Frequently Asked Questions

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“Sacred Commerce” an Oxymoron?

For anyone paying attention these days, it may seem that as we seek solutions to many of the problems we face as a society, the last place we would want look would be in the realm of business. However, the fact is that the central principle and “engine” of culture is no longer religion, nor politics as was the case in the past. Like it or not, commerce has become the primary force propelling our species and human society forward. We are witnessing a commerce-centric (r)evolution, a whole new form of “conscious capitalism,” wherein business transactions the world over will become the main conduit of social and cultural evolution.

Sacred Commerce reverses the common assumption that business and spirituality are mutually opposed. The notion of capitalism infused with the sacred expands the notion of profit with the concept and the reality of the fourth bottom line: Spirituality (the return to Self).

Revered as a spiritual path, commerce emerged long ago as a tool to advance mankind. Among the Merchant Priesthood of old Egypt it was viewed as a gift from god/goddess, sacred and balanced by its very nature. It was seen as a solution or a map to deal with the issues of survival, security, and community, and as an ally in our process of conscious evolution when we are ready to undertake that ultimate spiritual adventure of all: coming home.

Sacred Commerce advances the idea that commerce can be a vehicle to raise consciousness as well as a path towards Self-realization. Ayman Sawaf and Rowan Gabrielle give credence to this notion by showing us how the Merchant Priesthood shaped and influenced the forward movement of society with business and commercial innovations throughout time. Commerce, that intrinsic and basic function of exchanging goods and services, can—within this context—raise human culture to a level of sacredness that otherwise might not be attained while placing those who practice it on a trajectory of accelerated growth.

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From where did you get your information about Sacred Commerce and the Merchant Priesthood?

Our information came from historical records and facts, legends, stories, personal experiences, insights gleaned from meditation, and ideas/inspiration from other visionaries woven together to give you a taste of a tradition of citizenry that ultimately must be embodied in the present for it to ever have any true meaning.

As we say in the Introduction of the book:

Our aim with this book is to tell you a beautiful and enchanting story—one that could very well change how we all do business. The storytellers in us encourage you to approach this book as you might a romantic novel, allowing the concepts and images to nurture and inspire you. This is not meant to be a factual account of history, although the stories contained herein may give you new insight into humanity’s past and inspire you to “party-cipate,” as we like to say, in the creation of a brilliant future

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Two Sacred Commerce Books? How are these books related? How is the book by Ayman Sawaf and Rowan Gabrielle different than the one by Matthew and Terces Engelhart?

A search on the Internet and on Amazon.com generally produces two books when you search for “Sacred Commerce.” Both books admirably support this growing meme of Sacred Commerce, promoting many of the same principles, while also providing different perspectives.

Ayman and Rowan’s book presents a grand context and tools for the modern day Global Citizen to reclaim and co-create our new world, and Matthew and Terces’ book offers a practical manual for building a spiritual community at the workplace—a vital concept in an age when work consumes the bulk of most adults’ time.

All the authors are mutually supportive of each other as you can read in the following excerpts from both books where the other is acknowledged.

Sacred Commerce: Business as a Path of Awakening

Chapter 1, “Hearing the Call”: We first heard the term “Sacred Commerce” from our friend Ayman Sawaf (he and his partner Rowan are the authors of a book of the same title). As entrepreneurs and seekers, we felt two of our passions—business and spirituality—kindled by Sawaf's words. Another of his sayings caught our attention: “merchant priests,” referring to a past and present lineage of “financial alchemists” transforming the world through dedication to intentional enterprise, “holy business” (consider the possibility). Ayman's words gave form to a new life-purpose for us: Sacred Commerce has been our navigating star ever since.

Sacred Commerce: The Rise of the Global Citizen

Chapter 4, “The 4th Bottom Line”: Many have stumbled onto this path in the natural course of their personal or spiritual development. When Rowan and I met with the founders of Café Gratitude in San Francisco to discuss creating a chain of raw food restaurants with them, we recognized Matthew and Terces Englehardt right away. As we sat in their restaurant enjoying our meal, the atmosphere positively sparkled with gratitude; they had clearly filled the workplace with appreciation and the food with love! We shared our ideas on Sacred Commerce with our new friends, explaining that they were already doing this without the label. At one point in the conversation, I looked each of them in the eye and said, “Do you know that you are Merchant Priests?” Although I did not have a special garment or shawl to give Matthew and Terces, we were honored when they adopted the term and have come up with their own beautiful way to describe the practice: “Sacred Commerce means having ‘the eternal’ present in a commercial environment, making the creation of money a sacrament, and the exchange of goods and services a holy opportunity so that ‘love is the bottom line’.”

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