are Western Buddhists complacent? article by Bhikkhu Bodhi

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Re: are Western Buddhists complacent? article by Bhikkhu Bo

Postby Sherlock » Wed May 08, 2013 8:49 am

The people of Ladakh are more unhappy with the advent of industrialization and "greater wealth" than before when they were farmers:

[video=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tvlqR2908TE]

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Re: are Western Buddhists complacent? article by Bhikkhu Bo

Postby Indrajala » Wed May 08, 2013 9:21 am

About Ladakh, that's probably true. Some Ladakhis have told me that crime, which was once largely unheard of there, is now starting to occur. There are all kinds of social ills that are unfolding.

Still, before industrialization and electricity, they suffered cold and maybe lean years when crops didn't turn out so good.

Again, poor people suffer physically, the well-to-do suffer mentally.

Everyone suffers one way or another unless you're liberated.
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Re: are Western Buddhists complacent? article by Bhikkhu Bo

Postby Indrajala » Wed May 08, 2013 9:33 am

shaunc wrote: I'd have to agree with quite a bit of what you said, but just because you can't fix samsara doesn't mean that you can't have a go at taking the edge off it. Money may not make all these peoples problems go away but at least they'd be dealing with a better class of problem. It's better to be miserable with a certain degree of comfort than miserable without it.


In our present day there is an additional factor that people often forget: increasing people's standard of living in an industrial setting damages the environment and creates a lot of new unforeseen problems ranging from diseases of affluence (obesity, diabetes, some types of depression) to damaging animal and plant life.

So, a vaccine program is great because it decreases infant mortality rates, but then you have a population surge and all the problems related to overpopulation. In a society with surplus labour, the working poor are readily exploited because they are disposable when you got dozens more people lined up outside waiting for a chance to work. This leads to social ills, criminal behaviour and so forth.

Everything is interconnected. Unfortunately, you can try to do good in the world, but in the long-term it can actually spell disaster and amplify suffering.

In previous times raising people out of destitution more meant ensuring they had sufficient food and clothing, but populations were kept in check by their immediate environmental circumstances. Now those circumstances are transcended through technology and fossil fuels. Once people get accustom to a certain standard of living, they'll seldom be willing to give it up, which puts more energy demands on their system as a whole requiring greater and greater inputs. Energy nowadays is obtained primarily through very destructive means (fossil fuels) which are leading to climate change and acidification of the oceans.

So, in the long-term all our efforts to make life easier for people will have been for nothing. Some parts of the planet will become uninhabitable, the oceans will become deserts and projected food shortages are going to lead to vast suffering not just physically, but all the effects of political and social upheavals as well. People also go suicidal when their hopes and dreams fail them.

Nevermind humans, the animals and planets on are planet are suffering horribly for our elevated standards of living and long life expectancies.
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