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Sufficiency and Material Development: A Post-secular Reflection in the Light of Buddhist Thought

Hettiarachchi, Shanthikumar (2012) Sufficiency and Material Development: A Post-secular Reflection in the Light of Buddhist Thought. European Review, 20 (1). pp. 114-130. ISSN 1062-7987

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Abstract

The notion of ‘sufficiency consciousness’ is a way of life to be adopted towards attitude change in a world that craves for absolutist secularity and religious dogmatism. The paper explores aspects of sufficiency that could promote material development, and as such require a total attitude change and behaviour remodification of public life. It is obvious that performance-driven targets, accelerated growth, investment and prosperity-driven agenda by market forces alone would lead to a skewed understanding of both the notion of sufficiency and material development. Hence, a proposition for value-based sense of material development, ethical buying and consumption have all become survival strategies for civil society groups and organisations to effect change from within. In the Buddhist scheme of thought, two significant core concepts of wisdom and compassion impact on social change and behaviour. Developing non-material values generated by wisdom and compassion are proposed as a lifelong pursuit in understanding human tendencies such as greed, clinging, and craving to amass wealth and excessive indulgence. Such an approach and an analysis evoke a sense of sufficiency alongside appropriate and sustainable material development. The use of certain economic indexes and other technical data in the paper indicate and symbolise the extent to which material progress is emphasised over and above the non-material. A possible development of an index such as Gross National Happiness (GNH) as proposed by the Thai specialists is included as an alternative to the sole-material-progress-based data discourses. Cultivating oneself with compassion juxtaposed by wisdom challenges all to uphold goodness as part of being human. Opposition to such a view of life and a way of life is problematic in the light of the current phenomena of theatrical performance of violence to redress grievances as well as limitless confidence in economic growth and greedy investment plans. It is a value-laden counterpoint to the zero tolerance that can address the larger socio-political issue of the alterity1 that both help to understand what actually sufficiency means in the array material development. Wisdom becomes a guide to action with compassion, while compassion expands the capacity of wisdom to understand the part and the whole. It is in this interplay of value-tracking that one is able to realise the importance of human activity that can evolve checks and balances, which are imperative to measure material development and social progress. ‘Sufficiency consciousness’ and material development are healthy, vibrant and adaptive aspects for civil society groups as well as other institutions to participate critically in ‘religious affairs’ in a ‘secular realm’ with what life offers. The non-material basis of wisdom and compassion offers a wholesome view of ‘sufficiency consciousness’, which is fundamental to material development, economic activity, political governance, institutional arrangements and campaign strategies, for civil society groups to achieve their potential. Wisdom steers compassion while compassion transforms wisdom in those engaged in human activity, which is both about ‘here’ and the ‘not yet’.

Item Type: Published Articles
Repository Version: Metadata Only
Keywords (separated by commas): sufficiency consciousness,religious, Buddhist thought
Fields of Research: 22 Philosophy and Religious Studies > 2204 Religion and Religious Studies > 220402 Comparative Religious Studies
Socio-Economic Objective: E Expanding Knowledge > 97 Expanding Knowledge > 970122 Expanding Knowledge in Philosophy and Religious Studies
Type of Activity: Pure Basic Research
Subject Area(s): A - World Religions
Association with University of Divinity: TRC: Trinity College
Depositing User: Dr Suman Kashyap
Date Deposited: 07 Jun 2017 12:37
Last Modified: 07 Jun 2017 12:37
URI: http://repository.divinity.edu.au/id/eprint/2459

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