Economics for Yogis 003 — Buddhist Economics — Work

In 1966 E. F. Schumacher published “Buddhist Economics.” People have continued to read it.

I probably first read it in 1972 or 1973, and it’s one of those essays I re-read periodically.

Today Schumacher’s ideas are useful as we try to reimagine how we live and work.

For example,  in the essay, Schumacher distinguishes between “mainstream’s” and “Buddhist’s” economics view of “work.”


The mainstream view of work:

  • Get rid of it.
  • Reduce workload.
  • Focus on specialization and division of labor.
  • Emphasize productivity & speed.
  • It’s meaningless, boring, and nerve-racking.
  • We’re concerned more with goods than with people.
  • It lacks compassion.
  • It’s soul-destroying.
  • Leisure becomes a goa 


The Buddhist view of work:

  • Develops the capacity to live life fully.
  • It brings joy.
  • Leisure brings bliss.
  • Work and leisure are complementary. 
This essay contrasts views on civilization, mechanization, unemployment, and economic behavior.
Schumacher focused on “economic development” and how we developed economic policies depending on whether our perspective is based on mainstream or Buddhist thought.
As we study different schools of thought, like Kemetic Philosophy, think about (i)  what types of “economic” thinking and institutions we need to support our worldviews and (ii) what actions we need to take “to make manifest” our principles.
Our yoga and other spiritual practices can help us envision and bring into being economic systems that are life-enhancing rather than life-denying.
Our practices can help us design and implement the change we’d like to see.

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