Buddhism shows the path to happiness
simple living as being more conducive to the development
of one’s mind. A society
progresses to the extent the mind of the individual is
developed. Through Buddhism it was possible to
disentangle this tangle of views and to reduce this
confusion. Today too, in ‘This Confused Society’ it is
generally believed that Buddhism could again help in
lighting a path through the darkness of this confusion.
In recent times, many books have been written on the
subject of economics and economic theory, all of them
either from the capitalist or socialist point of view.
Neither of these systems pays attention to, nor
considers the inner development of man as an important
factor in the growth of society. Hence there has been a
rapid deterioration in human values and standards of
behaviour in all classes of society. Science and
technology have taken gigantic strides forward to send
man to the moon, and it will not be long before he
visits other planets.
But fears are expressed that if the present trend
towards moral degeneration continues, before long it
would be impossible to differentiate human action from
that of the animal. This fear is not baseless. It would
be a great tragedy indeed were man to turn beast even in
one of the many beastly aspects of behaviour belonging
to the lowest animals. Thus what the world requires
today is a socially stable economic system which yields
the highest place to man’s moral development and
cultivation of human values.
The Buddha lived in a society entangled and confused by
sixty-two divergent views and one hundred and eight
types of craving. There were hundreds who went about in
search of an escape from this entanglement of views.
Once the Buddha was asked the question: (Jata Sutta)
”The inner tangle and the outer tangle
This world is entangled in a tangle.
Who succeeds in disentangling this tangle?
The Buddha who explained that all these tangles have
mind as the fore-runner, answered thus-
”When a wise man, established well in virtue,
Develops consciousness and understanding,
Then as a bhikkhu ardent and sagacious
He succeeds in disentangling this tangle”.
Realising the importance of the external factors in
man’s endeavour towards disentangling himself from the
inner tangle, the Buddha gave many discourses on the
ways and means of overcoming the outer tangle. Some of
these teachings were meant only for Bhikkhus. Others
were only for laymen. The rest were meant for both
bhikkhus and laymen, although in the latter case, the
discourses were mainly directed to the Bhikkhus.
In one such discourse, he approved the acceptance by
bhikkhus of the four requisites namely robes, food,
shelter and medicine. Man could live without all other
modern contraptions but for life to go on, these four
requisites are essential. Wealth is required by man to
obtain these four requisites and to meet his other
Noble Eightfold Path
The Noble Eight fold Path that would be classified under
right values and right action, enables man to achieve
the highest ends. For economic stability and well-being,
the Buddhist system stresses three factors in the
1. Uththana Sampada – Production of wealth through
skilled and earnest endeavour.
2. Arakkha Sampada – Its protection and savings.
3. Samajivikata – Living within one’s means.
4. Uththana Sampada - The Buddha who encouraged the
production of wealth makes special reference to six
ranges prevalent at that time.
(3) Cattle breeding
(4) Defence Services
(5) Government Services and
(6) Professional services
India was predominantly an agricultural country. Hence
many references in the discourses were made to
For example’ in the “Sadapunnappavddhana sutta” it is
mentioned that providing of irrigation facilities
results in yielding continuous merit.
In the ‘Samyutta Nikaya’, it is mentioned that the
greatest asset for agriculture is cattle, while in the
‘Sutta Nipatha’ cattle from whom man obtains milk, gee,
curd, butter, and whey, of much nutritious value are
described as the best friends of a country.
In developing countries, water and draught power
provided by cattle are basic needs for agriculture.
2. Arakkha Sampada
This means the worldly happiness derived from constant
protection of one’s wealth (that has been righteously
obtained) from burglary, fire, floods etc.
As the Buddha has extolled the virtue of savings, this
factor too could be considered in this context.
This is the third of the three basic principles in the
Buddhist Economic System. A person should spend
reasonably in proportion to his income, neither too much
nor too tittle.
The Buddha has preached on how one must spend his
wealth, as follows.
1. Expenditure on food and clothing and other needs.
2. Maintenance of parents, wife and children and
3. For illness and other emergencies
4 for charitable purposes.
5 For the performance of the following
(a) Treating one’s relatives
(b) treating one’s visitors
(c) Offering alms in memory of the departed.
(d) Offering merit to the deities
(e) Payment of State taxes and dues in time.
Buddha extols simple living as being more conducive to
the development of one’s mind. A society progresses to
the extent the mind of the individual is developed.
Through Buddhism it was possible to disentangle this
tangle of views and to reduce this confusion. Today too,
in ‘This Confused Society’ it is generally believed that
Buddhism could again help in lighting a path through the
darkness of this confusion. May all be well and happy.