people who pay into your account, such as your employer.

Ethical banks and investments

There are now a growing number of ethical banks and investments to choose from.

The main, longest-established ethical bank is The Co-Operative Bank ( ) and its Internet equivalent Smile ( ), although, strictly speaking, there are doubts about as to whether their policy is completely ethical. However, the Co-Op has moved into the right direction and offered good alternatives to mainstream banking for many years.

The Triodos Bank ( ), based in Bristol, is Europe’s leading ethical bank as it directly invests in ethical and environmentally friendly enterprises and offers targeted account, such as the Earth and Organic Savers.

The Ecology Building Society ( ) lends money for the purpose of ecologically sound properties only.

For savings and investments, building societies such as Abbey National are an ethically neutral way to save, as the societies are owned by their members.

If you want to directly contribute to the growth of ethical businesses, you could think of taking out an ethical investment. You could consult a financial advisor that specializes in ethical investments, or visit the following links to find out more:

Ethical Consumer

Vegan Society

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

I am going to light a fire in Paradise and to pour water on to Hell, so that both veils may vanish altogether. -- Rabia, an 8th Century Iraqi woman poet and Sufi saint

Friday, 4 September 2009

What do you REALLY want?

A friend from Pakistan posted this article on Facebook this morning. I found it so inspirational that I want to share it here. It's Full Moon this afternoon and it feels like a time to really ask ourselves.... yes, what do we really want? I for one am going to spend some time contemplating that.....

This article reminds me of a saying I have posted on my desk:

"Don't ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive and then go do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive." Dr. Howard Thurman

What Do You Want? and Tell the Truth

Robert Rabbin

In my line of work, it's common to have people tell me they are stuck, lost, confused, conflicted, or afraid. There's something NQR (not quite right) about their lives. Maybe their relationship is faltering; maybe their work sucks; maybe they are trying to find their role and purpose in life. Perhaps enlightenment seems farther away than when they started hunting it. Most feel oppressed with insufficient meaning, erratic motivation, and some degree of dissatisfaction or sadness.

They want to seize the day and capture the moment, but the day slips through their fingers and the moment from their grasp.

In these conversations, I always ask one question: What do you want? With this proviso: And tell the truth.

I want to make a difference. I want more fulfilling work. I want to align with my higher self. I want to make more money. And off we go on the merry-go-round of what people say they want.

I look in their eyes when they say these things. I look for a light, for a spark, for some sign of authenticity.

I never see it. That's what NQR.

They think they know what they want, or they think they know that they don't know, because they've worked it out in their heads. They've got thoughts and ideas and beliefs about what they want. They use language to sort it all out and to communicate it. They have stories about why they want it: reasons and explanations and justifications. It's all in their heads.

But no light. No spark. No fire. Not in their eyes. Not in their bellies.

I ask what they've done, what actions they've taken towards what they say they want. Well, I can't because … And then they tell a story. Often the story is that something bad will happen if they pursue the truth. So they stay in their heads and keep spinning.

I'm looking for action. Life is lived in actions, not reasons, explanations, and justifications.

But not any action. Authentic action, propelled by authentic desire. That's what I want to know from people: what do you authentically want?

Not what you think you want. Not what you're supposed to want. Not what someone told you to want. Not the good thing, the right thing, the moral thing, the ethical thing, the spiritual thing. Just the thing, the thing you want.

What do you want?

Everyone knows. It's hardwired into us. But it's way down deep, the flecks of gold in our bedrock. We don't go there. We go, instead, into the stories of the flecks of gold. It's not the same.

As I work with people, I discover the same taboo each time, the forbidding door to the deep I want. Until we get through that door, we will be forever lost, confused, and conflicted. Even if we have a best-selling book, or appear on Oprah. Even if we've read 20,000 books or disappeared into ether or talk to dead people.

The great taboo is that we are afraid of what we want. The fear of what we want is what makes us tell lies about what we want.

What do you want? And tell the truth.

When people open the forbidden taboo-door to what they want, and tell the truth, I hear different things, said with a different tone and with escalating energy, and glimmers of light: I want to leave my family and start a new life. I want to be sexually dominated. I want stop meditating and trying so hard to be spiritual. I want to quit my job and go back to school. I want to be an artist. I want to stop hiding. I want to tell my boss she's a fucking bitch.

The energy imprisoned behind the previously locked door of what we want starts moving. That's the beauty. That's where the life is. That's the beginning of authenticity. That's where it all is, in the energy of life.

Why are we afraid of what we want? Because that simple truth, that simple gold-flecked bit of bedrock way down deep, below our thoughts and ideas and beliefs; below our stories and reasons and explanations — that simple answer to that simple question shatters everything else we know and think we know.

It takes us from our minds into life. It takes us from imitation to authenticity. It takes us from cowardice to courage. It takes us from hope to fulfillment.

Whatever insight we might need, whatever wisdom we want, comes to us from acting authentically, from telling the truth of what we want and then freeing those wild horses to romp in the wilderness of deep desire. This is how we live a true life. This is how we come to know, through authenticity and truth-telling, as much of how the universe works as we need to know.

Don Juan Matus, the either actual or fictional mentor of Carlos Castaneda, put it this way, "The flaw with words is that they always make us feel enlightened, but when we turn around to face the world they always fail us and we end up facing the world as we always have, without enlightenment. For this reason, a warrior seeks to act rather than to talk, and to this effect he gets a new description of the world — a new description where talking is not that important, and where new acts have new reflections, and a new world is born."

We've got to find a way to trust our deep desires and to tell the truth about that. It's freeing and revelatory. It's heaven and perfection. It's authentic and juicy. Dripping juicy.

Of course, you might think you know less than you did. You might give away all your spiritual books and knickknacks. People might not recognize you. You might start being kinky in bed — and out of it. You might make people feel uncomfortable. You might not do what's right, moral, or ethical. You might threaten authority. You might scare the crap out of yourself.

But I tell you this: You will never again feel as if something is NQR in your life. You will have found you and your place in life. You will have found the inner treasure. You will have found your evolving path in life. You will have found your map, your meaning, your everything. You will hear from deep within you a heard of galloping horses, each on fire, each an animal-rocket of force and fury. You will find yourself in a life you never imagined, doing things you couldn't have ever dreamed of. And it will be good.

And if those aren't precious gifts to give yourself, and others, then I don't know what is.

©Robert Rabbin 2009;