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

Transcript of Buddhist economics

BuddhistEconomics:Evolution,TheoriesandIts Application toVariousEconomicSubjects

by ProfessorApichaiPuntasen

Atranslatedversionofselectedchapters rd fromhisbookinThai(3 Edition) Bangkok,AmarinPress,2004

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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

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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

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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.

Respectfullyyours ApichaiPuntasen Authorandtranslator ProfessorandDean FacultyofManagementScience UbonRajathaneeUniversity UbonRatchathani 5November2008

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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

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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.

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Thedifferencebetweenthetwodefinitionsisthemaximizationof utilityandwelfare in mainstream economics, and the achievement of peace and tranquility