(2) Not harming oneself or others

1 May 2535

(2) Not harming oneself or others

A further meaning of the term ‘just the right amount’ is of not harming oneself or others. This is another important principle and one that is used in Buddhism as the basic criterion of right action, not only in relation to consumption, but for all human activity. Here it may be noted that in Buddhism ‘not harming others’ does not apply to human beings alone, but to all that lives, or in a more contemporary idiom, to all ecosystems.

From a Buddhist perspective, economic principles are related to the three interconnected aspects of human existence: human beings, nature, and society (with the meaning of the word nature used in the sense of ecosystems). Buddhist economics must be in concord with the whole causal process and to do that it must have a proper relationship with all three of those aspects, which in turn must harmonize and support each other. Economic activity must take place in such a way that it doesn’t harm oneself, i.e. does not cause a decline in the quality of life, but on the contrary enhances it. Not harming others means not causing distress and agitation to society and not causing degeneration in the quality of ecosystems.

At present there is a growing awareness in developed countries of environmental issues. People are anxious about economic activities that entail the use of toxic chemicals and the burning of fossil fuels, and the like. Such activities are harmful to the health of individuals, to the welfare of society, and to the environment. They may be included in the phrase harming oneself and harming others, and are a major problem for mankind.

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