Classic and Contemporary Buddhist Works

Business and the Buddha - Foreword

Doing Well by Doing Good

Foreword

In the world in which we all live, there is not much concern for humane values, while a great deal depends on money and power. Yet if human society loses the value of justice, compassion, and honesty, we will face greater difficulties in the future. Some people may think that these ethical attitudes are not much needed in such areas as business or politics, but I strongly disagree. The quality of all our actions depends on our motivation.

From my Buddhist viewpoint all our thoughts and deeds originate in the mind. Therefore, whether or not we possess a real appreciation of humanity, compassion, and love makes a great difference. If we have a good heart and a concern to improve human society, whether we work in science, politics, or business, the result will be beneficial. When we have a positive motivation our activities can help humanity; without it they won’t. For example, in the realms of business, the pursuit of profit without consideration for potentially negative consequences can undoubtedly give rise to feelings of great joy when it meets with success. But in the end there could be suffering: the environment is polluted, our unscrupulous methods drive others out of business, the weapons we manufacture cause death and injury. These are some of the obvious results. Because all our lives today are affected by business decisions to a greater or lesser degree, whether or not those decisions are colored by compassion takes on an important significance. What’s more, although it is difficult to bring about the inner change that gives rise to compassion, it is absolutely worthwhile to try.

I am greatly encouraged when someone like Lloyd Field, who admires the fundamentally humane qualities that are the focus of the Buddha’s teachings, seeks to apply them in practical ways in the modern world that can yield widespread benefit. While I am not at all interested in increasing the number of people who call themselves Buddhists, I am eager to see how Buddhist ideas can contribute to the general welfare. Therefore, I congratulate him on the efforts he has made in this book to address what he sees as the greed inherent in capitalism and the suffering it entails, to produce a more equitable model that includes the elimination of human suffering among its goals. What is now an urgent priority is that such models be put into effect.

Tenzin Gyatso
The Fourteenth Dalai Lama

 

How to cite this document:
© Lloyd M. Field, Business and the Buddha (Wisdom Publications, 2007)

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