Buddhist economics

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English translation of key chapter from Dr. Apichai Puntasen's book on "Buddhist Economics"

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<p>BuddhistEconomics:Evolution,TheoriesandIts Application toVariousEconomicSubjects</p> <p>by ProfessorApichaiPuntasen</p> <p>Atranslatedversionofselectedchapters rd fromhisbookinThai(3 Edition) Bangkok,AmarinPress,2004</p> <p>BuddhistEconomics</p> <p>2</p> <p>BuddhistEconomics</p> <p>ContentsTableofFigures Preface Chapter1 TheSignificanceofBuddhistEconomics Chapter9 UnderstandingHumanBeingsthrougha BuddhistWay Chapter10 ExamplesofTheoriesinBuddhistEconomics: OverviewandProductionTheory Chapter11 AnalysesofConsumptionwithProduction TheoriesandOtherRelatedTheories Chapter15 ApplicationofBuddhistEconomicsto OtherEconomicSubjects Chapter16 Epilogue PaliGlossary Bibliography 4 5 7 37 72 99 131 142 148 153</p> <p>ApichaiPuntasen</p> <p>3</p> <p>BuddhistEconomics</p> <p>TableofFiguresGraphic2 TheRelationshipof Aniccata,Dukkha,andSukha 40 Diagram3 TheExplanationoftheWorkingof Khandain BuddhaDhamma 52 DiagramofAvijja 57 Relationshipbetweenthefactorsofproduction 77 Basicproductionprocess 81 Productionprocessincludingwaste 81 Subdivisionofresources 83 Figure4 PaaastheModeofProductionorPaaism 91 Figure6 TheWorkingoftheWholeProductionProcess ThroughtheSystemofConsumption 98 ProductionProcesstoProducePleasure 100 Diagram7 ShowstheDifferenceinDegreeAmongtheThreeConcepts, Selfinterest,Desire,andGreed 104 Diagram8 TheMakingofAutisticEconomics 106 Diagram9 AClearDemonstrationofthePowerofBuddhist EconomicsExplanationofConsumptionEfficiency 107 ACrossSectionalViewof Sikkhataya 108 AVerticalVisionof Sikkhataya 108 Diagram10 Consumption,andProductionTheoriesof BuddhistEconomics 110 PhraDhammapitaka(P.A.Payutto) 119 PhraBuddhadasa 127</p> <p>4</p> <p>BuddhistEconomics</p> <p>PrefaceThis book is completed with generous support from Professor Wit Wisadavet and Professor Emeritus Preecha Changkhwanyuen through the Centre for Buddhist Studies,ChulalongkornUniversity. ThebookwasoriginallywritteninThaibasicallyforacademicsandgraduatestudents andthosewhoarecuriousandwanttolearnmoreaboutBuddhistEconomics.There are16chaptersinthisbookintheThaiversion.Duetothelimitationofthebudget andthelimitationoftimeonmypart,ithasbeencommonlyagreedthatchaptersone, nine, ten, eleven, fifteen and sixteen are sufficient for international readers to understand the core concepts of Buddhist Economics and its related theories. They aretheonesincludedinthisvolume. As for chapters two eight, those who are already familiar with the arguments of postmodernism, havea background in Westerncivilization, mainstreameconomics, Marxian Economics and humanistic economics do not need to be reexposed tothe contents. Chapters twelve, thirteen, and fourteen deal with how to apply Buddhist Economics to other economic subjects such as development economics, human resourceeconomics,andeconomicsoftheenvironmentandnaturalresources.These chaptersareleftforfuturetranslationtoexpandthisvolumeexpansionbytheauthor through ay supporting agency with sufficient interest. Nevertheless, all of the said chapters have been summarized at the end of chapter one. Some arguments in chapters two eight have also been reviewed in chapters nine eleven. In other words,aWesternreaderwillnotmissmuchbynothavingchapterstwoeightinthe book. ApartfromthepersonsIhavementionedabove,thisbookwouldneverseethelight ofdayinthisformwithouttheexpertassistanceofMs.LindaNowakowskiwhohas helped edit my English to be in the form it appears in this book. Without the compassion of Venerable Brahmagunaporn (P. A. Payutto) and his willingness to help,thebookwouldneverhaveachievedthisdepthofBuddhaDhamma. Allofthe remainingimperfectionsareduetotheauthorsignorance.</p> <p>Respectfullyyours ApichaiPuntasen Authorandtranslator ProfessorandDean FacultyofManagementScience UbonRajathaneeUniversity UbonRatchathani 5November2008</p> <p>ApichaiPuntasen</p> <p>5</p> <p>BuddhistEconomics</p> <p>6</p> <p>BuddhistEconomics</p> <p>Chapter1TheSignificanceofBuddhistEconomicsMeaning Buddhist Economics is formed from the two words: Buddhist and Economics. ThewordBuddhistreferstotheteachingofBuddhaortheBuddhaDhamma.The worddhammameansnatureorthelawofnature. BuddhaDhammaactuallymeans the teaching of Buddha explaining natureorthe law that exists in nature for human beingstounderstandsothathumanbeingscanlivetheirlivesconsistentwithnature. Buddhism uses the term dukkha to mean many things including conflict, contradiction,alienation,worry,anxiety,pain,orsuffering. Thisdukkhaiscausedby a person living their life in conflict or in a way that is inconsistent with the law of nature. The main reason for dukkha is the lack of understanding of everything in its own nature.Itcan be furtherexplained, inpart,thatmostofthetime human beingsuse their own imagination or make presumptions based on their own subjective judgments.Theynormallywisheverythingtobeastheydesire.Thisunderstanding is inconsistent with reality and creates the problem, as reality will never change to accommodatesuchwishfulthoughts.Insteadoftryingtogainaclearunderstanding ofhownatureoperatesonitsown,humanbeingscontinuetoignoretheneedtogain actual clearer understanding of the real nature and end up accumulating more ignorance within themselves with more and more contradictions between human thoughts and the real nature of things. Holding fast onto something that is not realisticismicchditthiorwrongviewthatleadstoconflict,contradictionordukkha. This dukkha results because human beings do not try hard enough to understand everything in its own nature. While on the other hand, with such a clear understanding,everythingcanbeexplained.Noconflict,contradictionordukkhawill remain. Economicsisasubjectstudyinghumanbehaviorrelatedtotheconsumptionofgoods and services for survival as well as beyond that level. When consumption is considered,naturallyproductionanddistributionmustalsobeinvolved.Allofthese mustalsotakeintoconsiderationthelimitedamountofresourcesatanyspecifictime, includingthelimitationoftimeitselfasaresource.Thisleadstoaconsiderationof productionefficiency.Infact,consumptionefficiencyshouldbeconsideredaswell. Buddhist Economics says that we are looking at the application of the Buddhas teachingstoeconomics.Althougheconomicsasastudyofproduction,distribution andconsumptionofgoodsisofuniversalinterestandvalue,economicsastheworld knowsittoday,isasubjectdevelopedintheWestandrootedinwesterncivilization. AswelookatBuddhistEconomics,thepartoftheBuddhaDhammathatwewillbe applyingistheunderstandingoftherealnatureofhumanbeingsandtherelationships betweenhuman beingsand nature.Thisspecificviewpoint is vastlydifferentthan whathasbeendevelopedintheWestandwhatistaughtinmostacademicinstitutions thatareofferingthesubjectofeconomics.Thisviewwillfromnowonbereferredto as mainstream economics. The author has his opinion that economics has only</p> <p>ApichaiPuntasen</p> <p>7</p> <p>BuddhistEconomics</p> <p>partially assumptions on human beings. The subject only uses part of the truth to explain the whole. This method of using incomplete truth to represents their true nature eventually leads to incorrect or even wrong conclusions. That is why it becomes increasingly necessary to adopt a Buddhist paradigm that incorporates an understanding of human nature into economics. Such a paradigm will serve as an analytical tool to understand human beings both in greater width and depth. It will reshape the incorrect or wrong conclusions from the narrow frame of thinking in mainstreameconomicswhichisalsosometimesreferredtoasautisticeconomics. Apartfromwhatwasexplainedabove,thewordBuddhaalsomeansonewhoknows, an awakened one and an enlightened one. Given this definition, it can also be explained that Buddhist Economics looks at the subject of economics as it is understoodbyonewhoknows,anawakenedoneoranenlightenedonewithoutany limitation to the persons religious beliefs including persons who claim to be non believers in any religion. The author hopes that mainstream economics based on incomplete assumptions on human nature will be eventually replaced by Buddhist Economics. The word Buddhist, translated into Thai should not be translated as Setasart Naew PuthorliterallyastreamofeconomicsbasedonBuddhism.Althoughitisnotfar from its original meaning in English, it actually implies that Buddhist Economics is oneamongmanystreamsofeconomics,whichiscorrect.However,itmaynotbeso close to actual fact since, in Thai, it also carries the implication that mainstream economics is already good, that is, it does not require improvement or re interpretation.ItisobviouslynotcorrectifSetasartNaewPuthisbeinginterpreted inthisway.Theauthorwantstomakeitclearfromtheoutsetthatthedevelopment of Buddhist Economics as a new body of knowledge is to invite the world to pay increasingattentiontothisnewinterpretationofeconomics.Itcanbetheeconomics that is consistent with both the human way of life and a sustainable future for the world. From what has been explained above, it is also obvious that Buddhist Economics is noteconomicsforaBuddhist.EconomicsforaBuddhistdiscriminatesagainstnon Buddhistswhichshouldnotbearesultofdesigningthisnewbodyofknowledge.It is meant to be for everyone who wants to know, to be awakened and to be enlightened.Suchapersondoesnothavetobeconfinedtoanyparticularreligionor anyspecificbeliefandcanevenbeanonbeliever. Inconclusionmainstreameconomicscanbedefinedas: A subject related to economic activities with the goal of an individual achievingmaximumutilityundertheconditionofresourceconstraintandfor thesocietytoreachmaximumwelfareunderthesamecondition. Given the said definition of economics, Buddhist Economics can be defined as follows: Asubjectrelatedtoeconomicactivitieswiththegoalforbothindividualsand society to achieve peace and tranquility in a material world under the conditionofresourceconstraint.</p> <p>8</p> <p>BuddhistEconomics</p> <p>Thedifferencebetweenthetwodefinitionsisthemaximizationof utilityandwelfare in mainstream economics, and the achievement of peace and tranquility (or happinessgainedfrompeace)inBuddhistEconomics.Thetwodifferentdefinitions indicate the clear difference between the two approaches. This difference results becauseeachhasbeenderivedfromdifferentunderstandingofhumanitycomingfrom two different civilizations, Western civilization for mainstream economics and EasterncivilizationforBuddhistEconomics,developedfromtheteachingofBuddha. The main difference is the understanding of human beings, and especially the root cause of conflict, pain or dukkha. Buddhist Economics is designed to save human beingsfrompaininatruesense. TheStatusofBuddhistEconomicsasanAcademicSubject Buddha is not the name of a person but rather it means the one who knows, awakes,andisenlightened.Ifwelookatthatdefinition,wemightaskhowisitthat oneknows,awakesandbecomesenlightened?Itmustbeachievedbypaa. Paa isnotthesameaswisdom.Itliterallymeanstheabilitytounderstandathinginits ownnature.SincethewordBuddhaalso impliesthattheperson mustbeableto knowortounderstandthetruthof nature,orthetruthofonesown life,paawill serve as the most useful tool to understanding natural truth. Being the knower,the awakened one, orthe enlightened one results from the developmentofpaa. It is notamereunderstandinginashallowsensebuttheknowingfromactualexperience. The word experience implies some action of training and/or practice. If it were merely a matter knowing or understanding in a shallow sense, it could be achieved throughcontemplatingorlogicaldeductionwithoutanytrainingor practicing. Under this interpretation, Buddhist Economics is an economics subject where a person can approach the truth of the subject on his/her own. The important words hereareapproachandononesownorapproachingthetruthononesown.This phrasesaysthatapersonmustapproachacertainsetofexperiencesor,perhaps,has alreadyexperiencedsuchthingsbefore.Thisisthemostdifficultpartformostpeople to understand: the deep sense, the essence of the teaching of Buddha. Unless the personalsoexperiencesthingsononesown,itisamereunderstandinginashallow senserecognizedbymostpeople. IntheintroductiontohisbookBuddhaDhamma(1983),VenerableDhammapitaka (P. A. Payutto) started by explaining that Buddha Dhamma is not a religion in the Western sense. It does not rely on faith nor does it require a person to be a true believer in anything in the first place. If there is some fundamental belief in Buddhism,thatbeliefisnottobelieveinanythinguntilyouyourselvesknow:These things aregoodthesethingsare notblamablethesethings arepraised bythewise undertakenandobserved,thesethingsleadtobenefitandhappiness.(The10rules of the Kalama Sutta that will be elaborated later) Apart from not being a religion, Buddha Dhamma is not a philosophy in a Western sense either. The word philosophycomes fromtheGreek,andaphilosopherisa loverofwisdom.Since thewordwisdom,aswestatedbefore,doesnothavethesamemeaningaspaaitis notreallycomparable.Rememberthatpaa,intheultimatesense,meanstheability to understand everything in its own nature. This is the necessary and sufficient</p> <p>ApichaiPuntasen</p> <p>9</p> <p>BuddhistEconomics</p> <p>conditions for a human being to be free from pain or dukkha. Paa has its own specificmeaningwithnocomparablewordinEnglish.</p> <p>Thewordphilosophyreferstoathoughtorconceptthatthethinker(philosopher)feels isagoodideaormethodofdoingsomething.Itmaybebasedonpriorobservationit maybeonlyamentalexercise.However,eitherway,thereisnorequirementforthe philosopher to act according to his thoughts. There have been many philosophers who have had good thoughts but did not practice according to their own teaching. Thesepersonsnormallyclaimthattheyareonlythinkers.Theylovegoodideasbut theydonotnecessaryhavetopracticethem.Moreoverphilosophyisonlyideas.Itis partofhumancreationanddoesnotnecessarilyreflectthetruenatureofanything. BuddhaDhammaisateachingofBuddhaemphasizingonlyonespecificpoint:how torelievehumanbeingsfromdukkha,thatis,painorsuffering.Thegroundofthis teachingisfromactualexperiencethroughpracticeandithasbeenproventobetrue amongthosewhohavelearnedandactuallyexperiencedwhattheBuddhataught.A group of students of the Buddha, following his teachings were able to confirm the knowledge he shared as they became Arahantas (enlightened ones). To reiterate, BuddhaDhammaistheteachingofBuddha.Itisabodyofknowledgegainedfrom practical experience. It is not knowledge derived from human thought alone. As BuddhaDhammaisabodyofknowledgegainedfromactualpractice,particularlythe parttoalleviatehumansuffering,itistheknowledgegainedthroughpracticeyielding results. In order to explain such knowledge within the scientific framework developed inthe West,suchknowledge isalready beyondthe statusofa beliefora theory.Itisinfact,atestedtheorywithaprovenresultthatconfirmsthetheory. Forthereasons explainedabove,BuddhaDhamma is notaphilosophyas itsresults can be empirically demonstrated and not a religion because it requires no faith or revelation. Knowledge gained from practice has already achieved the anticipated result. This fact further implies that it is practical knowledge. This kind of knowledge is different from philosophy, as philosophy may have more de...</p>