Buddhist Economics on Courage

To embrace and practice Buddhist economics, you need courage. Courage to change, courage to protect the environment, courage to promote justice, and courage to live with joy.

At the personal level, you need courage to quit the rat race of overworking to make more money, courage to live mindfully as you help others, and courage to enjoy life off the treadmill.

At the local and national level, you need courage to demand that your government provide the infrastructure needed for an economy that protects the environment and becomes carbon-free, and one that defines economic growth as improved well-being for all people rather than more income for the rich.
We join with others to amplify our energy and create change. Together we have the political will and courage to take action for ourselves on behalf of all species and future generations. We know the fossil fuel industry will fight back with vicious attacks on our demands to transition to a fossil-free economy and ensure a comfortable, dignified life for all people.

Together we can create meaningful, happy lives for ourselves and our communities. The guidelines are:

  • live mindfully with love and compassion
  • care for others and relieve suffering
  • enjoy and rejuvenate the earth.

We reach out with empathy to those who voted for Trump, and find common ground in ensuring everyone has clean air and water. We look for the inner Buddha in each person. Trump supporters are confused people who need help as we uproot delusions. Buddhism views ignorance as the cause of greed, hatred, and delusions, which then cause conflict. People everywhere are frightened, and in pain.

We work with our Sangha and community groups to support each other. We must not fight among ourselves about petty differences, as we remember that we all want the same goals: clean air and water, a healthy earth, and happiness for all. Ignorance is the enemy, and we must vigorously oppose wrongdoing around the world that harms people and Mother Earth. Buddhist economics reminds us that everyone is interconnected, with each other and with nature. Harm to a person or harm to earth is harm to all people.

Vietnamese Buddhist teacher Thich Nhat Hanh, writing in his Love Letter to the Earth, focuses on our interdependence with Mother Earth and on the need for us to appreciate and care for her. Earth gave birth to us, and we return to her when we die. Earth provides us with everything we need to live healthy, joyful lives. Thich Nhat Hanh asks us to express our gratitude at each meal, which represents the gifts, such as tea and bread that Nature has produced.
All economies must decouple fossil fuel energy use from economic growth. But Buddhist economics wants us to push further in creating sustainable lifestyles that reduce wasteful consumption and reduce overwork so people have time to enjoy life and help one another.

“Our collective compassion, mindfulness, and concentration nourishes us, but it also can help to reestablish the Earth’s equilibrium and restore balance. Together, we can bring about real transformation for ourselves and for the world.”
Thich Nhat Hanh, Love Letter to the Earth (p. 69)

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