Buddist Economics by Prayudh Pyutto

By Prayudh Pyutto

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The twofold nature of desire creates two kinds of value, which may be termed as true, and artificial value. The true value of something is decided by its ability to meet the desire for well-being, artificial value by its capacity to gratify the desire for pleasure. In any one object, the true value will tend to be outweighed by an artificial value created out of craving and conceit. Desire for the sensually appealing, or for trendy things to serve as status symbols together with popular values and prejudices all crowd into our reckoning of the value of things.

Is it possible that Thais are both content and avid consumers after all? That we have been moving away from a traditional contentment and exchanging it for the values of consumerism? If that is the case then it means that in introducing the Western economic system into our society, we have applied it wrongly, andare now suffering the harmful results. Actually, if we Thais were really content in the correct way defined above, then it would enable us to support a steady and continual growth in production.

When we eat, both kinds of desire are present, although for most people the desire for wellbeing is not usually conscious; we tend only to be aware of the desire for pleasurable experience. Why do human beings eat? Surely it is to nourish the body, to give it strength and good health. But the desire that arises in peoples' minds is for enjoyment, food that is 'good' in terms of taste. This desire may oppose the desire for well-being, and even destroy the quality of life. The desire for the experience of delicious flavours leads us to search for the tastiest food and it may be, for instance, that the most delicious food contains artificial additives which enhance the smell, colour, and taste of the food but are harmful to our body, and thus our well-being.

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