Why do you go to work every day?
The Dragon Tribe of Long Island (The State That Needs No Money) Series
Zhu Lan

Walking along familiar streets, but the blue skies and sweet air have already revealed that this is a foreign land. Looking around, the whole street is covered with lush green trees and fresh flowers while images of buildings and transportation vehicles all feel very pleasing to the eyes. There is not the slightest tinge of luxurious extravagance. The integration of the entire environmental co-ordination is simple, succinct and natural. Passer bys are of different ethnicity and skin colors but they all seem so happy and delighted. One cannot help but smile upon seeing such overflowing joy and happiness. Though I am not clear where this place is but intuition tells me that this is a good and beautiful place.

As I walked on, I felt a little thirsty so I leisurely strolled into a coffee shop round the corner. After drinking a cup of thick, fragrant and delicious coffee, I left my seat, prepared to make my payment.  The genial service personnel who seemed a little stunned, asked, “What is money?”

Even more stunned, I decided to first clarify exactly what country I am in. There is a bookstore not far away. I walked in quickly and went straight to the map section. I discovered that this is an enormous state but it does not match with any of the countries on Earth. Is it not on Earth??? But I have never heard of any findings on human habitation in other planets.

I returned to the streets, totally confused. I took a deep breath of fresh air, reorganized my thoughts and arrived at a supermarket. The first thing I did upon entry was to check if there are any cashier counters. I saw many customers carrying their goods waiting in queue near the exit. This familiar scene greatly set my mind at ease. I conveniently picked a few daily items and went to queue at the end of a waiting line. When my turn was near, I noticed a strange phenomenon. The working staff only focused on organizing and packing the customers’ items swiftly and did not have any cash register operations. My mind felt blank. I put my items down and left the supermarket quickly. Once again, I stood lost in the street.

Where is this place exactly?

How is it that all things here do not have a price?

How can a society possibly not have money?

Totally mystified, I could no longer think but only stood wherever I am. Suddenly I saw a smiling, well dressed gentleman walking towards me. He introduced himself as my guide and welcomed my arrival. Seeing the bewildered look on my face, he smiled even more deeply and inquired about my needs and what I would like to see, understand or experience.

Stabilizing myself, I sat down with my guide and started the multitude of my questions.

I asked, “Don’t you have something called money here?”
Guide asked, “Money? What is money?”

I took some notes and coins out from my wallet and placed them in the open. The gentleman guide took a look at them in detail for a while, then asked, “What is the use of these little dirty pieces of paper and small tinsels?”

How does one then explain money to another who lives in a country state, where money is not required? I really don’t know where to start, so I barely sorted out my ideas and answered, “In the country I live in, we do some work and we get paid in the form of money. Everything has a price, whether buying or eating, we have to pay through money. So without money, one cannot live.”

The gentleman asked, “So in your country, work is for money.”
I answered, “Yes. Ain’t work for the purpose of earning money?”

Gentleman answered, “We want to work for other people, for the society and also for making contributions of oneself while the things that we need in life, the society and people in it would cater back to us.”

I replied, “But with money, you can save them for future need. More savings can also bring about more luxurious lifestyle which many people in my country delights in.

Gentleman asked, “What is luxury?”
I answered, “One can buy and eat all that one desires.”

Gentleman replied, “We are also able to get all that we desire too.”
I said, “Obtaining your ordinary daily needs is not called luxury. Luxury refers to the possession of things that are very costly or having far more of what is required from our daily needs.”

Completely missing the point, the gentleman displayed an expression of disbelief. He asked, "What is the use of having more than what is required? Won't the start of such pursuits bring about an endless cycle?" 

I felt that the gentleman’s reasoning has been most logical but I could not concede defeat so easily so I answered, “However if one has savings, one would be able to feel more secure in old age or when one could no longer work, right?”

The guide who was becoming even more puzzled could only answer in question now. He queried, “Over here, we are happy to present gifts for the needs of the elderly and people who are unable to work. In your place, if such people have no money, they would get nothing?

Hearing this, I could no longer debate on my heaps of questions on systems such as annuity, so I changed the topic of discussion, “But how is a society to function without this money thing?

The gentleman replied, “Even in your country, no one eats or uses money directly right? Money is just a recognized common measurement tool for value by your people. Suppose money disappears totally from your country and everyone still continues to do what they are supposed to do, then how could a society not function?

Although I could share his logic, but I still did not think that realistically such a condition is feasible, “If money does not exist, then there would not be anybody working, our world would then collapse.”

Gentleman laughed, “The world collapses for these pieces of paper and small metal tinsels is indeed a very interesting view. However the possibility of immediate change in your country’s entire system is truly very small.  What is most important and essential now is the spiritual growth of your people. You are the ones to fully decide how the future social system will look like. When you do not require money to obtain that which you want, would you be able to control your desires? Would you still go to work when you will not receive any direct remuneration from all your hard work and efforts?

I did not know how to reply the guide. He continued, “If the majority of the people in your state still hold the idea of working only for money, then there can be no real sense of consciousness progress. The purpose of work is to give, not to receive. If it is only for the reward, many problems would certainly arise. For example, no matter how much effort has made, one would always hope for the reward to be more, the better. Regardless of the work engaged is essential or not, one would never give it up in order to secure one’s interests and advantages. At the same time, the various professions, crises and problems derived from money would naturally cease to exist when there is no longer such a thing called money. As such, resources in the area of manpower, logistics and efforts restored to the society would be inconceivable.” 

As our conversation continued, the picture of the money-less state is revealed even more clearly. Here, all is based on faith. The people are more concerned with how one can better serve the community and others, rather than the matters of oneself. One’s job lies in where one’s abilities are. There are absolutely no wastages, one takes only what is needed. Although the standard of living, culture and technology are highly developed, our so-called “luxury” does not exist in their world. Their wisdom is sufficient for them to realize what truly matters. They cherish resources, hence garbage is extremely minimal. There is no comparison of “what you have, I must also have.” Neither is there the competition of “I want to have more and better than what you do.” Neither is there the desire of “making one’s mark, to become outstanding.” Whether it is material or spiritual life, all possess a certain calmness and joy. We, who are lost in our endless pursuit of what is unimportant and unneeded, are a far cry in comparison to them.

Is such society created because there is no requirement for money? Or is it because such group of people exists in the society, hence making ‘monetary system’ totally unnecessary? Perhaps the most direct and important question that one wishes to ask is, “If money is not involved, would you still go to work tomorrow?”

 

Translated by D.D.
Original Chinese article was published in Lapis magazine (February 2009 issue);
Available online at:
http://www.lapislazuli.org/TradCh/magazine/200902/20090206.html