- Buddhist Economics
- Limitations of Economic Theory in the Industrial Age
- (1) Specialization
- (2) Not free of ethics, but inattentive to them
- (3) Unable to be a science, but wanting to be one
- (4) Lack of clarity in its understanding of human nature
- — (a) Want
- — (b) Consumption
- — (c) Work and working
- — (d) Competition & Cooperation
- — (e) Contentment and Consumerism
- The Major Characteristics of Buddhist Economics
- (1) Middle-way economics: realization of true well-being
- (2) Not harming oneself or others
- Appendix: General Principles of Buddhist Economics (Middle-way Economics)
- 1. Wise Consumption
- 2. Freedom from Self-harm and from Oppression of Others
- 3. Economy as a Support
- 4. Harmony with Human Nature
- 5. Integration with the Unity of Nature
- Origin of this Book
- Translator’s Foreword
In summary, one important point that must be stressed is that the economic results that we seek are not ends in themselves. They are means, and the end to which they must lead is the development of the quality of life and of humanity itself. Consequently, it is the view of Buddhism that economic activity and its results must provide the basis of support for a good and noble life and of individual and social development.
Buddhism considers economics to be of great significance—this is demonstrated by the Buddha having the peasant eat something before teaching him. Economists might differ as to whether the Buddha’s investment of a 45 kilometer walk was worth the enlightenment of a single person, but the point is that not only is Right Livelihood one of the factors of the Eightfold Path, but that hungry people cannot appreciate Dhamma. Although consumption and economic wealth are important, they are not goals in themselves, but are merely the foundations for human development and the enhancement of the quality of life. They allow us to realize the profound: after eating, the peasant listened to Dhamma and became enlightened. We must ensure that the creation of wealth leads to a life in which people can be creative, develop their potentials, and endeavor to be good and noble. It is in short the quality of life that we are talking about.
In Buddhism there is a teaching called the Three Attha: that is, the initial, medium, and ultimate goals of human life. The initial, or basic goal refers to ‘visible benefits,’ of which a reasonable economic security is central; but the benefits of the first Attha have to be coordinated so as to assist with the attainment of the two further goals—the medium goal of mental virtues and quality of life, and the ultimate goal of complete inner freedom. In the effort to help achieve these three goals, economics must look upon itself as a contributing factor, one of many interrelated branches of knowledge that must support each other in the remedying of human problems. Consequently, an important task for economics is to find its points of contact with other disciplines and discover in which ways to best cooperate with them, how best to distribute the work load. Education for example could be used to teach people to recognize true and false values, what is and is not quality of life and so cooperate with economics in human development.
The major part of our lives is taken up with economic activities. If economics is to have any real part to play in the resolution of the problems facing humanity, then all economic activities, whether production, working, spending or consuming must help to create true well-being and develop the potential for a good and noble life. It is something that we are capable of doing. The essence of Buddhist economics lies here, in ensuring that economic activity simultaneously enhances the quality of our lives.