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Lecture 7

Lecture 7 - The Vision of Sulak Sivaraksa - November 7.docx

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New College
Henry Shiu

November 7, 2012. Lecture 7 - The Vision of Sulak Sivaraksa  Talked of “Buddhist” economics; socialist economics gives the state too much power and capitalism(?) makes the rich richer and poor poorer o “We really need Buddhist economics. If we are to be poor, we must be poor together, poor but generous, share our labour, share our thought, share our generousity.”  Schumacher wrote Small Is Beautiful reminding us that Western economic practice seeks to maximize material gain as if they hardly care for people o Proposes a solution; to “avoid gigantism, especially of machines, which tend to control rather than to serve human beings” o Need to avoid “bigness” and greed to achieve Middle Path of Buddhist development  Political and economic awareness required in order to realise the exploitative qualities of capitalist economics  Apparently in all of Buddhist history not a single holy war was fought….. Sulak’s Life  Born in Bangkok in 1933  Completed his undergrad in Wales and his law degree in England  Returned to Thailand in 1961 and founded the Social Science Review (Sankhomsat Parithat), which was quickly recognized as one of the top Thai intellectual journals of its day  Opened an international bookstore in Bangkok in the early 1960s o Bookstore and journal publications largely about informing the public, particularly the youth, so that they were aware of these concepts  Opened a café next to the bookstore where informal academic discussion groups took place  For 13 years Sulak was the honourary editor of Visakha Puja, the annual publication of the Buddhist Association of Thailand  Co-founded the Komol Keemthong Foundation, which according to Sulak, was “the very first social action project to take place … outside of government to do something for the people. Our main objective was to promote idealism among the young so that they would dedicate themselves to work for the people. We tried to revive Buddhist values…. We [also] felt that the monkhood could play a role again through education and public health” o Despite his emphasis on non-violence some of the movement inspired by him happened to become very violent, unlike other Engaged Buddhist leaders  Appointed as the coordinator of the Asian Cultural Forum on Development (ACFOD), which works to relieve the rural and urban poor  In 1976, Sulak promoted the founding of the Coordinating Group for Religion and Society (CGRS), an ecumenical Buddhist and Christian human rights organization o CGRS was not just about spreading awareness and fighting for a cause, but also to begin an inter religious dialogue o CGRS played a peace-keeping role during the Thai government’s violent repression of student demonstrations on the Thammasat University campus in 1976  Some of these student demonstrations were organized by Sulak himself o CGRS members risked arrest be visiting and supporting those who had been imprisoned  Things became so politically unstable during late 1976 that Sulak was forced into an eighteen month exile, during which time he worked as a visiting professor at the University of California;  Upon his return to Thailand
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