— (d) Competition & Cooperation

1 May 2535

(d) Competition & Cooperation

The view of economics is that it is human nature to compete. Buddhism, on the other hand, says that it is within human nature both to compete and to cooperate, and furthermore makes a distinction between true and artificial cooperation.

Competition is natural. When we are striving to satisfy the desire for pleasure we will compete fiercely, because at such times we want to get as much as possible for ourselves and we feel no sense of sufficiency or fullness. If we can get that object of desire all for ourselves and nobody else gets any of it, then so much the better. Inevitably competition is intense; it is natural to the mind driven by taṇhā. However the competitive instinct may be utilized to induce cooperation. One might get all the members of a particular group together in order to compete with another group. One might, for example, arouse or encourage the people of a country to be nationalistic and cooperate in refusing to buy goods from abroad. But that cooperation is based entirely on competition. Stimulation of the competitive instinct in such a way as to give rise to cooperation on one particular level is what Buddhism calls artificial cooperation.

True cooperation is that which takes place in the effort to meet the desire for quality of life. When human beings desire their true well-being they are able to cooperate to solve the problems of mankind. The potential for true cooperation lies within human nature. One form of human development entails diverting humanity’s energies from competition towards a cooperative effort to solve the problems facing the world. Thus for objects of true value we are able to cooperate, but for artificial values we will compete with all our might in order to lay our hands on the position or personal benefit that we crave.

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