Desire and Aspiration as seen by Capitalism and Buddhism Barry Magid February 25th 2017

The picture of a person given to us by economic theories of the late capital age in which we find ourselves is of a rational agent with desires for various commodities and provides labor which is itself a commodity. The nature of desire is of no interest to the economist. Buddhism takes a radically different world view that questions our desires and our assumptions about what will make us happy. It is so radical it can sometimes appear otherworldly or incommensurable with our ordinary lives. When we interrogate our desires from this perspective we begin to see that many of them in some way protect us from vulnerability and dependency and impermanence. Buddhism teaches that ultimately the world is not a zero-sum game where my security must come at the expense of yours. It is possible to create a sangha, a community, friendship or love. Where the line between giving and receiving become so blurred the distinction disappears.

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