The Lama’s Shoes: Tibetan Perspectives on Buddhism, Wealth and Virtue

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In northeast Tibet, monks are generally considered relatively affluent in a society that has experienced accelerated state-led development and with it increasing wealth and inequalities. Many of my interlocutors associate this affluence with moral decline, seeming to echo more global imaginings of wealth as antithetical to Buddhist monastic virtue. At the same time, they understand there to be a causal link between virtue and wealth, and direct wealth upwards to the virtuous in their own generosity practices. This chapter discusses this apparent contradiction. It shows that a positive association between wealth and monastic virtue is embedded in both institutionalized hierarchies of religious giving and personal patronage relationships. It then goes on to discuss the specific economic and political contexts within which contemporary critiques of Tibetan Buddhist monastic wealth have emerged. Finally, it calls attention to an ethic of redistribution which has much deeper historical roots (and which serves as a corrective to the “economy of merit” framework). This ethic of redistribution is central to Tibetan perspectives on monastic wealth and virtue, even if there are different and changing ideas about where monastic wealth should be channeled and how it should be worn – both literally and metaphorically. It helps to explain the apparent contradiction between criticisms of excessive monastic wealth and increasing levels of religious giving. It also helps to resolve the apparent tension between ascetic ideals and the inherent materiality of monastic Buddhism, making it possible for monastic engagement with economics to exemplify moral excellence – even in a globalizing consumer society.
OriginalsprogEngelsk
TitelBuddhism and Business : Merit, Material Wealth, and Morality in the Global Market Economy
RedaktørerTrine Brox, Elizabeth Williams-Oerberg
Udgivelses stedHonolulu
ForlagUniversity of Hawaii Press
StatusAccepteret/In press - aug. 2020

ID: 214465990