The Buddha on Wall Street: What’s Wrong with Capitalism and What We Can Do about It

The Buddha on Wall Street: What’s Wrong with Capitalism and What We Can Do about It

Vaḍḍhaka Linn

Language: English

Pages: 186

ISBN: 1909314447

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

After his Enlightenment the Buddha set out to help liberate the individual, and create a society free from suffering. The economic resources now exist to offer a realistic possibility of providing everyone with decent food, shelter, work, and leisure to allow each to fulfill their potential as human beings, whilst protecting the environment. What is it in the nature of modern capitalism that prevents that happening? Can Buddhism help us build something better than our current economic system, to reduce suffering and help the individual to freedom? In this thought-provoking work Vaḍḍhaka Linn explores answers to these questions by examining our economic world from the perspective of Buddhism.

The Buddha on Wall Street is an original, insightful, and provocative evaluation of our economic situation today. If you wonder about the social implications of Buddhist teachings, this is an essential book.” —David R. Loy, author, Money, Sex, War, Karma: Notes for a Buddhist Revolution

“Many Western Buddhists regard Buddhism as primarily a path to personal insight and inner peace, thus as a virtual escape route from the madness of the modern world. Yet deep within the Dharma are the seeds for a new vision of human relatedness, a web of ideas about how our social and economic systems can promote authentic well-being rather than the oppression, violence, and exploitation so widespread today. Vaḍḍhaka Linn here boldly uses the lens of Buddhism to closely examine the dominant structures of corporate capitalism. He lays bare the pernicious consequences of these structures and draws forth from the Dharma its suggestions for creating benign alternatives conducive to true human flourishing. This book helps us to better see the Dharma as a comprehensive message that has much to offer to the emergent global community in its broadest dimensions. It should also help Buddhists to understand more clearly the potential relevance of Buddhism to the crises of our age.” —Bhikkhu Bodhi, editor, In the Buddha’s Words

“Buddhism arose at a time of rising inequalities, partly as an answer as to how to behave in, understand, and remedy such times. The Buddha on Wall Street is an invaluable guide to how this time, faced again with crisis, there are alternatives to believing there is no alternative.” —Professor Danny Dorling, School of Geography and the Environment, University of Oxford, and author, Inequality and the 1%

“Slavoj Žižek has written that Western Buddhism is the ‘perfect ideological supplement’ to capitalism. Žižek the provocateur thinks Western Buddhism is complacent about the terrible harms of unbridled neoliberal capitalism. Vaḍḍhaka Linn’s essay makes the argument for an activist Buddhism that responds to Žižek’s challenge.” —Professor Owen Flanagan, Department of Philosophy, Duke University, and author, The Bodhisattva’s Brain: Buddhism Naturalized

“Do ever greater income levels lead to greater human fulfilment? Vaḍḍhaka Linn does an outstanding job exposing the false accounting of social ills that make it into a list of goods as measured in GDP statistics. More fundamentally, he questions any definition of well-being that does not rest on a firm ethical foundation, developing a refreshing Buddhist critique of the ends of economic activity.” —Dominic Houlder, Adjunct Professor in Strategy and Entrepreneurship, London Business School

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Behold the Spirit: A Study in the Necessity of Mystical Religion

Buddhism: A Short History

Zen: Merging of East and West



















trees at Kushinagar. When I visited the Mahabodhi Temple at Bodh Gaya and walked around the temple’s grounds among thousands of pilgrims, one spot affected me more than any other. It was marked with a plaque stating that this was where, after his Enlightenment, the Buddha sat for a week gazing in gratitude at the Bodhi Tree. The rational part of me questioned how anyone could know that this was the true spot and how they could be certain that this had really happened. But at another level

world that are making important contributions to this vital debate on alternatives to the free market economy, as there are of course many voices beyond the Buddhist world. 1 An ‘invisible hand’ Margin Call is a film that tells the story of a fictional Wall Street company.1 When it realizes that the majority of its assets are basically worthless mortgage-backed securities, it launches a desperate attempt to save itself. A decision is made to sell the worthless securities to an unsuspecting set

ingredients, and it’s also useful in promoting food products. For example, the world’s largest ice cream maker, Unilever, used its brain research in a marketing campaign that promotes eating ice cream as a ‘scientifically proven’ way to make us happy.23 Despite this, many authorities still publicly endorse the view that the primary cause of the obesity epidemic is a lack of individual willpower. In the same way as the manufacturers of throw-away containers and other sources of rubbish seek to

working in the field of evolution are developing Darwin’s insight with what they call ‘multilevel selection theory’ and are thinking about its implications for economics. David Sloan Wilson, a specialist in the field, explains it thus: The traits that maximise the advantage of an individual, relative to the members of its group, are typically different from the traits required for the group to function as a co-ordinated unit to achieve shared goals. What’s good for me is not necessarily good for

pollution associated with their production. Between the 1930s and the 1970s, many neoclassical economists were not free market economists. But since the 1970s, the prevailing majority of neoclassical economists have aligned themselves with a free market outlook, with the rise of neoliberalism. Since the beginning of the 1980s and the coming to power of Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan, neoliberalism has been the dominant economic viewpoint both at universities and in economic institutions

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