Friday, October 7, 2011

Occupy Wall Street, Buddhism and the Second Precept


The Practical Buddhist Responds

Buddhism teaches that there are three poisons: greed, hatred, and delusion.  All three flow from the worst of Wall Street culture.   

The culture of Wall Street breeds greedy desire and attachment to wealth: it seeks more and more money.

It breeds hatred through intense competition and indifference to the needs of others. It is zero sum: if you one, someone loses.

Wall Street culture breeds delusion: it teaches that wealth is success or even a form of happiness.

Wall Street Culture also creates a climate for violation of the Second Precept: Do not take what is not given, whether by stealing, force, or fraud. Do not misuse money belonging to the public or other persons. Cultivate generosity and give to the poor and sick according to their need.

Can a Buddhist work on Wall Street? More technically, does trading in stocks violate Right Livelihood? There are volumes of discussion on that point, but ultimately, because Buddhism seeks enlightenment rather can control, decisions about where to work are up to the individual Buddhist.

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