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Lecture 6

Lecture 6 - Buddhadasa Bhikkhu Servant of the Buddha - October 31.docx

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University of Toronto St. George
New College
Henry Shiu

October 31, 2012. Lecture 6 - Buddhadasa Bhikkhu: “Servant of the Buddha” Background  In the 1940s and 50s, amid the process of decolonization in South Asia, scholars and ruling elite had the grand vision in which they wanted to achieve progress through modernization and industrialization.  “Development” mean for them to reach what the West had already reached.  The uncritical acceptance of such an alien development form has led to alienation, a waste of resources, and a failure to deploy effectively the available knowledge rooted in the culture of the people for a sustainable development. o Rural farmers and village people ignored due to the desire to modernize and go from multiple village communities to fewer large city communities. o At the time rural farmers/village people represented the majority of the population and that majority felt humiliated about their needs and lives being ignored and dismissed.  For modernization theorists, development takes place when “traditional” and “primitive” values are displaced by modern ones. o Many of these theorists were Westerners, received education in England, Germany, elsewhere in Europe, etc. o Were exposed to Western society and saw it as an improvement from back home, but also didn’t realize that the structure of Western society now came out of Western society’s past and wasn’t necessarily applicable to communities in Asia.  Lack of development is seen as a fault of the people themselves, whose health and social conditions are a reflection of their lifestyle, archaic institutions, and beliefs.  To help them overcome their plight and “backwardness”, a number of “development programs” have to be established.  Western institutions become essential prerequisites for economic development.  Development was defined in terms of Western-style economic progress, and traditional values and institutions that inhibit this process were seen as obstacles to development that must be removed and replaced by “advanced” (i.e. Western) values and institutions. o At the end of the day, what really ended up happening was an exploitation of the land and farm/village people in light of a new, Western business and economic model.  Development, as seen from the modernization perspective, is materialistic, universalistic, and unidirectional.  There has been, however, a conscious exploration in recent years of a spiritual dimension to life.  People have come to realize that in spite of the material improvements through the power of technology and “sciences”, the trade-offs with the cult of modernity were enormous. Thailand  Given the Western economic paradigm in Thailand, the local situation facing the farmers is made even worse by the neglect of the government.  The farmers’ living conditions had long been demeaning but have never been adequately dealt with.  During the three decades after the 1932 revolution, only a small proportion of the fiscal budget each year has been given to the Ministry of Agriculture.  Most of the money was spent on infrastructure construction: dams, ditches, and dikes for irrigation, rural roads, etc.  Ironically, it is not famers who must benefit from these projects, but a group of middlemen, including landowners and money lenders. o Rich get richer,
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