Without Self-Right​eousness & Solutions Research Driven: the Quest for Survival, Buddhism, Simple Living, Intentiona​l Living, Refusal of Work and keeping Your Sense of Modesty and Humor Through It All — Written 06/06/2012

For Your Consideration (FYC), IF NOT, For Your Entertainment (FYE)! ;+)

“The greatest achievement is selflessness. The greatest worth is self-mastery. The greatest quality is seeking to serve others. The greatest precept is continual awareness. The greatest medicine is the emptiness of everything. The greatest action is not conforming with the worlds ways. The greatest magic is transmuting the passions. The greatest generosity is non-attachment. The greatest goodness is a peaceful mind. The greatest patience is humility. The greatest effort is not concerned with results. The greatest meditation is a mind that lets go. The greatest wisdom is seeing through appearances.” “Atisha (11th century Tibetan Buddhist master)”   “Simple living encompasses a number of different voluntary practices to simplify one’s lifestyle. These may include reducing one’s possessions or increasing self-sufficiency, for example. Simple living may be characterized by individuals being satisfied with what they need rather than want. Although asceticism generally promotes living simply and refraining from luxury and indulgence, not all proponents of simple living are ascetics. Simple living is distinct from those living in forced poverty, as it is a voluntary lifestyle choice.”   “Adherents may choose simple living for a variety of personal reasons, such as spirituality, health, increase in “quality time” for family and friends, work–life balance, personal taste, frugality, or reducing personal ecological footprint and stress. Simple living can also be a reaction to materialism and conspicuous consumption. Some cite socio-political goals aligned with the anti-consumerist or anti-war movements, including conservation, degrowth, social justice, ethnic diversity, tax resistance and sustainable development.”   “Recently, David Wann has introduced the idea of “simple prosperity” as it applies to a sustainable lifestyle. From his point of view, and as a point of departure for what he calls real sustainability, “it is important to ask ourselves three fundamental questions: what is the point of all our commuting and consuming? What is the economy for? And, finally, why do we seem to be unhappier now than when we began our initial pursuit for rich abundance?” In this context, simple living is the opposite of our modern quest for affluence and, as a result, it becomes less preoccupied with quantity and more concerned about the preservation of cities, traditions and nature. A reference point for this new economics can be found in James Robertson’s A New Economics of Sustainable Development, and the work of thinkers and activists, who participate in his Working for a Sane Alternative network and program. According to Robertson, the shift to sustainability is likely to require a widespread shift of emphasis from raising incomes to reducing costs. The principles of the new economics, as set out by Robertson, are the following: systematic empowerment of people (as opposed to making and keeping them dependent), as the basis for people-centred development systematic conservation of resources and the environment, as the basis for environmentally sustainable development evolution from a “wealth of nations” model of economic life to a one-world model, and from today’s inter-national economy to an ecologically sustainable, decentralising, multi-level one-world economic system restoration of political and ethical factors to a central place in economic life and thought respect for qualitative values, not just quantitative values”   “Slow Living is the choice to live consciously with the goal of enhancing personal, community and environmental well being. Slow Living recognizes the role that time plays in shaping the quality of our lives. By slowing down we make time to savor our experiences and to connect more fully with others. The process of slowing down involves simplifying our lives and minimizing distractions so that we have more time and more energy to focus on what is meaningful and fulfilling. By consciously choosing to do less, we contribute to reducing some of the negative social and environmental impacts of our actions. Authors Beth Meredith and Eric Storm summarize Slow Living as follows: Slow Living means structuring your life around meaning and fulfillment. Similar to “voluntary simplicity” and “downshifting,” it emphasizes a less-is-more approach, focusing on the quality of your life. … Slow Living addresses the desire to lead a more balanced life and to pursue a more holistic sense of well-being in the fullest sense of the word.”   “Slow Living has its origins in the Slow Movement, which began in Italy with the concept of Slow Food (in contrast to fast food). This approach of taking the time required to fully engage with an activity and to savor life, nature, people, and place, has expanded to many other areas of life. When applied to one’s whole way of being, it becomes Slow Living. Slow Living borrows from the earlier and related lifestyle approaches including Voluntary Simplicity and Simple Living which emphasize consuming less and being more self-sufficient. However, Slow Living emphasizes building relationships with local producers over self-sufficiency, and puts a greater value on enjoying life and psychological well-being. While Slow Living shares Downshifting’s more moderate approach to personal change, the movement is not urban-focused or limited to a particular age group, and it looks beyond finances and consumption to all areas of life. Slow Living combines concepts from Positive Psychology, Environmental Sustainability as well as historical understandings of The Good Life. Personal motivations for these movements are varied and can include spirituality, health, having more quality time for family and friends, living lightly on the earth, socio-political goals, stress reduction, and personal taste.”   “Buddhist Economics is a spiritual approach to Economics. It examines the psychology of the human mind and the anxiety, aspirations and emotions that direct economic activity. Its understanding aims to clear the confusion between what is truly harmful and beneficial in Economics and ultimately tries to make human beings ethically mature. It tries to find a middle way between a purely mundane society and an immobile conventional society. It says that truly rational decisions can only be made when we understand what creates irrationality. When people understand what constitutes desire, they realize that all the wealth in the world cannot satisfy it. When people understand the universality of fear, they become more compassionate to all beings. Thus, this spiritual approach to Economics doesn’t rely on theories and models but on the essential forces of acumen, empathy and restraint. The Buddhist point of view intents at giving work a trinal function: to give man a chance to utilize and develop his aptitude; to enable him to overcome his self-aggrandizement by engaging with other people in common tasks; and to bring forward the goods and services needed for a better existence. From the perspective of a Buddhist, Economics and other streams of knowledge cannot be separated. Economics is a single component of a combined effort to fix the problems of humanity and Buddhist Economics works with it to reach a common goal of societal, individual and environmental sufficiency.”   “While Western Economics concentrates on self interest, the Buddhist view challenges it by changing the concept of self to Anatta or no-self. It preaches that all things perceived by one’s senses are not actually “I” or “mine” and therefore, humans must detach themselves from this feeling. They believe that the self-interest based, opportunistic approach to ethics will always fail. According to them, generosity will work because human beings are Homo reciprocans who tend to reciprocate to feelings(either positively or negatively) by giving back more than what is given to them. The second significant difference is that Western Economists give importance to maximizing profits and individual gains while the underlying principle of Buddhist Economists is to minimize suffering(losses) for all living or non living things. Studies conducted by them have shown that human beings show greater sensitivity to loss than to gains and therefore people should concentrate more on reducing the former. The third difference is with respect to the concept of desire. Western Economics encourages material wealth and desire because of which people try and accumulate more and more wealth- sometimes at the cost of others- to satisfy those cravings. Whereas, in Buddhist Economics, importance is given to simplify one’s desires. According to them, apart from the basic necessities like food, shelter, clothing and medicines, other materialistic needs should be minimized. They say that overall well-being decreases if people pursue meaningless desires. Wanting less will benefit the person, the community they live in and nature. The fourth point of difference is related to their views on the market. While Western Economists advocate maximizing markets to a point of saturation, Buddhist Economists aim at minimizing violence. According to them, Western Economists do not take into consideration primordial stakeholders like the future generations and the natural world because their vote is not considered important in terms of purchasing power. They feel that other stakeholders such as poor and marginalized people are under-represented because of their inadequate purchasing power and preference is given to the strongest stakeholder. Therefore, they believe that the market is not an unbiased place, truly representative of the economy. Thus, Buddhist Economists advocate ahimsa or non-violence. According to them, ahimsa prevents doing anything that directly causes suffering to oneself or others and urges to find solutions in a participatory way. Community supported agriculture is one such example of community based economic activities. They believe that it fosters trust, helps build value based communities and brings people closer to the land and the farm. Achieving this sustainability and non-violence requires restructuring of dominating configurations of modern business, which they advocate. This leads to deemphasizing profit maximization as the ultimate motive and renewed emphasis on introducing small-scale, locally adaptable, substantive economic activities. The fifth point of difference is that Western Economists try to maximize instrumental use where the value of any entity is determined by its marginal contribution to the production output. Therefore, Buddhist Economists feel that the real value of an entity is neither realized nor given importance to. They try to reduce instrumental use and form caring organizations which will be rewarded in terms of trust among the management, co-workers and employees. The sixth point of difference lies in the fact that Western Economists believe that bigger is better and more is more whereas Buddhist Economists believe that small is beautiful and less is more. The seventh point of difference is that Western economics gives importance to gross national product whereas Buddhist economics gives importance to gross national happiness.”     “The concept of the “Middle Way” says that time should be divided between working towards consumption and meditation and the optimal allocation between these two activities will be when some meditation is utilized to lower the desire for consumption and to be satisfied with lesser consumption and the work that it involves. In economic terms this means “the marginal productivity of labour utilized in producing consumption goods is equal to the marginal effectiveness of the meditation involved in economizing on consumption without bringing about any change in satisfaction”.”   “Key to the concept of degrowth is that reducing consumption does not require individual martyring and a decrease in well-being. Rather, ‘degrowthists’ aim to maximize happiness and well-being through non-consumptive means—sharing work, consuming less, while devoting more time to art, music, family, culture and community.”   “Small Is Beautiful: Economics As If People Mattered is a collection of essays by British economist E. F. Schumacher. The phrase “Small Is Beautiful” came from a phrase by his teacher Leopold Kohr. It is often used to champion small, appropriate technologies that are believed to empower people more, in contrast with phrases such as “bigger is better”.”   “First published in 1973, Small Is Beautiful brought Schumacher’s critiques of Western economics to a wider audience during the 1973 energy crisis and emergence of globalization. The Times Literary Supplement ranked Small Is Beautiful among the 100 most influential books published since World War II.”   “The book is divided into four parts: “The Modern World,” “Resources,” “The Third World,” and “Organization and Ownership.” In the first chapter, “The Problem of Production”, Schumacher argues that the modern economy is unsustainable. Natural resources (like fossil fuels), are treated as expendable income, when in fact they should be treated as capital, since they are not renewable, and thus subject to eventual depletion. He further argues that nature’s resistance to pollution is limited as well. He concludes that government effort must be concentrated on sustainable development, because relatively minor improvements, for example, technology transfer to Third World countries, will not solve the underlying problem of an unsustainable economy. Schumacher’s philosophy is one of “enoughness,” appreciating both human needs, limitations and appropriate use of technology. It grew out of his study of village-based economics, which he later termed “Buddhist economics,” which is the subject of the book’s fourth chapter. He faults conventional economic thinking for failing to consider the most appropriate scale for an activity, blasts notions that “growth is good,” and that “bigger is better,” and questions the appropriateness of using mass production in developing countries, promoting instead “production by the masses.” Schumacher was one of the first economists to question the appropriateness of using gross national product to measure human well being, emphasizing that “the aim ought to be to obtain the maximum amount of well being with the minimum amount of consumption.””   “Schumacher was a respected economist who worked with John Maynard Keynes and John Kenneth Galbraith, and for twenty years as the Chief Economic Advisor to the National Coal Board in the United Kingdom. He was opposed to the tenets of neo-classical economics, declaring that single-minded concentration on output and technology was dehumanizing. He held that one’s workplace should be dignified and meaningful first, efficient second, and that nature (like its natural resources) is priceless. Schumacher proposed the idea of “smallness within bigness”: a specific form of decentralization. For a large organization to work, according to Schumacher, it must behave like a related group of small organizations. Schumacher’s work coincided with the growth of ecological concerns and with the birth of environmentalism and he became a hero to many in the environmental movement.”   “Refusal of work is behavior which refuses to adapt to regular employment. As actual behavior, with or without a political or philosophical program, it has been practiced by various subcultures and individuals. Radical political positions have openly advocated refusal of work. From within marxism it has been advocated by Paul Lafargue and the Italian workerist/autonomists (e.g. Antonio Negri, Mario Tronti), the French ultra-left (e.g. Échanges et Mouvement); and within anarchism (especially Bob Black and the post-left anarchy tendency).”   “The Abolition of Work, Bob Black’s most widely read essay, draws upon the ideas of Charles Fourier, William Morris, Herbert Marcuse, Paul Goodman, and Marshall Sahlins. In it he argues for the abolition of the producer- and consumer-based society, where, Black contends, all of life is devoted to the production and consumption of commodities. Attacking Marxist state socialism as much as market capitalism, Black argues that the only way for humans to be free is to reclaim their time from jobs and employment, instead turning necessary subsistence tasks into free play done voluntarily – an approach referred to as “ludic”. The essay argues that “no-one should ever work”, because work – defined as compulsory productive activity enforced by economic or political means – is the source of most of the misery in the world. Black denounces work for its compulsion, and for the forms it takes – as subordination to a boss, as a “job” which turns a potentially enjoyable task into a meaningless chore, for the degradation imposed by systems of work-discipline, and for the large number of work-related deaths and injuries – which Black typifies as “homicide”. He views the subordination enacted in workplaces as “a mockery of freedom”, and denounces as hypocrites the various theorists who support freedom while supporting work. Subordination in work, Black alleges, makes people stupid and creates fear of freedom. Because of work, people become accustomed to rigidity and regularity, and do not have the time for friendship or meaningful activity. Most workers, he states, are dissatisfied with work (as evidenced by petty deviance on the job), so that what he says should be uncontroversial; however, it is controversial only because people are too close to the work-system to see its flaws. Play, in contrast, is not necessarily rule-governed, and is performed voluntarily, in complete freedom, as a gift economy. He points out that hunter-gatherer societies are typified by play, a view he backs up with the work of Marshall Sahlins; he recounts the rise of hierarchal societies, through which work is cumulatively imposed, so that the compulsive work of today would seem incomprehensibly oppressive even to ancients and medieval peasants. He responds to the view that “work,” if not simply effort or energy, is necessary to get important but unpleasant tasks done, by claiming that first of all, most important tasks can be rendered ludic, or “salvaged” by being turned into game-like and craft-like activities, and secondly that the vast majority of work does not need doing at all. The latter tasks are unnecessary because they only serve functions of commerce and social control that exist only to maintain the work-system as a whole. As for what is left, he advocates Charles Fourier’s approach of arranging activities so that people will want to do them. He is also skeptical but open-minded about the possibility of eliminating work through labor-saving technologies. He feels the left cannot go far enough in its critiques because of its attachment to building its power on the category of workers, which requires a valorization of work.”   “The anti-work ethic states that labor tends to cause unhappiness, therefore, the quantity of labor ought to be lessened. The ethic appeared in anarchist circles and to have come to prominence with essays such as In Praise of Idleness and Other Essays by Bertrand Russell, The Right to Useful Unemployment by Ivan Illich, and The Abolition of Work by Bob Black, published in 1985.”   “The followers of this ethic typically argue that capitalist and communist societies tend to encourage a “labor” mentality towards life either directly or indirectly through the cost of living, labor markets, the work week, applying normative values to economics, and social conventions. The critics then ask why with increasing mechanization the number of hours in the average work week have not fallen significantly; for example, Bob Black asks, “Why hasn’t the average work week gone down by more than a few minutes in the past fifty years?” The devotees of the anti-work movement therefore attempt to find answers and practical solutions towards reducing the volume of work for a typical person and encouraging the activities they see as conducive to happiness.”   “Intentional living typically refers to an individual’s awareness and choice of lifestyle. However, whereas lifestyle refers to “a way of life or style of living that reflects the attitudes and values of a person or group,” intentional living refers not simply to any way of life, but to those intentionally chosen by an individual based on awareness of her/his values and fundamental beliefs. This excludes intentional living from lifestyle schemes such as marketing classifications in which lifestyles don’t necessarily involve intentional or conscious choice (see list of lifestyles). It may also be suggested that intentional living represents an individual’s or a group’s effort to live with integrity in relation to his or her conscience and environment. Some examples of intentional living include cohousing, ethical living, frugal living, intentional community, moral community, simple living, sustainable living, vegetarianism as well as many religious lifestyles. While not necessarily representing distinct or actual lifestyles, many themes and areas of human interest, activity and study exist which contribute to intentional living. Examples include appropriate technology, conservation, ecology, environmentalism, ethics, humanism, humanitarianism, moralism, religion and socially responsible investing.”   “An intentional community is a planned residential community designed to have a much higher degree of teamwork than other communities. The members of an intentional community typically hold a common social, political, religious, or spiritual vision and often follow an alternative lifestyle. They typically also share responsibilities and resources. Intentional communities include collective households, cohousing communities, ecovillages, communes, survivalist retreats, kibbutzim, ashrams and some housing cooperatives. Typically, new members of an intentional community are selected by the community’s existing membership, rather than by real-estate agents or land owners (if the land is not owned collectively by the community).”   “Without forgetting:   “If you meet the Buddha, kill him.

—Linji   “Thinking about Buddha is delusion, not awakening. One must destroy preconceptions of the Buddha. Zen master Shunryu Suzuki wrote in Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind during an introduction to Zazen, Kill the Buddha if the Buddha exists somewhere else. Kill the Buddha, because you should resume your own Buddha nature. One is only able to see a Buddha as he exists in separation from Buddha, the mind of the practitioner is thus still holding onto apparent duality.”   “Zazen is considered the heart of Zen Buddhist practice. The aim of zazen is just sitting, “opening the hand of thought”, that is, suspending all judgmental thinking and letting words, ideas, images and thoughts pass by without getting involved in them.”   “Strictly speaking, there are no enlightened people, there is only enlightened activity.” “Our tendency is to be interested in something that is growing in the garden, not in the bare soil itself. But if you want to have a good harvest, the most important thing is to make the soil rich and cultivate it well.” “So the secret is just to say ‘Yes!’ and jump off from here. Then there is no problem. It means to be yourself, always yourself, without sticking to an old self.” “When you do something, you should burn yourself completely, like a good bonfire, leaving no trace of yourself.” “Zazen practice is the direct expression of our true nature. Strictly speaking, for a human being, there is no other practice than this practice; there is no other way of life than this way of life.” “Take care of things, and they will take care of you.” “In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, in the expert’s mind there are few.” “Life and death are the same thing. When we realize this fact, we have no fear of death anymore, nor actual difficulty in our life.” “As soon as you see something, you already start to intellectualize it. As soon as you intellectualize something, it is no longer what you saw.” “The way that helps will not be the same; it changes according to the situation.” “That bird is free – you owe me a bird.” “Without accepting the fact that everything changes, we cannot find perfect composure. But unfortunately, although it is true, it is difficult for us to accept it. Because we cannot accept the truth of transience, we suffer.”

 

Resources

http://www.thebigview.com/buddhism/ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Simple_living http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slow_living http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Positive_psychology http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_good_life http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buddhist_economics http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Middle_way http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/K%C5%8Dan http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zazen http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shunryu_Suzuki http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homo_reciprocans http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Degrowth http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Small_is_Beautiful http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Refusal_of_work http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intentional_living http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intentional_community http://zenhabits.net/simple-living-manifesto-72-ideas-to-simplify-your-life/ http://exilelifestyle.com/minimalism-explained/    

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