I’ve certainly had days where I’ve daydreamed about giving away all my possessions and savings and embarking on a journey a la Christopher McCandless in Into the Wild…and I’m guessing that if you read Tricycle, you might have, too.
But how many of us actually do it?
There is, however, a modern-day American sadhu living in a cave right now in Moab, Utah. Daniel Suelo, who gave up money eleven years ago, has survived for over a decade by foraging off the land, dumpster-diving, hitchhiking, and taking only what is freely given to him from friends and strangers. He does not use or accept money or government welfare. Moab residents, according to this article about Suelo, are divided on whether he is a “prophet or an irredeemable hobo.” The visionary vs. bum debate notwithstanding, now Suelo is becoming a celebrity: there is a book, The Man Who Quit Money, coming out about him next March. He also maintains a website and a blog (no, not from his cave, from the Moab Public Library).
Suelo is a sort of spiritual jack-of-all trades. Raised as a Christian, he spent some time in a Buddhist monastery in Thailand before roaming through India. Inspired by H.H. the Dalai Lama to return to the U.S., Suelo writes on his website, “A true test of faith would be to return to one of the most materialistic, money-worshipping nations on earth, to return to the authentically profound principles of spirituality hidden beneath our own religion of hypocrisy, and be a sadhu there.” He quotes liberally on his website from Buddhist sutras, the Quran, Taoist texts, and the Bible, and insists that anyone who attempts to live without money do so with a solid spiritual base.
Sounds pretty cool, no? We might not all be able to give up money the way he did (we hear you, Moms and Dads and vassals of student loans), but it’s refreshing to read about. And luckily for us, the dharma is free, right? I can hear the discontented muttering in the background already…check out Walker Douglas’ “Dharma on No Dollars a Day,” from Tricycle‘s Winter ’96 issue, for some much-needed inspiration with that.
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