Skip to content

Buddhism and Economic Development

Laszlo Zsolnai’s paper on “Buddhism and Economic Development” was published in the book Teaching Buddhism edited by Todd Lewis and Gary DeAngelis (Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2016. pp. 344–360.)

Buddhist Economics is not the same as the Economics of Buddhism. The former is a modern discourse that utilizes elements of Buddhist thought to construct an alternative model of the economy, and the latter is a study of how Buddhists organize their economic life in real-world social settings, past or present. Buddhist Economics is essentially a normative enterprise, while the Economics of Buddhism is a descriptive

Also, Buddhist Economics is not synonymous with traditional Buddhist thought, interpretation, or practice. It is a construct developed by Western economists and Buddhist thinkers inspired by Buddhist ethics and the Buddhist monastic ideal. It represents an alternative approach to economic life, which is radically different from that which mainstream Western economics offers.

Buddhist Economics promotes want negation and selfless service for achieving happiness, peace and permanence. These ideas might seem irrational or at least naïve to the Western economic mind which is preoccupied by the cultivation of desire and the maximization of profit and/or utility. However, the deep ecological and financial crisis of our era renders alternative solutions worthy of consideration.