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Buddhism in the Axial Age

  • Ulrich Duchrow
  • Franz J. Hinkelammert
Part of the New Approaches to Religion and Power book series (NARP)

Abstract

In 1987, the historian Uma Chakravarti from New Delhi published a book on the social dimension of Buddhism.’ She repeated her ideas in a seminar at the Center of Social Analysis in Madurai in July 2005 under the title “Can Dalit/Buddhist Culture Be an Anti-Capitalist Resource”?2 In her view, Siddharta Gautama experienced his conversion and enlightenment to become the Buddha in the following context. Between the eighth and the sixth century BCE, a new economy penetrated North India, which built on private property and money and which was supported by the monarchic power. Consequently society split into impoverished people and those who enriched themselves on the basis of the new economic mechanisms. It was under the pressures of this context—together with his strong inspiration to liberate human beings from suffering—that Prince Siddharta was motivated to abandon his privileges in order to find a way to overcome such suffering in society. He came to understand that poverty and suffering were caused by greed grounded in the illusion that an ego could be protected by aggressiveness. His solution was to overcome greed through meditation on the interrelatedness of all beings and to let go all superfluous things.

Keywords

Mainstream Economic Consumption Efficiency Impoverished People Clear Mind Minimize Resource Consumption 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Notes

  1. 1.
    Uma Chakravarti, The Social Dimensions of Early Buddhism in India (Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1987).Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Uma Chakravarti, “Can Dalit/Buddhist Culture Be an Anti-Capitalist Resource?,” unpublished paper, 2005.Google Scholar
  3. 5.
    After his death in 1977, friends published a collection of essays on this particular subject: Ernst Friedrich Schumacher, Good Work (New York: Harper & Row, 1979).Google Scholar
  4. 6.
    See e.g., Marcos Arruda, ed., Transnational Corporations, Technology and Human Development (Geneva: WCC/CCPD, 1980).Google Scholar
  5. 7.
    International Network of Engaged Buddhists (INEB), Inebnetwork.org, 2012, http://www.inebnetwork.org. Cf. Sulak Sivaraksa, Socially Engaged Buddhism. Ashok Vihar, Phase-IV (Delhi: B. R. Publishing Corporation) [A Division of BRPC (India) Ltd.], 2005.Google Scholar
  6. 8.
    Sulak Sivaraksa, The Wisdom of Sustainability: Buddhist Economics for the 21st century (Chiang Mai, Thailand: Silkworm Books, 2009), 69.Google Scholar
  7. 9.
    David R. Loy, A Buddhist History of the West: Studies in Lack (New York: State University of New York Press, 2002); id., The Great Awakening: A Buddhist Social Theory (Somerville, MA: Wisdom Publications, 2003).Google Scholar
  8. 10.
    Horst Eberhard Richter, Der Gotteskomplex (Hamburg: Rowohlt, 1979).Google Scholar
  9. 11.
    A popular dialogue between a Buddhist and a Christian on compassionate engagement for justice is presented in: Konstantin Wecker and Bernhard Glassman, Es geht ums tun und nicht ums Siegen: Engagement zwischen Wut und Zärtlichkeit (Munich: Kösel, 2011).Google Scholar
  10. 12.
    Paul S. Chung, Martin Luther and Buddhism: Aesthetics of Suffering, 2nd ed. (2002; Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock, 2008).Google Scholar
  11. 14.
    Karl-Heinz Brodbeck, Buddhistische Wirtschaftsethik: Eine vergleichende Einführung (Aachen: Shaker, 2002).Google Scholar
  12. 15.
    Apichai Puntasen, Buddhist Economics: Evolution, Theories and Its Application to Various Economic Subjects (Bangkok: Chulalongkorn University: Center for Buddhist Studies, 2008; id., “The World’s Crises and the Response to the Crises by Buddhist Economics,” in Buddhist Approach to Economic Crisis, edited by The International Buddhist Conference on the UN Day of Vesak Celebrations 4–6 May 2552/2009. (Ayutthaya, Thailand: Mahachulalongkornrajavidyalaya University, 2009), 1–27. Puntasen uses the Buddhist concepts in Pali, not in Sanskrit as most Westerners are used to.Google Scholar
  13. 20.
    Nico Paech, “Die Legende vom nachhaltigen Wachstum: Ein Plädoyer für den Verzicht,” Le Monde diplomatique, September 2010.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Ulrich Duchrow and Franz J. Hinkelammert 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ulrich Duchrow
  • Franz J. Hinkelammert

There are no affiliations available

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