Posted to: Linda Nowakowski (230) by Linda Nowakowski (230), Sat, 24 May 2008 16:50:43 PDT
Edited: Sat, 24 May 2008 16:54:58 PDT
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DISCLAIMER This is rambling. This is thinking. Call it (at this point) individual brainstorming. I have posted this here because I want to work with each of you and share these ideas to build an organized vision and maybe lead to an insight in a positive forward direction. I speak of Buddhism not being a Buddhist but admiring much of what I see. I am not an expert.
I believe deep in my heart that every person on the globe wants to move their life forward toward something better.
The problem is figuring out the direction. We wander. We look around us to see what others are doing and kind of figure the direction most people is going is the right direction.
Some of us travel that path and find that it really isn't going anywhere that we want to go and screw up enough courage to try to swim upstream.
I guess I feel like I have always been swimming upstream. I mean I gave my first doom and gloom speech on the environment to a large church group in 1966. (About the same time I was protesting the war in Vietnam.)
I got into this mode of thinking by the constant comments when I speak about Sufficiency Economy here in Thailand (remember, this is a philosophy developed by the King of Thailand) that I must be crazy. How could I get into the Sufficiency Economy thing when I am an American?
People in Thailand and much of the rest of the world, believe that the west (most visibly and audibly America) has the answers to happiness and well being. They don't have a clue. But why should I be surprised that Thais and Africans don't understand that the western goal of mindless consumerism and endless accumulation is not the answer when those who are living in the middle of that and know that it is not really the answer keep chasing it?
When I came to first learn about Buddhist Economics, it grabbed me. Most simply stated it is economics where ethics matter. Where people are central. Where having a job is more than making money; it is honing a skill and having pride in your work and knowing that you are contributing to society with your work. It is an economics where the focus is not on the accumulation of wealth but rather a measure of how you distribute your wealth.
One of the biggest problems with it is that it is still, in many ways, a regional, cultural concept that is fully shrouded in Buddhism. That is not to say that there is anything wrong with that. It is to say that it is my belief that as long as it wears that outer layer, not many people will look at the beauty inside it. I have more than once joked with Aj. Apichai that I thought I was called to take the Buddhism out of Buddhist Economics. I am just not sure how to do that so that it can speak to millions of people in the west who I believe are searching for the answers it points to.
The hub in Buddhist Economics is the Buddhist concept of relieving suffering. Relieving suffering for oneself and for all those around us. The goals of the Buddhist Philosophy are to examine (in your own life) the causes of suffering. The central cause of suffering is identified as attachment. Attachment to things and people and ideas - attachment to anything - limits our satisfaction.
Buddhism seems to be focused on awareness: self awareness, awareness of others and awareness of our actions and their effects....looking for causes.
It is a term that was focused into my vision last year when I went to the conference in Budapest. There was another conference participant, Joel Magnuson who is from Portland. He is an economist who teaches at Portland State University and Portland Community College. He has written a great textbook "Mindful Economics".
mindfulness thinking about what you are doing thinking about why you are doing it thinking about what the effects of doing it are going to be
Mindfulness.... It makes me think of all the times I would get in hot water with my mother and would land up saying "... but I didn't think it would matter" or "I didn't think you would care" and she would come back with "That is precisely the point: you didn't think." She used that phrase often. I hope she knows that now I at least try to think.
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