Carol S. Anderson Kalamazoo College Orientalist images of Buddhism portray all Buddhist traditions as world-renouncing, austere, and ascetic: think of the pictures of saffron-clothed monks with bowls walking down a tree-lined street in Thailand, Sri Lanka, or Burma, eyes slightly downcast, heads shaven, bare feet.The quintessential definition of this image is the tenth precept: jtarpa-rajata-paiggaha verama sikkhpada samdiymi, "I undertake the precept to refrain from accepting gold and silver."1 This precept, familiar to almost anyone who knows a bit about Buddhism, symbolizes our attitudes toward Buddhism as a religious tradition that rejects the messiness of money, jobs, and certainly wealth. Rejecting the daily grind of grubbing for actual money in favor of a disembodied and spiritual enlightenment is one of the most appealing stereotypes of Buddhism for many of us; our responsibility, however, is to realize that this image captures only a part of a much larger, longer, and more complex series of stories and histories. In the following pages, I sketch out the parameters for an approach to a Buddhist ethics of wealth. I make no claim that there is a singular Buddhist ethic on wealth and poverty, only that there are some assumptions that we need
Buddhist-Christian Studies – University of Hawai'I Press
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