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A Trouble-Free Life
Ven Kekanadure Dhammasiri
A Trouble-Free Life
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The keynote of Buddhist Economics, therefore, is simplicity and non-violence. From an economists point of view, the marvel of the Buddhist way of life is the utter rationality of its pattern amazingly small means leading to extra-ordinary satisfactory results
- E. F. Schumacher, Small is Beautiful
For at least another hundred years, we must pretend to ourselves and to everyone that fair is foul and foul is fair: for foul is useful and fair is not. Avarice, usury, and precaution must be gods for a little longer still. For many they can lead us out of the tunnel of economic necessity into daylight. (Economic possibilities for our grandchildren.)
- John Maynard Keynes
Men make their own history, but they do not make it just as they please; they do not make it under circumstances chosen by themselves, but under circumstances directly encountered, given, and transmitted from the past.
- Karl Marx
Table of Contents
Foreword 1. Introduction 2. Why Buddhism Is Concerned with Economic
Stability 3. Modern Economics 4. The Buddhist Economic Theories I. Acquired Income II. Consumption III. Investment IV. Savings 5. Social and Spiritual Development 6. Impact of Buddhist Economy 7. Economic Stability and Satisfaction in the World 8. Buddhist Goals for Individuals and World
Community 9. Economic Decisions and Gender Role 10. Final Thoughts 11. Sources
At a glance, when you see the word trouble-free you might be pleased to read it. It is obvious that humanity, since its existence, has been experiencing various kinds of troubles, problems, conflicts and disagreements. If fact, no one on this planet is free from troubles. As intelligent beings, humans are responsible for finding insights to minimize the many problems they face. The useful insights may be gained through education, association with capable personnel and ones religious teachings. Insightful change is recognized as a new transformation of human behavior and a refinement of attitudes.
The possibility of such a transformation is the key message of this essay. In order to lead you to a new transformation of stable economics, I have chosen some of the great teachings of humanity, such as Buddhist teachings, other faith-based teachings, and modern academic knowledge. Even if this knowledge is widespread, there is a lot of evidence that these ideas or messages have been abandoned, misunderstood, or misused. It certainly has not helped to transform human behavior, except for a limited number of people on the planet.
Buddhist Economic Thoughts, the topic of this essay, may confuse or, perhaps, inspire the reader. Buddhism has been subjected to a baseless criticism that it lacks provisions for its followers to lead an economically stable domestic life by encouraging them to prepare primarily for their next life. This essay will address those criticisms directly. However, though
primarily a Buddhist approach, I did not try to restrict this essay to the teachings of the Buddha, alone. I have compared other relevant teachings, findings, and suggestions as well.
Respectfully I bow my head to the all those authors whose writings have greatly benefited me, enriching my unpolished ideas without limiting my Buddhist training, prompting me to analyze these ideas from every angle. And last but not least, my sincere thanks should be given to the publishers of this small essay.
Kekanadure Dhammasiri BhikkhuMind Dung Quang Vietnamese Buddhist Temple5025 N. Regal StreetSpokane, Washington, United States of America
(01) The Buddhist Mission for a productive lay life can be easily summarized in these simple words uttered by the Buddha.
The non-doing of any evil,
the performance of what's skillful,
the cleansing of one's own mind:
this is the teaching of the Awakened.
The Buddha lived in a society entangled and confused by sixtytwo divergent views and one hundred eight types of craving. Hundreds went about in search of an escape from this entanglement of views. Once the Buddha was asked the question: The inner tangle and the outer tangle
This world is entangled in a tangle
Who succeeds in disentangling this tangle?
The Buddha, who explained that all these tangles have mind as the forerunner, answered thus:
When a wise man, established well in virtue, develops consciousness and understanding; as a Bhikkhu ardent and sagacious, he succeeds in disentangling this tangle.
Stable, regular life is a key element in human life. People work using their full potential to earn as much money as they can. Economists, politicians, sociologists, and theologians advise the common people to achieve a stable, mundane life on a daily basis. There is, however, an inappropriate criticism of Buddhism that says it talks about sufferings of present human life, teaches its followers not to enjoy their present life, and encourages them to achieve relief from their next life and attain Nibbana. Is this a valid point to the teaching of the Buddha? It is, of course, not true. Although Buddhists utmost goal is to achieve liberation from all worldly suffering, they do not neglect the satisfaction of their present life. Searching for the reasons of suffering was the Buddhas mission. He did it living with human beings and experiencing their contributions to suffering. First, he enjoyed a luxurious life with his family, immediate, extended families and friends. Doing so, he understood that that was not the real purpose of human life. Then he entered the opposite of that luxury living, giving up all his belongings, including his family life. After he left his palace, he lived in forests and consumed meagre food that was available in the area. This mission took almost six years for him to realize the root cause for the suffering of humans. Having experienced both comfortable and extremely less comfortable life styles, to avoid either extreme, he utilized the Middle Path (Majjhima Pattipada) of life. Because of thirty years of research on human suffering, he understood suffering, the causes for suffering, the cessation of suffering, and the pathway to end the suffering in the present life and after life. In Buddhism, this pathway is comprised of four stages, the Four Noble Truths. In this spiritual journey, Buddhists are
advised to balance their social, economic, religious, and other areas in order to achieve real satisfaction in their own life.
When we think of economics, the following words may come to mind, representing concepts which we feel might be of particular concern to economists: Economic activities, markets, allocation, money, capital, competition, resource development, growth, welfare, well-being, poverty, deliberate, purposeful, rational, optimal, efficient, and more.
A descriptive definition would be: Economics is the study of purposeful human activities in pursuit of satisfying individual or collective wants.
An analytical definition would be: Economics is the study of principles governing the allocation of scarce means among competing ends.
In this modern world although highly advanced in science and technology, with its rapid expansion of knowledge, there appears to be a steady deterioration of human values. Present day politics, the economy, and educational systems are some of the more important reasons for this state of affairs. In this context, it is considered desirable that the existing political, economic thought and educational systems be changed in order to develop human values.
Buddhism is both a path of emancipation and a way of life. As a way of life, it interacts, with the economic, political, and social beliefs and practices of people. It is felt now is the most opportune time to make known to the world each of the
above aspects of society within the framework of Buddhist Ethics and the basic principles of Buddhism.
The Four Noble Truths are the primary Buddhist principles in which every Buddhist undoubtedly agrees. The first truth of the Four Noble Truths is suffering, which focuses on different areas of sufferings of the human life. People work very hard to stabilize their lives but the way they seek it solve suffering temporarily and at other times end up in disaster. On financial stabilization, the Buddha had discussed this with a young householder named Sigala and many o