Buddhist Economics By E. F. Schumacher “Right Livelihood

Question:

World Religions

 

Essay Question: “Buddhist Economics”

  1. One of the requirements of the “Noble Eightfold Path” is “Right Livelihood.” Schumacher suggests that the understanding of the meaning of work, therefore, would differ between the “modern perspective” and the “Buddhist perspective.” Compare the two perspectives and then discuss how the American workplace might be different if it followed the “Buddhist perspective.”

 

  1. Schumacher sees simplicity as a keynote of Buddhist economics. What’s the connection between simplicity and nonviolence according to this article? How does this relate to Jain ethical principles?

 

  1. According to Schumacher, 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?

Answer:

Both Buddhist economics and the modern economics have different perspectives regarding work. According to Schumacher the modern economics, and specifically the Western economics tends to measure the standard of living of a person according to the person’s degree of consumption. And he has also observed that in the realm of the modern economics (specifically Western economics) workers are considered as costs by the employers and hence, the latter is always willing to reduce the number of the former as much as possible to gain economic advantage. Moreover, in relation to this point of view employers are more inclined towards adopting the process of automation. Based on this approach of the employers the employees also tend to devote less and earn more from their work. And if these approaches continue then the ideal form which will emerge will be employee opting for output without employees and employees opting for income without employment. Moreover, this is a dilemmatic concept and this is going to ruin the economy. Besides, in this context Schumacher has brought forward the principle of Buddhist economics in respect of work. From the point of the view of the Buddhist economics people and their ability to work is more important than the finished goods and consumption. It is the creative activity and not the production which is more important in the Buddhist economics. And if the American workplaces would have followed this principles of the Buddhist economics then the scenario would have been different as employees would have been given much more emphasize than to the product of their work and this would have render job satisfaction to the employees which in turn would have minimized their stresses and anxieties. And this reduction in undue stress would have provided the American employees with a better physical and mental health and would have prevented them to surrender to violence means (which are often now come before us as incidents of workplace violence and violence in personal life).

(327 words)

 

  1. Schumacher sees simplicity as a keynote of Buddhist economics. What’s the connection between simplicity and nonviolence according to this article? How does this relate to Jain ethical principles?

Schumacher did observe a close relation between simplicity and non-violence. Through his devoted study about the Buddhist economy he has found that simplicity is the keynote of the Buddhist economics. The principal aim of the Buddhist economic, unlike the materialist economics is not in goods but in liberation. But though this is a truth, it is also a truth that Buddhism follows a middle path and hence the Buddhist economics never finds anything wrong with wealth but it is the attachment towards wealth which is unwanted in respect of Buddhism. Moreover, this simple philosophy of Buddhism and Buddhist economics is related to non-violence. If the pattern of the economy can be formulated in such a way that low rate of consumption can generate a high rate of satisfaction then there are ample chances that people will learn to live with limited resources and consumption and this adaptation will eventually refrain them to commit any violence against each other for extracting more than what is actually needed. Furthermore, the habit of modest consumption will gradually make people more satisfied and a satisfied human being is seldom violent. And in these regards some similarities can be found between Buddhism and Jainism. In terms of simplicity both these religions aims at liberation though good conduct and good deeds encompassing right perception, right knowledge and right conduct (“Buddhism & Jainism”, n.d.). Besides, just like Buddhism, Jainism too believes that non-violence should always be followed in action, in speech, and in the thought process (Buddhism & Jainism”, n.d.).

(253 words)

 

 

  1. According to Schumacher, 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?

Schumacher has profoundly studied the economic philosophy of Buddhist nations and the economic principle of Buddhism. And through such avid study and observation he has provided some vital differences between the approaches of Buddhist economics and modern economics towards material wealth, natural resources etc. Through his discussions in “The Buddhist Economics” Schumacher has conveyed that unlike the modern economics’ approach towards material wealth the Buddhist economics’ approach towards material wealth is based on the philosophy that there should be sufficiency and not surplus. According to the principle of the Buddhist economics economic progress should be attained to gain sufficiency but if the progress is meant to gain more than what is sufficient the process will eventually lead to evil that will ultimately ruin the economy. Moreover, in terms of natural resources too, the principle of the Buddhist economy varies from that of the modern one. Unlike the modern economics’ approach towards natural resources the Buddhist economics aims at distinguishing between renewable and non-renewable resources. And it is the viewpoint of the Buddhist economics that a civilization can only sustain in a progressive manner if it is built upon renewable resources rather than non-renewable sources. And going through all such principles of the Buddhist economics I do agree to it thoroughly and I think it is time now to embrace the approaches of the Buddhist economy only to help the modern economy survive. If still now modern economy fails to realize the need of renewable resources and if it fails to check the tendency of overconsumption then in the recent future its existence will be in jeopardy.

(266 words)

 

 

References

Buddhism & Jainism. (n.d.). Buddhist-Tourism. Retrieved September 23, 2012, from http://www.buddhist-tourism.com/buddhism/religion/buddhism-jainism.html

 

 

About the Author Doris C. Chesser