Buddhist Economics / Voluntary Simplicity

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The Story of Stuff / Click Here

From its extraction through sale, use and disposal, all the stuff in our lives affects communities at home and abroad, yet most of this is hidden from view. The Story of Stuff is a 20-minute, fast-paced, fact-filled look at the underside of our production and consumption patterns. The Story of Stuff exposes the connections between a huge number of environmental and social issues, and calls us together to create a more sustainable and just world. It'll teach you something, it'll make you laugh, and it just may change the way you look at all the stuff in your life forever.

Download a free PDF by Annie Leonard on how YOU can take action. - Download PDF

The Story of Stuff
December 3rd, 2007, posted by Annie Leonard

annieA number of people have asked me how I got on this path of exploring the materials economy. It started in grade school and crystallized on a spring afternoon on Staten Island.

I grew up in Seattle, at that time a green and luscious city. My family would go camping every summer. Since this was in the days before DVDs in the back seats of family cars numbed young passengers, I’d look out the window, studying the landscape, for the whole drive. Each year, I noticed that the stores reached a bit further and the forests started a bit later than the previous year. I wondered where all those forests were going. I wondered how I could stop them from going away entirely.

It turned out to be fortuitous that I went to college in New York City, even though at the time it seemed an odd place to go for environmental studies. My college campus was on 116th street and my dorm room was on 110th street. Every morning I would groggily walk those 6 blocks, staring at the piles of garbage that line NYC’s street’s every dawn. Ten hours later, I’d walk back to my dorm, staring at the empty sidewalks.

I became increasingly intrigued with this microcosm of materials flow. I started looking into the trash each morning to see what was in those never-ending piles. It was mostly paper. Paper! That is where my beloved forests were ending up. In the U.S., 42 percent of industrial wood harvest is used to make paper. And about 40 percent of the stuff in municipal garbage is paper, all of which is recyclable or compostable if it hasn’t been treated with too many toxic chemicals. By simply recycling, rather than trashing, this paper, we could reduce our garbage by 40 percent, which would also drastically reduce pressure to cut forests and help with climate change and that doesn’t even get into the massive benefits of reducing paper use.

Once I realized that those morning trash piles were nearly half paper – were once forests – I was determined to find out where they were going. So I took a trip to the infamous Fresh Kills landfill on Staten Island. Coving 4.6 square miles (12 square km), Fresh kills, is one of the largest dumps in the world. When it was officially closed in 2001, some say its volume was greater than that of the Great Wall of China; it’s peaks 25 meters taller than the Statue of Liberty. I had never seen anything like it. I stood at its edge in absolute awe. As far as I could see in every direction were couches, refrigerators, boxes, apple cores, used clothes, stuff. You know how a gory car crash scene makes us want to turn away and stare at the same time? That is what it was like. I just couldn’t comprehend this massive mountain of materials, reduced to muck, by some system obviously out of control. I knew this was terribly wrong. I didn’t understand it back then, 20 years ago, but I vowed to figure it out. And I did. It’s the Story of Stuff.



Buddhist Economics: A Middle Way
...Bhikkhu P. A. Payutto...

In this small volume, Venerable Dhammapitaka (P. A. Payutto) offers a Buddhist perspective on the subject of economics. While not seeking to present a comprehensive Buddhist economic theory, he provides many tools for reflection, ways of looking at economic questions based on a considered appreciation of the way things are, the way we are

Economic Stability in Buddhism
...Ven. M. Pannasha Maha Nayaka Thera...

In recent times many books have been written on the subject of economics and economic theory, all of them either from the Capitalist or Socialist point of view. Neither of these systems pays attention to, nor considers the inner development of man as an important factor in the growth of society. Hence there has been a rapid deterioration in human values and standards of behaviour in all classes of society.

Economics as if People Mattered
...E.F. Schumacher...

The Buddhist point of view takes the function of work to be at least threefold: to give man a chance to utilise and develop his faculties; to enable him to overcome his ego-centredness by joining with other people in a common task; and to bring forth goods and services needed for a becoming existence.

Buddhist Economics

Buddhists often tend to disregard economics completely, because the monastic way of life idealized by Buddhism is economically very minimalist. Such neglect of comment concerning economic values is not warranted, however, because the Buddhist scriptures are in fact rich with advice from the Buddha regarding sound economic values -- and they are applicable to monastic and lay lifestyles alike.

Protestant vs Buddhist Economics: 'A Critical Look'
...John Dwyer...

In "Buddhist Economics", for example, E.F. Schumacher tries to show us that Buddhism offers an alternative spiritual approach that could help not only the advanced nations but also those nations that are confronting scientific and technological development in an effort to improve the conditions of life in poor regions.

...Buddhism and Social Action...

Socially Engaged Buddhism
...Diana Winston...

As the field of socially engaged Buddhism (SEB) has developed, there has never been a coherent or systematic attempt to create an authoritative basis for the work of SEB. Many of our elders, including Joanna Macy, Thich Nhat Hanh, Robert Aitken Roshi and others have all written movingly on the socially engaged imperative. Yet most have operated in isolation.

Meditation on a Coke Can
...Elliott Zimmermann...

Awareness, dependent origination, and impermanence are all important concepts in Buddhism. Can these concepts be applied to our everyday interaction with the environment? When looking at the Coke can you are about to throw “away” (just where IS “away”?), just what are you aware of?

The Buddhist Peace Fellowship
...Socially Engaged Buddhism...

For over two decades, the Buddhist Peace Fellowship has been in the forefront of socially engaged Buddhism.

Buddhism and Social Action An Exploration
...Ken Jones...

It is the manifest suffering and folly in the world that invokes humane and compassionate social action in its many different forms. For Buddhists this situation raises fundamental and controversial questions. And here, also, Buddhism has implications of some significance for Christians, humanists and other non-Buddhists.

Violence and Disruption in Society
...Elizabeth J. Harris...

In this study, I define violence as that which harms, debases, dehumanizes or brutalizes human beings, animals or the natural world; and the violent person, as one who causes harm in speech or action, either directly or indirectly, or whose mind is filled with such thoughts. [2] The approach will be scriptural, and the resource I use will be the Pali texts.

A Buddhist Vision of Social Justice
...Sungtaek Cho...

Because of its emphasis on individual salvation, Buddhism is often seen as a quietist religion that fails to consider societal problems. This is, of course, a gross exaggeration. Mahayana Buddhism is bodhisattva ideal, Pure Land doctrine, and Maitreyanism, which often appeared in China in times of political instability, both reach past the individual to relate Buddhist soteriology to society as a whole.

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Urban Dharma Podcast / MP3 - 7.4 MB

A Path to Voluntary Simplicity - 11/2007 - 32 min - MP3 - 7.4 MB // My talk at the 1st Unitarian Church of Los Angeles titled "Voluntary Simplicity" based on a book by Duane Elgin. First published in 1981 "Voluntary Simplicity" is about getting your choice back... Choosing simplicity over complexity, voluntary over involuntary... It's all about being free to choose.

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Voluntary Simplicity, Revised Edition:
Toward a Way of Life That Is Outwardly Simple, Inwardly Rich

by Duane Elgin

Amazon.com - Voluntary Simplicity by Duane Elgin, first published in 1981 and revised in 1993, is the sacred text for those wanting to liberate themselves from enslavement to a job and the pursuit of status symbols. Elgin's work emerges from a concern for the environmental consequences of our mass consumption lifestyles. His book exhorts us to save the planet and our souls by "living with balance in order to find a life of greater purpose."

Amazon.com Review - This superb pioneering book was originally published significantly before its times. However with its updated revised edition it still remians one of the very best statements and arguments for a lifestyle that is not only sanity preserving but also planetary preserving. Do not be fooled by its apparent simplicity. There is enormous depth in this work.