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Buddhism and Development: A Short Essay

Fri 12 June 2015, by Sonam Wangchuk

Buddhism and development are two concepts which can go together in the process of civilization. In fact, Buddhism accelerates the process of economic development, social progress and cultural advancement if taken in the right spirit as propagated by the Lord Buddha.

Buddhism in essence means the refinement and development of our mind, which is the prime cause of unrest, trouble, conflict and various other activities that cause human suffering. It is the principle of Buddhism to have the right conduct, right knowledge and right understanding, complimented by compassion and love for all animate or sentient beings.

Buddhism helps economic growth. Economic growth involves increase in production of the goods and services and raising the standard of living of the people. It also means, in a broader sense, the provision of welfare facilities and amenities for public good. Thus economic development in a nut shell means economic growth with social justice. With this concept of development in view, it is a known fact as to what Buddhist philosophy contributes towards this goal. Doing good for others and seeing others prosper is the motto of Buddhism and it is natural that this principle supports the cause of development. It is a known fact that corruption sets its dirty feet in the process of development. Political corruption and material corruption are much more in other countries than in the case of those who follow Buddhist economics. Corruption is not acceptable in Buddhist philosophy and its practice is looked down as immoral. Therefore Buddhism boosts the idea of being honest and respects the responsibility of one’s action. It is a fact that corruption remains as one of the factors retarding economic development and erupting social unrest. Buddhism contributes its share in this.

Religious festival in Bhutan drawing crowds including large number of tourists

Society demands peace but the evils of modernization keeps it in chains of conflict and unrest. Buddhism has its role in this also. Buddhism advocates human understanding and love for all. There is no cast barriers and colour difference in Buddhism. This noble principle contributes towards social peace and harmony. Cast, creed and colour barriers are rampant in non-Buddhist economics, which indirectly retards economic development by way of ethnic conflicts and social unrest.

The essence of culture is the religion, which is Buddhism in the Bhutanese context. Buddhism enhances cultural development which is based on the principle of right behavior, right conduct, and the like. In essence, it teaches the principle of “do as you would be done by.”

However, there are various negative arguments thrown against its role in the process of development. Some argue that Buddhism breeds a section of unproductive consumers in the form of monks and nuns retarding economic growth. Yes, this is true in a way, but viewed in a proper perspective, it has its own noble but indirect role to play in enhancing social progress and harmony. They are the agents of the religion and the protector of its philosophy. With their patronage, Buddhism thrives and they are the ones to infuse and disseminate the noble way of thinking and noble conduct. They act as advisors and the moral leaders in pursuing their noble aim to human peace. As a result of this, our way of thinking is being revived as the society progresses, resulting in communal harmony. Therefore, this argument and alike are baseless excuses, thrown by the skeptics. Buddhism, if viewed in the right way, contributes a lot towards economic development.

Modern day Thimphu, the capital city of Bhutan

To conclude, I assert that Buddhism has a vital role to play in the process of development and must be given proper care. However, I do not intend to encourage Buddhism in its dogmatic sense. Buddhism viewed in a dogmatic sense may lead to trouble and chaos as it has many impediments in its interpretation.