Buddhist Economics Part 4: External Costs and Respect for Nature

All of Life is one thing. It’s interconnected and interdependent. Nothing can be created, and nothing can be destroyed. Matter can only change shape and form. And give the illusion it’s something new. Perceiving reality in this way helps us identify some of the reasons we suffer in this lived experience. Mainly, it helps us see that the social, economic, and environmental problems we face today are all connected. The war we wage against Mother Nature embodies the principles that make us so tolerant of stark inequalities around the world. And this war is based on antiquated notions of human nature and on misunderstandings about our relationship to the cosmos. Applying the zoomed-out, reflective lens of of Buddhism, which seeks to understand and eradicate suffering in all its forms, to economics, which aims to provide for the maximum production, distribution, and consumption of goods, helps us see how these misconceptions … Continue ReadingBuddhist Economics Part 4: External Costs and Respect for Nature

Buddhist Economics Part 3: Egocentrism, Compassion, and the Well-Being Economy

Our fundamental beliefs about human nature are rooted in experience. We look at what humans have done in the past, and we use this to understand who we are now. However, because these beliefs are so connected to our lived experience, they are subject to change as our reality transforms. Yet as high-tech, automated technologies continue to carry is to a whole new world, our perceptions about life remain the same, which slows our ability to progress. As a whole, we still see life as a perilous fight for existence defined by the competition for scarce resources. But we are entering a period where abundance, not scarcity, will be the norm, meaning we need to exchange our competitive perspective for something else. In short, this “something else” will be an acceptance that cooperation, based on principles of compassion, and not competition, is the secret to a good life. Buddhist Economics … Continue ReadingBuddhist Economics Part 3: Egocentrism, Compassion, and the Well-Being Economy

Buddhist Economics Part 2: Right Livelihood and Universal Basic Income

Autumn has set in New England. The air has turned sharp, the ground swishes with fallen leaves, and the Red Sox are keeping everyone up way past their bed times. Evening cocktails on the beach and afternoons by the pool are distant memories. Books, movies, tea, and old records are back. Our lives are defined by how we spend them. And while we spend the majority of our waking hours working, what we do when we’re not says a lot about who we are and how we see the world. However, time away from work is a relatively new development in the human story. Before the Industrial Revolution, working from dawn to dusk was not only the norm but also a survival requirement for nearly everyone except the most wealthy and powerful. Nowadays, due to massive expansions in productivity across the globe, regular leisure is an everyday part of life, … Continue ReadingBuddhist Economics Part 2: Right Livelihood and Universal Basic Income

Buddhist Economics Part 1: Reshaping How We Think About the Economy

Sustainable systems require technological innovations, just and fair distributions of wealth, and effective policy that encourages innovation, equality, and a smart use of resources. But to succeed in making these real components of out societies, we must first learn to think a bit differently about the world. Why Buddhism? Mixing religion with the economy (or anything, really) tends to make people uncomfortable. But don’t think of Buddhism as a religion, but rather as a framework, or guidebook, for a good life. It’s based on careful observation of the world and the cosmos in which its located. And it has as its central focus the elimination of suffering in all its forms. Furthermore, Buddhism uses the concept of Awareness, or mindfulness, to help people better understand life in all its complexity. Buddhists think that learning about the Self and the many influences acting upon us offers insight into the true nature … Continue ReadingBuddhist Economics Part 1: Reshaping How We Think About the Economy