The Man Who Quit Money: An Interview with Daniel Suelo

“Money only exists if two or more people believe it exists.” – Daniel Suelo

When I first heard the story of Daniel Suelo, I was immediately intrigued. After all, Daniel lives entirely without money and has done so for the past 12 years. In 2000, he put his entire life savings in a phone booth, walked away, and has lived moneyless ever since. Most frequently, he lives in the caves and wilderness of Utah where he eats wild vegetation, scavenges roadkill, pulls food from dumpsters, and is sometimes fed by friends and strangers. Daniel proudly boasts that he does not take food stamps or government handouts.

I found myself very interested in hearing what he has learned from the experience and how it might inspire me in my own journey to live with fewer possessions. So I contacted Daniel to see if I could ask him a few questions about his life and what views on money and possessions have shaped his existence. He graciously agreed. This is how our conversation went:

1) Earlier this year, your story was documented in a book titled The Man Who Quit Money. I opened this interview with a brief introduction. Am I missing anything here Daniel? Anything I should be adding to help us get a better understanding of who you are and the life you have chosen to live?

I don’t care for the statement, “Daniel proudly boasts that he does not take food stamps or government handouts,” because it can be construed that I put myself above those who must take food stamps or government handouts. I don’t judge those who do. I merely mention that I don’t take government assistance for the sake of those who might think I’m living on their tax dollars. I do boast about having few possessions and no money, because it’s ironic fun to boast about nothing special (wild creatures, after all, have few possessions or money and it really feels like no big deal), and to boast about what the rest of our commercial society debases.

I will add that I do make a small exception to taking government handouts: I use the public library to maintain my blog, website, do emails, and read books. This does cause ire in people searching for loopholes in my lifestyle. In my blog comments, a woman once responded to their anger by declaring that she pays taxes and doesn’t use the library, and that she donates all her library time to me. Then they were quiet.

2) Thanks so much for taking the time for this interview. I find it interesting that so many of the articles highlighting your story include something similar to this line: Suelo “came from a good family and has been to college. He was not mentally ill, nor an addict. His decision appears to have been an act of free will by a competent adult.” So, for starters, you are clearly not a crazy man. Correct?

A crazy man does not think himself crazy, so my opinion on the matter is meaningless :-) People will have to judge my sanity for themselves.

But it would be nice if we lived in a world that considered it crazy to cause harm to ourselves, others, and our environment or to praise those who do cause such harm. Then we’d have to say we live in a truly crazy civilization. A sane society would consider it crazy to kill living things and destroy food and water supplies in order to amass something that nobody can eat or drink, like gold, silver, and money. It’s crazy to sacrifice reality to the idol of illusion.

3) The thinking that led to your journey into willful moneylessness evolved by degrees during your travels. Could you share with us some of the foundational beliefs that have evolved in your life that led you to make this decision to give up money entirely?

My first thought of living moneyless came when I was a child. In my Evangelical Christian upbringing, I wondered why, if we were followers of Jesus, we didn’t practice his teachings–namely giving up possessions and doing not for the sake of reward (money and barter), but giving freely and receiving freely.

When I left home for college, I studied other religions and found that all the world’s major religions teach giving up possessions and doing not for the sake of reward. If all the separated witnesses are saying the same thing, it must be true. Ironically, few practice the one thing they all agree upon in word. What would happen if we actually practiced this stuff, I thought.

My dad also took us camping a lot, and I was a nature freak. I couldn’t help but see how perfectly balanced nature was, and it ran on no money. Why, then, couldn’t we?

As an adult, I thought it through more thoroughly. Nature’s economy is a pay-it-forward economy. This means one sows, another reaps, ad infitum. For example, a bear takes a raspberry, and the raspeberry bush demands nothing in return. The Bear takes with zero sense of obligation, zero guilt. The bear then poops somewhere else, not only providing food for soil organisms, but also propagating raspberry seeds. You never see 2 wild creatures consciously bartering. There are no accountants worrying what the bush will get in return. This is exactly why it works, because nobody knows how it works! There is no consciousness of credit and debt in nature. Consciousness of credit and debt is knowledge of good and evil, valuing one thing and devaluing another. Consciousness of credit and debt is our fall from Grace. Grace means gratis, free gift.

My next impetus for living moneyless came from observing the world economy and politics. Do our economy and politics function well? It’s self-evident, isn’t it?

My next impetus for living moneyless was to find authenticity for myself. To do out of one’s heart is to be real. To do for somebody, expecting something from them, is ulterior motivation, which is to not be real, which is to prostitute oneself.

My last impetus for living moneyless was to heal myself. Okay, I guess I’ll talk about my craziness. To heal myself was to first see myself as crazy, and only them could I become free of craziness. I was suffering clinical depression. Mental illness is rooted in having unnecessary, thoughts and to let go of unnecessary thoughts is to free oneself from mental illness. This is basic Buddhist philosophy. It is the philosophy of all the ancient religions. To cling to thoughts is to possess thoughts and this outwardly manifests itself in having unnecessary physical possessions. We accumulate what we don’t need out of fear and anxiety. This is true craziness. Unnecessary thoughts and unnecessary physical possessions (including possessing people) are inextricably linked. To accumulate unnecessary possessions is not to live in abundance, as we’re led to believe, but is to live in scarcity. Why would we have too much stuff if we believed the universe was abundant? Why would we worry if we weren’t crazy? Worry is simply lack of faith, faith that everything we need is in the here and now.

4) Your spirituality is clearly an important part of your journey. In what ways, have your spiritual beliefs strengthened you for this journey and lifestyle?

I mentioned above that this is about faith. Faith is eliminating unnecessary thought, trusting that everything we need comes as we need it, whether it is the right thoughts or the right possessions. Faith is being grounded in the Eternal Present. This is the common truth of the world’s religions.

5) What are some of the most important lessons about money/people/society you have personally learned over the past 12 years? And did any of these lessons surprise you?

Most important is that I’ve learned our true nature lives moneyless, giving freely and receiving freely. Even the most staid CEO is human underneath, and gives and receives freely with friends and family. By cultivating this nature in myself, I can see it in others, and it can be cultivated in others. When our real selves are cultivated, the gift economy is cultivated, our unreal selves (based on ulterior motivation) and all the nonsense drops away.

I have been surprised at the intensely angry reaction thousands of people have had at my living moneyless. It used to bother me, but now I realize that anger doesn’t come from people’s true nature, but from the facade they build up. The facade is threatened by reality. Who wants to hear that the basis of our commercial civilization is an illusion? Money only exists if two or more people believe it exists. Money is not a physical substance, but merely a belief in the head. Money is credit, and credit literally means belief (e.g. credibility). Money is literally a creed, the most agreed-upon creed, or religion, in the world. And what fundamentalists won’t get angry if you question their creed?

6) The reality of today’s society is that most people will never make the full leap into moneylessness like you have. Do you believe that your lifestyle still offers important inspiration for individuals and families? And if so, in what ways?

As I said, we all live moneyless at our core, in our everyday actions with friends, family, and even strangers. People tell me almost every day that they find living this way inspiring and even comforting. Even if people don’t intend on giving up money, they can still find that it isn’t the end of the world if they lose their money. If you are not religious, it is comforting to be reminded that life has flourished in balance for millions of years without money, and why should it fall apart without money now? Nature evolved you from an amoeboid to a human over millions of years, with zero money, so why should nature give up on you now? How is it that, when natural disasters (tornadoes, earthquakes, tsunamis) hit towns and cities, people suddenly forget about money and start helping each other? It’s comforting that we have a true nature beneath the falseness and ulterior motivation of commercial civilization.

And if you are religious, it’s comforting to know there is profound truth at the core of your religion (whether Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Taoist, Sikh) that actually works if you practice it, that it isn’t all a lie. If we don’t practice the core truth of giving up possessions and ulterior motivation that every religion teaches, then of course our religion becomes a destructive lie, as we see all around us.

7) What are the practical steps individuals can take to free themselves from their pursuit (and bondage) to money – even if they will never live entirely moneyless?

People get overwhelmed unless they realize that all the tools they have are here and now, and steps can be taken right here and now.

Everybody, no matter how entrenched they are in the money system, can freely give and freely receive. Freely giving and freely receiving is our true nature, is true human-ness. And everybody is human. As I said earlier, it’s about being real, cultivating our true nature, and everything else falls into place, and all the falsehood drops away, no matter what station in life people are in. Even if somebody is totally skeptical about what I am doing, I challenge them to make it their goal to be totally real, with themselves and with every human interaction, and I propose they will then know whether or not I’m living a pipe dream.

Somebody once commented that our cities and towns could not function without money. But I say they and the world can’t function right now in the present system.

Take classic American suburbia, for example. People don’t know their neighbors, and everybody has their own cars, computers, TVs, lawn mowers, washing machines, etc, etc, as well as stockpiles of food and land they could grow food on. All we need is right here, but the only thing that’s holding us back is not physical reality, but belief, dogma. What if we actually spoke to our neighbors and agreed to share, like we learned in kindergarten and in church? What if we realized we could share cars, computers, washing machines, have dinners together, etc, which would not only save us expense, but would save expense on the environment, and, as a bonus, put smiles on our lonely faces? Then cities and technology would start serving us, rather than us serving them. But what’s holding us back? Not reality, not scarcity, but only our thinking!

As far as going all the way and living without money, people often ask me to teach them survival skills. Often I feel like I don’t know many skills, that it’s really about determination and getting up the confidence more than actual skill. Sometimes I tell folks to imagine something really silly: what if somebody offered you a million dollars to live without money for a year? I guarantee most people would figure out how to do it, skilled or no. This is about finding a determination, a motivation greater than a million dollars!

8) I’m curious how concerned you are about spreading this message of living free from money. I know you had the book written about you, you maintain your website, and you have agreed to this interview and various others. Is there a message you believe you have inside that is important to get out? And do you look forward to your story continuing to spread?

Yes, I now have a strong urge to spread the message. At first I just wanted to live my own life, whether or not anybody else took notice or not. Then I realized a message was errupting in me that I could no more suppress than an erupting volcano. Our society is not sustainable and we are not only heading rapidly into, but most the world has already reached disaster, due directly to our being trapped by our own beliefs. I want to shout this out to the world. But talk isn’t enough. It must be talk with action, right now. We could debate whether or not Paul Revere was trying to gain attention for himself, or we could simply take notice that the British are invading and we have to get off our butts!

Thanks so much for your time Daniel, I really do appreciate it. Your experience is unique – at least, in our society. As a result, it provides each of us an opportunity to reevaluate your own opinions and views on how we choose to live. And for that, I am very thankful.

To discover more about Daniel’s specific journey or find the answers to the questions swirling in your head, I’ll refer you to the FAQ on his website.

But before you leave, what parts of Daniel’s story resonated most with you? Did you discover any new insight or inspiration during the interview? Let us know in the comment section below. I’m interested to hear how his story is challenging others.

Joshua Becker

About Joshua Becker

Writer. Inspiring others to live more by owning less.
Bestselling author of Simplify & Clutterfree with Kids.

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Comments

  1. Mary Weatherbee says

    It’s a shame that he didn’t donate his life savings to a charity or a church instead of just leaving it in a phone booth.

    • says

      Though I didn’t ask the question and nor should I speak for him, I’d make the argument that his decision to place the money in a phone booth found a foundation in his desire to give and receive freely. Just as the raspberry bush doesn’t decide which bear eats its fruit, so Daniel made no decision who received the money.

      That being said, it’s an even bigger shame that so few us give any percentage of our savings to a church or charity… much less all of it.

      • says

        Joshua answers this beautifully.
        I can add to it that the scriptures of those churches we might donate to tell us to love our enemies and give to the “undeserving” as well as the “deserving”, because this is the way of Nature (or God, if you please), where the sun shines and the rain rains on both the just and the unjust. The sun didn’t make Hitler and Gandhi sit down and fill out an application to determine their worthiness to receive its totally gifted energy. Both equally basqued in its rays. Random free giving is magic, for it evolved us and continues to evolve us.

        • says

          Dan,
          I’m a pastor and I drive an 18 year old car because of people like you!

          :)

          Seriously, I understand your sentiments about pastors and cars. I’m not comfortable buying an expensive car considering that my salary is provided through the generosity of church members. I feel an obligation to be a good steward of my salary for many reasons. One is to be an example of frugality and simple living. I need reliable transportation but I don’t need any more than that.

          Thanks for your honesty!

    • says

      Hello Mary,
      You inspired me to ask myself, did he waste his life savings by randomly giving it to someone (phone booth)? One way charity is defined:

      1. generous actions or donations to aid the poor, ill, or helpless. Something given to a person or persons in need. A charitable act or work.

      I’d say what he did was charity. And 90% of his money won’t be consumed by administrative costs (salary and profit) before it actually reaches it’s intended recipient in “need.”

  2. says

    An inspirational way of living. I don’t see how everyone could go moneyless as he does rely on others to some extent (although it is very unlikely everyone willl be giving up money soon). But still it is great to know there are people out there like him.

      • Elissa Teal says

        Exactly, Joshua. I doubt that I will go moneyless for a variety of reasons but I learned so much from reading the book. I am already changed by it for the better.

  3. says

    Very interesting read. Always nice to take a step back and see someone who reminds us that nature is still a lot more big, powerful and important than any concepts that man can create.

  4. Paul Rumohr says

    Money and possessions bring us pleasant distractions and entertainments but also unfortunately can serve to distract us from deeper connections with others and the joys of the present moment.

    It’s really impressive that Daniel was able to pull himself out of his funk by deciding to go “cold turkey” on money and disconnect himself from our modern economy. At the same time I feel that he didn’t do it to be totally anti social and isolate himself in a cave, but rather to test the ancient wisdom that we are much more than our cars, houses and bank accounts.

    I’ll take his challenge to be more real with my relationships with others- to see what happens when I try to give and take more (graciously) from others.

  5. says

    Thank you for conducting this interview Joshua.

    Thank you for imparting your wisdom, Daniel.

    “To do out of one’s heart is to be real. To do for somebody, expecting something from them, is ulterior motivation, which is to not be real…”

    I really enjoyed the whole interview, but if I had to pick one sentence that impacted me, it would be that one.

    I am trying to spend less work (for money) and spend more time on my passions (things I do for free.) I recently paid off all my debt in January, and these have been the best 5 months of my life. I have gained a mindset of abundance. I have more than I will ever need. I am leaving North Dakota in August to slowly backpack south to Brazil. I’m going to explore the gift economy and challenge my view on money. I’m going to tell my story in the form of a web comic. I’m always looking for mentors, and you have introduced me to another one in Daniel. And I really appreciate it!

    Have you heard of Heidemarie Schwermer from Germany? She’s been living the last 16 years without money as well.

    Thanks again!

    • says

      Thanks for adding to this conversation Mitchell. I had not heard of Heidemarie previously. I’ll have to look her up.

      On a personal note, you are leaving North Dakota to backpack Brazil? What are you crazy? Just kidding, of course. I actually lived in North Dakota for 4 years during high school. And congratulations on getting out of debt!

      • says

        There is a documentary on Heidemarie called “Living without Money.” I purchased it and enjoyed watching it a few times. If you’re interested, let me know where to send it and I’ll pass it on to you.

        I am leaving North Dakota — first stop, Burning Man! ND is a great place, I’m sure I’ll come back at some point. I grew up in Williston, but since high school I’ve lived in Jamestown. Where did you go to high school?

  6. says

    Wow Joshua. Thanks a ton for pushing publish on this post!
    I love reading about people who are at the “extreme” edge of society. Extreme is in quotes because this is obviously subjective. Many of the people who dare to do what nobody else would do are the kinds of enlightened folks like Daniel.
    His thoughts remind me a lot of many schools of religion and philosophy. After reading this I immediately thought about Seneca in his “Letters from a Stoic” when he says:

    “There is nothing harsh about having to do without things for which you have ceased to have any craving.”

    I’m not sure what I’ll do as a result of reading this post today but I’m confident I’ll be a better person for it.

  7. Crystal T. says

    Wow what a very wise and inspirational man. I hope he continues to share his wisdom and journey as there in it lies a lot of truth that people can learn from. He is definitely doing his part in making this world a better place. Thanks for sharing.

  8. says

    While I think this is a fascinating article and really appeals to me (even as an atheist).

    What will happen to Daniel if he becomes sick through infection, without the money, it’s a barrier to living a longer life. Does Daniel just accept his fate, even if knowing he could have an extra ten years if he had money?

    I’m not trying to nitpick, I think it’s an interesting situation that wasn’t discussed, these things don’t matter as much when we’re younger.

  9. BV says

    I wonder what Daniel would do if he was a woman and had periods. Maybe I should ask him myself..

    Anyway, Joshua, what a lovely article! Most of us, myself included, aren’t giving up money or lifestyles anytime soon, but I found recently that when I had less money I worried about “meeting up with friends” for a drink because that is expensive. Instead, I had water or coke and had a better time because I stopped thinking about money and focused on the experience of being with my friends. Maybe if we did that more often, we’d be richer and happier. Something for us to learn from Daniel.

    • Bobbi Shaftoe says

      What does having periods have to do with living without money? Danielle ;-) would probably say that there are plenty of natural solutions available all around us. Personally, my last purchase before giving all my money away would be a new moon cup that would last me through menopause. I haven’t purchased any fem supplies since I bought my first one years ago.

    • says

      I’m not gonna bother with the feminine questions, but I wanted to mention that I appreciated your response to the article BV because that’s exactly where I was headed with question #6. Given the present reality of our society today, what can we still from you and his journey? I don’t have plans to give up money forever either. But I felt strongly there were important life lessons in his story that could help us in ours. Thanks for your input and practical example of this truth working itself in your life.

      • BV says

        I mentioned periods because they are female only thing, and whilst I certainly do not need or want to go into detail, it’s a highly important practical consideration for a women should she want to follow this example. It isn’t impossible to do, and perhaps only the women want to explore this one, and that’s fine – I didn’t, by the way, write it to make anyone feel uncomfortable, so apologies if so.

        And Joshua – I’m glad that you “got” the second point i was making. We can all learn a lot here! Loving the blog, as always :-)

        • says

          Feminine products haven’t always existed. To answer this question about periods, you just have to take a look to the past. What did women do before there were things like tampons and pads? Obviously they survived.

    • says

      BV –
      I’ve traveled with women a few times, & only one clued me in about menstruation. She used socks, washing them regularly.

      One of my great inspiration is Peace Pilgrim, a woman who walked for 30 years without money, who carried nothing except her clothes, pencil, paper, comb, toothbrush. But she started at around 50, meaning past her period of periods. I’m a wimp compared to PP, since I still carry backpack & sleeping bag & tarp.

    • Mia says

      Hi, you can use the keeper http://www.keeper.com/. I’ve been using it for 7 years or so now and I love it. It’s comfortable (I forget I’m wearing it) and good for the environment. I’ll never go back to disposable pads.

    • says

      I don’t live without money, nor do I intend to, but I also don’t give any money to the corporations that profit on trying to convince me that I can’t live without their “feminine hygiene” products. Women lived in nature without access to plastics for a long time. My personal solutions aren’t that primitive, but they do involve washable cotton, and I spend approximately $10 every 10 years on making some new ones. Plenty of info on the internet it you want to look around.

      And if you’re talking about more complicated things like pregnancy…well, women have been having babies since long before the invention of money too. That’s how we all got here.

  10. Reality says

    The are 2 core reason why people want riches: 1) they don’t want to worry about working anymore 2) not being lonely. Laziness coupled with the knowledge that a big backyard with a BBQ center and a swimming pool can find you lots of friends keeps us wanting more. However, if everyone became like Daniel who would want to suffer through 4 years of medical school? Where is the incentive? Where do we go for medical help if everyone is essentially a bum? We as humans need incentive. Even if u search history, even if you believe humans existed billions of years ago (although written history goes back about 30,000 years) humans bartered! Everything has a price and a cost. Without incentive society falls apart.

    • JENNIFER says

      If your SUFFERING through 4 years of Medical school, its a job and not a vocation or passion. If we where a moneyless society then people would be drawn to work that fullfilled them and not need to be paid with money or goods.
      As for the history of barter, thats just history and we are conditioned to think I cannot do this if I donnot receive something in return.

  11. BV says

    We would still have people who want to be doctors, just a totally different way of paying for it. We all need medical care, generally speaking, at some point.

  12. Laura says

    I found this article very interesting Joshua, thanks for sharing Daniel’s story! I have to agree with BV that for us females, going entirely moniless isn’t as easy an option, but I don’t necessarily believe his perspective was on not consuming but rather on the empahsis that today’s society places on the possessions we all clamor for (myself most definitely!) If I had to pick one statement that resonated with me it would be:

    “Take classic American suburbia, for example. People don’t know their neighbors, and everybody has their own cars, computers, TVs, lawn mowers, washing machines, etc, etc, as well as stockpiles of food and land they could grow food on…. What if we realized we could share cars, computers, washing machines, have dinners together, etc, which would not only save us expense, but would save expense on the environment, and, as a bonus, put smiles on our lonely faces?”

    I realize this is a very communal style of living, but I for one know that with my current lifestyle of personal possessions – said car, television, computer, etc.- I rarely have any need to go out and socialize with another if I chose not to. How many friends and neighbors have I missed sharing life with because I can live a comfortable existence right in my own home???

  13. says

    I’m so glad you did this interview. I’ve been a fan of Suelo for years and it’s exciting to see his message reaching a wider audience.

  14. says

    This interview/topic strikes a lot of discord in my head. I’ve had similar ambitions as a youth. I wanted to give up everything and just live off nature. Like Daniel, I felt that nature was perfectly in balance and non-human animals had it right. However, after studying animal behavior (my degree), I realized that we are just animals with our own set of problems, and no animal, humans included, have it “right”. So many species do horrible things: thievery, rape, murder, war. If we were to truly follow our closest living “relatives”, we would see that there is so much bad out there. What I take from nature is to try to not take more than I need. However, I also realize that in order to get away from the “bad” animal practices, I also have to take some of the human advancements we do have. Neither situation is win-win (Daniel’s v. “typical” Americans). I truly believe it’s about learning from nature to better our own species, which includes times when we have to change our more animalistic behaviors.

  15. says

    Really interesting! I think about minimalism (and read your blog!) and am working to make my life simpler and simpler (even as my kids get older and things seem to get more and more complicated!). This look at one end of the spectrum is really helpful. I would like to mention your interview – and create a link to this post – as well as share my own thoughts about it on my blog. I am relatively new to blogging, so please let me know if there is some blog etiquette I may be missing. You are one of the few blogs I read regularly and I really admire the way you have made your life work for you.
    Thanks!

    • says

      You are missing no blog etiquette Annie. No permission needed. Links make the Internet work. I’ll look forward to reading your thoughts on the interview. Let me know when you post it.

  16. says

    This seems like such a great idea, ’til I really get into thinking about things like…healthcare. Eventually, most of us need medical assistance, even if we’re REALLY lucky. I wonder how he’ll cover that cost…

  17. says

    @JonathanJK &
    @Megyn @MinimalistMommi

    Here’s a portion from an essay in my website, to address your comments.
    https://sites.google.com/site/livingwithoutmoney/Home/our-fall-from-grace–our-departure-from-gratis
    Beware, it’s not comfortable to think about these things. But we must:

    “Natural Selection

    But I’m not naive. Yes, there’s plenty of struggle and conflict in nature, but it shouldn’t be any other way! It’s no more possible to eliminate struggle and conflict as to erase negative charges of electrons! There is enough struggle and death-balance to be challenging, which is exactly what life needs, what we need, but it is not all-consuming as the nature flicks would have you believe. In nature, struggle and conflict is in perfect balance with ease and play, otherwise life wouldn’t have survived in beauty and harmony for millions of years. We need struggle and conflict as much as we need food. In fact, food is struggle and conflict. “This is my body: take, eat.” Is there insufferable boredom in nature that you find in our gilded cages of commercial civilization? Will you find a dog barking piteously and incessantly out of boredom and loneliness in nature? Will you find in nature a tiger pacing back and forth, chewing off her own fur, making bald spots, as you do in zoos? I know I would rather be dead and extinct than be embalmed alive in a zoo or on a chain in somebody’s back yard.

    Nature abhors prolonged suffering, and naturally selects it out. Commercial civilization thrives on prolonged suffering. How many times have you ever seen a malnourished or obese animal in nature? If, on the rare occasion you might, it will be immediately selected out. But commercial civilization not only coddles and encourages chronic illness and faulty genes, but it passes them on from generation to generation. And we call nature cruel.”

    • says

      Actually there is a blatant untruth in your argument. Stress is alive and well in the animal kingdom. And, unlike your argument, stress continues to grow the more social an animal becomes. Please check out Robert Sapolsky’s work. If stress was not beneficial, why would be it still be around in every social group we see? Granted, it’s partly because of Sapolsky’s studies that we understand the negative effects of stress, but it still exists in droves in the social animal world. Your argument just doesn’t hold up in that regard.

      • says

        When did I ever say there was no stress in nature? Aren’t I agreeing with you that struggle (stress) is what life needs? I’ll repaste what I said above:

        “Yes, there’s plenty of struggle and conflict in nature, but it shouldn’t be any other way! It’s no more possible to eliminate struggle and conflict as to erase negative charges of electrons! There is enough struggle and death-balance to be challenging, which is exactly what life needs, what we need, but it is not all-consuming as the nature flicks would have you believe.”

        There’s a vast difference between everyday conflicts (including stresses) and prolonged suffering. We eliminate everyday conflicts and the cost we pay is prolonged suffering. Just look around.

        We can be so looking through microscopes we can’t see life for what it is. Again, compare our “civilization” with wild nature: how often do you see a malnurished or obese wild animal (I’m not talking domestic)? How often do you see chronic illness? How often do you see genetic disorders passed down generation to generation?

        • says

          You said there was no prolonged illness or stress, but Sapolsky’s research prevents sufficient evidence otherwise. Prolonged stress and subsequent illnesses are not as rampant in animal communities as in human society. However, you also have to consider that are social groupings are drastically larger than that of any other social animal. Even chimps usually max out at around 50 in a group. When you only have to deal with possibly 100 members of your species in your entire life time, it’s easier to get along. However, our society is nowhere near having to deal anything close to that. It’s makes perfectly logical sense that just being around such an extreme number of the same species will add to the number of people dealing with stress and related conditions.

          As for obese animals, you do rarely see that in nature but only because food is typically so scarce. Animals generally don’t have enough energy to put into finding additional food. Put any animal in a situation with abundant food, and you will find obesity. Wild or not.

          Most of your argument has nothing to do with money, but everything to do with social structure. Even if we became more of a socialist society, you will still have war, rape, thievery, and so forth. No

          • says

            (sorry computer got wonky) …We will never get to a point where every single person will get along and cooperate. It’s not how the wild animals work, and it’s not how we work. Adding money or detracting money will not change our genetics.

          • says

            “As for obese animals, you do rarely see that in nature but only because food is typically so scarce.”

            If this were the case, you would find undernourished or malnourished wild animals in the wild. A wild animal knows when to quit, even in times of abundance. Get out of textbooks, go out in nature and observe!

            It was also once believed true hunter-gatherers (not primitive agriculturists who practice trade economy), such as the Kung bushmen & the Hadza, lived in a world of scarcity, scraping by for existence. After all, they live in some of the world’s harshest environments. Then anthropologists actually began living with them & studying them, finding them to live most their time in leisure (15 or so hours of “work” per week)! See Marshal Salin’s “The Original Affluent Society.” When you eat proper nutrition, of your local environment, you only eat until you are satisfied, then you quit, as you see in any wild animal, no matter the abundance.

            “Animals generally don’t have enough energy to put into finding additional food. Put any animal in a situation with abundant food, and you will find obesity. Wild or not.”

            We see examples of this in captive & domestic animals, spoiled by commercial foods, but where are the examples of this among wild animals in any environment on earth??

            I agree that overpopulation causes stress. Natural selection takes care of overpopulation. Control of credit and debt side-steps natural selection. Human populations remained in balance until the advent of agriculture, which by its very nature is control of credit and debt (sow and reap, rather than the pay it forward economy of wild nature). With agriculture came the concept of possession, comodification of food, which created the ideas of scarcity programed into us since childhood, which we impose on our world. The very nature of commercial economy couldn’t function without creating the illusion of scarcity. When one takes more than he/she needs (excess, possession), others get less than they need (scarcity).

            I’m not talking dreamy eutopia (ideology) but reality. Look around. Scarcity thinking is the ideology, the basis of our economics.

          • says

            I feel like what either of us is doing is hypothesizing using the scientific information each of us know. I could go on providing information and studies about selfish hoarding (look at rodents & birds), reasons why wild animals aren’t obese, and provide information about malnourishment rampant in the wild, but I don’t think it will do a damn thing. I think we will just have to agree to disagree on this one.

          • Michael says

            There is misinterpretation of evolution. Evolution is information building on information (i plus i). The energy transferred through evolution is propagated hierarchically which then overlaps to produce a rhizomatic (aka semi-lattice structure). The more complete formula would then read (i plus i)^h.

            We often hear about “survival of the fittest” and “natural selection” which I believe are concepts co-opted by the robber barons during Darwin’s time and now by corporate executives and republican ideologues to get more productivity out of their minions to serve their both their misguided conceptions and personal greed.

            Instead what we see are hierarchical information processing systems “trees” that are continually growing not pruned. There is plenty of genetic evidence to support that mutations and novelty outpace the pruning of natural selection. Problematic social systems ignore the support of lower hierarchical structures which I call integrated complexity (IC). My definition of IC is actually just a more specific observation of the more vertically connected branches of the semi-lattice that Chris Alexander talks about in his 1965 essay “A City Is Not A Tree”. By ignoring the lower hierarchical structures potentials for evolution are hindered and the time constraints to remain sustainable on this planet may be shorter than previously thought. If we follow our spiritual teachings we are simply on a directional path to reunification with whatever set the laws of physics into motion.

            Here is an example of information building on information with overlapping hierarchical networks forming a semi-lattice. The semi-lattice connections that are vertical are responsible for a strengthening of the structure which I call integrated complexity.
            (i + i)^h & IC

            Sons of Kenyan Village Build First Clinic – ABC News
            http://tinyurl.com/nn6s8t

  18. says

    This is such a great interview!! what a wise man. This Interview will be a great resource for anyone trying to adopt a simpler lifestyle and live with less. With all the information that circles minimalism and simple living this interview provides some really new insights for me and some really challenging points. I really love his website haha! its not exactly a design masterpiece, but I think that is what really gives it some charm, that and the amount of information will keep me busy. It goes to show that content matters.

  19. says

    I love where Daniel said, “There is no consciousness of credit and debt in nature. Consciousness of credit and debt is knowledge of good and evil, valuing one thing and devaluing another. Consciousness of credit and debt is our fall from Grace.”

    It felt so true when I read it. I am far from a minimalist, let alone a person who is ready to live moneyless, but these ideas are taking root within me. I have been raising my daughter to be a massive consumer and I’m trying to throttle back and encourage her to live through experiences not thing. Thank you so much for the inspiration!

    • says

      That quote is actually incorrect. Look up reciprocal altruism. Many social animal communities, actually do employ a tit-for-tat strategy.

      Also, a certain group of monkeys (capuchins) have been taught to love money. If we didn’t have an innate tit-for-tat/reciprocal altruistic thinking method, there should be no reason monkeys can learn the value of money. Here is an article about that study: http://www.nature.com/news/2008/080611/full/news.2008.882.html

      • Lena says

        I was just about to argue against you when I read what he said again. true. he states that there is no consciousness of debt. and I think that is wrong for the group of monkeys, but very true to the whole planet. the problem here is the scale. if you take the whole planet, there is no such thing as credit or debt in nature, but very much in human culture. if you teach a group of monkeys how to use poker chips however, I am quite sure they are “smart” enough to get the concept. I wonder why they didnt implement the system on all monkeys on this planet, but we humans did…

        I think this is what rang the most bells in my head: money is the biggest creed on this planet. I knew that before, I just never put it into words like that.

        • says

          I think when it comes to “consciousness of debt” there are several highly intelligent animals who have this capability when it comes to dealing with their group members. There are an abundance of studies on reciprocal altruism to support the claim that some species are quite cognizant of why they help one but not another.

      • says

        “Capuchin monkeys do not use tokens in the wild, so even if they can be taught things like very basic money skills and how to play an incredibly simple game of poker, these activities are restricted to human-orchestrated testing.”
        http://news.discovery.com/animals/capuchin-monkeys-money.html

        And, about barter: every action in the universe is a barter! This I am not denying! Barter happens automatically, exactly in the simultaneous moment. At the same time there is a pay-it-forward economy of delayed, unconscious rewards, there is also an instantaneous barter. An animal taking a raspberry is providing a needed service to the raspberry bush at the exact moment the raspberry is providing a service to the animal. Likewise, a lion taking a wildebeast from the herd is providing a service to the herd. The point is that the barter is NOT CONSCIOUS. When it becomes conscious, it becomes out of balance. When we start controlling barter, it becomes out of balance, as evidence all around us since the dawn of trade civilization reveals. Consciousness of credit & debt is a lack of trust that debt completely fulfills credit in the barter of the moment. The simultaneous union of credit and debt in every moment is the law of physics as well as of biology. But our perception has become incomplete, one-sided, dogmatic, so we think the animal “owes” the rapberry bush.

        • says

          Here is one example of conscious trading: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2009/04/090407-chimps-meat-sex.html

          Conscious bartering happens much more frequently in the wild than humans would like to admit. Because we can not communicate in our language with other animals, most assume they lack higher cognitive functioning. To assume otherwise is anthropomorphising. However, anthropomorphising in some senses have led us to the research supporting the idea that many animals do, in fact, have higher capabilities, one of them being conscious bartering.

          • says

            Thanks for more challenges to mull over, Megyn.

            The studies about possible conscious barter among animals take many liberties with assumption, but so the same can be said for my theories. And theories they are.

            I am aware also of Jane Goodall being denounced by many who wanted to believe chimps were peaceful, as she observed grizzly murderous behavior among them. There is danger of seeing what we want to believe, & your challenges are good for me. But it goes the other way, too. I see we are animals, part of nature, but I also can’t get around the fact there are behaviors, cruelty, & imbalance unique to us that utterly overshadow anything we see in the rest of nature, because we have figured out how to side-step natural selection (at least temporarily). Natural selection holds bad behavior in check. When natural selection is eliminated (temporarily), we get the horrors we see now. Positive & negative will ALWAYS be with us, by the universal laws of physics. If we delude ourselves into trying to eliminate negative, it will only crash back on us later in horror.

          • says

            Suelo, Special thanks to you for joining in this conversation, by the way. Disagreements are rarely (if ever) settled in a blog comment section. But the fact that you are not afraid to engage the conversation has been helpful. You’ve challenged us with your words and your time. Thanks again.

          • says

            And I feel very grateful for your putting up this post, Joshua!
            And I’m glad for the opportunity to have access to a computer right now to be in this follow-up discussion.

  20. Sarah says

    Thanks for the great interview and lively comments discussion. I am particularly struck with Daniel’s observation linking excess thoughts (which can contribute to mental illness), and excess possessions. The idea that environments with less excess “stuff” are reflecting a healthier mental state. I’ve just started on my slow journey to minimalism, and I’m discovering that my thinking PRECEDES the actual clearing out of crap from my garage, attic, etc., rather than the other way around.

  21. says

    People hoard, because they are not sure – If others share when i am in need?
    Socialism was an idea to solve this very problem. But it didn’t quite work.

    Living Alone for an Individual May Work.
    But for Large Societies, Groups of People?

    But there are many Life Lessons here – without being judgemental.

    Wonderful post.

  22. says

    This is the first I had heard of Daniel. I had no idea that people were choosing to live without money, not just him but many people around the world. The part of this that struck me the most was his description of people living in suburbia who don’t know their neighbors. I know my neighbors as far a waving at them and having a short conversation with them, but how do I take that step to actually get to know them? That’s scary because I would have to push myself out of my comfort zone, which is probably why it’s easier for people to have their own possessions: it allows them to do what they want, when they want. Thanks for sharing his story.

    • Mark Brickley says

      love your name Gretchen. Don’t know why and nothing to do with the post but thought that thought might make you smile :-)

    • says

      If my views on Jesus & poverty are common, I’m still looking for the people who hold them. I don’t seem to run into or even hear of any but a rare few.

      I agree with you that Jesus chose to be a minimalist, and that he was not poor, if by *poor* you mean *lacking*. One who owns more than he/she needs is lacking, and one who works for money rather than the heart is also lacking (poor).

      But Jesus redefined what we think of as *poor* to be abundant, blessed:

      “Blessed are you poor,
      for yours is the Kingdom of God.
      . . . . But woe to you who are rich,
      for you have received your credit.”
      –Jesus (Luke 6:24)

      But Gene’s article you link to would be funny if I knew he were joking. If you take scripture as accurate, all his statements about Jesus are assumptions, not based on any scripture. Even his statement that Jesus was a carpenter has no merit (his surrogate father was actually a stonemason, ‘techton.’ But even that doesn’t mean Jesus was a stonemason. Jesus preached breaking ties with earthly fathers). No where is there anything that indicated Jesus worked for money, but it’s stated he did receive sustenance from women who donated to him. And he blatantly tells his disciples to go out without money or purse, and to freely receive food and shelter (not money) as “hire.” A bit more Bible quoting:

      “Whoever of you
      does not forsake all that he possesses
      cannot be My disciple.”
      –Jesus (Luke 14:33)

      “Go your way, sell whatever you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, take up the cross, and follow Me. . . .
      It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”
      — Jesus (Mark 10:17-30)

      “No servant can serve two masters,
      for either he will hate the one
      and love the other,
      or he will be devoted to the one
      and despise the other.
      You cannot work for God and money.”
      The Pharisees, who were lovers of money,
      heard all these things,
      and they ridiculed Jesus.
      (Luke 16:13-14)

      I could go on with droves of more examples.

      But maybe Gene is right. That would mean Jesus was a hypocrite, not practicing what he preached, which would be right in tune with his millions of “followers” today.

      • says

        Daniel,
        I’m impressed that you’re spending so much time here in the comments section. I appreciate you continuing the conversation/interview. You’re right. I make some assumptions about Jesus that are not in the Bible. My assumptions are based on the culture of his day.

        One of the reasons I follow Joshua and write on my own site is because we need to see and understand Jesus’ perspective on life. I think the Bible is clear that he lived a simple yet influential life. I wish more people did so.

        I would love for more people to have Jesus’ understanding of material things. We (Americans and those in other wealthy nations) are spoiled rotten. We are rich beyond belief. Check out http://www.globalrichlist.com for a wake-up call.

        In my opinion, Jesus was not a hypocrite. His leaders and followers are doing a poor job of practicing what he preached.

        • says

          Thanks, Gene.

          Yes, I’ve never spent so much time in anybody else’s blog comments before. This is the maybe the 1st blog I’ve ever seen in which every single commenter seems thoughtful & sincere, and I don’t feel my own comments are in vain here. You attract them well, Joshua! :-)

          I was having assumptions, too, Gene, that maybe you were pushing the tired “God wants you rich” philosophy, and painting Jesus as such, that has swept over America today. But then you were saying Jesus was minimalist, so this tweeked my curiosity. I’m not opposed to people who happen to get paid money for work they already like to do, and I’m open to the possibility Jesus could have had some paid job, at least before his last 3 years (it seems very impossible he could have had paid work those last 3 years of intense public free service).

  23. Mark Brickley says

    Of course Daniel is admirable but I have to say that I resonate much more strongly with the things you are doing. I don’t think money pre se is our problem since many of us still need to have relationships outside of our immediate circle and that does involve money often but rather that we need to recalibrate our use of money, as you say to become more intentional in how we use it. I am merely a beginner at this game but I see such potential in using our resources including our wealth to change the world for the better while gaining clarity and space for ourselves. Frankly that is exciting.

  24. Prof Wolford says

    This interview is probably the most challenging and important personal email I’ve received in a year–now that is a pity.
    I did this from 1971-1975 and it was the most spiritual time of my life. Had I not done that, it is unlikely that I would ever have subscribed to a minimalist newsletter. Daniel brings up warm & fuzzy solid memories of my time without a care. Oh yes, it can be done, though the Great Operational Venue makes it harder, he verifies it is still available today for those who want it. I started in the same way; walked off and left it all. Still alive:-)
    The years have taken me in and out of the illusion of security, money, and such, yet I keep returning to this state of ‘own nothing, owe nothing.’ When un-distracted, peace finds me quickly and I like that.

    Go Daniel! Keep on keeping on. You rekindled my fire today. Thank you.

  25. Rebecca says

    As a librarian, I can’t help but register my disappointment that some would think that Daniel’s use of a public library would be “cheating” in some way. The fundamental purpose of public libraries is to provide access to information and resources to everyone regardless of social or economic status. Even if a person were to accrue late fees, many libraries will forgive fees in exchange for volunteer hours if an individual is unable to pay. To the best of my knowledge, the only people who have ever been barred from using my library are people who have threatened and/or stalked staff members.

    Additionally, funding formulas for libraries differ greatly and many are surprised to learn that there are libraries that run on mostly donations. For example, the only tax money that is guaranteed to the public library where I work is from the state. That money amounts to only 12% of our operating budget. Local municipalities do give money to the library, however it is up to them how much we receive. Essentially, we have to prove to each municipality that we are a worthwhile service and the most reliable way of doing that is by letting them know just how many people rely on library resources. So in our case, a person who regularly visits the library to check out materials and/or attend programs but doesn’t contribute financially could potentially have a stronger impact on our funding than a person who lives in the community and pays taxes, but has never stepped foot in the library. I think it’s also important to note that while municipalities give us money, that money does not make up the entirety of our 88% budget gap and that historically, individuals that support libraries the most financially (through donations and fundraisers) are usually not library users. If people are still miffed about this, Daniel could donate his time through volunteering or leading a program (about living without money, perhaps) and easily “pay” for his library usage that way.

    In short, public libraries are natural havens for people like Daniel and are physical manifestations of what he is trying to accomplish. Libraries deal with money out of necessity, but work on the principles that would be fundamental to a money-less existence.

    Please be sure to support your local public library by utilizing its resources, volunteering your time, attending programs, donating materials, writing politicians and letting them know just how important your library is to your community, and, yes, by donating money if you can swing it. And remember that libraries are there to support you! Don’t be afraid to suggest materials or potential programs that you would be interested in seeing at your library!

  26. says

    To accumulate unnecessary possessions is not to live in abundance, as we’re led to believe, but is to live in scarcity. Why would we have too much stuff if we believed the universe was abundant? Oh my goodness- the penny in my head, that has been stuck in the slot for so long- finally dropped. I love this interview and ideas.

  27. says

    If I was not married to a wonderful man , I would be proposing to Suelo! Even as a kid I dreamt of just going off and finding some abandoned cabin in some mountain and finding no use for money and just being part of nature. While as of now we do live in the world that requires money, we live on very little income and have a great life. We are looking forward to giving up money in 4 years after our trip across America on horseback :) Glad I have a hubby that we allow each other to live our dreams no matter how crazy they may seem to everyone else.

    Suelo, you are an inspiration and I have been following your story for some time now! Hats off to you for living it.

  28. Anne says

    This interview provided a wonderful opportunity for discussion with one of my 10-year old daughters. I plan on discussing it with my other children as well because I believe that it is essential that we discuss such ideas with our children (and model corresponding behavior, of course!). As soon as I heard of the book a while back I recommended it to our library. Thankfully, they decided to purchase it for the good of all interested local library patrons. I look forward to reading it soon!

  29. FeministMumWife says

    Inspirational, comforting & provoking.

    Love that Daniel engaged directly with commenters, it gave me the opportunity to understand better the robustness of the underlying philosophy. I am able to freely take from his emerging social philosophy and grow.

    The challenges to the written manifestation of Daniel’s philosophy will certainly help it become more robust and therefore more easily understood & accepted by a wider & wider audience. From there individuals, families & communities can apply the robust & well understood philosophy to guide how they live & build their futures.

    For me I need to understand how it can be spued in harmony with the instinctive unwavering love & need to protect & ensure my children flourish.

    Ka Rawe Daniel !

  30. Beth says

    Just chiming in to thank the interviewer, and Suelo, for this thought-provoking topic and article!
    I’m wondering how you would propose living a money-free life as a married person with two children? Just wondering how having a partner and a family would be possible in this lifestyle? I’ll have to check out your website and book for ideas.
    Also, how do vegetarians and vegans take on this lifestyle if they don’t agree with eating meat (roadkill, etc.) and consuming or using other animal products?

    Thanks again for sharing this article, and I look forward to checking out your website and book!

  31. says

    I like this interview, I’ll look at the website. Sometimes I think that I focus on earning money, just so that I can be sure I have “enough”. And in that way money gets removed from the equation and is no longer a concern.

  32. MaryAnn says

    Did/does Suelo have dependents, a family, children? One cannot live totally for oneself when one is part of a real family, with real responsibilities to them. Suelo also misses out on the joy of living in a community.

    I find it an interesting experiment, living moneyless but it is far from reality. It is also far from the way real families survive. It is a selfish existence in my opinion because he brings nothing to the world, to people.

    My other point is, this couldn’t work in colder areas of the world! You can’t find berries in a blizzard! Nor can you sleep without freezing in a snow drift, night after night.

    A lovely fairy tale Suelo. All the best in your new business of selling books, speaking engagements and being the latest guru to the masses looking for something new. I wish you well.

    • says

      Hey MaryAnn

      I wouldn’t really consider Daniels life style choice an experiment. Considering he has been living like this for a while I would say that said ‘experiment’ is pretty conclusive! it works for him. As for bringing something to the world!? maybe you should define what you mean by that exactly! Many readers here would argue That Daniel has contributed some value to their life.

      Most people are taking more from this world than they are actually giving back. Regardless of the amount of work we do, The amount that we consume is clearly not sustainable. So by abstaining from consuming maybe Daniel is actually giving more to this world by not consuming so much. Maybe you should ask yourself If you’re bringing as much value to the world as you are taking.

      As for colder areas of the world, people in colder climates tend to live a little differently to us anyways. the Inuit peoples of Alaska for example live of fishing so I’m sure they are not to concerned with hunting for berries in Blizzards. No one is asking you to move to a colder climate and I am sure the people from colder climates are used to living without excess as it is anyways.

      As for your first point I agree Daniel may miss out on the joy of Living In community But he advocates community in this article when He talks about American suburbia.
      and modern day community isn’t really much about community until disaster strikes. Otherwise its every man for himself and I think that is truly selfish. While Daniel lives in solitude I don’t think that he is by any means a selfish man. Which brings me to my next point Daniels book is actually not written by him it’s written by Mark Sundeen, Daniel has a message to send to the world and he is not in the business of selling books and speaking engagements. Even in delivering this message to the world he is not out to make money or start a movement and build an online following. He is very sincere in what he is doing.

      Power to the masses looking for something new because this world does not work. This world is broken. There are some things that need to be made new. There is some things that need to change. You need not concern yourself with the masses looking for something new, You should be worried about the masses staying in this pathetic rat race, as for me I’m opting out.

      -Adam Macauley

    • Lena says

      MaryAnn, I think Adam said it all already, but I have to add this:

      are you actually saying that Daniel is not real? Because as far as I see it, he has been living this lifestyle ‘for real’. ;-) living without money might be far away from your reality… but yours is not necessarily the one that is applicable for everyone though. we all have our understanding of “reality”. yours is with money, Daniels is without money, mine is somewhere in the middle. I am sure he is aware that he is quite exceptional in his choices. I however admire him for that. I think it is nowhere near selfish, but the exact opposite. he is reducing his own needs for a better world. I find this very admirable. And for making this thought a living “experiment” as you put it, he did indeed add some value to my life.

    • says

      MaryAnn,

      I think you are completely incorrect with your comment. Ignorant is probably a better word (it just sounds harsh). I could blame myself for not asking the specific question of community to clear up questions such as these, but even a quick look onto his blog reveals a man who does in fact live in relationship with others – so I didn’t feel the need. Daniel writes/speaks often of his family, his friends, and his existing relationships. And even though he lives without money, I think it’s clear to see he brings far greater value into his relationships than most. So to that end, I appreciate you raising the issue so we engage in the conversation, but I do think you could have offered it with a different tone.

      Lastly, before I end, I’m not sure what you meant by the phrase: “real family.” Are you claiming that single human beings are not part of “real family?” I shudder to think that’s what you meant… maybe you wanted to phrase that differently? I’ll have to give you the benefit of the doubt on that one.

  33. MaryAnn says

    Hello to you defenders of Daniel! I feel as if I stepped on an anthill…inflaming everyone, making each scurry about, madly defending something/someone. Hold on!
    I should have not used the word ‘real’ in my comments about Mr. Suelo. Of course, what he is and has been doing is quite ‘real’..that is, ‘actual’. I simply meant if he had an actual family….little children, other physical beings WITH him, this experiment would have had a different outcome In My Opinion. It is far easier to follow a life plan, whatever it may be, when one is only concerned with one’s own welfare and day to day living.

    Secondly, Joshua, incorrect and ignorant are very different words with very different meanings…your display your own ignorance by using these words interchangeably.
    And thank you for your directing me in how I’d probably want to rephrase something I said….I’d suggest you get an editor to help you make your writing more concise and perhaps less “shuddering”. Those who can, write understandably; those who can’t, generalize. I have pointed out my poor choice of using the word ‘real’ without defining it, perhaps you could take some time to examine the words you use.

    I am very impressed with Mr. Suelo’s choices and the length of time he has managed to maintain this lifestyle and how he has managed to turn it into a type of creed. Bravo! Enjoy it. Three cheers to Mr. Suelo. We can all learn something from your choices. But I am not going to your web site and read up on all of your ‘homespun’ philosophies because I’ve read it all before. I won’t read your book or ‘follow’ you because you’re pretty ordinary in the grand scheme of things. You are doing your thing, scrounging for food, living sometimes through the goodness of others, sometimes through the berries and roadkill and sleeping in a warmish climate under the stars. you gave away all your money…unusual choice but certainly yours to make.

    Try following this lifestyle in, perhaps, Buffalo or North Dakota! Winters are cold there…..your don’t have to go to Alaska to find unbearably cold weather lasting for weeks on end. No berries!

    I, like so many others here, am concerned and active in reducing our footprint on this earth which we all share. I agree that it is crazy that every house on the block has a washer and dryer when we would do so much for the planet if we shared and used our resources more wisely. I agree with every conserving idea expressed, with every wasteful activity decried.

    And I applaud Mr. Suelo for living his unusual life just like the fellow who walked for 17 years.
    Keep up your good life and example, Mr. Suelo. Peace to you and your followers. I’m simply expressing a different opinion. just like Mr. Suelo.

    • BV says

      Everyone is entitled to their own opinion. I don’t want to re-write what Joshua wrote, but I’d add that your response tothis post does only serves to demonstrate your own insecurity and personal issues.

      Some people on here have criticised or asked questions about Daniel’s lifestyle, myself included, and that’s no bad thing. However, if you really think that your comment was simply to demonstrate your point of view, I suggest respectfully, that you look again. [I disagree with your viewpoint, btw, but I have no interest in fighting with you. Plus, I don't think your p.o.v. is what's really troubling.]

      • Lena says

        BV, thanks for putting that into words, I wasnt able to do so, and I usually hold on to “if you dont have anything nice to say, keep it shut.”

  34. Feminist Mum Wife says

    Isn’t the coolest thing about Daniel Suelo’s life in the last 12 years people, is that you don’t have to replicate exactly his way of living to live a more ‘humanely honest life’ . A life not dominated by money or monetary policy but one where people give because their is need not because their is a reward .,,,

  35. MaryAnn says

    Dear PV and Lena,
    Please don’t be troubled by my opinion. I guess thinking, considering, accepting others’ points of view are not strong suits in your neighbourhood. Have a wee lie down. You’ll feel better. And in the end, neither you opinion nor mine matters at all. ;)
    It takes all kinds! Live with it or ignore it!

    • Lena says

      haha, now you made me laugh, ignorance is bliss, I guess.
      I take the first option, I will live with it. and I will try to change my neighbourhood, even if it doesnt matter anyway. ;-)

  36. Noelle Imparato says

    This is such a fantastic story. Thank you Daniel for living your life according to your beliefs and thank you all involved for spreading his message. It is very inspiring to see that living moneylessly can be done, although I have a few reservations about it.
    First Daniel is single and healthy. We could hardly imagine a family of 4, or a person with disease or disability living in caves and scavenging for food. Then in nature, animals do build nests and protect their territory. Even birds! There is an Osprey nest in front of my house on the Chesapeake Bay and I can observe them all day long from my living-room window. I was very surprised to witness how they chase away other big birds – such as geese, white cranes, eagles, or gulls – from taking over their nest or from simply roaming around “their” little cove. While roosting on her eggs, the female is on an alert mode, constantly looking around 360 degree, and squeaking repeatedly at the first possible threat, calling for her mate to come home to the rescue. So life – even in the wild – requires a minimum of organization. That’s what society is supposed to do.
    Now the question is how to organize a society that is based on the notion that we are all in this together. Basically to see life on the planet, and certainly human life as ONE, as one large body, with each individual being like a cell. Each cell is meant to participate, cooperate in the well-being of the body at large, just like each cell of our human body has its specific chore to participate in the good functioning of the person. So the foot does not complain that it is stepped on, nor does the heart try to horde all the blood for itself. Each cell or organ is built to participate in the wellness of the whole body. That’s what our society needs to place as the first and foremost value. From that perspective, things would fall into place in a creative way, with or without money — after all, a form of money exchange existed before paper money was invented, in the form of sea shells exchange or the likes. Money is supposed to facilitate exchange, not horde other people’s life energy. So I love this article because it raises a great subject, but in my opinion THE most important shift will come when we see ourselves as part of the larger body of life instead of just “separate, self-centered” individuals. Humanity has to evolve from its current egocentric vision into a larger sense of identity.

  37. Emily says

    Very interesting article. I’ve been trying to get myself away from “needing” and thus, purchasing, so many things. One question: what about health care – preventative care, dental care, etc.? If you haven’t received care, do you feel like what you’re doing now is working and keeping you pretty healthy?

  38. Joyce says

    There is a lot in my life today that is unnecessary. Keeping it real is something that stuck out to me. Thanks for this interview it’s a breath of fresh air.

  39. Barry says

    It would be a grand way to lose weight.. But as far as no money I see using the library as kind a source of a monetary nature. Someone paid to print the book, ink, electrical power. Lights to see.. He needs to build his own generator from things out of the earth. Build his own library out of nature. Until he does this he is using money..

  40. says

    Thank you to Daniel Suelo http://zerocurrency.blogspot.com/ for sharing your insights and to Joshua Becker @joshua_becker for sharing this fascinating interview. I just curated this to my blog site danettetrue.com. Hopefully more and more people will read this and begin thinking/rethinking their place on this planet because “It’s crazy to sacrifice reality to the idol of illusion.”

  41. says

    This story is totally awesome, and so is this website and so you are! Thanks so much for sharing your words with the world. I feel quite fortunate to have come across this story today as I too have been living without money for about 2 months now – not quite in the same way as this legendary man, but living off the land in my own urban way.
    Seriously though – fantastic article and hope to hear more good things. I’m a big advocate for minimalism, simplicity, and basically that the best things in life are free! So much over-stimulation…not enough time to take time, slow down, and appreciate the free, beautiful treasures all throughout the world and in ourselves.

  42. says

    Wow what a wonderful interview, and what a brave vision! I am reading Into The Wild at the moment, and I think a lot about a ‘middle way’ in these stories and the way we live now. I love the idea of sharing, it makes you a richer person, I know for a fact, the more I share the more real, authentic I become. It’s a bumpy road, but a rewarding one.

    I once picked up this book ‘How I lived of a Pound a day’ http://www.amazon.co.uk/How-Lived-Year-Just-Pound/dp/1906593124 an English woman trying – and succeeding – to live of 1 pound (dollar) a day. It’s not a practice I’d advice everyone to take up, but her experiences are very inspiring, especially how she has a great social live without spending money!

    Thank you for sharing this story, and your other blogs. You are an inspiration to me!

  43. says

    A reader of my blog sent me a link to this interview and I’ve read every word and comment. To put my thoughts simply, I love it! Thanks to Joshua for the interview and to Mr. Suelo for your teachings. I look forward to reading your site and to learning more of your conscious lifestyle choices.

    I’m a philosopher who happens to be an investment advisor/financial planner. Ironically, my years of observing clients and other advisors, combined with my reading of ancient and modern philosophy, has taught me money is not the root of all evil but rather the most efficient means of losing oneself.

    There is no greater pursuit than authenticity. However, it is the material world that covers Being (spirit, nature, the authentic self). For this reason, it is rare for most people to find themselves, to live consciously. Often it requires a natural disaster, a divorce, a bankruptcy or a near-death experience for an individual to awaken from the false dream, the illusion of ego and construction of social conventions.

    You are truly a philosopher Mr. Suelo. I appreciate your message and will do my best to spread the same philosophies to whomever I encounter.

    “It seems to me more and more that the philosopher, as a necessary man of tomorrow and the day after tomorrow, has always found himself, and always had to find himself, in opposition of his today…” ~ Friedrich Nietzsche

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