- 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
Origin of this Book
The Thai version of Buddhist Economics (เศรษฐศาสตร์แนวพุทธ) was originally a Dhamma Talk given on the auspicious occasion of Prof. Dr. Puey Ungpakorn’s 72nd birthday celebration at Thammasat University on 9 March 1988. The Komol Keemthong Foundation asked permission to print it as a book for the first time in the middle of that same year.
Later, an English bhikkhu, using the pen name J.B. Dhammavijaya, translated the text into English under the title Buddhist Economics, and offered this translation to the original author. The Buddhadhamma Foundation asked permission to publish this English version for distribution in 1992. There were thus two versions: a Thai version and an English one. In 1994, the Committee of National Identity asked to print a bilingual edition of this text.
Around the same time, Mr. Bruce Evans from Australia and Mr. Jourdan Arenson from the United States expressed the wish for the book Buddhist Economics to incorporate teachings on economics contained in some of my other books. They therefore asked permission to expand this book, by jointly translating five sections from four separate books and compiling it into one integrated text.
This extra material came from the following books: the original Thai text of Buddhist Economics; two sections from Buddhadhamma; and A Way Out of the Economic Bind on Thai Society (ทางออกจากระบบเศรษฐกิจที่ครอบงำสังคมไทย). Other material came from a lecture I wrote while spending time at Harvard University as a guest speaker, and which I presented at an academic conference at the University of California, Berkeley in 1981 under the general theme of ‘Foundations of Buddhist Social Ethics.’ The publishers in America asked to publish this lecture as the Introduction in the book Ethics, Wealth and Salvation (University of South Carolina Press, 1990).
This new work prepared and compiled by these two individuals became the 2nd English edition of the book Buddhist Economics, with the subtitle ‘A Middle Way for the Market Place.’ The Buddhadhamma Foundation again asked permission to print and distribute it, in 1994.
There are thus two English editions of Buddhist Economics. The first one contains the same material as the original Thai edition; the second one contains additional material.
At a later date, the publishing house Fischer Media in Germany sent us a German book published in 1999 titled Buddhistische Ökonomie translated by Dr. Mirko Frýba. It turns out that they had translated this text from the 2nd English edition of Buddhist Economics. The publishing house had not asked permission; they probably assumed that the original author was not possessive of the copyright; it would thus be okay to publish first and then inform the author. (It is true that I am not possessive, i.e. I do not receive remuneration, but it is important to maintain integrity and precision in these matters.) They later sent a document showing that this book had been a best seller, although we have yet to substantiate this claim.
In 2000 some major changes were made to the Thai version of Buddhist Economics, which was revised and added to. The 7th impression to this text was reformatted and it contained an appendix: ‘General Principles of Buddhist Economics—Middle-way Economics.’ As a consequence, the Thai version was larger than the 1st English edition, but it had nothing to do with the 2nd English version.
In 2003 the Ag Mass Media Company asked to publish the complete updated Thai version of Buddhist Economics as part of the larger Thai book titled ‘Dispelling Discord: Buddhist Jurisprudence, Political Science, and Economics’ (สลายความขัดแย้ง: นิติศาสตร์แนวพุทธ–รัฐศาสตร์แนวพุทธ–เศรษฐศาสตร์แนวพุทธ). This text can thus be considered the 8th impression of Buddhist Economics. In this latest impression (9th impression; 2005) small revisions and additions were made, especially to the appendix.
In sum, the book Buddhist Economics, both the Thai and the English versions, has many editions, with varying length and content.
Note that this book that you now have in your hands contains revisions made to the Thai version in 2000 and 2005, whereas the English version is identical to the 1st English edition translated by J.B. Dhammavijaya in 1992.1
Phra Brahmagunabhorn (P. A. Payutto)
14 February 2005