The Dalai Lama and E. F. Schumacher

>> Monday, June 25, 2007

On Rick Ray's first question for the Dalai Lama (10 Questions for the Dalai Lama), he asked about why the rich seem so unhappy and that the poor--where ever Mr. Ray has traveled throughout the world--seem much happier.

The Dalai Lama answered, "Greed!" I don't remember his exact answer, but he went on to say that the rich have to worry because they have a lot to lose. The poor don't. Simple, yet true.

His comment reminded me of the second essay in E.F. Schumacher's Small Is Beautiful, titled "Peace and Permanence." Two excerpted paragraphs touch specifically on the topic of greed.

"The question with which to start my investigation is obviously this: Is there enough to go around? Immediately we encounter a serious difficulty: What is "enough"? Who can tell us? Certainly not the economist who pursues "economic growth" as the highest of all values, and therefore has no concept of "enough." There are poor societies which have too little; but where is the rich society that says: "Halt! We have enough"? There is none."
.....
"How could we even begin to disarm greed and envy? Perhaps by being much less greedy and envious ourselves; perhaps by resisting the temptation of letting our luxuries become needs; and perhaps by even scrutinising our needs to see if they cannot be simplified and reduced. If we do not have the strength to do any of this, could we perhaps stop applauding the type of economic "progress" which palpably lacks the basis of permanence and give what modest support we can to those who, unafraid of being denounced as cranks, work for non-violence: as conservationists, ecologists, protectors of wildlife, promoters of organic agriculture, distributists, cottage producers, and so forth? An ounce of practice is generally worth more than a ton of theory."

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