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A Trouble-Free Life
Ven Kekanadure Dhammasiri
A Trouble-Free Life
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“The keynote of Buddhist Economics, therefore, is simplicity and non-violence. From an economist’s point of view, the marvel of the Buddhist way of life is the utter rationality of its pattern – amazingly small means leading to extra-ordinary satisfactory results”
- E. F. Schumacher, Small is Beautiful
“For at least another hundred years, we must pretend to ourselves and to everyone that fair is foul and foul is fair: for foul is useful and fair is not. Avarice, usury, and precaution must be gods for a little longer still. For many they can lead us out of the tunnel of economic necessity into daylight.” (Economic possibilities for our grandchildren.)
- John Maynard Keynes
“Men make their own history, but they do not make it just as they please; they do not make it under circumstances chosen by themselves, but under circumstances directly encountered, given, and transmitted from the past.”
- Karl Marx
Table of Contents
Foreword 1. Introduction 2. Why Buddhism Is Concerned with Economic
Stability 3. Modern Economics 4. The Buddhist Economic Theories I. Acquired Income II. Consumption III. Investment IV. Savings 5. Social and Spiritual Development 6. Impact of Buddhist Economy 7. Economic Stability and Satisfaction in the World 8. Buddhist Goals for Individual’s and World
Community 9. Economic Decisions and Gender Role 10. Final Thoughts 11. Sources
At a glance, when you see the word “trouble-free” you might be pleased to read it. It is obvious that humanity, since its existence, has been experiencing various kinds of troubles, problems, conflicts and disagreements. If fact, no one on this planet is free from troubles. As intelligent beings, humans are responsible for finding insights to minimize the many problems they face. The useful insights may be gained through education, association with capable personnel and one’s religious teachings. Insightful change is recognized as a new transformation of human behavior and a refinement of attitudes.
The possibility of such a transformation is the key message of this essay. In order to lead you to a new transformation of stable economics, I have chosen some of the great teachings of humanity, such as Buddhist teachings, other faith-based teachings, and modern academic knowledge. Even if this knowledge is widespread, there is a lot of evidence that these ideas or messages have been abandoned, misunderstood, or misused. It certainly has not helped to transform human behavior, except for a limited number of people on the planet.
“Buddhist Economic Thoughts,” the topic of this essay, may confuse or, perhaps, inspire the reader. Buddhism has been subjected to a baseless criticism that it lacks provisions for its followers to lead an economically stable domestic life by encouraging them to prepare primarily for their next life. This essay will address those criticisms directly. However, though
primarily a Buddhist approach, I did not try to restrict this essay to the teachings of the Buddha, alone. I have compared other relevant teachings, findings, and suggestions as well.
Respectfully I bow my head to the all those authors whose writings have greatly benefited me, enriching my unpolished ideas without limiting my Buddhist training, prompting me to analyze these ideas from every angle. And last but not least, my sincere thanks should be given to the publishers of this small essay.
Kekanadure Dhammasiri BhikkhuMind Dung Quang Vietnamese Buddhist Temple5025 N. Regal StreetSpokane, Washington, United States of America
(01) The Buddhist Mission for a productive lay life can be easily summarized in these simple words uttered by the Buddha.
The non-doing of any evil,
the performance of what's skillful,
the cleansing of one's own mind:
this is the teaching of the Awakened.
The Buddha lived in a society entangled and confused by sixty–two divergent views and one hundred eight types of craving. Hundreds went about in search of an escape from this entanglement of views. Once the Buddha was asked the question: The inner tangle and the outer tangle
This world is entangled in a tangle
Who succeeds in disentangling this tangle?
The Buddha, who explained that all these tangles have mind as the forerunner, answered thus:
“When a wise man, established well in virtue, develops consciousness and understanding; as a Bhikkhu ardent and sagacious, he succeeds in disentangling this tangle.”
Stable, regular life is a key element in human life. People work using their full potential to earn as much money as they can. Economists, politicians, sociologists, and theologians advise the common people to achieve a stable, mundane life on a daily basis. There is, however, an inappropriate criticism of Buddhism that says it talks about sufferings of present human life, teaches its followers not to enjoy their present life, and encourages them to achieve relief from their next life and attain Nibbana. Is this a valid point to the teaching of the Buddha? It is, of course, not true. Although Buddhists’ utmost goal is to achieve liberation from all worldly suffering, they do not neglect the satisfaction of their present life. Searching for the reasons of suffering was the Buddha’s mission. He did it living with human beings and experiencing their contributions to suffering. First, he enjoyed a luxurious life with his family, immediate, extended families and friends. Doing so, he understood that that was not the real purpose of human life. Then he entered the opposite of that luxury living, giving up all his belongings, including his family life. After he left his palace, he lived in forests and consumed meagre food that was available in the area. This mission took almost six years for him to realize the root cause for the suffering of humans. Having experienced both comfortable and extremely less comfortable life styles, to avoid either extreme, he utilized the Middle Path (Majjhima Pattipada) of life. Because of thirty years of research on human suffering, he understood suffering, the causes for suffering, the cessation of suffering, and the pathway to end the suffering in the present life and after life. In Buddhism, this pathway is comprised of four stages, the Four Noble Truths. In this spiritual journey, Buddhists are
advised to balance their social, economic, religious, and other areas in order to achieve real satisfaction in their own life.
When we think of “economics”, the following words may come to mind, representing concepts which we feel might be of particular concern to economists: Economic activities, markets, allocation, money, capital, competition, resource development, growth, welfare, well-being, poverty, deliberate, purposeful, rational, optimal, efficient, and more.
A descriptive definition would be: Economics is the study of purposeful human activities in pursuit of satisfying individual or collective wants.
An analytical definition would be: Economics is the study of principles governing the allocation of scarce means among competing ends.
In this modern world although highly advanced in science and technology, with its rapid expansion of knowledge, there appears to be a steady deterioration of human values. Present day politics, the economy, and educational systems are some of the more important reasons for this state of affairs. In this context, it is considered desirable that the existing political, economic thought and educational systems be changed in order to develop human values.
Buddhism is both a path of emancipation and a way of life. As a way of life, it interacts, with the economic, political, and social beliefs and practices of people. It is felt now is the most opportune time to make known to the world each of the
above aspects of society within the framework of Buddhist Ethics and the basic principles of Buddhism.
The Four Noble Truths are the primary Buddhist principles in which every Buddhist undoubtedly agrees. The first truth of the Four Noble Truths is suffering, which focuses on different areas of sufferings of the human life. People work very hard to stabilize their lives but the way they seek it solve suffering temporarily and at other times end up in disaster. On financial stabilization, the Buddha had discussed this with a young householder named Sigala and many other followers at different times as well. The economic advice given to Sigala can be seen in the long Discourse called Sigalovada Sutta, in Digha Nikaya (the Pali texts of the Theravada Buddhist School). It describes one concept called “Atthacariya”, or useful economic behavior, and may be considered a significant point of balanced life. In addition, the Buddha advised the rulers to help improve the economy of their constituencies and kingdoms in order to have a balanced life for their subjects. One of the teachings of the Buddha, the discourse of Cakkavattisihanada, explains that economic stability and unrest in society are interrelated. Cakkavattisihanada explains that poverty, revolution, power-related crimes and the uncertain situations in countries are the results of mismanagement of the responsible authorities. E. F. Schumacher, who admired Buddhist economic principles in his book “Small is Beautiful” stated, “The keynote of Buddhist Economics, therefore, is simplicity and non-violence. From an economist’s point of view, the marvel of the Buddhist way of life is the utter rationality of its pattern— amazingly small means leading to extra-ordinary satisfactory results.” As a religious
leader, the Buddha had also discussed economic issues and provided solutions how to improve common people’s life conditions, by being diligent in our consumption, earning, and savings.
Buddhism encourages us to have a satisfactory life by performing a simple way of life without going to any extreme in earning, consumption, or saving. Today, however, the society turns happiness to unhappiness and instead satisfied people show unsatisfactoriness with every angle of their life. The nature of unsatisfactoriness leads to unexpected and unbearable painful events whether we like them or not. When the Buddha talked about human nature, he said, “We came to this world without any invitation, we leave this world not knowing where we will go.” Christian theologians emphasis of the story of creation is not just about Adam and Eve. It is really about us. It is a revelation of where we are. These two religions raise questions that are fundamental to human happiness when offering this excruciating question: “Who am I?” This is a basic question of human life. According to St. Augustine’s theology, the original sin has three consequences:
We don’t know where happiness is to be found (Ignorance),
We look for it in the wrong places (concupiscence); and,
If we ever find out where it might be found, the will is too weak to pursue it anyway. This is the somewhat dismal view that Christianity has offered up to now.
(Page 11 “The Human Condition”, Thomas Keatings)
Although the Buddha was, of course, not an eminent economist in the way an academic community would categorize economists, some of his teachings evidently proved that he had spent much time listening to his lay followers’ daily issues and provided them productive advice to enhance not only their religious life but also their economic life.
(02) Why Buddhism is concerned with Economic Stability
Economic stability is a key topic of all human life; therefore, most religious leaders, philosophers, scientists, politicians, and socialists dedicated their time to this in the past, while many are still investing their time to find a permanent solution to economic stability. As the second oldest religion, Buddhism also gives its priority to people’s stable economic life. Here is a passage from the scriptures where the Buddha discussed with his ordained disciples, called Bhikkhus. This is illustrating the proper Buddhist attitude of wealth:
“Bhikkhus, there are these three groups of people in this world: what are the three? They are the blind, the one-eyed, and the two-eyed.
“Who is the blind person? There are some in this world who do not have vision, which leads to acquisition of wealth or to the increase of wealth already gained. Moreover, they do not have the vision which enables them to know what is skillful and what is unskillful… what is blameworthy and what is not. What is coarse and what is refined, good, and evil. This is what I mean by one who is blind.
“And who is the one-eyed person? Some people in this world have the vision which leads to the acquisition of wealth, or to the increase of wealth already obtained, but they do not have the vision that enables them to know what is skillful and what is not… what is blameworthy and what is not… what is coarse and what is refined… good and evil. This I call a one-eyed person.
“And who is the two-eyed person? Some people in this world possess both the vision that enables them to acquire wealth and to capitalize on it, and the vision that enable them to know what is skillful and what is not… what is blameworthy and what is not …. What is coarse and what is refined….. good and evil. This I call the two-eyed…..
“One who is blind is hounded by misfortune on two counts: he has no wealth, and he performs no good work. The second kind of the person, the one-eyed, looks about for wealth irrespective of whether it is right or wrong. It may be obtained through theft, cheating, or fraud. He enjoys pleasures of the senses obtained from his ability to acquire wealth, but as a result, he goes to hell. The one eyed person suffers according to his deeds.
“The two-eyed person is a fine human being, one who shares out a portion of the wealth obtained through his diligent labor. He has noble thought, a resolute mind, and attains to a good bourn, free of suffering. Avoid the blind and the one-eyed, and associate with the two-eyed.”
In the world, from East to West and North to South, many struggle in order to find a stable and peaceful life for themselves or for their community. The greatest struggle is due to economic issues. On the one hand, some are involved in wrong ways to find economic stability. Secondly, some powerful people, who are fortunate to have natural resources, use their resources to disrupt world peace and economy, putting their political motivation first, rather than civilians’ happiness. Today, the most threatening issue is global warming. This is the most unforgivable mistake and unforgettable pain for everybody. If everyone does not pay attention to protect the environment, people today, as well as future world generations are jeopardized. These are major concerns, where we as Buddhists should pay attention and more concern for the longevity of the world and smooth functioning of every society. Buddhists, therefore, are trying to encourage people, whether Buddhists or not, to reflect about our own selfishness and consider selflessness as an alternative way of life. In other words, when we pursue endless greediness and uncontrolled consumerism, we create the untimely disappearance of natural and created resources in the world. Considering all those factors, Buddhism is concerned with economic stability and advises people to be aware of the importance of every single person and community, as well as the whole world’s economy and stability so that Buddhism can achieve its mission of establishing a peaceful and stable world.
(03) Modern Economic Issues:
One of the earliest and most famous definitions of economics was that of Tomas Carlyle, who in the early 19th century termed it the “dismal science”. Economists have always disputed this, most notably the early economists Thomas Malthus and David Ricardo. At the turn of the century, Alfred Marshall’s Principles of Economics was the most influential textbook in economics. Marshall defined economics as
“A study of mankind in the ordinary business of life: it examines that part of individual and social action which is most closely connected with the attainment and with the use of material requisites of well being. Thus it is on one side a study of wealth; and on the other, and more important side, a part of the study of man.”
Most contemporary definitions of economics involve the notions of choice and scarcity. Perhaps the earliest of these is by Lionel Robbins in 1935:
“Economics is a science which studies human behavior as a relationship between ends and scarce means which have alternative uses.”
Though the exact wording differs from author to author, the standard definition is something like this:
“Economics is the social science which examines how people choose to use limited or scarce resources in attempting to satisfy their unlimited wants.”
Economic issues are always complex. But we are currently living through a period of remarkable transition. From the beginning of the Industrial Revolution to the present, capitalism has gone through extended periods in which our institutions have not been adequate for our technology. One of these periods was from the 1870s to the 1890s, when both firms and society had to adapt to new production technologies that drastically increased the size and economic power of corporations. Another of these periods was the 1930s, a decade of severe depression in the industrialized world which led to a major government role in the steering of the economy and in the distribution of income. Not only were our economic institutions inadequate during these transition periods, but our economic theories were found wanting as well. In the mid-1970s to the mid-1990s, economic growth had been moderate and only benefited the richest fifth of families while the poorest 40% of families actually fell behind in spite of working more hours. Growth picked up substantially in the second half of the 1990s and unemployment fell to 1960s levels (four to four –and a-half percent.) But wage growth still lagged behind productivity growth.
Periods of transition such as the present are particularly troublesome. Our dominant economic theory tells us that productivity growth should lead to wage growth, but this is not occurring. The transition of the economy usually leads to transitions of economic theory, but this does not happen quickly. Even our economic statistics are becoming outdated. We measure unemployment with some difficulty and considerable lack of accuracy.
To some of the classical economists, particularly David Ricardo, the distribution of income was the subject of economics. It is still a major question today: Will economic growth ‘automatically’ spread its benefits around, or as some maintain, will social policies to spread income around destroy the source of income? Distribution of income, according to David Ricardo, is based on social and economic theory, but Buddhism goes a little bit further and it points out that every one of the members in society must be psychologically and emotionally balanced, or rather not become over consumptive and be well–disciplined in their behavior of income distribution. In solving a number of economic issues which family, individual, and society face on a daily basis Buddhism introduces three areas of economic theories in order to pursue common economic goals
(04) The Buddhist Economic Theories:
The most important aspects of economic (financial) planning, according Buddhism as well as to modern analysis, can be placed into three broad categories, which are the three legs of financial planning: (1) earned income and consumption, (2) investment and (3) saving for an emergency and retirement.
While discussing the enhancement of daily life with the Indian young man Sigala, the Buddha uttered this guideline for him to organize his financial life. It is as follows in the Pali Language:
“Akena Boge Bunjeyya, Deehi kammam Payojaye
Chatuttancha Nidha peyya Apadasu Bavissati”
“Whatever income you have, you should only utilize one fourth to consume, half of your earnings you should reinvest to acquire further income and the last portion of your income should be kept for emergency acquisition as future savings.”
As we know, early Buddhism uses the word “attha”, literally equivalent to the English word “economics”. Therefore, we should start with how Buddhism discusses economic theories in its own way. Of the Pali term “attaha” (Sanskrit “artha”), which has more than one meaning, according to Buddhism signifies success and is used at two separate levels, i.e., ‘attaha’ meaning success, and ‘uttamattaha’, meaning the highest success. The latter concerns man’s mental and spiritual development, which results in the realization of the Four Noble Truths, in the conquest of self and attainment to spiritual perfection or Arahanthood.
Generally speaking, the word ‘attha’ as success, relates to the various aspects of man’s socio-economic development, such as the economy, politics, education, health, law and morality of a society. It refers to social progress due to the harmonious unification of all factors, contributing to the prosperity and peaceful co-existence of a people.
In recent times, many books have been written on the subject of economics and economic theory, all of them either from the capitalist or socialist point of view. Neither of these systems pay attention to, nor considers the inner human development as an important factor in the growth of society.
Hence, there has been a rapid deterioration in human values and standards of behavior in all classes of society. Science and technology have taken gigantic strides forward to send man to the moon, and it will not be long before he visits other planets. But fears are expressed that if the present trend towards moral degeneration continues, before long it would be impossible to differentiate human action from that of the animal. This fear is not baseless. It would be a great tragedy, indeed, were man to turn bestial in any aspect of behavior. Thus, what the world requires today is a socially stable economic system yielding the highest place for human moral development and cultivation of human values. While keeping their values and dignity, people can employ many careers and Buddhism does not discourage lawful, righteous vocations.
(i) Acquired Income
A lawful and righteous working force is one target of Buddhist economic goals. The Buddha, when encouraging the production of wealth, makes special reference to six job ranges prevalent at that time. It is obvious that the during the Buddha’s time economies not only in India, where the Buddha was born, but also the rest of world were called closed economies because in those days countries did not have the technological advances to engage in international trade that countries today have, one way or the other, thoroughly connected to world economies. Given the sophistication, workers today are fortunate to get a number of jobs in many areas compared to people who lived thousands of years ago.
As a result, most jobs were limited to specific areas. Those jobs can be categorized as limited areas.
During the Buddha’s time, people were involved in many careers such as business, farming, teaching, supervisory positions and administration. All these jobs were recognized as lawful and harmless professions. Right Action is the fourth step in the path leading to the cessation of suffering that the Buddha discussed. Right Action aims at promoting moral, honorable, and peaceful conduct. It admonishes that we should abstain from destroying life; stealing, dishonest dealings; sexual misconduct and that we should also help others to lead a peaceful and honorable life in the right way. Today’s economic environment is very different from the past. Today we are close to all nations and we are becoming interdependent in many ways. Our daily needs might be produced in other parts of world and our primary products might become essential inputs of other countries in the function of their primary productions. Buddhist precepts are not contrary to the international trade systems unless the persons or countries involved conduct their business in improper ways. What “proper way” means is that trading items as well as trading methods should not be harmful to any beings. In line with Buddhist economic theory these are some of the jobs that every one can engage as his or her profession: Agriculture
The Buddha addressed a group of laymen thus:
“Herein, householder, there are five uses to which wealth can be used. They are:
(01) “With the wealth that has been obtained by his own diligent labor… the noble disciple supports himself comfortably, sufficiently; he applies himself to seeing to his own happiness in rightful ways. He supports his father and mother…. wife and children, servants and workers comfortably, to a sufficiency, applying himself to their needs and their happiness as is proper. This is the first benefit to obtain from wealth.”
(02) “Moreover, with wealth that has been obtained by his own…the noble disciple supports his friends and associates comfortably, to a sufficiency, taking an interest in their happiness as is proper. This is the second benefit to be derived from wealth.”
(03) “Moreover, the noble disciple protects his wealth from the dangers of confiscation by kings, theft, fire, flood, and appropriation by unfriendly relatives. He sees to his own security. This is the third benefit to be derived from wealth.”
(04) “Moreover, with the wealth that has been obtained…makes the five kinds of sacrifice. They are: supporting relatives, receiving visitors, offering some donations in the name of ancestors, paying taxes to the government, and supporting the religion. This is another benefit to be derived from wealth.”
(05) “Moreover… the noble disciple makes offerings which are of the highest merit, which are rightly gained, the noble disciple makes offerings which are of highest merit, which are conducive to mental well-being, happiness and heaven, to religious mendicants, those who live devoted to heedfulness, are established in patience and gentleness, are trained, calmed, and cooled of defilements. This is the fifth benefit to be obtained from wealth.”
The jobs listed above and their benefits were mainly common in Indian careers during the Buddha’s time. It does not mean today, we as Buddhists, can only do all those jobs. A major principle of finding a job in Buddhism is that the job is legally accepted in the constitution of the country where one lives and that the earning accrued is appropriate for the time and energy spent by the employee. Applying this theory today, we can find a number of jobs in the open markets. Whatever qualifications you might have you must first consider what job is suited for you and your life’s aspiration. In accomplishing a job best suited for your future, you have to totally put yourself into that job while producing a good outcome for the employer and achieving satisfaction from it. Aside from jobs mentioned in this essay, I hope you might be able to apply the Buddhist theory to find jobs you mostly admire that brings both financial and personal happiness.
Finding a job is a simple thing that most people are capable to do today. But the challenging and crucial point is how to manage the consumption of one’s income.
“Sabbe Satta Aharatithica” “All beings love food.” It is understandable that the priority of all beings is to seek nourishment to sustain life. The nature of consumption is varied and significant but individual commonality as well can be noticed too. Buddhism respects individual needs and tastes. However, it emphasizes that the consumer has rights and responsibilities to oneself, his or her family, and to the society where he or she lives. As we progress in understanding human needs and tastes, we learn to achieve some kind of balance in daily life. We are also responsible for our fellow citizens’ longevity and security. The people around them appreciate the characteristics of a person who is on his or her appropriate path. These people live to their fullest potential. Their livelihood uses all their personal attributes, combining interests, skills, and values. Whether a person is the president of a country or a psychiatric nurse, their characteristics are similar. Real livelihood is also about simplifying your life. It provides a reason for letting go of the things that aren’t working, of the values that aren’t your own. In that letting go, spaciousness is created that gives you mental and emotional room for creating the life you want. In order to have a balance in our consumption, it is obvious that we need to live naturally. Because when we divert from the natural way of life, we have to acknowledge consequences of it even though we do not like it. As dieticians and medical professionals explain, we must learn to eat natural food, organic vegetables that are free from artificial seasoning, preservatives, or chemicals.
Buddhist consumption theory
Hunger is an essential necessity of a healthy life. Therefore, we are allowed to reduce the hunger in proper ways. There is an art of consumption introduced by the Buddha, primarily to his disciples. However, it has some validity to all of us even today. When taking food, we should not fill to the capacity of our stomach but leave space for water for a number of reasons. Although food is essential to reenergize our body, we need to keep a balance in eating. Overeating disturbs the normal function of our life and creates unnecessary health issues to the bodily functions too. Modern writers try to explain the art of consumption in different ways.
This is the second principle of the Buddhist economic system. A person should spend reasonably, in proportion to his income, neither too much nor too little. In the discourse relating to the householder’s happiness, enjoyment of one’s income appropriately and wisely is given as one of the four factors conducive to lay happiness.
In the Pattakamma Sutta the manner in which a person should spend his wealth is given in detail as follows: Expenditure on food and clothing and other needs; Maintenance of parents, wife, children and servants; For illness and other emergencies; For charitable purposes; For the performance of the following:
Treating of one’s relatives Treating of one’s visitors Offering alms in memory of the departed Offering merit to the deities Payment of state taxes and dues in time
At present, we live in a world of commercialism where the sale of anything and everything is carried out with the motive of gaining profit. Persuasive advertisements and media are constantly informing us of the benefits of their products. The Buddhist point of view is that consumerism should be thoroughly analyzed and evaluated. We should not be slaves to the media. Instead, we should choose items mindfully. In this short essay, I would like to discuss five contemporary areas that are relevant to the art of consumption.
In everyday life, as lab studies have shown, hunger peaks three times a day. When healthy adults of normal weight rated how hungry they were every thirty minutes, their hunger jumped between 7 A.M. and 8 A.M., at noon, and between 7 P.M. and 8 P. M. It was most intense at noon. While morning breakfast provides energy, lunch and dinner give sustained alertness and relaxation. In the morning, after fasting overnight, we need energy. Any type of food will lessen fatigue, while skipping breakfast will leave you as sluggish as you were on awakening.
Buddhism does not go against or restrict personal tastes as long as people take balanced meals. However, when devotees observe eight precepts on Buddhist holy days they
are encouraged to have only two vegetarian meals. In addition, the clergy communities have more restricted rules as to when they may enjoy foods. For example, they have limits on food items as well as time limits of the day during which they may eat.
As the medical professionals tell us, there are a number of disadvantages when we take unlimited or less nutritious food. Imbalanced eating is related to sicknesses. Because the balance in taking food is important, the Buddha advised monks to take two meals, breakfast and lunch before noon and at nighttime they are only allowed drinks produced from herbal roots and leaves or natural beverages. In America, obesity is a big challenge. According to the American Medical Association, 75 million children are suffering from obesity today, demonstrated by girls and boys, 60 pounds over weight before they are ten years old. Today children eat less nutritious food and do not have enough exercise. As a result, obesity is major public health problem in the United States today. It is a key contributor to heart disease, high blood pressure, type-II diabetes, sleep apnea, and other ailments and reduces life expectancy by four years.
Consumers have all rights to enjoy food according to their tastes but the Buddha advises them to consider their families, too. A married person has to feed his or her family no matter what amount money they have, which may include their spouse, children, parents, siblings, etc. Even unmarried people are responsible for the care of their parents and siblings. While discussing these issues, a group asked the Buddha about causes for one’s downfall. In reply, the Buddha explained
that someone who does not feed his own parents commits a downfall in his life. In fact, monks who do not have money to feed their own parents, are permitted to feed them by begging for food if no one is available to care for them.
After feeding oneself and one’s family, as a respectable person there is a social responsibility to fulfill. Buddha mentions that everyone has a duty to maintain social institutions as well as people who volunteer for the well being of society. If an ordained person who dedicates his life for the common good arrives at the door expecting some food is refused, that behavior is not appropriate in the teachings of the Buddha.
“Whoever, being rich, does not support his aged mother and father, who has passed their youth, this is the cause of one’s downfall.”
“He who, by falsehood, deceives the Sangha community or dedicated ordained persons or any other mendicant: this is the cause of one’s downfall.”
– Discourse of Downfall (Parabhava Sutta)
For people to manage their consumption is not enough according to the Buddha. While discussing economic issues the Buddha discusses investment for future utilization as well. This topic is differently interpreted in the Buddhist texts but overall there is agreement that there must be investment to enable self-sufficiency. The investment may be in currency or capital gains.
(iii) Investment - Investment and maintaining financial strengths
The amount of money gained or lost may be referred to as interest, profit / loss, gain / loss or net income / loss. Money invested may be referred to as the asset, capital, principal or the cost basis of the investment. Return On Investment (ROI) is known as rate of profit. Return can also refer to the monetary amount of gain or loss. ROI is the return on a past or current investment or the estimated return on a future investment. ROI is usually given as a percent rather than decimal value. Another important area in our lives is earning money to pay our bills and cover the rest of our needs as human beings. As we saw in consumption, everyone has his or her own ways to invest money. However, we invest our money in different ways, with targets to earn as much money as possible. We all need to think through how our work matches who we are. For example:
1. What are our real values? 2. What is our vision for how we want to live our lives?3. What skills and talents bring us to this vision?4. What kind of skills should we promote while protecting
our values and integrity?
The Buddha, discussing the path leading to the cessation of human suffering, pointed out precepts to maintain wholesome lives as honorable citizens in the universe. One of his concepts is Right Livelihood, which means that one should abstain from making one’s living through a profession that brings harm to others, such as trading in arms and lethal weapons,
intoxicating drinks, poisons, killing animals, cheating, etc., and should live by a profession which is honorable, blameless, and innocent of harm to others. One can clearly see here that Buddhism is strongly opposed to any kind of war, when it lays down the rule that trade in arms and lethal weapons is an evil and unjust means of livelihood.
Money is the number one problem couples fight about. It's often the spark that ignites bickering about ambitions, fears for the future and the inevitable power struggle. Communication is vital. Talking about how you plan to earn, spend, and save money is easier when you agree on the priorities. Regardless of income levels, couples benefit from forming and adhering to a spending plan that includes discussion about making major purchases.
Financial advisors encourage wage earners in two-income households to design a plan that maximizes the benefits of the second income. For lower wage earners, the costs of child care, income taxes, and work-related expenses might outweigh the income benefits of a second job. Even for high wage earners, without proper planning the maximum benefit will not be realized, and in some instances, the additional salary can be a tax liability.
The Buddha explains to the merchant Anathapindika some of the benefits that can arise from wealth. Since the teachings are specific to an earlier time, the reader is advised to glean the gist of them and apply them to the modern day. Continuing the discussion of economic principles, the other major concept is saving. The Buddha deeply encouraged his
followers to think about their financial stability without being caught in the cycle of cruel poverty.
For an individual, a group or an organization, consistent saving is crucial. Not saving is like a house with a totally uncovered roof. For those understanding the urgency of saving, among religious leaders, the Buddha’s name is obviously at the top of the list.
Planning tips for dual-income households:
- Jointly decide if the paychecks will be combined into one checking account, or maintained in separate individual checking accounts. A designated amount from each paycheck could be deposited into a separate household account.
- Decide who will pay the bills and maintain the account. - Each partner must have a personal allowance, agree on
the amount, and make the money available routinely. - Agree upon a savings and investment plan. - Make the decision together on how you will finance new
purchases such as a car or appliance. Regardless of who the user will be, avoid debt levels that will demand the full earning potential of both wage earners.
- If you file income taxes jointly, you are each responsible for any inaccuracies or errors on your returns. Before signing the tax return, examine the forms and ask questions.
- If you jointly hold a credit card account, you are both responsible for any debts incurred on the account.
Organize your financial life
How much credit can you afford? Before making the decision to add more debt, you need to make sure that you: Allocate sufficient money for your essentials. Borrow only for items that you need and can afford. Borrow only if you are spending less each month than you take home. 1. Start with your monthly take-home pay. This is the amount you have left after taxes and other
deductions have been made.2. Subtract the amount you need for necessities and fixed
expenses. This includes savings, your mortgage or rent payment,
utilities, food, transportation, childcare, medical care, clothing, and recreation. Include payments made on a quarterly, semi-annual, or annual basis, such insurance, and taxes.
3. The balance is the amount you can safely apply to debt repayment.
Avoid thinking you can spend this entire amount, since emergencies do occur and you may not wish to use your regular savings account to cover small, unexpected expenses.
How to manage credit card use
Many people find themselves with credit problems because they do not keep track of purchases they make with their credit cards. A simple method of keeping track of monthly credit card charges is to:
1. Determine the total amount you can responsibly charge on all your credit card accounts during that month.
2. Keep track of your credit spending in the same way you maintain a running balance of your checking account.
3. Subtract each amount charged from the monthly charge limit you set.
Manage your credit wisely and borrow wisely.
Credit cards and loans are frequently used to make up for a lack of holiday cash. Both allow you to repay the amount owed over a period, although you pay for this advantage in finance charges. Remember to budget for the credit card and/or loan payments you will have to make. It's a well-documented fact
of life that many people simply do not manage their money. The emotional meaning that people may attach to money can hinder clear thought and rational action in times of financial stress. An orderly and detailed accounting of your income, savings, living expenses, and credit obligations can help you manage your money more efficiently.
Save for emergency and future needs:
The Consumer's Almanac will help you gain control of your financial situation by:
Organizing your income, savings, living expenses, and credit obligations so that you are in a win-win situation. Meeting your future needs through saving and investment. Incorporating your long-range goals into the budgeting process. Managing your credit wisely.
Save in advance
It sounds simple, and it is. You must discipline yourself to save a few dollars from each week's paycheck during the year. If you aren't disciplined enough to save regularly on your own, consider joining an interest-paying holiday savings club at your bank or credit union
Determine your net worth before you figure your actual monthly living expenses and credit obligations. The balance sheet is designed to help you calculate your assets and your liabilities.
Does your physical property (such as your home or car) or intangible rights (such as money someone else owes you) have value? Assets are useful to you because you can spend them, sell them, or use them as security on a loan.
What are your debts or amounts of money you owe to someone else? Liabilities are expressed as either short-term or long-term and as secured or unsecured. Short-term liabilities are generally paid off within one year. Long-term liabilities usually take longer to pay off. Secured liabilities, such as mortgages or auto loans, require you to pledge a specific asset to ensure payment of the debt. Unsecured liabilities are based on your personal creditworthiness.
Take the time to calculate your net worth several times a year. This helps you to gauge your financial progress and provides a good first step to assuring your future is financially sound.
1. Know your retirement needs. Retirement is expensive. Experts estimate that you will
need about 70% of your pre-retirement income. Lower earners will need 90% or more to maintain your standard of living when you stop working. Understand your financial future.
2. Put money into an Individual Retirement Account. You can put $2,000 a year into an Individual Retirement
Account (IRA) and delay paying taxes on investment earnings until retirement age. If you do not have a retirement plan (or are in a plan and earn less than a certain amount), you can also take a tax deduction for your IRA contributions. Withdrawals prior to age 59 may be subject to a 10% penalty tax.)
3. Don't touch your retirement savings. You will lose principal and interest, and you may lose
tax benefits. If you change jobs, roll over your savings directly into an IRA or your new employer's retirement plan. If your employer offers a tax-sheltered savings plan, such as a 401(k), sign up and contribute all you can. Your taxes will be lower, your company may kick in more, and automatic deductions make it easy. Over time, deferral of taxes and compounding of interest make a big difference for money you will accumulate.
4. Learn about your employer's pension or profit-sharing plan.
If your employer offers a plan, check to see what your benefit is worth. Most employers will provide an individual benefit statement if you request one. Before you change jobs, find out what will happen to your pension. Learn what benefits you may have from previous employment.
5. Start now, set goals, and stick to them. The sooner you start saving, the more time your money
has to grow. Devise a plan, stick to it, and set goals for yourself. Start saving now, whatever your age is.
(05) Social and Spiritual Development
Universal education will be an indispensable contributor to this process of capacity building, but the effort will succeed only as human affairs are so reorganized as to enable both individuals and groups in every sector of society to acquire knowledge and apply it to the shaping of human affairs. So far as earthly existence is concerned, many of the greatest achievements of religion have been moral in character. Through its teachings and through the examples of human lives illumined by these teachings, masses of people in all ages and lands have developed the capacity to love. They have learnt to discipline the animal side of their natures, to make great sacrifices for the common good, to practice forgiveness, generosity, and trust, to use wealth and other resources in ways that serve the advancement of civilization and social life on a vast scale. However, obscured by dogmatic accretions
and diverted by sectarian conflict, the spiritual influences set in motion by such transcendental figures as Buddha, Jesus, Muhammad, Zoroaster, and Krishna have been the chief influence in the civilizing of human character.
Since the challenge before humanity today is the empowerment of humankind through a vast increase in access to knowledge, the strategy that can make this possible must be constructed around an ongoing and intensifying dialogue between science and religion. It is, or by now should be, a truism that, in every sphere of human activity and at every level, the insights, and skills that represent scientific accomplishment must look to the force of spiritual commitment and moral principle to ensure their appropriate application.
The Oxford dictionary defines spirituality as matters concerning the spirit, regarding religious or sacred things, holy, divine, or inspired. Can you be spiritual without having religious beliefs or belonging to any particular religious sect? How do spiritual and religious beliefs differ and how are the two sometimes connected? Religious beliefs are often based on cultural conditioning. Most religious beliefs are inherited from the family, learned in institutional settings, or absorbed through contact with society. Spiritual beliefs on the other hand are most often based on personal experience.
It is possible to have personal spiritual beliefs and religious ones at the same time; very often they go hand in hand. Many times these two types of beliefs serve the same purpose. They give order to chaos; they provide a moral foundation upon which to base behavior. An important difference between
the two types of beliefs is in their source. Religious beliefs become traditional, passed on through scripture, proselytizing and in the media. Spiritual beliefs, in contrast, are developed individually and groups with issues of a more personal or intimate nature than those addressed in religious doctrine.
(06) Impact of Buddhist Economics on Modern Economics:
In one of his essays, E. F. Schumacher compares Buddhist and modern economic impact on the working community in the career world. According to his analysis, economists themselves, like most specialists, normally suffer from a kind of metaphysical blindness, assuming that theirs is a science of absolute and invariable truths, without any presuppositions. Some go as far as to claim that economic laws are as free from “metaphysics” or “values” as the law of gravitation. We need not, however, get involved in arguments of methodology. Instead, let us take some fundamentals and see how they look when viewed by a modern economist and a Buddhist economist.
There is universal agreement that a fundamental source of wealth is human labor. Now, the modern economist has been brought up to consider “labor” or work as little more than a necessary evil. From the point of the employer it is, in any case, simply an item of cost, to be reduced to a minimum if it cannot be eliminated altogether, say, by automation. From the point of view of the workman, it is a “disutility”. Work is to make a sacrifice of one’s leisure and comfort, and wages
are a kind of compensation for their sacrifice. Hence, the ideal from the point of view of the employer is to have output without employees, and the ideal from the point of view of the employee is to have income without employment.
The consequences of these attitudes, in theory and practice, are extremely far-reaching. In the ideal of eliminating work, every method that “reduces the work load” is a good thing. The most potent method, short of automation, is the so-called “division of labor” and the classical example is the pin factory eulogized in Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations. Here it is not a matter of ordinary specialization, which mankind has practiced from time immemorial, but of dividing every complete process of production into minute parts, so that the final product can be produced at great speed without anyone having had to contribute more than a totally insignificant and, in most cases, unskilled movement of his or her limbs.
The Buddhist point of view takes the function of work to be at least threefold: to give one a chance to utilize and develop his faculties; to enable him to overcome his ego-centeredness by joining with other people in a common task; and to bring forth the goods and services needed for existence. Again, the consequences that flow from this view are endless. To organize work in such a manner that it becomes meaningless, boring, stultifying, or nerve-racking for the worker would be little short of criminal; it would indicate a greater concern with goods than people, an evil lack of compassion and a degree of attachment to the most primitive side of this worldly existence. Equally, to strive for leisure as an alternative to work would be considered a complete misunderstanding of one of the basic
truths of human existence namely that work and leisure are complementary parts of the same living process and cannot be separated without destroying the joy or work and the bliss of leisure.
It is clear, therefore, that Buddhist economics must be very different from the economics of modern materialism, since the Buddhist sees the essence of civilization not in a multiplication of wants but in the purification of human character. Character, at the same time, is formed primarily by a man’s work. And work, properly conducted in conditions of human dignity and freedom, blesses those who do it and equally their products.
(07) Economic Stability and World Stability:
At first glance, economic and world stability do not really matter, but looking more closely the connections can be seen. Even in the fifth century B.C.E., it was very true. The Buddha went to a battlefield to solve a dispute between two provincial leaders over distribution of water from a river named Rohini. By this peace mission, the Buddha showed us that economic stability has a direct connection with peace of family, country as well as around the globe. Yet it can be said that the world economy is as important as anything else. After all, if the world were starving all other issues would seem irrelevant. The discussion of social injustice is impacted by the stability of society. The Buddha pointed out that policy makers, rulers, and administrators have responsibilities to maintain social justice in order to maintain world stability. One
of the Buddha’s favorite political remarks appears in the discourse of Chakkavatti Sihananda. In this discourse, the Buddha mentioned that something could be done to overcome inequalities through the capacity of administration to help poor people to stand on their own feet. If social justice is not being served the consequences, according to the Buddha, would be terrifying, such as lying, stealing, erupting into violence, killing each other, and so on.
Having taken the path of peace from the beginning to his community and later to the world, the most revered Dalai Lama is one of leading Buddhist monks in modern days, highly respected and well recognized as a peace maker. Most of his writings are based on compassion, love, and harmony. He stated in an article, “When we rise in the morning and listen to the radio, watch TV or read the newspaper, we are confronted with the same sad news: violence, crime, and disaster. I cannot recall a single day without a report of something terrible happening somewhere.” Further, he referred to compassion as the pillar of world peace saying, “According to Buddhist psychology, most of our troubles are due to our passionate desire for and attachment to things that we misapprehend as enduring entities. The pursuit of the object of our desire and attachment involves the use of aggression and competition as supposedly efficacious instruments. These mental processes easily translate into actions, breeding belligerence as an obvious effect. Such processes have been going on in the human mind since time immemorial, but their execution has become more effective under modern conditions. What can we do to control and regulate these ‘poisons’—delusion, greed
and aggression? For it is these poisons that are behind almost every trouble in the world.”
The principles of the major religions of the world – Buddhism, Christianity, Confucianism, Hinduism, Islam, Jainism, Sikhism, Taoism and Zoroastrianism have similar ideals of love, the same goal of benefiting humanity through spiritual practice, and the same effect of making their followers into better human beings. All religions agree upon the necessity of controlling the undisciplined mind that harbors selfishness and other roots of trouble, and each teaches a path leading to a spiritual state that is peaceful, disciplined, ethical, and wise. As an individual becomes disciplined and selfless in his or her life, peace may result in his or her society. In order for the world as a whole to become stable, it is necessary to have peaceful countries and continents. Eventually the world becomes stable and peaceful when people live without fear or worry. That is the key of Buddhist economic goals. Without economic stability, there won’t be world stability. Therefore, Buddhism tries to encourage its followers to maintain stability at home, then in the neighborhood, one’s country and demonstrate, in the end, that the world turns into a pleasant place to live, beginning with a single action at the grass root level.
(08) Buddha’s Utmost Goal for the Individual’s Life and World Community:
The following teaching was given to the merchant Anathapindika. It is known simply as the four kinds of happiness for householders:
“Herein, householder. These four kinds of happiness are appropriate for one who leads the household life and enjoys the pleasures of the senses. They are the happiness of ownership, the happiness of enjoyment, the happiness of freedom from debt, and the happiness of blamelessness.”
“What is the happiness of ownership (Atthisukha)? A son of good family possesses wealth that has been obtained by his own diligent labor, acquired through the strength of his own arms and the sweat of his own brow, rightly acquired, rightly gained. He experiences pleasure, he experiences happiness, thinking, I possess this wealth that has been obtained by my own diligent labor, acquired through the strength of my own arms and the sweat of my own brow, rightly acquired, rightly gained. This is the happiness of ownership.”
“And what is the happiness of enjoyment (Bhogasukha)? Herein a son of good family consumes, puts to use, and derives benefit from the wealth that has been obtained by his own diligent labor, acquired through the strength of his own arms and the sweat of his own brow, rightly acquired, rightly gained. He experiences pleasure, he experiences happiness thinking, “Through this wealth that has been obtained by my own diligent labor, acquired through the strength of my own arms and the sweat of my own brow, rightly acquired, rightly gained, I have derived benefit and performed good work.” This is called the happiness of enjoyment.”
“And what is the happiness of freedom from debt (Ananasukha)? Herein, a son of good family owes no debt, be it great or small, to anyone at all. He experiences pleasure
and happiness, reflecting: I owe no debts, be they great or small, to anyone at all. This is called the happiness of freedom from debt.”
“And what is the happiness of blamelessness (Anavajjasukha)? Herein, a noble disciple is possessed of blameless bodily actions, blameless speech, and blameless thoughts. He experiences pleasure and happiness, thinking: I am possessed of blameless bodily actions, blameless speech, and blameless thought. This is called the happiness of blamelessness.”
“When he realizes the happiness of being free from debt, he is in a position to appreciate the happiness of owning possessions. As he uses his possessions, he experiences the happiness of enjoyment. Clearly seeing this, the wise man, comparing the first three kinds of happiness with the last, sees that they are not worth a sixteenth part of the happiness that arises from blameless behavior.”
As we know, Buddhism not only discusses suffering in life but it helps us to have a satisfying life here and now. In light of all of these facts, you may wish to recreate or modify your list of financial priorities and expenses. You may need to add a savings component for a safety net. As you are revising your financial plan, it may seem a little like you have been cheated. Here you've been living a life thinking you were pretty much under control, but once you start to factor in things like credit card debt repayment, life insurance costs and retirement savings, you may find you aren't making nearly enough money any more. There is not a lot you can do about
it in the short term. Assume a mature attitude and put things in order. Once you have lived with these new realities for a month or two they won't seem so bad, and you will have the distinct pleasure of knowing that you are really covering all of the bases.
A variety of Buddhist topics are discussed in this article. Whether you are Buddhist or not you can adopt these ideas and have a stable life. These topics include retirement planning, investing strategies, life insurance and so on. With these new tools in hand, you will possess the essential ingredients of stable financial life. So is there a solution to unorganized young life? The answer is "maybe." It requires a big mental shift. If you are willing to make the mental shift the answer is "yes." It turns out there is a different way to live life. This way of life involves figuring out what you really want to do, and what is important to you as an individual, and then working toward these goals rather than proceeding randomly. What you gain in the process is a sense of control, satisfaction and achievement that is difficult to beat. As Buddhists, you may add to your academic knowledge of economics, management, and accountancy to enrich this Buddhist philosophy in your life. “Vivato Virochati” (Open my thought to the other explanations and it becomes brighter.)- The Buddha
The job you have does not guarantee a stable financial life. What really makes a difference is how well an individual plans his or her personal finances. The difference is smart planning. And if you want to be a successful, then you’d better make sure you’re following techniques which can be suited to your financial situation. Here are a few of suggestions. However,
you are not forced or pushed to use them. You are welcome to test all these steps.
Spending should be controlled, not to allowing it to exceed your earned income Plan your budget and follow planned budget procedures Find investment tools and invest in one of the profitable tools Maintain income and expenses records Implement a saving plan for everybody in your family Pay off your loans and avoid over using credit cards Search insurance plans and cover individual needs Maximize employment benefits Contribute to a retirement plan Have open dialogues with your spouse, family members, and partners on a weekly basis.
On the challenge of man’s future, Professor Harrison Brown of California Institute of Technology gives the following appraisal:
“Thus we see that, just as industrial society is fundamentally unstable and subject to reversion to agrarian existence, so within it the conditions which offer individual freedom are unstable in their ability to avoid the conditions which impose rigid organization and totalitarian control. Indeed, when we examine all the foreseeable difficulties, which threaten the survival of industrial civilization, it is difficult to see how the
achievement of stability and the maintenance of individual liberty can be made compatible.”
“Men make their own history, but they do not make it just as they please; they do not make it under circumstances chosen by themselves, but under circumstances directly encountered, given, and transmitted from the past,”
(09) Economic Decisions and Gender Roles
“ Iththipi Pandita Hothi Tattatatta Vichakhana”
The Buddha once uttered the above statement which means “women are also wise and experts in given situations and matters.”
Although this statement came from 2600 years ago, today it has been scientifically proven and accepted that men and women do think differently, at least where the anatomy of the brain is concerned, according to a new study. The brain is made primarily of two different types of tissue, called gray matter and white matter. In human brains, gray matter represents information processing centers, whereas white matter works to network, these are processing centers. This new research reveals that men think more with their gray matter, and women think more with white. Researchers stressed that just because the two sexes think differently; this does not affect intellectual performance.
Psychology professor Richard Haier of the University of California, Irvine led the research along with colleagues from the University of New Mexico. Their findings show that in general, men have nearly 6.5 times the amount of gray matter related to general intelligence compared with women, whereas women have nearly 10 times the amount of white matter related to intelligence compared to men.
Further, the Buddha said different people have different feelings and attitudes: “Na Natta Kaya Na Natta Sanna.” What the Buddha means here is evident, as scientists proved that the brains of men and women are wired differently. Men and women are from the same planet, but scientists now have the first strong evidence that the emotional wiring of the sexes is fundamentally different. An almond-shaped cluster of neurons that processes experiences such as fear and aggression hooks up to contrasting brain functions in men and women the new research shows.
For men, the cluster “talks with” brain regions that help them respond to sensors for what’s going on outside the body, such as the visual cortex and an area that coordinates motor actions. For women, the cluster communicates with brain regions that help them respond to sensors inside the body, such as the insular cortex and hypothalamus. These areas tune in to and regulate women’s hormones, heart, blood pressure, digestion, and respiration.
To understand human behavior – how men and women differ, for instance – we must look beyond the demands of modern life. Our brains are essentially like those of our
ancestors of 50,000 and more years ago, and we can gain some insight into sex differences by studying the differing roles men and women have played in evolutionary history. Men were responsible for hunting and scavenging, defending the group against predators and enemies, and shaping and using weapons. Women gathered goods near the home base, tended the home, prepared food and clothing, and cared for small children. Such specialization would put different selection pressures on men and women. Men and women not only have different physical attributes and reproductive function but also in many other characteristics, including the way they solve intellectual problems. For the past few decades, it has been ideologically fashionable to insist that these behavioral differences are minimal and are the consequence of variations in experience during development before and after adolescence. Evidence accumulated more recently, however, suggests that the effects of sex hormones on brain organization occur so early in life that from the start the environment is acting on differently wired brains in boys and girls. Such effects make evaluating the role of experience, independent of physiological predisposition, a difficult if not dubious task. The biological bases of sex differences in brain and behavior have become much better known through increasing numbers of behavioral neurological and endocrinological studies.
Incorporating gender into macroeconomics
In discussing gender differences and its affects on economic matters, the International Monetary Fund reveals interesting facts on its “Budgeting with Women in Mind,”
Vol: 44 No 2, June 2007. It is not that obvious how to go about incorporating gender differences into economic behavior and generating policy outcomes into macroeconomic policymaking. After all, in macroeconomics, one typically looks at the aggregate, or overall, economy. But economists are now taking a much stronger interest in how gender affects aggregate income as well as key components of overall economic demand, focusing on household decision-making. (Janet G. Stotsky)
Although the evidence about the relationship between women's inferior status and growth is not fully conclusive—measuring the degree of inequality or disadvantage in comparison with men is a complex topic in itself—research findings suggest that countries that take steps to increase women's access to education, health care, employment, and credit, thereby narrowing the differences between men and women in terms of access to economic opportunities, increase their pace of economic development and reduce poverty (Klasen, 2007; and World Bank, 2001).
One of the best-documented findings, with evidence spanning many developing countries, is that when women have greater control over the spending of their households' resources, they devote a larger share to foster the potential of their children and purchase household necessities. Because greater investment in education is linked to higher growth and because spending on necessities is more stable than spending
on luxuries, raising women's economic influence within the household may enhance overall growth and reduce economic instability. In countries where women's opportunities to earn a living are limited by economic and cultural factors, public policies could therefore benefit from being geared to enhancing women's employment and earnings possibilities. Examples of policies that encourage women to work outside the home include subsidies for preschool programs and a reduction in high marginal tax rates applying to secondary earners within the household.
Savings and investment:
Theory suggests a number of reasons why women might have different savings preferences than men, including the need to provide for a longer life expectancy. The empirical work on savings and investment is scarcer than on consumption. Some evidence suggests that enhancing women's control over resources does in fact lead to a higher saving rate, but further study is needed to draw any firm conclusions. Evidence from micro-credit lending indicates that women tend to have superior repayment records and invest more productively. Data from developed nations on the allocation of financial assets suggest that women tend to be more averse to risk. Although this may slow growth economy-wide, it may at the same time impart greater stability to investment and financial markets. The external balance, which reflects the gap between domestic savings and national investment, may also be altered by the influence of gender on saving and investment decisions.
Recent research suggests that expanding women's political voice and power may increase the demand for redistributing income and for public insurance, for instance, through increased spending on social security programs and maternity or unemployment compensation. Such preferences could lead to a larger overall size of government, with uncertain implications for overall economic growth.
Taken together, these gender-based differences suggest that raising women's economic power can lead to higher rates of economic growth and reduce volatility. Much of the evidence is microeconomic in nature, but macroeconomic conclusions can be drawn from microeconomic modeling as long as the behaviors are systematic and pervasive and thus have an impact at the aggregate level.
In countries with the lowest average income and in which agriculture remains the main source of economic activity—such as in sub-Saharan Africa—women's lack of education, health care, and employment opportunities prevents them from being able to fully benefit from improved macroeconomic and structural policies, hindering economic growth (Collier, 1988; and Blackden and Bhanu, 1999). Where women have broader opportunities, the growth of export-oriented industries, supported by trade liberalization, has been shown to stimulate growth in many developing countries and increase women's employment. South and Southeast Asia—where export trade has led to a dramatic increase in women's paid employment opportunities—are examples of this phenomenon. Financial
liberalization has also improved economic opportunities for women, in part through greater access to credit. But greater volatility may be burdensome to households with marginal finances, which are disproportionately headed by women.
Budgeting for Gender
One way for countries to pinpoint policies needed to reduce gender disparities is through gender budgeting, which involves the systematic examination of budget programs and policies for their impact on women. This effort to mainstream gender analysis into government policies has gained prominence in recent years, in part, thanks to a big push by the 1995 Beijing World Conference on Women. This type of budgeting promotes greater accountability on how governments are doing in terms of promoting gender equality and helps ensure that budgets and policies are geared toward achieving gender equality. It is not intended to analyze only programs that are specifically targeted to females or to produce a separate "women's" budget. Rather, it is intended to examine the gender effects of all government programs and policies.
Decision-making is a big, risky, and vulnerable event because the person who makes the decision must be responsible for its consequence. Because of this nature, decision-making definitions are varied but the most practical definition is “the process of selecting from several choices products or ideas, and taking action.” Because of general beliefs, when people make decisions, they actually use their whole being, not just their thinking abilities. As in all belief, the whole-system
approach is considerably more effective than simply “thinking it through.”
Having a trouble-free life creates a happy family. Happy communities create a happy world. In order to be happy both genders must be aware of their nature. In every single event in their domestic life, husbands and wives, sons, daughters, grandmothers, and grandfathers should sit together and discuss issues, by applying basic Buddhist meeting management factors in formal gatherings. Buddhist meeting management principles are comprised of loving kindness, compassion, sympathetic joy, pleasant speech, and fair, equal treatment.
Santideva (Eighth century C.E.), one of the great Indian masters of the Mahayana Buddhist School says:
“If you are trained,
There is nothing which will not become easy,
First by training to tolerate minor problems,
Later you will become able to tolerate great problems.”
In relating to the above great saying, the Dhammapada shows us how to realize our cognitive capabilities:
“When you realize with your wisdom
That all phenomenal existences are without self,
You will not be hurt by suffering, this is the perfect path.”
(10) Final thoughts;
As I stated at the beginning of this essay, economic stability is mostly based on the way we try to earn income, the way we manage our consumption and how much we invest and save for future needs. While reading this essay, you might be confused because some areas I discussed seem distant from traditional Buddhist texts. In fact, I strongly believe in the Buddha’s advice that “my teaching (is) open to everybody and (its) disciplines will become more productive and will last long” when they are interpreted with a modern, new, scientific knowledge. Holding on to those thoughts, I did my best to find similar analysis from different authors, different faiths, and international organizations. As a result, I am able to express vividly some topics such as gender difference, building financial careers, and individual family life.
As we know every single person, who was born in this world deserves to be happy until he or she leaves this world. We are, however, experiencing totally different life styles in our life span. All philosophers, religious teachers, and the other distinguished writers spent incalculable time to make this world a happy place for everybody. Among their teachings, mindfulness training has been key topic. In addition, I feel that mindfulness training is a wonderful tool to balance workaholic and unwise indebtedness for improved quality of life in every way. Therefore, my final thought for you is be aware of mindfulness training and find a new way of training your monkey-type mind. To assist in that effort, I offer one of the mindfulness training programs by the most
popular preacher, Vietnamese Buddhist monk, Master Thich Nhat Hanh.
The first Mindfulness training: “Aware of the suffering caused by the destruction of life, I am committed to cultivating compassion and learning ways to protect the lives of people, animals, plants and minerals. I am determined not to kill, not to let others kill, and not support any act of killing in the world, in my thinking, and in my way of life.”
The Second Mindfulness Training: “Aware of suffering caused by exploitation, social injustice, stealing, and oppression, I am committed to cultivating loving kindness and learning ways to work for the well-being of people, animals, plants, and minerals; I will practice generosity by sharing my time, energy, and material resources with those who are in real need. I am determined not to steal and not to possess anything that should belong to others. I will respect the property of others, but I will prevent others from profiting from human suffering or the suffering of other species on Earth.”
The Third Mindfulness Training: “Aware of the suffering caused by sexual misconduct, I am committed to cultivating responsibility and learning ways to protect the safety and integrity of individuals, couples, families and society. I am determined not to engage in sexual relations without love and a long-term commitment. To preserve the happiness of myself and others, I am determined to respect my commitments and the commitments of others. I
will do everything in my power to protect children from sexual abuse and to prevent couples and families from being broken by sexual misconduct.”
The Fourth Mindfulness Training: “Aware of the suffering caused by lack of mindful speech and the inability to listen to others, I am committed to cultivating loving speech and deep listening in order to bring joy and happiness to others and relieve others of their suffering. Knowing that words can create happiness or suffering, I am determined to speak truthfully, with words that inspire self-confidence, joy and hope. I will not spread news that I do not know to be certain and will not criticize or condemn things of which I am not sure. I will refrain from uttering words that can cause division, discord, or that can cause the family or the community to break. I am determined to make all efforts to reconcile and resolve all conflicts, however small.”
The Fifth Mindfulness Training: “Aware of the suffering caused by unmindful consumption, I am committed to cultivate good health, both physical and mental, for myself, my family, and my society by practicing mindful eating, drinking and consuming. I will ingest only items that preserve peace, well-being and joy in my body, in my consciousness and in the collective body and consciousness of my family and society. I am determined not to use alcohol or any other intoxicant or to ingest foods or other items that contains toxins, such as certain TV programs, magazines, books, films and conversations. I am aware that to damage my body or my consciousness with these poisons is to betray my ancestors, my parents, and my society and future
generations. I will work to transform violence, fear, anger, and confusion in myself and in society by practicing a diet for myself and for society; I understand that a proper diet is crucial for self-transformation and for the transformation of society.”
Buddhist vision for human life journey: “Treating all as their children, and all the doors are kept open for everybody by being content in life and by sharing happiness with others”
Sabbe Satta Bavantu Sukhi Tatta
“May you all be happy and live long”
- The Buddha
Primary resources:Sigalovada SuttaParabhava Sutta
Secondary Resources:Larkin Geri, Building A Business the Buddhist Way, Celestial Arts, P.O. Box 7123, Berkeley, California, USA 1999Dhammajothi, Beligalle, Dr, Buddhism and Modern Society, Buddhist & Pali College, Singapore, 2003
Smolensky, Michael, Ph.D., Lamberg, Lynne, Body Clock Guide to Better Health, Henry Holt and Company LLC, 115 West 18th Street, New York 10011, USA, 2001
Articles:Tax Planning at H&R Block CTB Tax Training program- 2006
Internet Resourses:American Financial Services Association Education Foundation (AFSAEF)
Renowned Philosophers and Economists (01) Karl Marx, Nineteenth century philosopher and
economist (02) John Maynard Keynes, author of “General Theory of
Employment, Interest and Money”(03) E. F. Schumacher, author of “Small is Beautiful”(04) Alfred Marshall, Father of modern economics(05) Adam Smith, Professor of Moral Philosophy at
the University of Glasgow and author of “The Wealth of Nations 1776.” and “The theory of Moral Sentiments”
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We dedicate the merits of this Dhamma danato our beloved parents.
May our beloved parents attain happiness in their new existence & reach the highest peace of Nibbana one day.
In the Manggala Suttra the Buddha says, “support of Father and Mother is the highest good fortune”. Two persons to whom one can never repay their debts - your father and mother. Even if you were to carry them on your back and live a hundred years, supporting them with food, medicine and cleaning them, even this would not repay them.
CHILDREN’S DUTIES TO PARENTSSupport our parents in every possible way, perform those duties that need to be performed, maintain the lineage and tradition of the family and look after the inheritance and give alms (perform religious rites) on their behalf when they pass on.
With MettaDeeply missed & forever cherished by children & grandchildren
Idam me natinam hotu - sukhita hontu natayo (3 times)
Sadhu ! Sadhu ! Sadhu
In Loving Memory OfOur Beloved Parents
Mr. Chick Yan Poh & Madam Lee Sing Tai