By Ven Chanda Sara
concept of wealth is explained in Buddhism following
various methods. However, it is included as material and
spiritual. According to Buddhism the wealth is all the
enjoyable sensory objects such as sight, sound, odour,
taste, tangible object and mental conditions which are
experienced through the respective six fold sensory
organs such as eye, ear, nose, tongue, body and the
mind. It must be understood that the activities of the
first five organs are depend on the potentiality of mind
(Mano Indriya), because mind is the pre-runner and the
highest of all, ‘Manopubbam gama Dhamma Mano Settha mano
maya Dhammapada.’ There are two kinds of wealth which
are as follows:
A wealth (sensual pleasures) enjoyed by the ordinary
A wealth enjoyed by the noble persons which means those
who have already entered the right path.
According to Buddhism the way of enjoying wealth by the
noble persons is quite peculiar and exceptional from
that of ordinary people as noble persons enjoy the
sensory pleasures moderately without clinging to them.
Does Buddhism encourage us to earn wealth? The answer is
‘Yes’. In this case, Buddhism encourages us to earn
wealth through righteous ways. In this regard
Vyaggapajja sutta in Khuddaka Nikaya introduces four
ways, which are greatly effective in the process of
developing economy. According to Buddhism one must
involve in righteous occupation when he wants to develop
his economy. Any occupation must be effective to oneself
and others as well. This point is clear, when we examine
many discourses relevant to this topic. In
Ambalatthikarahulovada sutta in Majjhima Nikaya, the
Blessed one advises Ven. Rahula to give up any action
which is harmful to oneself and the others.. “Yadeva
tuam rahula kayena kammam kattukamo ahosi. Tadeva te
kayakammam paccavekkhi tabbam: Yannu kho aham idam
kayena kammam cattukamo, idamme kayakammam
attavyabadhayapi samvatteyya, paravyabadhayapi
samvetteyya, ubhayaya, badhayapi samvatteyya, akusalam
Yadevatuam rahula vacaya kammam kattukamo ahosi. Tadeva
te vacikammam....yonnukho idam vacaya kammam..., idamme
vactkammam.,.,.., akusalam idam vacikammam.....
Yadeva tuam rahula manasa kammam kattukamo ahosi. Tadeva
te manokammam....yannukho aham idam manasakammam...,
idamme manokammar...,...,..., akusalam idam manokammam........
Oh, Rahula you must be thoughtful on your bodily verbal
and mental deeds before you put them into action if they
are effective to both you and the others you must
continue them and if you perceive that are harmful to
oneself and others as well, discontinue and give them
The four factors relevant to the development of economy
mentioned in the Vyaggapajja sutta are as follows:
Utthanasampada - The achievement of persistent effort
Arakkhasampada - The achievement wariness.
Kalyanamittata - Association with good characters.
Samajivikata - Balanced livelihood.
What is the achievement of persisted effort?
Herein, by whatsoever activity a house-holder earns his
living, whether by plough, by trading, by archery or by
any other way, at that he becomes skilful and is
energetic and thereof he is able to manage his
profession and develop the economy successfully and
rapidly. In this case for the development of one’s
economy one should be away from unlawful activities or
profession such as destroying the life of the others,
selling human beings and dealing armaments. When one is
giving up such unlawful dealings that means he is
conducive in promoting moral conducts and ethical
teachings in the society. Therefore, it is clear how
Buddhism encourages us to lead a righteous and
consistent life through earning wealth righteously. This
factor is included in Samma Kammanta and Samma ajiva
which come under the Buddhist Path (Middle Path).
What is the achievement of wariness?
Here one must protect the wealth earned through
righteous effort. When one is going to protect his
wealth earned by the sweat of his brow he must be aware
of six doors of dissipating wealth. These six doors
included in Sigalovada sutta in Digha Nikaya are as
Frequenting the streets at unseemly hours.
Associating with evil friends
Idleness or laziness.
Here in this sutta the Blessed One has explained to the
house-holder Sigala how the above six doors badly affect
the economy. In the same way he must be aware that the
wealth can be destroyed due to fire water and
confiscation. Knowing the ways of dissipating wealth one
must avoid them and try to protect the wealth and manage
them systematically. In the meanwhile he must give up
prejudices if he wants to improve his economy.
Association with good characters: means one should have
good friends (Kalyanamitta) who are faithful, learned
virtuous, liberal and intelligent, who will show him the
correct path. It is indeed we need good friends to guide
us in many a difficulty and support at any crysis.
What is balanced livelihood?
Here the meaning of the term ‘Samajivikata’ is to be
neither extravagant nor too sordid, which means one
should spend reasonably in other words one should live
within his means. The Vyajjapajja sutta compares an
extravagant to a fig-fruit consumer. Udumbarakhadakamva,
i.e. it is explained that when one wants to eat fig
fruits (ficus glomerata) shakes the tree, as the result
of which many fruits fall but only a few are consumed.
On the other hand, being a rich person if he does not
spend at the high time, he would happen to die like an
animal - Ajaddumarikamva.
Buddhism teaches us to consume wealth moderately
otherwise it would lead to an excessive indulgence on
sensual pleasures which is completely rejected by the
Blessed One as it is low common, unworthy, ignorable and
harmful kamesu kamasukhalikkanu yogo hino gammo
pothujjaniko, anariyo, anathasamhito
Dhammacakkapavattana Sutta Samyutta Nikaya.’
Buddhism gives quite enough instructions in the field of
developing economy. In this case Buddhism prescribes
righteous and systematic methods of earning wealth which
are devoid of extremist path and prejudices. On the
contrary still some have misunderstood it and
misinterpreted it as a religion that rejects material
development and happiness of human being and leads for
inactive melancholic life. As an example for the first
time,when Buddhism was introduced to the western
countries a distinguished critic misinterpreted it as a
pessimistic. This conclusion is completely wrong with
regard to the Buddhist teachings. They come to this
conclusion as Buddhism teaches the sorrow, cause of
sorrow and the path to eradicate it completely.
In this regard we must be thoughtful that Buddhism pays
much attention to analogy of sorrows not to cling to it
and lead a melancholic life but to bring them to an end.
Psychologically correct understanding of sorrow is
necessary if a person wants to get rid of it. It must be
clearly understood that Buddhism does not reject the
happiness and comfortable opportunities of an individual
but regards them as lower and unsatisfactory when
compared with the happiness gained out of eradication of
all defilements and cankers which is Nibbanic Bliss.
This point is clear throughout the Bahuvedaniya sutta in
Buddhist teachings on the progression of wealth can be
clearly understood through the Kula Sutta in Anguttara
Nikaya. This sutta introduces four ways which must be
practised by an individual for the development of wealth
are as follows:
Nattham gavesenti - To replace on what has already been
Jinnam patisamkharoti - To repair what has already been
Parimita panabhajana honti - One must consume wealth
conservatively without exceeding income.
Silavantam itthim va purisam ve adhipaue thapenti. - The
leader of the house must be replete with moral conducts
Buddhism is not contradictory to earning excessive
wealth instead it gives necessary instructions and
introduces systematic ways to gain them because wealth
is a means of minimising sorrow. According to Buddhism
noble persons who have entered the Buddhist Path (Right
Path) also enjoy sensory pleasures but in moderation as
they have entered the correct path such instances are
plentiful in the Tripitaka Migasala Sutta in Samyutta
Nikaya is included that a house holder Isidatta had
become once returner (Sakadagami) and led a consistent
life. With regard to this point it is clear that
Buddhism is not contradictory to excessive earning
wealth but teaches to earn righteously and consume them