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Buddhist Economics

1. From the Buddhist point of view, what is the function of work? What do you see as the main social and economic implications of the Buddhist perspective? The Function of work from the Buddhist point of view has three objectives: to give man a chance to utilize and develop his faculties; to enable him to overcome his ego-centeredness by joining with other people in a common task; and to bring forth the goods and services needed for a becoming existence. To organize work in such a manner that it becomes meaningless, boring, stultifying, or nerve-racking for the worker would be little short of criminal; it would indicate a greater concern with goods than with people, an evil lack of compassion and a soul-destroying degree of attachment to the most primitive side of this worldly existence. Equally, to strive for leisure as an alternative to work would be considered a complete misunderstanding of one of the basic truths of human existence, namely that work and leisure are complementary parts of the same living process and cannot be separated without destroying the joy of work and the bliss of leisure. The main social and economic implication of the Buddhist perspective is Buddhist sees the essence of civilization not in a multiplication of wants but in the purification of human character. Character, at the same time, is formed primarily by

a man s work. And work, properly conducted in conditions of human dignity and freedom, blesses those who do it and equally their products. A modern economist may engage in highly sophisticated calculations on whether full employment pays or whether it might be more economic to run an economy at less than full employment so as to insure a greater mobility of labor, a better stability of wages, and so forth. His fundamental criterion of success is simply the total quantity of goods produced during a given period of time. From a Buddhist point of view the implication means shifting the emphasis from the worker to the product of work, that is, form the human to the subhuman, surrender to the forces of evil. 2. Schumacher sees simplicity as a keynote of Buddhist economics. What s the connection between simplicity and nonviolence? Why does Buddhism value simplicity? Does capitalism promote needless complexity? Simplicity and non-violence are closely related. The optimal pattern of consumption, producing a high degree of human satisfaction by means of a relatively low rate of consumption, allows people to live without great pressure and strain and to fulfill the primary injunction of Buddhist teaching: Cease to do evil; try to do good. As physical resources are everywhere limited, people satisfying their needs by means of a modest use of resources are less likely to be under pressure to maintain life than people depending upon a high rate of use. People who live in highly self-sufficient local communities are less likely to get involved in large-scale violence than people whose existence depends on worldwide systems of trade.

To use natural resources carelessly or extravagantly is an act of violence, and the Buddhist economist has the ineluctable duty on man to aim at the ideal of nonviolence in all he does. As the worlds resources of non-renewable fuels coals, oils and natural gas are exceedingly unevenly distributed over the globe and undoubtedly limited in quantity, it is clear that their exploitation at an ever-increasing rate is an act of violence against nature which must almost inevitably lead to violence between men. The only difference between fuels in modern economics is relative cost per equivalent unit. Capitalism promotes needless complexity by focusing on high quantity output for lower cost. This can be in means of cutting jobs, manufacturing hours and outsourcing for cheapest production output costs. 3. How do Buddhism and capitalism differ in their understanding of the nature and purpose of human existence? Is the Buddhist view of the role of women sexist? Capitalism view of the nature and purpose of human existence as fundamental criterion of success is simply the total quantity of goods produced during a given period of time. Buddhist economic planning would be a planning for full employment, and the primary purpose of this would in fact be employment for everyone who needs an outside job; it would not be the maximization of employment or the maximization of production.

While the materialist is mainly interested in goods, the Buddhist is mainly interested in liberation. Buddhist economics believes that women do not need an outside job. I do not feel that this is sexist because Women play another roll in the family and a part in the society. Though in Western standards this would be seen as sexist, everyone has the opportunity to do anything. Capitalist measure the standard of living by the amount of annual consumption, assuming all the time that a man who consumes more is better off than a man who consumes less. In a Buddhist economy, they aim to obtain the maximum well being with the minimum on consumption. 4. What distinguishes Buddhist economics from modern economics in its approach to material wealth? To natural resources? With which approach are you more sympathetic and why? Buddhist economic differs from Capitalist in its approach to all human requirements. The ownership and the consumption of goods is a means to an end, and Buddhist economics is the systematic study of how to attain given ends with the minimum means. Capitalism considers consumption to be the sole end and purpose of all economic activity, taking the factors of productions land, labor, and capital as the means. Buddhist differs from Capitalism by distinguishing between renewable and nonrenewable materials. Non-renewable fuels are coal and oil and renewable fuels are

wood and waterpower. Buddhist economics believe non-renewable goods must be used only if they are indispensable, and then only with the greatest care and the most meticulous concern for conservation. I am more sympathetic with the capitalistic economy because the way I have been raised. There have been many innovations due to the human wanting more, to go further and faster, to have quantity and quality. The factors of production land, labor and capital are a means to make mathematical decisions for maximum opportunity. Airplanes allow faster travel but use a lot of fuel, which is a nonrenewable resource. 5. Is a capitalist economic system compatible with a Buddhist perspective? Is any other economic system? Capitalistic economic system is not compatible with the Buddhist perspective. Capitalism is mathematically logical not considering religious and spiritual values. Buddhist economics focuses on religious and spiritual non-violence while participating in trade and business. Buddhist economics focus on small means leading to extraordinarily satisfactory results. Socialist economics or conservative economics may be a compatible system with a Buddhist perspective. They promote equality for all society.