Buddhist economics

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Buddhist economics analyzes economic activity from a Buddhist point of view.


Pali Canon[edit]

  • What six drains on wealth do they avoid? Habitually engaging in the following things is a drain on wealth: drinking alcohol; roaming the streets at night; frequenting festivals; gambling; bad friends; laziness.
    • Siṅgāla Sutta (DN 31), as translated by Bhikkhu Sujato
  • They pick up riches as bees
    roaming round pick up pollen.
    And their riches proceed to grow,
    like an ant-hill piling up.

    In gathering wealth like this,
    a householder does enough for their family.
    And they’d hold on to friends
    by dividing their wealth in four.

    One portion is to enjoy.
    Two parts invest in work.
    And the fourth should be kept
    for times of trouble.
    • Siṅgāla Sutta (DN 31), as translated by Bhikkhu Sujato
  • Someone who grows in money and grain,
    in wives, children, and livestock,
    is wealthy, famous, and respected
    by relatives and friends, and even by royals.

    When someone grows in faith and ethics,
    wisdom, and both generosity and learning—
    a good man such as he sees clearly,
    and in the present life he grows in both ways.
    • Vaḍḍhi Sutta (AN 10.74), as translated by Bhikkhu Sujato
  • One might give alms impartially with a thousand coins of money
    month by month for a hundred years;
    but that is not worth a sixteenth part
    of having confidence in the Buddha.
    ...of having confidence in the Dhamma.
    ...of having confidence in the Sangha.
    ...of those who have mastered Dhamma.
    • Sahasra Vagga (P-Dhp 376–397), as translated by Bhikkhu Ānandajoti (2017)
  • Beings in the ghost world do not farm, herd cattle, trade, buy, sell, or use gold and money. They survive on merits shared by humans. As water that rains on a mountain-top flows down to the bottom, so will the merits shared from the human world reach the beings in the ghost world. Just as streams of water fill the ocean, so will the merits shared from the human world reach the beings in the ghost world. One should share merits with departed relatives recalling, “He gave to me, he worked for me, he was a relative, friend, and companion.”
    • Tirokuṭṭapetavatthu (Petavatthu 5), as translated by Kiribathgoda Gnanananda Thera (2018)


  • Selling poison, selling weapons, selling living beings, selling alcohol, selling meat, and, without having inspected (first), pounding sesame and mustard seed (and so on) is wrong livelihood, abstaining from it is right livelihood.
    • Arthaviniścaya Sūtra, as translated by Bhikkhu Ānandajoti (2016)


  • The ownership and the consumption of goods is a means to an end, and Buddhist economics is the systematic study of how to attain given ends with the minimum means. Modern economics, on the other hand, considers consumption to be the sole end and purpose of all economic activity, taking the factors of production—labour and capital—as the means. The former, in short, tries to maximise human satisfactions by the optimal pattern of consumption, while the latter tries to maximise consumption by the optimal pattern of productive effort.
  • The cultivation and expansion of needs is the antithesis of wisdom. It is also the antithesis of freedom and peace. Every increase of needs tends to increase one’s dependence on outside forces over which one cannot have control, and therefore increases existential fear. Only by a reduction of needs can one promote a genuine reduction in those tensions which are the ultimate causes of strife and war.

External links[edit]

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