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On Buddhist Economics in Hong Kong

Laszlo Zsolnai and Gábor Kovács’ joint paper on “Buddhist Economic Thought and Action” was presented in international conference entitled “Buddhist Values and Economics: Investing in a Sustainable Future” organized by The University of Hong Kong in April 13-14, 2019 in Hong Kong.

Hong Kong

Zsolnai and Kovacs suggested that Buddhist economics can be seen as a major alternative to the Western economic mindset. Buddhist economics, developed by E.F. Schumacher, Venerable P. A. Payutto, and others, challenges the basic principles of modern Western economics, namely profit-maximization, cultivating desires, introducing markets, instrumental use of the world, and self-interest-based ethics. Buddhist economics uses alternative principles such as minimizing suffering, simplifying desires, non-violence, genuine care, and generosity. Buddhist economics is not a system but a strategy, which can be applied in any economic setting.

In Zsolnai and Kovacs’s view Buddhism favors creating mindful markets where mindful consumption, mindful entrepreneurship and mindful economic policy mutually reinforce one another. Mindful consumption is (i) wise (it serves one’s true well-being), (ii) non-violent (it does not hurt other sentient beings), and (iii) compassionate (it helps others to satisfy their needs). Mindful entrepreneurship applies Buddhist virtues in business activities including production and trade. Mindful economic policy aims to create shared prosperity in a sustainable world with reduced global suffering.

The presentation used examples of Buddhist businesses from the USA (Patagonia Inc.), from Europe and Africa (Apopo), and from Bhutan (Loden entrepreneurs).