Wednesday, February 1, 2023

The Buddha on Economics and Politics...


Perusing the internet today i came across the following on the Buddha's teachings relative to political and economic theory. While rather lengthy it is worth the read. Lots of good stuff that could help the political and governmental leaders of the world. If they'd just read, meditate, and learn. But unfortunately their egos and reified beliefs get in the way.

Springer Link - This chapter outlines doctrinal Buddhist political and economic theory including its notions about interstate relations, which are based on its unique understanding of the nature of reality. Some readers may be surprised to hear that there exists a theory of politics in Buddha’s teachings. But in fact, Buddha spoke extensively about politics, contrary to the assertion of Max Weber who famously asserted that Buddhism was “a specifically a-political and anti-political status religion.” Although the overriding goal of Buddha’s teachings is the liberation of individuals from pervasive suffering, Buddha considered politics as important, not so much for its intrinsic value, but because it created an external environment that can facilitate or impede an individual’s pursuit of happiness, defined as spiritual advancement and achievement of wisdom about the true nature of oneself and the world. Although best understood as an extension of his teachings on human liberation, Buddha was also an original social and a significant political philosopher. Buddha’s social teachings parallel modern democratic thought, mixed market economics, and cosmopolitan internationalism in the West. This chapter outlines Buddha’s political and economic theory, including his thoughts about statecraft and the possibilities for international order.

Early Buddhist literature2 addresses several political, economic, and international issues. While the primary purpose of Buddha’s teachings is the liberation of individuals from pervasive suffering, his teachings also acknowledge the interdependence of the individual with society, polity, and economy. Buddha’s teachings sought to mediate these relationships constructively. Although largely unknown in the West, Buddha was an original and important social, political, and economic philosopher, and a rationalistic, humanistic, and democratic one at that (Ling 1981). 

What are the essential elements of Buddha’s normative vision for politics? Buddha saw politics not as an end in itself but as an instrument that could either provide favorable conditions or create harmful obstructions for individuals’ personal advancement. Buddha recognized that government is necessary to provide social order and welfare and that its values, content, and processes should be consistent with the “dharma.” “Dharma” (dhamma in P¯ali) has many meanings but here refers to the teachings of Buddha and their realization, which are offered as universal or natural laws—such as the law of dependent arising and the suffering that results from ignorance of this basic truth. These laws are not created by Buddha, they operate with or without him, but Buddha revealed these laws and recommended that we examine them and act accordingly; not through blind faith, but through a process of rational human assessment.3 A political system organized consistent with these basic truths could minimize the manifest forms of suffering for all members of society—especially for the least fortunate whose visible suffering is greatest—and play a positive role in an individual’s attainment of higher forms of well-being.

To continue reading click on Springer Link and then Click on Download chapter PDF

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