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Thread: The Buddha as a Businessman: Economics and Law in an Old In

  1. #1

    The Buddha as a Businessman: Economics and Law in an Old In

    an Old Indian Religion"

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3GeZGFvbDzo[/video]]

    Gregory Schopen, chair of the UCLA Department of Asian Languages and Cultures and an authority on ancient Indian Buddhism has been separating Buddhist fact from fiction for the past 30 years. In this UCLA Faculty Research Lecture, Schopen explores the Buddha as an astute businessman, economist and lawyer Series: UCLA Faculty Research Lectures [5/2009] [Humanities] [Show ID]
    First posted at Rev. Danny Fisher's blog Chaplain Danny.

    Haven't seen the whole video so I am holding my opinion until I have seen it in totality and read comments on his research.

    I am not sure if it has been posted here, but I thought it might be of interest.

  2. #2

    Re: The Buddha as a Businessman: Economics and Law in an Old In

    Quote Originally Posted by chicanobudista
    an Old Indian Religion"

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3GeZGFvbDzo[/video]]

    Gregory Schopen, chair of the UCLA Department of Asian Languages and Cultures and an authority on ancient Indian Buddhism has been separating Buddhist fact from fiction for the past 30 years. In this UCLA Faculty Research Lecture, Schopen explores the Buddha as an astute businessman, economist and lawyer Series: UCLA Faculty Research Lectures [5/2009] [Humanities] [Show ID]
    Hi Erik,

    I did not find anything so surprising in the talk, although it may be a surprise to folks without a background in the history of monasteries. The fact is that they had hundreds of mouths to feed, buildings to construct and maintain, roofs to replace. They were kind of like "spiritual condominiums" in their need for maintenance and financing. So, there were always questions of accounting, elections of officers and directors, legal titles, property management, loans to be made and received, assets to be invested for profit, fund raising and such. Some of the great Buddhist writings by Dogen and many other monastics are precisely on those topics.

    In fact, look closely to the realities of social structure in India and China and Japan and you literally had monasteries being supported on the backs of serfs and slaves growing rice on lands run by the monasteries, often owned by the monasteries with monks managing the serfs directly. Or financed by soliciting donations, or selling funeral and other ceremonies to lay people. "Begging in the streets" was probably rarely, if ever, the main source of financial resources for the Buddhist clergy. (That is one of several reasons that the “protestant minister” model is attractive to me as the future course of Buddhist clergy in the West ... ministers, often with other "Right Livelihood" careers, teaching Zen harmoniously therewith. This may be a means appropriate to create an economic base for Buddhist activities in our capitalistic societies, far removed from the agricultural and traditional societies from which our traditions came.). Handling money is not a problem if necessary for operation of the monastery, if done ethically ... and if money is a means, and not the goal.

    And, yes, the monks in India and China and Japan and Tibet (even now, and in European Christian monasteries too) probably had a fairly comfortable lifestyle compared to the average person in centuries past ... heck, sitting around all day, reading, eating pretty good food.

    Something else worth repeating: Sometimes folks come to me and think that the traditions in Southeast Asia (Thailand, Burma,. Sri Lanka etc.) must be "closer to the Buddha's original teachings". Well, that is not really necessarily so. You see, those schools have been evolving and changing for 2500 years too ... so they also are 2500 years away from the Buddha's original words. And, as the lecture points out, even a couple of years after the Buddha died, we already had 18 separate sects of Buddhism disputing exactly what those words were.

    Gassho, Jundo

  3. #3
    disastermouse
    Guest

    Re: The Buddha as a Businessman: Economics and Law in an Old In

    Idealism becomes tempered over time with a pragmatism. Many people, myself included, often disregard the 'folk' and institutional aspects of Buddhism, but I'm starting to realize that, without them, the seed of the Dharma could not have continued for the last 2,500 years.

    Chet

  4. #4

    Re: The Buddha as a Businessman: Economics and Law in an Old In

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    I did not find anything so surprising in the talk, although it may be a surprise to folks without a background in the history of monasteries.
    Though he has caused a stir among some Buddhists in the US like Barbara O'Brien (which Rev. Fisher responded in his blog)

    http://buddhism.about.com/b/2009/03/21/ ... cation.htm

    I take it that Schopen is something of a renegade scholar whose ideas are widely out of step with other Buddhist scholarship. That in itself doesn't make him wrong. But when Schopen discusses the historical Buddha's tax evasion strategies ... well, the word crackpot does come to mind.
    :shock:

    Having been raised in a Catholic country and having friends that are seminarians, priests, and nuns, I am not surprised on how the Buddha might have handled a growing community.

    Sure, Jesus could deal with 12 dudes w/o money, bldgs, etc, but the Buddha had 1,500 monks to handle. :mrgreen:

  5. #5

    Re: The Buddha as a Businessman: Economics and Law in an Old In

    Erik, thank you for sharing that. As a businessman, I can really identify with Buddha Economics. It's just commonsense solutions to real world problems. There is not a shortage of resources but a need for organization of resources which requires laws and practices. Buddha and his successors seem to have done pretty well, maybe because they paid attention to what is.

  6. #6

    Re: The Buddha as a Businessman: Economics and Law in an Old In

    Quote Originally Posted by chicanobudista

    Though he has caused a stir among some Buddhists in the US like Barbara O'Brien (which Rev. Fisher responded in his blog)

    http://buddhism.about.com/b/2009/03/21/ ... cation.htm

    I take it that Schopen is something of a renegade scholar whose ideas are widely out of step with other Buddhist scholarship. That in itself doesn't make him wrong. But when Schopen discusses the historical Buddha's tax evasion strategies ... well, the word crackpot does come to mind.
    :shock:
    I thought the lecture I heard very reasonable and balanced, and she exaggerates what he said. I did not get the feeling that he was talking about “Buddhism as a business” … but only about an institution that had to have a business side.

    Professor Schopen also said that he is not talking about what "the Buddha" taught (because we do not have any writings from "the Buddha"), but only about rules and stories related in writings both created and describing situations centuries later, containing "a version of Buddha" saying and doing various things in the author's mind.

  7. #7
    disastermouse
    Guest

    Re: The Buddha as a Businessman: Economics and Law in an Old In

    http://www.amazon.com/Diamond-Cutter...0290044&sr=8-1

    This is not from our sect, and it trades heavily in karma, but it is a perspective on Buddhist business practices. I own and have read this book.

    Chet

  8. #8

    Re: The Buddha as a Businessman: Economics and Law in an Old In

    Hi.

    Well, we had much the same comotion here in sweden when armstrongs "buddha" and pankaj mishras "buddha in the world" was published.
    It kind of rocked the image people had of buddha and buddhism.
    Much like we right now have an author writing about an "toothlees-greyhaired-glutonous-drinker Jesus who had relations with women and other outcasts" and using biblequotes to back it up.

    It's like the old famous quote of the guy who took a christian confirmation and got an bible in present.
    "I just did one mistake, i read it."

    I think sometimes people don't want to know.
    I also think sometimes it's good to know.
    But i also think it is always good to be a "little curious"...

    Mtfbwy
    Tb

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