UPASAKA JAGATHEESAN CHANDRASEKHARAN
The Awaken One with Awareness assert that, “The way to change the world is to change the nature of man,”that offers Insight to Improve Conditions for Planet, Inhabitants.
The world needs waves of reforms.
Generate an opportunity to set the world on a more equitable and sustainable path of development.
AOA much to offer that process. AOA assert that, “The way to change the world is to change the nature of man,” offers a critical insight into how to improve conditions for our planet and its inhabitants.
The spirit to care not just for ourselves but for others, based on an awareness of our interlinked fates, lies at the heart of AOA- and, indeed, all of the world’s great religions.
These thoughts challenge families, communities and nations to act in concert for the advancement of our common well-being. That is the best way to secure individual and collective progress in an interdependent world.
We must also change longstanding assumptions and open our minds to new ideas and possible solutions if we are to address major global threats, from the proliferation of deadly weapons to intolerance and inequality.
We must invite Awaken Ones with Awareness and people of all traditions to use the occasion to reflect on how we can change our actions to pave the way for a more sustainable future.
Awakened One with Awareness bequeathed to humanity profound thoughts that can guide our efforts to resolve the severe problems facing today’s world.
Injunction against the three poisons of greed, anger and ignorance is especially relevant to multilateral efforts to overcome the hunger that needlessly affects nearly a billion people in a world of plenty, the brutal violence that takes millions of lives each year, and the senseless environmental damage that humans cause to our only home, the planet Earth.
Socio-economic development may sound modern, but its core is the very problem of human suffering that was addressed more than 2,500 years ago.
Numerous Awakened One With Awareness organizations are putting these thoughts into practice. Their support is for activities to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, our blueprint for enabling all people to enjoy lives of dignity and opportunity.
Let us draw on the universal values of Awakened Ones With Awareness to act in solidarity with those who are suffering, thereby contributing to a more compassionate and awakened world for all.
ECONOMY OF THE AWAKEN ONE WITH AWARENESS (AOA) is to provide all people with a minimum income.
Radiation theory sees the economy prospering through the virtuous actions of individuals following the moral law.
AOA accept existing political and economic institutions, even while providing a democratic social ethos revolutionary for its time.
King Asoka, greatest of all Indian emperors, pursued a highly activist fiscal policy even though he believed only meditation could help people to advance in moral living.
AOA places great stress on gift giving.
Income Redistribution in the Ideal State
Through the laws of cause and condition there is a distributive cycle of one’s current social and economic position is due to one’s good cause and condition accumulated in the past. This does not mean indifference to the poor, for one’s economic status is not only dependent on the laws of cause and condition, but is also complemented by the moral virtues of compassion and generosity.’ Alms giving to the poor is regarded as increasing one’s merit The importance of our active intervention has some important implications for behavior of the “righteous ruler” as well.
AOA kings are also known for the financial aid which they provided for the poor; indeed, the kings were advised to give their gifts to all who are poor. Moreover, gifts to the those who practice AOA do not prevent them from providing a refuge for the destitute or from redistributing such beneficence to the indigent.
Redistribution of income, either through the public or private, sectors, is certainly regarded in a favorable light. In order to favor the spiritual improvement of the population, the State is justified in taking steps to provide all people with a minimum income.
Radiation: Virtue as a Positive Externality
AOA theory of radiation sees the economy prospering through the collective impact of the virtuous actions of individuals.
AOA argue that since the economy can ultimately prosper only through virtuous action, ultimately the only hope for prosperity lies in a regeneration of human kind, e.g., through the cultivation of the Four Sublime Abodes (loving kindness, compassion, sympathetic joy, and equanimity). Any appropriate good action inevitably leads to an increase of the material wealth of the community.
Trade Through the Market
AOA discussion on right livelihood prohibits trade in certain goods and services, which means that all other types of trade are apparently allowed (but not explicitly approved). In an interesting
comparison between trading and agriculture as means of livelihood, the AOA also notes that both can bring high or low returns, depending on the circumstances; however, trading is an occupation with little to do, few duties, a small administration, and small problems, while agriculture is the reverse. The capable merchant is approvingly said to know the value of goods and prices and the profits he obtains; and to buy where the price is low and to sell where the price is high.
A merchant who was generous to the cause was highly praised for his piety.
AOA accepts competition in general in the sense that it is possible to compete without hurting others,excel in virtue.
“prizes in the school of life that each may strive for to obtain…. If a man chooses to interpret this as free competition, it is still competition without rivalry, for victory to oneself does not mean the defeat of someone else.”
Description of the origins of property also discusses the origins of the State. As crime increased after the division of the land, the people elected a king to maintain law and order, paying him for his troubles. This suggests a type of social contract theory, which means that the king has important obligations toward the people.
Some of the discussion about economic policy are traditional Ten Royal Precepts of Kingship: generosity, morality, liberality, uprightness, gentleness, self-restraint, non-anger, non-hurtfulness, forbearance, and non-opposition.
However, more practical advice can also be found. For instance, one of the sources, speaks of the Royal Acts to increase prosperity which include giving of seed corn and food to farmers and of capital to merchants to start or increase their business. The particular source emphasizes that if prosperity increases, economic disorders and crime such as theft decrease.
Additional insight into State economic activities can be gained by examining the records of some of the “righteous rulers” who are revered by the AOA. It should be noted that because of the participation of the State in the operations of the irrigation systems in many of these countries, the crown had a fairly active role in the economy.
The prototypical important righteous ruler was the revered King Asoka (Ashoka) (ca. 274-232 B.C.E.), the grandson of the founder of the Mauryan dynasty in indict and one of the greatest of the Indian emperors.2 From Asoka’s edicts it appears that he generally accepted the economic and political institutions of his time.
However, he also took as the goal of statecraft the welfare and happiness of the people. He adopted a highly activist fiscal policy, both with regard to current and capital expenditures. For instance, he gave gifts to the aged, other needy, and religious orders; he set up public education courses to teach the doctrines of Rule of the Law; he cut back on large public festivals; he imported and planted medicinal herbs; and he carried out various public works projects such as digging of wells, planting of trees, construction of rest houses and animal watering stations along main roads in the empire. Some of his edicts appeared to enforce traditional AOA beliefs, e.g, bans on slaughtering various animals. The funds spent on the maintenance of the crown and good works were high, e.g., taxes were apparently about one fourth of the revenue of land.
Still another righteous ruler was King Ruang who lived in the 14th century in Thailand, long after the canonical scriptures had been completed. Ruang stated quite clearly that a righteous king brings prosperity to his subjects. He apparently had a much less luxurious court or a less activist governmental expenditure policy than Asoka, since he advised that taxes should be less than 10 percent of the crop (and less in a drought) and that such taxes should never be higher than those of the preceding king. He also urged that the State provide interest free loans to those wishing to engage in commerce and that no profit taxes should be placed upon such commercial activities.
Awaken One with Awareness (AOA) and Politics
The Awaken One with Awareness (AOA) had gone beyond all worldly affairs, but still gave advice on good government.
The AoA came from a warrior caste and was naturally brought into association with kings, princes and ministers. Despite His origin and association, He never resorted to the influence of political power to introduce His thoughts nor allowed His Thoughts to be misused for gaining political power. But today, many politicians try to drag the AOA’s name into politics by introducing Him as a communist, capitalist, or even an imperialist. They have forgotten that the new political philosophy as we know it really developed in the West long after the AOA’s time. Those who try to make use of the good name of the AOA for their own personal advantage must remember that the AOA was the Supremely Awaken One who had gone beyond all worldly concerns.
There is an inherent problem of trying to intermingle religion with politics. The basis of religion is morality, purity and faith, while that for politics is power. In the course of history, religion has often been used to give legitimacy to those in power and their exercise of that power. Religion was used to justify wars and conquests, persecutions, atrocities, rebellions, destruction of works of art and culture.
When religion is used to pander to political whims, it has to forego its high moral ideals and become debased by worldly political demands.
The thrust of the AOA Rule of Law is not directed to the creation of new political institutions and establishing political arrangements. Basically, it seeks to approach the problems of society by reforming the individuals constituting that society and by suggesting some general principles through which the society can be guided towards greater humanism, improved welfare of its members, and more equitable sharing of resources.
There is a limit to the extent to which a political system can safeguard the happiness and prosperity of its people. No political system, no matter how ideal it may appear to be, can bring about peace and happiness as long as the people in the system are dominated by greed, hatred and delusion. In addition, no matter what political system is adopted, there are certain universal factors which the members of that society will have to experience: the effects of good and bad Cause and Condition, the lack of real satisfaction or everlasting happiness in the world characterized by unsatisfactoriness, impermanence), and egolessness. To the AOA, nowhere in Samsara is there real freedom, not even in the heavens or the world of Brahama.
Although a good and just political system which guarantees basic human rights and contains checks and balances to the use of power is an important condition for a happy in society, people should not fritter away their time by endlessly searching for the ultimate political system where men can be completely free, because complete freedom cannot be found in any system but only in minds which are free. To be free, people will have to look within their own minds and work towards freeing themselves from the chains of ignorance and craving. Freedom in the truest sense is only possible when a person uses Rule of Law to develop his character through good speech and action and to train his mind so as to expand his mental potential and achieve his ultimate aim of awaken-ness.
While recognizing the usefulness of separating religion from politics and the limitations of political systems in bringing about peace and happiness, there are several aspects of the AOA’s thoughts which have close correspondence to the political arrangements of the present day. Firstly, the AOA spoke about the equality of all human beings long before Abraham Lincoln, and that classes and castes are artificial barriers erected by society. The only classification of human beings, according to the AOA, is based on the quality of their moral conduct. Secondly, the AOA encouraged the spirit of social -co-operation and active participation in society. This spirit is actively promoted in the political process of modern societies. Thirdly, since no one was appointed as the AOA’s successor, the members of the Order were to be guided by the Rule of Law. Until today very member of the Order is to abide by the Rule of Law which governs and guides their conduct.
Fourthly, the AOA encouraged the spirit of consultation and the democratic process. This is shown within the community of the Order in which all members have the right to decide on matters of general concern. When a serious question arose demanding attention, the issues were put before the monks and discussed in a manner similar to the democratic parliamentary system used today. This self-governing procedure may come as a surprise to many to learn that in the assemblies of AOAs in India 2,500 years and more ago are to be found the rudiments of the parliamentary practice of the present day. A special officer similar to ‘Mr. Speaker’ was appointed to preserve the dignity of the Parliamentary Chief Whip, was also appointed to see if the quorum was secured. Matters were put forward in the form of a motion which was open to discussion. In some cases it was done once, in others three times, thus anticipating the practice of Parliament in requiring that a bill be read a third time before it becomes law. If the discussion showed a difference of opinion, it was to be settled by the vote of the majority through balloting.
The AOA approach to political power is the moralization and the responsible use of public power. The AOA preached non-violence and peace as a universal message. He did not approve of violence or the destruction of life, and declared that there is no such thing as a ‘just’ war. He taught: ‘The victor breeds hatred, the defeated lives in misery. He who renounces both victory and defeat is happy and peaceful.’ Not only did the Buddha teach non-violence and peace, He was perhaps the first and only religious teacher who went to the battlefield personally to prevent the outbreak of a war. He diffused tension between the Sakyas and the Koliyas who were about to wage war over the waters of Rohini. He also dissuaded King Ajatasattu from attacking the Kingdom of the Vajjis.
The AOAdiscussed the importance and the prerequisites of a good government. He showed how the country could become corrupt, degenerate and unhappy when the head of the government becomes corrupt and unjust. He spoke against corruption and how a government should act based on humanitarian principles.
The AOA once said, ‘When the ruler of a country is just and good, the ministers become just and good; when the ministers are just and good, the higher officials become just and good; when the higher officials are just and good, the rank and file become just and good; when the rank and file become just and good, the people become just and good.
The AOA said that immorality and crime, such as theft, falsehood, violence, hatred, cruelty, could arise from poverty. Kings and governments may try to suppress crime through punishment, but it is futile to eradicate crimes through force.
The AOA suggested economic development instead of force to reduce crime. The government should use the country’s resources to improve the economic conditions of the country. It could embark on agricultural and rural development, provide financial support to entrepreneurs and business, provide adequate wages for workers to maintain a decent life with human dignity.
The AOA had gtiven to rules for Good Government. These ten rules can be applied even today by any government which wishes to rule the country peacefully. The rules are as follows:
1) be liberal and avoid selfishness,
2) maintain a high moral character,
3) be prepared to sacrifice one’s own pleasure for the well-being of the subjects,
4) be honest and maintain absolute integrity,
5) be kind and gentle,
6) lead a simple life for the subjects to emulate,
7) be free from hatred of any kind,
8) exercise non-violence,
9) practice patience, and
10) respect public opinion to promote peace and harmony.
Regarding the behavior of rulers, He further advised:
- A good ruler should act impartially and should not be biased and discriminate between one particular group of subjects against another.
- A good ruler should not harbor any form of hatred against any of his subjects.
- A good ruler should show no fear whatsoever in the enforcement of the law, if it is justifiable.
- A good ruler must possess a clear understanding of the law to be enforced. It should not be enforced just because the ruler has the authority to enforce the law. It must be done in a reasonable manner and with common sense.
‘If a man, who is unfit, incompetent, immoral, improper, unable and unworthy of kingship, has enthroned himself a king or a ruler with great authority, he is subject to be tortured‚ to be subject to a variety of punishment by the people, because, being unfit and unworthy, he has placed himself unrighteously in the seat of sovereignty. The ruler, like others who violate and transgress moral codes and basic rules of all social laws of mankind, is equally subject to punishment; and moreover, to be censured is the ruler who conducts himself as a robber of the public. It is mentioned that a ruler who punishes innocent people and does not punish the culprit is not suitable to rule a country.
The king always improves himself and carefully examines his own conduct in deeds, words and thoughts, trying to discover and listen to public opinion as to whether or not he had been guilty of any faults and mistakes in ruling the kingdom. If it is found that he rules unrighteously, the public will complain that they are ruined by the wicked ruler with unjust treatment, punishment, taxation, or other oppressions including corruption of any kind, and they will react against him in one way or another. On the contrary, if he rules righteously they will bless him: ‘Long live His Majesty.’ (Majjhima Nikaya)
The AOA’s emphasis on the moral duty of a ruler to use public power to improve the welfare of the people had inspired Emperor Asoka in the Third Century B.C. to do likewise. Emperor Asoka, a sparkling example of this principle, resolved to live according to and preach the Rule of Law and to serve his subjects and all humanity. He declared his non-aggressive intentions to his neighbors, assuring them of his goodwill and sending envoys to distant kings bearing his message of peace and non-aggression. He promoted the energetic practice of the socio-moral virtues of honesty, truthfulness, compassion, benevolence, non-violence, considerate behavior towards all, non-extravagance, non-acquisitiveness, and non-injury to animals. He encouraged religious freedom and mutual respect for each other’s creed. He went on periodic tours preaching the Rule of Law to the rural people. He undertook works of public utility, such as founding of hospitals for men and animals, supplying of medicine, planting of roadside trees and groves, digging of wells, and construction of watering sheds and rest houses. He expressly forbade cruelty to animals.
Sometimes the AOA is said to be a social reformer. Among other things, He condemned the caste system, recognized the equality of people, spoke on the need to improve socio-economic conditions, recognized the importance of a more equitable distribution of wealth among the rich and the poor, raised the status of women, recommended the incorporation of humanism in government and administration, and taught that a society should not be run by greed but with consideration and compassion for the people. Despite all these, His contribution to mankind is much greater because He took off at a point which no other social reformer before or ever since had done, that is, by going to the deepest roots of human ill which are found in the human mind. It is only in the human mind that true reform can be effected. Reforms imposed by force upon the external world have a very short life because they have no roots. But those reforms which spring as a result of the transformation of man’s inner consciousness remain rooted. While their branches spread outwards, they draw their nourishment from an unfailing source — the subconscious imperatives of the life-stream itself. So reforms come about when men’s minds have prepared the way for them, and they live as long as men revitalize them out of their own love of truth, justice and their fellow men.
The doctrine preached by the AOA is not one based on ‘Political Philosophy’. Nor is it a doctrine that encourages men to worldly pleasures. It sets out a way to attain Eternal Bliss. In other words, its ultimate aim is to put an end to craving that keeps them in bondage to this world.’The path that leads to worldly gain is one, and the path that leads to Eternal Bliss (by leading a religious life)is another.’
However, this does not mean that AOAs cannot or should not get involved in the political process, which is a social reality. The lives of the members of a society are shaped by laws and regulations, economic arrangements allowed within a country, institutional arrangements, which are influenced by the political arrangements of that society. Nevertheless, if a AOAwishes to be involved in politics, he should not misuse religion to gain political powers, nor is it advisable for those who have renounced the worldly life to lead a pure, religious life to be actively involved in politics.
Putting Awaken One with Awareness (AOA) to Work:
A New Approach to Management and Business
Awaken One with Awareness (AOA) Economics: The Emerging Middle Path between Capitalism and Socialism
A novel approach to economic management that goes beyond socialism and capitalism. The proposed economics for the 21st century is ‘Awaken One with Awareness (AOA) Economics’.
Based on the insight of the Awaken One with Awareness (AOA) that spiritual liberation is attained by avoiding extremes, whether by indulgence in worldly pleasures or severe asceticism, and treading namely ‘ the Middle Way ‘, ‘Awaken One with Awareness (AOA) Economics ‘ is recommended as the ideal middle path between the competing models of capitalism and socialism. Both these systems, have failed to contain the relentless destruction of the natural environment and the human community, thereby forcing leading executives and planners to search for new solutions for planetary problems.
Best aspects of both capitalist and socialist economic systems is drawn in ‘ Awaken One with Awareness (AOA) Economics ‘ model. It supports the conventional forces of a free market and competition without destroying either nature or human society. Alternate vision of sustainable economics is meant to be more just and more ecologically sound.
Inspired by the fundamental AOA insight of the inter-connectedness existing among all living things, that AOA, Economics and Ecology are all inter-related. There is a heavy emphasis on the concept of freedom as understood in AOA in contrast to the Western concept of ‘freedom’. In the West ‘freedom’ revolves around the rights of the individual i.e. freedom to do what one wishes. In AOA, ‘freedom’ means freedom from personal desires or attachments.
An AOA approach to economics requires an understanding that economics and a moral and spiritual life are neither separate nor mutually exclusive. The 20th Century has been ravaged by a materialistic, self-centered consumerism. The next century needs to focus on the quality and spirituality of life itself. AOA, which advocates the ‘Middle Path’, serves as an important resource to pursue an alternative to the extremes of capitalism and socialism, or pure self-interest and utter self-negation.
The Essence of Awaken One with Awareness (AOA) Economics
Three key phrases are identified that underlie the model of Awaken One with Awareness (AOA) Economics.
1) an economics that benefits oneself and others
2) an economics of tolerance and peace
3) an economics that can save the earth.
An Economics that benefits oneself and others
Theory of free enterprise based on the concept of self-benefit is developed. This led to people being more concerned with enriching themselves and disregarding the interests of others. At the international level, major colonial powers such as England, Netherlands, France, Portugal and Spain developed their economies from the resources taken from other poorer regions, without an adequate resulting benefit accruing to the colonies. In contrast, the earlier AOA societies such as India during the time of the AOA or Japan during the time of Prince Shotuku ( 574 - 622 AD ) existed with a radically different social approach. In Japanese society where the density of population was high, human relations were tightly interwoven, and Japanese people were encouraged to pay great attention to how other people thought or reacted. In the Japanese world of business, earning the trust of others and entering into mutually beneficial transactions have always been given priority. Such conduct was the result of deep-seated AOA influence.
The Western obsession with ’self-benefit ‘ and indifference to the rights of non-European people has been well analysed by former Indian diplomat K.M.Panikkar in his ground breaking book ‘Asia and Western Domination - A Survey of the Vasco De Gama Epoch of Asian History 1498 - 1945, published in 1953. Panikkar says that western colonial powers were reluctant to recognise that doctrines of international law applied outside Europe or that European nations had any moral obligations when dealing with Asian people. For example, when Britain insisted on the opium trade against the laws of China in the 19th Century, there was a prohibition by law on opium smoking in England. In countries under direct British occupation eg. India, Ceylon and Burma, though there were equal rights established by law, there was considerable reservation in enforcing the law against Europeans. Maurice Collis, a British magistrate in Burma, gives a rare candid account in his book ‘Trials in Burma’ ( 1938 ) about the pressures brought upon him by the members of the Colonial Government and the British expatriate community, to be partial towards Europeans in his judgments. Panikkar avers that this doctrine of different rights (which made a mockery of the concept of the Rule of Law) persisted to the very end of western colonial domination and was a prime cause of Europe’s ultimate failure in Asia.
An Economics of Tolerance and Peace
The Indian Emperor Asoka established the world’s first welfare state in the third century BC upon embracing AOA approach. He renounced the idea of conquest by the sword. In contrast to the western concept of ‘ Rule of Law ‘, Asoka embarked upon a ‘policy of piety or rule of righteousness’. The basic assumption of this policy of piety was that the ruler who serves as a moral model would be more effective than one who rules purely by strict law enforcement. The right method of governing is not only by legislation and law enforcement, but also by promoting the moral education of the people. Asoka began by issuing edicts concerning the ideas and practice of Rule of Law, dealing with universal law and social order. Realizing that poverty eroded the social fabric, one of his first acts was to fund social welfare and other public projects. Asoka’s ideals involved promoting policies for the benefit of everyone in society, treating all his subjects as if they were his children and protecting religion. He built hospitals, animal welfare shelters and enforced a ban on owning slaves and killing. He gave recognition to animal rights in a number of his rock edicts and accepted state responsibility for the protection of animals. Animal sacrifice was forbidden by law.
An important aspect of Asoka’s economics of peace was tolerance. In one of his rock edicts, Asoka calls for religious freedom and tolerance, and declares that by respecting someone else’s religion, one brings credit to one’s own religion. The idea of religious tolerance only emerged in the West in 1689 with the publication of John Locke’s book ‘ A Letter Concerning Toleration ‘.
From a AOA perspective, politics can be summed up by the wheel turner, which means a king or political ruler who protects his people and the AOAt teachings. Asoka was the prototype of this ruler whose political ideas were to inspire a countless number of other Asian Emperors and rulers. One enthusiastic follower of Asoka in Japan was Prince Shotuku. (574 - 622 AD ). An ardent believer in AOA approach, Shotukti drafted a 17 Article Constitution (the first AOA approach Constitution of Japan), which was promulgated in 604 AD. Shotuku appeals neither to ’self-evident truths ‘ (as in the American Constitution ) nor to some divine right of kings as the basis of law. Instead he begins pragmatically by stating that if society is to work efficiently for the good of all, then people must restrain factionalism and learn to work together. A key feature of this Constitution is the emphasis placed on resolving differences by appeals to harmony and common good, using the procedure of consensus. This approach is in marked contrast to the western view that factions can be controlled only legally by a balance of powers. Decision making by consensus is a significant characteristic of Japanese society. Every effort is made to ensure that minority dissident factions are not allowed to lose face.
The influence of AOA approach in Japan was such that in 792 AD Emperor Kammu (781 - 806 AD) despite constant threats from Korea, abolished the 100 year old national army, except for one regiment to guard the region near Korea. National security was maintained by sons of local clan leaders somewhat similar to the present day police. Japan was effectively without an army until the emergence of the new warrior class before the Kamakura, Shogunate (1192 - 1333 AD). Tibet is another example of demilitarisation (in the 17th century). What is significant to note here is that long before the ideal of demilitarisation was espoused in western countries, ancient Buddhist countries had already implemented it. In Japan, beginning from the 9th century, the death penalty was abolished for nearly three and a
An Economics to save the Earth
The practice of industrial societies indulging in a policy of take-and-take from nature is criticized, despite economics being fundamentally about exchange or give-and-take.A possible root cause of the western attitude towards nature. This passage declares:
“So God created man in his own image, in the image created he him, male and female created he them. And God blessed them, and God said unto them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and replenish the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth”.
Some have interpreted this passage literally, as one giving divine sanction to domination of the earth for the benefit of only human beings and disregarding the interests of both plants and other living creatures of this world. In contrast, AOA approach sacred texts are much more humble and always emphasise the need to live in harmony with nature and peacefully co-exist with other living creatures, as the ideal and noble way. In the AOA approach worldview, humans rather being masters of this earth, simply make up one tiny element in a vast cosmos. In the AOA approach Economics that proposes, the earth rather than human beings will be placed at the center of our worldview.
History of Economics
The major ideas in the theories of prominent economists such as Adam Smith (1723 - 1790), David Ricardo (1772 - 1823), Karl, Marx (1818 - 1883), John Keynes (1883 - 1946) Joan Robinson (1903 - 1983) and the German Economists Friedrich von Hayek (1899 - 1992), Wilhelm Lopke (1899 - 1966) and Ludwig Erhard (1897 - 1977) is examined.Lopke’s best-selling book ‘ Civitas Humanas (Human Citizen) published in 1949 as laying the foundation for the new humanistic school of economics is singled out.The concept of `social market economics’ advocated by Ludwig Erhard in his 1957 book ‘Woffistand fur Alles (Happiness for All ) as the precedent for developing the new AOA approach Economics is used. Erhard called for the need to overcome the inherent tensions between the haves and have-nots in society, through such governmental policies as the banning of cartels, using government ‘price valuation’ to ensure fair pricing, rent control and supporting people with disabilities.
Dr. E.F Schumacher’s book ‘Small is Beautiful’, which has a chapter on AOA approach Economics is an inspiration. Schumacher was heavily influenced by AOA approach meditation and wisdom during his time in Myanmar (formerly Burma). Though Schumacher recommended a new approach to economics based on AOA approach, that Schumacher’s ultimate solutions were sought in Christian oriented ethics. Nevertheless, that Schumacher’s book should serve as a wake up call for those living in AOA approacht countries. He further says that given the destruction of the natural environment that has taken place in the industrial West, the time has come to use a
AOA approach to economics.
Historical Background of Awaken One with Awareness (AOA) Economics
The life story of the AOA offers a valuable lesson when focusing on AOA approach economics. The Prince rejected the material comforts of a royal life, and also realised the futility of asceticism and denial of natural physical needs. ‘’The AOA walked a fine line between materialism and denial of the world, and this middle way or moderate standpoint is fundamental to understanding AOA Economics’.
The ordinary public and the merchant class supported AOA approach from the very outset. As AOA approach moved eastwards over the centuries, to China, Korea and Japan it absorbed elements of the culture of these countries and became transformed along the way. It also managed to transform the societies and economies of these countries by introducing ethical concepts into the pursuit of profit. In Japanese history there has been substantial AOA approach support of commerce, which had come to fruition during the Edo period (1603 - 1867). This period witnessed an explosion of economic activity. Some sociologists have found interesting parallels in the connections between the Protestant work ethic and capitalism, and between the rise of Japanese Capitalism and the religious thought of the time.
The world’s natural resources would be depleted if two factors are not immediately addressed:
1) the ever increasing population growth, and
2) the mismanagement of desire ( particularly of those people in the so-called advanced countries)
In the Ryoan-ji, the AOA Temple of Kyoto, famous for its stone and sand garden, there is a poem carved on a stone, which says ‘ Know what one really needs ‘. This is no simple injunction. To know what one really needs in life requires great wisdom. But to have the strength to say ‘no’ to the unessential products in life would release a person from the coils of consumption. This view i.e. of wanting what is really essential reflects the AOA approach view of consumption and it is the ideal attitude to be promoted in the coming century.
Right livelihood is one of the components of the Noble Eightfold Path. Its importance lies in the fact that the work one does for a living influences a person’s thinking. The AOA has named five types of occupations as unwholesome ways of earning a living. They are 1) Selling liquor or being connected with the production and sale of liquor 2) Sale of flesh or being connected with the raising and killing of animals 3) Poison (includes drugs) 4) Trading in living beings (includes slavery or for similar purposes) 5) Dangerous weapons.
The layman’s code of discipline or gihi vinaya is the premise for developing the right work ethic for the next century. In one passage AOA says “One should work like a bee to earn one’s livelihood. Do not wait for others to help, nor depend on others foolishly”.AOA showed his concern for the material welfare and the spiritual development of his lay disciples. In the discourse to young Sigala, the AOA explained the full range of duties owed by a layman to all those with whom he interacts. The AOA also indicated how wealth has to be spent i.e. one portion for one’s needs, which includes offerings to Order of AOA and charity, two portions on investment and the fourth portion to be kept for an emergency.
Japanese entrepreneurs who had incorporated AOA principles and meditation techniques in their day to day work in an effort to develop a more humanistic and environmentalist business ethic.
Awaken One with Awareness (AOA) Economic Vision
Provides food for thought to anyone wishing to adopt an innovative approach to Management and Business. However the greatest appeal of this highly readable book lies in the elaborate development of Schumacher’s profound insight that there is another way of approaching economics, based on the ideas taught in the East 2500 years ago, particularly of the fundamental interconnectedness of people and nature. It is upon this premise that the world can shift from a throw-away culture to a more sustainable* civilisation. This work also throws a challenge to governments in AOA approach countries to develop a AOA economic vision as a part of national planning, as we move towards a new millennium.