The Social Dimension of Buddha's Teaching

4 of 5

Qualities of the Dharma
The Four Noble Truths
The Noble Eightfold Path
The True Nature of Existence
  The Five Aggregates of Clinging
  Anicca, Dukkha and Anatta
  Dependent Arising
  Kamma, Nibbana and Rebirth


The Sangha
The Buddhist Sangha



The Dhamma and economics

The Buddha recognized many interrelated spheres of human activity. He took note of importance of economics to human life, and he held that if people are to be capable of personal and spiritual progress, the economic foundation must be secure. We have to be able to live secure life materially and economically.

Here we see how economic order can become a determinant of the social and moral order. The sutta seems to imply that if the governing body does not insure that the people are economically secure, the result will be chaos and confusion in society at large.

Here the Buddha teaches not only that economics to a large extent determines man’s moral condition but also that the government has the responsibility to correct any extreme ecominc injustice.

In another discourse, the Buddha describes another kingdom where a similar situation arose.

The Buddha teaches four things that lead to long-term benefit: confidence, generosity, moral discipline and wisdom


Buddhism also tends to promote economic wellbeing in society by its by emphasis on the virtue of generosity. The Buddha teaches all his disciples to practice giving, to be generous and bountiful towards others, living with open hands.

The wealthy, in particular, in Buddhist society have the duty and obligation to help and assist the poor. The Buddhist texts classify minutely those things that should be given, with the main objects being the basic requisites of existence — clothing, food, dwelling places and medicine.

On many occasions the Buddha gave practical advice on economic affairs.

Right livelihood

The Buddha specified the very practical matters of the right ways of acquiring wealth — the four standards of right livelihood to which the lay follower to conform:

  • He should acquire wealth by only legal means.
  • He should acquire it without violence.
  • He should acquire it honestly.
  • He should acquire it in ways that do not harm others.

Then having acquired wealth in these ways, the Buddha went on to teach five uses the person should make use of his wealth:

  • To provide for is own household – his family, his children
  • To make gifts to friends
  • To protect and repair his property and dwelling,
  • To pay taxes.
  • To offer alms to monks

This deals with some of the economic teachings of the Buddha. Look for courses in Buddhist economics on Ashoka in the near future.