Changing the System Mindfully. Are we imprisoned by our unexamined concepts???

Changing the System Mindfully. Are we imprisoned by our unexamined concepts???
Humanity is imprisoned by a heartless monetary system, co-dependently arising from dichotomy of man and nature, self and society, ecology and economy, and public and private. How is the system fabricated? How do we awaken from our collective delusion and suffering? Please share this blog for Contemplative Social Action to Cultivate a Culture of Awakening! "Do everything with a mind that lets go" - Ajahn Chah

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Buddhist Perspectives on Money and Economics

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I wanted some interesting response on the 2012 Millenium Koan (on Money) posted five years ago in this blog, yet have not received any feedback or comment so far.

Here is an interesting and insightful article on 'Money for Nothing' by David  Loy written in 2003. How would a Buddhist system of 'money' look like?

I raise some questions about ignored aspects of Economics, including money and a way to move forward compassionately in my article 'Breaking Free' in 2010 after presenting a workshop on 'Deep Conscious Capitalism' in Sakyadhita International Conference of Buddhist Women in Bangkok Thailand in 2009 and a paper on 'Dharma Economics' in same forum in 2011.

The term “Buddhist Economics” was popularized by E. F. Schumacher in his book Small Is Beautiful: Economics as if People Mattered. In Schumacher’s view, the goal of Buddhist economics is “the maximum of well-being with the minimum of consumption.”

Joel Magnuson, Author and economics Professor at Portland Community College offers alternative to mainstream economics in his 2008 book Mindful Economics and 2017 book From Greed to Wellbeing: A Buddhist Approach to Resolving Our Economic and Financial Crises. 

“In reviewing the history of modern economics, Magnuson offers a Buddhist critique of the value system it relies upon, arguing that modern economics is fueled by the Buddha’s ‘three fires’ of greed, aggression, and delusion. These poisons, he says, are embedded within our financial institutions and are responsible for our attachment to ‘growth’ as the only measurement of economic success..." - Tricycle Buddhist Review

According to Clair Brown, Professor at UC Berkley and Author of Buddhist Economics: An Enlightened approach to Dismal Science in 2017:
"We can reprogram our economic system to create, measure, and evaluate what we value, to develop well-performing economies that provide meaningful lives for everyone while protecting the planet."

Professor Laszlo Zsolnai summarizes the main principles of Buddhist Economics for the  the Gross National Happiness conference in Bhutan in 2015. Bhutan's Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay shares his country's mission to put happiness before economic growth and set a world standard for environmental preservation in this 2016 Ted Talk.

Thai monk Ven P. A. Payutto's book Buddhist Economics: A Middle Way for the Market Place, 1992 is available for download.

Google Debt Capitalism and Susmita Barua. She argues the whole financial superstructure of Capitalism and modern market economy is anti-democratic and built on the wrong view of money as an instrument of (all public and private) debt. Wrong view (of life and world) arises from unwholesome volitions of mind (like greed, hate and delusion of separate self). What is right view? Can we design a sustainable system based on deeper inclusive order of interdependence, and self-organizing regenerative system of thinking?

More literature on the subject.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

The Millennium Koan of 2012

The meditator abides independently not clinging to anything in the world. - Satipatthana Sutta, Buddha

The first inspiration for this blog in 2007 came from this riddle or Koan (captured within yellow line  from the left hand corner of a dollar bill). May be it will occupy your Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind. Before sitting with the Koan, you may want to take a bite of lunch here. 

Contemplative Social Action-Non-Action~
  1. Can Spain and Greece learn from Iceland Revolution
  2. Euro web of debt, Timeline, Roarmag.economy
  3. World Bank Whistleblower Karen Hudes educates citizens, state elected officials and finance ministers
“Deep within every one of us lies a natural understanding of good and evil. That is why one man can tell the truth convincingly...but it takes the entire apparatus of the State to peddle a lie, and propagate that lie to new generations.”...Gandhi

"All that we are is the result of what we have thought. What we think we become" - Buddha

Koan: "Public and Private.   Not One, Not Two.  What the Buddha Will Do?" - SB

What is the dhamma of ' money as capital ' ? Can we use dhamma viccaya, the second of the seven factors of enlightenment to pierce through our collective delusion?

Can we engage our collective attention, intention and wisdom to transform the Vicious cycle of debt, poverty, war, inequality to a Virtuous system of Dharma Economics which uplifts humanity above greed, fear, trauma and struggle for survival?

Can we begin to trust the basic goodness of the people and society to seed and grow a virtuous economic system, that is wholesome in the beginning, wholesome in the middle and wholesome in the end? How do we begin to disentangle from the entanglements of Crony Capitalism with Bill Moyer?

They did not know it was impossible, so they did it! - Mark Twain

Breaking out of the illusion of false limitation is now possible if we trust in our basic goodness and refuse to be ruled by fear. Pema Chodron on opening to Fear and Fearlessness. Taking care of earth is taking care of our bodies and healing of earth and humanity are mutually interdependent. In his recent interview with Jo Confino of the Gaurdian, Thich Nat Hahn spoke on liberating our consciousness from Wrong Views through spiritual practice and see Earth as a great and beautiful Bodhisattva.

Learn how legal constructs "Corporate Personhood and Money is Speech" are undermining peoples' and planet's inalienable rights. Can you play with the above concept of money to come up with something fresh and wholesome? What is the source of this debt-based money paradigm? Listen to Positive Money, UK.

Can we let go of clinging to this dichotomy of public-private, socialism-capitalism to a clear and silent space in our mind long enough for the sake of all children? What would happen if we wake up and stop projecting a concrete world of debt to a fluid process of debt-free life? How do debt-burden gets passed from consumers, homeowners to young students (see planet money)?  Do we have democracy, when our Governments have to constantly borrow from outside? Global Public Debt Map.

There are experiments done with different means of open source payment innovation by Social Trade Organization (STO). Debt and interest-free Cash and Coin is preferable to electronic system of currency to combat poverty with right understanding of currency, foster real economy and right livelihood for vast majority in the planet because of their transparency and less corruptability at the source. See Food Crisis in Sahel, West Africa and End Poverty Campaign by 2015.

In this Century of preoccupation with 'Self', Citizens came to be seen as 'passive consumers' driven by unconscious impulses and dangerous desires. Marriage of Democracy and Capitalism was forged with help of Freud's psychoanalysis and this spawned vast government programs, public relation and mass media strategies. See BBC Documentary 'Century of Self' .

"Contentment. That is a very unpopular word. Because the whole economy would collapse if people were content." - Tenzin Palmo

Dharma of mindful-awareness is about discovering the inner freedom, creativity and joyfulness of 'Selflessness' or freedom from the illusion of mind-made self, ego and alter-ego. (See Dharmaseed teachings on Anatta).

Contemplations ~
"Letting go of attachment [and apathy and aversion] is the ultimate generosity, because it connects us with our wisdom and compassion" - Ruling Your World, Sakyong Mipham  [Insert mine]

With Zen everything is a good thing. Without Zen even good things are bad things. In the Beginners Mind, they say there are many possibilities ~

Inquiry: Is the medium of money (and credit) a private commodity, a public service, a social contract (agreement), a commons, or a public-private agreement/partnership? Is it some, all or none of these?   did the intentions behind modern money arose from one of the skillful (kusala) roots of non-greed, non-aversion or non-delusion, or from one of the unskillful (akusala) states of greed, aversion or delusion? [note the word 'kusala' as in Kusala Sutta is also translated as skillful, productive, fruitful, beneficial, profitable, advantageous states of mind;] Can we take refuge in our own basic goodness to wake up for the benefit of all beings? Can currency be crowdsourced like the recent Constitution of Icelnad?

- (Susmita Barua)
“True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar. It comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring…”  Dr. M. L. King Jr., 1967
Monetary  Diversity by Bernard Lietaer

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Dharma Economics: A Creative Approach to Mindful System Change

We are living in the Dark Ages of  Hi-Tech Low Ethics Financial Capitalism and witnessing the pain of being unethical and asleep (not recognizing the suffering, aversion and greed).  Through speculative investments we’re operating our economies and societies at a scale that’s colliding with natural systems in myriad ways. For example, Enron's $65.5 billion bankruptcy in 2001 was the largest before WorldCom surpassed it in 2002 when it was worth over $100 billion, according to Business Insider. But in 2008, the $327.9 billion Chapter 11 bankruptcy of Washington Mutual and nearly $700 billion bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers would dwarf both. 

 Journalist Chris Hedges urges students to expose the 1% Plutocrats nourished and glorified by institutions like Harvard under the OccupyHarvard movement. "The rush of battle is often a potent and lethal addiction, for war is a drug." - Chris Hedges  

Are We a Plutocracy? David Korten speaks on the structure of our democracy. 001% of the U.S. population owns 976 times more than the entire bottom 90% . Source: EcoLocalizer 

"The range of what we think and do is limited by what we fail to notice. And because we fail to notice that we fail to notice there is little we can do to change until we notice how failing to notice shapes our thoughts and deeds."
- Daniel Goleman, Vital Lies, Simple Truths: The psychology of self-deception

Not recognizing or connecting to suffering within self, sangha and society keeps us in delusion. Since delusion (misperception of reality) is the greatest corruptor of mind in Buddhism, according to Thich Naht Hahn: "He who makes an effort to give up wrong (unwholesome) view and takes upon himself Right View (also called Right understanding) has Right Diligence. He who by means of mindfulness gives up wrong view and dwells on taking Right view upon himself has Right Mindfulness." So these three phenomena Right View, Right Diligence and Right Mindfulness revolve around Right view. - Mahachattarisaka sutta, Heart of Buddha' s Teaching, T.N.Hahn.
Some of my initial thoughts about how to approach the complex system appeared from simple questions that arose in my mind. Please address your question and comments to Dharma Economics here                      [ mitakyatmaildotcom ]. Thanks for sending it.

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Related Post: Breaking Free of the Old Colonial Paradigm.  How can we move away from a scarcity, money, machine and thing oriented society to a self-sufficient, planet, people and life oriented society - an empathic culture of community that actively embraces diversity?
MIT Dictionary of Modern Economics, befines economics as, “the study of the way in which mankind organizes itself to tackle the basic problem of scarcity. All societies have more wants than resources (the factors of production), so that a system must be devised to allocate these resources between competing ends.”

Could Elizabeth Warren, with a Harvard ID save the Middle Class consumers from the predatory banks and financial products? The weakness of Law is that you are continually fighting an external enemy. Mindful system change must take root within our minds.

Note: For the non-Buddhist secular readers of this blog, the term 'Dharma' does not mean religion in its conventional sense. There are six attributes of Dharma that are closer to science than any speculative philosophy. Central to Gandhi's philosophy was the principle of 'swadeshi', which, in effect, means local self-sufficiency. Satish Kumar elaborates on this important concept here on Gandhi's Swadeshi.  How are we to evolve as a living Republic of economic democracy
Note: The change of wording in "Declaration of Independence" and the American Philosophy

Friday, September 9, 2011

Public Banking, Slow Money, Positive Money and The NEED Act, USA

 News Flash Occupy World Street is spreading...

The Bank of North Dakota (BND), is America's oldest and only Public Bank founded upon a somewhat socialist vision. The bank was a cornerstone of the agenda of the Nonpartisan League (NLP), a farmers' political insurgency spawned by anger about outside control of North Dakota's credit and grain markets. Founded in 1915 by A.C. Townley, who became a Socialist Party organizer after he went broke raising flax in western North Dakota. Interestingly, the Bank gaurantees Student Loans. - [See more at Huffington Post and wikipedia]

North Dakota has had the lowest unemployment in the country (or was tied for the lowest unemployment rate in the country) every single month since July 2008. It also has the fastest job growth rate and have the distinction of being the only state to be in continuous budget surplus since the banking crisis of 2008. The state deposits its tax revenues in the Bank, which in turn ensures that a high portion of state funds are invested in the state economy. In addition, the Bank of ND is able to remit a portion of its earnings back to the state treasury (with 19% return on equity in 2010). - Source [ Ellen Brown, North Dakota's Economic Miracle, Yes Magazine]
In contrast California is the largest state economy in the nation, yet without a state-owned bank, is unable to steer hundreds of billions of dollars in state revenues into productive investment within the state. Here is a funny video on What if we had a public bank? See what's happening in your state.

We need to integrate public and local banking with local food or slow food movement and local small businesses. "During the past forty years of continued productivity improvements, we have made 30% of farmland unproductive.  We lose as much soil every year as we emit carbon into the atmosphere.  And then there is the issue of aquifer depletion due to intensive irrigation.  Technology, scale, and concentration of capital and power appear to be driving both the productivity gains and the resiliency losses.  Just like in finance."- John Fullerton, Slow Money Blog, 3/3/11, Wikipedia. Other Kinds of Alternative Banking that citizen activists need to study are Islamic Banking, Swedish interest free Banking JAK Report, Grameen Banks Comes to Queens, NY, ethical Triodos bank and Innovative Social Banking.

Armed with the groundbreaking research work of Stephen Zarlenga, founder of American Monetray Institute, Dennis Kucinich introduces Historic National Employment and Economic Defense Act to end Fractional Reserve Banking and Private Debt-based money (credit). Watch Part 3 First (pause to listen again around min 4 and 7). Important to note that Public Banking alone is not enough. It does not address the root of the problem, namely the Fractional Reserve System, but the NEED Act does. For example, in the United Kingdom, 75% of lending goes directly into fueling asset price bubbles such as housing, while only 25% is channeled to business and the productive sector. The banking sector is failing to fulfill its supposed role in a capitalist economy. [Source: Positive Money, UK]

America have had a long history of Public Banking starting before the American Revolution. From the perspective of money and banking American History looks very different, see youtube on the Real Tea Party. View articles on New Economy and how it is unfolding in YES magazine! Free Speech TV

In Buddhist philosophy, wholesome, mindful and skillful View without bias plays a key role in entering and walking the path of awakening and freedom for both the individual and society as a whole. Venerable Sariputta described, "A Nobel Disciple is one of right view, whose view is straight, who has perfect confidence in the Dhamma, and has arrived at this true Dhamma." My wiki take on  Dharma is to cultivate the knowledge and practice of living principles that upholds the fabric of reality, natural phenomena and personality-gestalts of human beings in dynamic interdependence and harmony.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Globalization Forces Indian Farmers to Commit Suicides Daily!

about this distress call from the from the invisible bottom of our economic food pyramid.

"It is estimated that more than a quarter of a million Indian farmers have committed suicide in the last 16 years—the largest wave of recorded suicides in human history. A great number of those affected are cash crop farmers, and cotton farmers in particular. In 2009 alone, the most recent year for which official figures are available, 17,638 farmers committed suicide—that’s one farmer every 30 minutes. While striking on their own, these figures considerably underestimate the actual number of farmer suicides taking place. Women, for example, are often excluded from farmer suicide statistics because most do not have title to land—a common prerequisite for being recognized as a farmer in official statistics and programs." - Souce Document 50 pg. NYU Law School
See role of Monsanto in Indian Farmer suicide. Also their products, including Roundup, Agent orange, Nutrasweet and GMO (genetically modified foods). see the Documentary.
Prince Charles of UK has opened Bhumi Vardhaan Foundation to address farmer suicide.

Interestingly Tom Paine, one of the founding fathers of the United Sates wrote in Agrarian Justice (1776): "Men did not make the earth... It is the value of the improvements only, and not the earth itself, that is individual property... every proprietor owes to the community a ground rent for the land which he holds." He also introduced the concept of gauranteed minimum income from land (payment by all land holders to non-land holders). Paul Newman said, "I just happen to think that in life we need to be a little like the farmer who puts back into the soil what he takes out."

Buddhist economics encourage sharing of gifts from the heart. The practice of daily alms giving by lay community to monks and nuns and the vinaya rules of modesty and virtue were given to develop and preserve the sanctity or sacred nature of a good virtuous society living in reciprocity, as well as, harmony with nature and all sentient beings. Buddha said: "Monks, householders are very helpful to you, as they provide you with the requisites of robes, almsfood, lodgings, and medicine. And you, monks, are very helpful to householders, as you teach them the Dhamma admirable in the beginning, admirable in the middle, and admirable in the end, as you expound the holy life both in its particulars and in its essence, entirely complete, surpassingly pure. In this way the holy life is lived in mutual dependence, for the purpose of crossing over the flood, for making a right end to suffering and stress. — Iti 107 Source Link
Can we co-create a dhamma economy that is wholesome in the begining, wholesome in the middle and wholesome in the end?

Also see 18,000 Children die of hunger each day, says UN. [Source] Could Basic Income Grant be a way out of the sick society? see Indymedia article by Harald Kother.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Universal Basic Income, Human Security & Real Economy of Peace

Recently I had the privilege to present my paper "Global Citizens Manifesto: Basic Income as Basic Human Right" at the 10th USBIG Conference in New York. I just sent a proposal following a spontaneous impulse and to my surprise it got accepted. As a cyber activist and someone outside academia since 1988, I had some anxiety about economists and academics. I first came across the idea of unconditional basic income grant to all citizens without means test about 10 years ago and I always felt this is what is needed to heal humanity and restore ecological balance in the planet. I presented my ideas in the context of a new debt-free and sustainable economic paradigm, based on right understanding of currency.

Archbihop Desmond Tutu sent this address to 2010 Basic Income Earth Network (BIEN) Congress

Dr Martin Luther King supported Basic Income for all in 1967. [see youtube]

There are many innovative ways to fund universal basic income, from land rent, to resource rent (on oil, coal, forest, airwave) to negative tax (via Taxation System and perhaps co2 emission) and direct issue of debt-free public currency. The last one requires civil society engagement to fundamentally shift the current predatory paradigm to a compassionate one by shifting the way we perceive and generate currency. 

In October 2010, $1,281 went out to every man, woman, and child in Alaska. The history shows that any state could do the same. "Alaska’s Permanent Fund Dividend is closer to a basic income than almost any other policy in the world today." - Karl Widerquist, Georgetown University-Quatar

The pilot projects of universal basic income grant have been largely successful in Namibia. Targeted efforts are underway in South Africa, Brazil and perhaps Canada. Surprisingly Iran is ready to introduce the World's First National Basic Income. Following the recent popular uprising in North Africa and Middle East some are seriously considering basic income to relieve poverty.

I was fortunate to have a chance meeting and warm discussion with monetary historian Stephen Zarlenga of American Monetary Institute  and Alanna Hartzog of Earth Right Institute.  More later..

Meanwhile watch the energizing "Economics of Happiness" documentary in this website . 
Buddha taught a way to complete freedom and happiness that comes from meditative reflection and concentration. He suggested cultivating a wholesome benevolent state of mind (equanimity) that is free of attachment to views and cravings for external things, approval or incentives. Here are some questions for men who see violence and accumulation of wealth as the way to happiness by Robert Thurman, a Tibetan Buddhist Scholar. See Buddha's view on freedom, inner security and Pursuit of Happiness.

Germany and Ireland have been discussing unconditional basic income for years as an alternative to dysfunctional social welfare system. For some proposed models in Germany visit here. Work is in progress in Canada , Brazil and Europe.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Euro 2010 Sovereign Debt Crisis and the Disease of Capitalism

 Update: As of January 31, 2011, the total Public Debt of the United States of America was $14.13 trillion and was 96.4% of calendar year 2010's annual (GDP) of $14.7 trillion.[1][2][3]  (wikipedia) Also see National Debt Clock

The Vietnamese Zen Monk and founder of 'Engaged Buddhism' talks about the deep spiritual crisis in the West and the need for living from our core spiritual values in a recent interview with UK Guardian. Thay talks about capitalism as a disease that has now spread throughout the world (even in countries that are home to Buddhism), carried on the winds of globalisation driven by mindless profit, production and consumption: "We have constructed a system we cannot control. It imposes itself on us, and we become its slaves and victims." [Guardian Link]. Thousands of students at UK protest rise in fees.[youtube]. For every US $1000 Africa receives in debt it owes $2300 to the World Bank and IMF [Link]

Can any Democratic Nation or any of her Citizen remain sovereign under debt-based currency? In early 2010 many countries in European union like Portugal, Ireland, Italy, Greece, Spain (Known affectionately as PIIGS) and Belgium started experiencing soaring public debt resulting in a Euro 2010 crisis. On May 9, 2010 Europe's Finance Ministers approved a comprehensive rescue package worth almost a trillion dollars aimed at ensuring financial stability across Europe by creating the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF).

Here is an interesting image of the Euro Web of Debt, which appeared in NY Times, May 1, 2010 edition. Painful austerity measures imposed by IMF and EU upon these countries as a condition for rescue or bailout are not working. Iceland went under severe debt crisis two years ago and it had no option but to allow the private banks to fail and let its currency devalue. Iceland's president, Olafur R. Grimsson, spoke to CNBC about how the country is handling the debt crisis [More in Wikipedia].

Here in the US, the national cohort default rate on federal student loans is 7 percent for borrowers who entered repayment in 2008, which is comparable with the default rate for credit cards (8.8 percent) and home mortgages (9.1 percent). In fact, the total amount outstanding on student loans was $875 billion ($24K per graduating senior), which actually exceeded the amount that Americans owe on their credit cards. [Source IB times, 12/28/10]

Recently I came across this little known book called "Buddhist Catechism" written in 1908 by H.S Olcott

Question 55. Why does ignorance cause suffering?

Answer. Because it makes us prize what is not worth prizing, grieve for that we should not grieve for, consider real what is not real but only illusory, and pass our lives in the pursuit of worthless objects, neglecting what is in reality most precious. Col. Henry Steel Olcott

At the end of the interview Thay warns, "Without collective awakening the catastrophe would come". After a silence he adds 'we need many Buddhas, one Buddha is not enough".

On Liberation through Right (True) Realization
Owl said, “Then where does Right Realization come in?”
Brown Bear said, “Right Views! Right Views!”
Owl said, “What are Right Views?”
Brown Bear said, “We’re in it together, and we don’t have much time.”
from Zen Master Raven: Sayings and Doings of a Wise Bird
by Robert Aitken
[From Alan Senauke's blog]

Friday, June 11, 2010

Breaking Free of Old, Transitioning to New Paradigm

“Everything you do will be insignificant, and yet it is crucially important that you do it.” - Gandhi

There has been a string of worker suicides at Foxconn, a computer and electronic manufacturing company in China, which supplies high tech companies worldwide, and produces Mac-mini, iPod, iPad and i-phone. Steve Jobs of Apple Inc. defended Foxconn as 'pretty nice' and 'not a sweatshop.' Between the beginning of January 2008 and the end of January 2010, thirty-four France Télécom employees committed suicide, some leaving notes blaming stress and misery at work. [Wikipedia]. Sweatshops and sweatfactories are no longer limited to garment or athletic products manufacturing. How do we begin to make a transition?

Our collective liberation awaits our collective literacy of economics and new found perception of currency. This is all possible without violence or force, but through knowledge and right understanding of the nature and function of 'real' economies. The best way to engage ordinary citizens, women, students, activists, social entrepreneurs and humanitarians everywhere is to simply begin discussions on the topics that has shaped our economic-financial world. To transform the 'capital' in 'capitalism' we must begin with the present socio-economic realities and our daily living situation. The following questions could be asked at the kitchen table, in the classroom, engaged citizen groups and throughout the dhamma community for contemplation:

• What is money? Why is it needed in market buy-sell economy?
.  How does money (and credit) originate and put into circulation? Is money same as credit?
.  What prevents equilibrium in supply and demand of money and credit?
• What is fractional reserve banking?
. Why does money (and credit) originate as 'debt'?
• In what context did central banking originate?
• What is usury? How is it related to both ancient and modern (wage) slavery?
• Why do we have ever-growing private and public debt?

. Who is collecting all the public and private debts and assets? 
• What gives money its worth or value?
• Is sustainability possible with unsustainable currency?
• What is the difference between a real economy and a speculative economy?
• How do we generate and circulate money so that all basic human needs are met?
• Do we need different types of currencies for different economic sectors?
• Did currency exist before modern economics?
• Why do we need literacy when it comes to economics and their function in society?
• What role can women play in a more compassionate, humanitarian economy?
• What possibilities exist that we have yet to consider?

Asking profound questions is a way to generate a breakthrough, creative insights, and unforeseen possibilities. It is up to active, socially-conscious citizens to transform the system--not international banks, corporations and global institutions. The system is held both in our individual minds and our collective perceptions. When we become socially aware and engaged in making choices for the generations to come, our government and institutions are bound to change. The best part of such a transformative conversation: everyone has the opportunity to participate in shattering economic limitations and forging new pathways to a sustainable future. Read more at IMOW Economica New Visions Page here.

The whole Noble Eightfold Path laid out by Buddha is about liberation of mind (both individual and collective consciousness)through 'Samma' (i.e., correct, coherent, complete and true) understanding and release from unwholesome, unskillful mind-body habits and attachment to corrupt views, intention, speech, conduct, and livelihood. A dharma-based economic system must aspire to be good in the begining, good in the middle and good in the end, it must eschew extreme imbalances of rogue Capitalism or Communism and incorporate the best of human values, cross-cultural wisdom of ages and the urgent sustainability and human needs of this time.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Is our Economic System Liberating or Enslaving Us?

A British Researcher compiled a survey of the Happiest Countries in the world. The criteria and methodology is not all clear but seemingly includes education, public health and longevity. Among the top 12 happiest countries most are from Europe, Canada is the only large nation to make the list and surprisingly Bhutan came 8th, followed by Brunei (monarchy). USA ranked 23rd. Some of the countries at the top also have high suicide rates, high drug and alchohol addiction and perhaps high national debt. Of course what constitutes happiness is quite intangible and very much influenced by both personal and cultural value systems. This survey have omissions and biases, yet it is a refreshing change of view from the usual national GDP or GNP statistics. [Source: Businessweek]
The Happy Planet Index, by the New Economic Foundation takes per capita ecological footprint into account and this gives a quite different view of the world.

The Buddhist approach to happiness, well-being and contentment lies in training, mastering and knowing our own mind through the practice of mindful-awareness. Many university studies have found Buddhist meditators' brains show noticeable differences than non-meditators in terms of mood, emotional balance and brain coherence. and anger. Use of antidepressant in US has doubled from 1996-2005. Professor Flanagan writes: "Antidepressants are currently the favoured method for alleviating negative emotions, but no antidepressant makes a person happy. On the other hand, Buddhist meditation and mindfulness, which were developed 2,500 years before Prozac, can lead to profound happiness."

How can we be prospering in any real sense while remaining trapped by the chains of mounting debt? Visualeconomics site shows the national debt as percentage of GDP (Gross Domestic Product) for different countries. The Debt Clock mirrors what is called 'monkey mind' in Buddhism. PBS Frontline inquires into the problem of looming debt-crisis overshadowing the current financial mess. Even before this mess our Government was borrowing money from foreigners to fund essential programs. At the end of FY2009 Gross US debt was 83.4% of GDP (50% of it was public debt and 30.4% intra-govermental loans).

Total U.S. consumer debt stands at $2.46 trillion, as of January 2010 and average student debt is rising. FDIC Current list of Failed Banks.

Other interesting news below the radar: There is a recent private summit of Central Bankers in Sydney. Police chiefs across USA are resigning or being replaced [Link]

Monday, November 23, 2009

Blessed Mindful Engagement

At the annual meeting of the American economists, "No one questioned their contribution to the current frightening state of affairs, no one humbled by events." - How the Entire Economics Profession Failed, by Jeff Madrick The Daily Beast, 2009-01-08. The profession can start reorienting itself with asking questions like What would be right (wholesome) view of Economy? The right view of Capital? Wealth? Profit? Currency? Growth? Fair Market? Fair Trade? Interest? Employment? Sustainable Economy? Welfare? Business ethics? Responsibility?

Also watch the PBS Forntline "The Card Game" and the unregulated effects of usury on vulnerable consumers.

Listen to the very inspiring words of Paul Hawken, Author and Inspiration behind WiserEarth
The Buddha mentions five specific kinds of livelihood which bring harm to others and are therefore to be avoided: dealing in weapons, in living beings (including raising animals for slaughter, slave trade, human trafficking and prostitution), in meat production and butchery, in poisons, and in intoxicants (AN 5:177). He further names several dishonest means of gaining wealth which fall under wrong livelihood: practicing deceit, treachery, soothsaying, trickery, and usury (MN 117). The United States expanded its role as the world’s leading weapons supplier. Last year the country signed weapons agreements valued at 68.4 percent of all business in the global arms bazaar reports New York Times

As Of December 16, 2009 U.S. Census estimates world population to be 6.8 Billion. The world military expenditure is over one thousand billion dollars. Also see Stockholm Peace Research Institute Figures. Take a pause to reflect on the significance of Now and the synchronicity at play. "To abstain from all unwholesome action, to cultivate the good, and to purify one's mind — this is the teaching of the Buddhas" (Dhammapada, v. 183).

You Tube Video List

PBS Commanding Heights: Battle of Ideas for the World economy, Part 1 & 2