The standpoint epistemologies of the research is deeply grounded in theory of sufficiency economy and Buddhist philosophy. The theory of sufficiency economy was firstly developed by His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej. It is based upon a Middle Path which means to live in moderation and being self-reliant in order to protect against changes that could destabilize the country. Sufficiency economy is believed to sustain the society and preserve the richness of ecosystem for human security when 2 conditions are met: a) knowledge and b) morality.
Sufficiency economy becomes a force for social inclusion when transmit the value of Buddhist philosophy. According to Buddhist philosophy, the perception of practical knowledge and economic morality as conditions of His Majesty the King’s sufficiency philosophy can be characterized into 4 principles:
a) Benefit means the collective knowledge that enables people to rapidly learn in order to solve the problem,
b) Efficiency means the ability to transfer the knowledge to the whole society,
c) Power means the knowledge that can inspire people to share and care as well as cooperative for the greater social benefit, and
d) Ethic means the spread of wisdom, love and kindness that would bring change in manner of living to be self-sufficient.
Sufficiency is conceptualized by Buddhist philosophy and should start with learning to rely on oneself. Learning brings immediate benefits to enhance problem solving skill. Knowledge acquisition for innovation and gradual accumulation of reliable knowledge will develop a new form of society, i.e., the Brahmavihara Dharma and Sangahavatthu Dharma Society, in which sharing and caring becomes common practices according the efficiency and power principles. Until the ethic, a fundamental aspect, is fully developed, i.e., when people understand the Noble Truth, then the economy will be strengthen.
A new horizons of sufficiency economy concept reveals 3 conditions as follows:
1) Becoming skillful and self-sufficient intelligence at learning through “Sutamayapanya” nurturing.
2) Accumulating knowledge and innovation until sharing economy is fully developed through “Cintamayapanya” nurturing.
3) Enhancing the morality and social cooperation among ASEAN communities to make economy more resilient to rapid physical, social, environmental, and cultural changes through “Bhavanamayapanya” nurturing .
Buddhist philosophy encourages the development of knowledge society and radical transformation of economic structure. It involves the introduction of new products including a new mode of knowledge, innovations and information to replace physical goods and services. The economy will put a great emphasis on the production process and the development of emerging market rather than physical factors of production. Market mechanism will be directed to maximize social welfare and morality rather than seeking for individual gains. Sharing and caring will shape a new economy and will fuel growth and sustainability in the region. Major implication of this model (as Figure 1 depicted) is practicing self-sufficiency will promote economy growth and generates more morality benefits.
Figure 1: Buddhist sufficiency philosophy
Source: Phra Rajvaramethi (PrasitBrahmarangsi), Ph.D., 2014.
This is because Buddhism uncovers 3 reproduction powers of economy which is importance for economy growth:
a) The reproduction of goods and services especially basic necessities for life,
b) The reproduction of relationship among people through exchange system and medium of exchange, and
c) The reproduction of culture to protect inherited local wisdoms for sustainability.
The reproduction powers reveal the people-centered approach. Therefore, the economic goal should focus on quality of life of the people. It includes the introduction of new financial system, banking system, medium of exchange, a network of multiple and diverse, yet interrelated, relationships. With the support of the prevailing culture, the society can maintain the spiritual practice and transmit the inherited knowledge to the next generation as well as strengthen people-to-people connectivity through ASEAN education.
Human economy theory signifies 4 economic roles of economic actor as follows:
1) Learning to achieve an adequate strength of local capacity, as a sufficient condition for the survival in the knowledge-based society. Wisdom combines both worldly and dharma knowledge to attain a state of liberation.
2) Living on self-sufficiency and practicing Chanda – willingness, Viriya – right effort, Citta – the concentration, and Vimangsa – the investigation together with reducing the demand to live moderately.
3) Building a society by developing a sense of intimacy and friendliness. It is followed Brahmavihara Dharma to cultivate habits of Metta, Karuna, Muthita and Ubekkha to unite people.
4) Following 5 precepts and the right livelihood to promote the spiritual wellbeing.
The human economy theory addresses need of economic space provision to ensure public engagement. Therefore, society at all levels need to:
1) Acknowledge an ethical understanding and ability to apply dharma in daily practice while maintaining a sense of continuity. The application of dharma contribute to a broader intellectual and self-reliant skill development.
2) Develop the education that promotes the moderation way of life on value system basis.
3) Enables the learners to meet with real-life challenges and promotes cross-learning. During ASEAN integration, people still stay isolated due to the differences of political system and historical background. Therefore, ASEAN integration should provide an opportunity to exchange knowledge and innovation among country members which could transform their relationships.
4) Develop exchange system to complement monetary system with morality so that the knowledge and morality could nurture the growth of business organizations to be more creative and sustainable.
5) Open a chance for new leaders, in particular local community and individual that follows economy sufficiency philosophy way of living.
A Multi-ASEAN stakeholders Approach
The current movement of ASEAN Buddhist sufficiency economy philosophy recognizes a new role of stakeholders. They are Buddhist universities, temples, communities, local scholars, society and environment.
Buddhist university is one of the movement leaders. Their roles are to encourage knowledge and morality exchange with other nations and develop a stock of sufficiency economy philosophy knowledge available for the larger audience. The stock covers all needed information for local readiness. The readiness is a function of Buddhist philosophy interpretation, the provision of interesting insights of sufficiency practices through systematic inquiry (Yonisomanasikara), and a collection of practical knowledge and its applicability in local context. Therefore, a new role of Buddhist universities are of relevance to build a more resilient society.
Temple takes on the responsibility of a collaborator and partner to strengthen the coordination of among different group of the people. According to the 4 principles of service (Sangahavatthu), the temple helps bring forth the spirit of sharing (Dana), kindly speech (Piyavaca), humanitarian action (Atthacariya), and maintaining a consistency and impartiality (Samanattata). In this regard, Atthacariya becomes the core identity of Buddhist culture. It constitutes a relationship despite differences and make social cooperation beneficial to the whole society.
Community collects and facilitates the flow of Buddhist sufficiency economy philosophy knowledge. It occurs at the individual level and the social level through their daily practices and business operation. Knowledge competency has enhanced the capability for sufficient living; driving economy to become a knowledge-based society and subsequently gaining economic strength through ASEAN integration.
The research take into account the local scholars as social agents in ASEAN integration and practitioners of everyday life. Their effort (Viriya) and perseverance are perceived as an inner technology to minimize the cost of goods and services while improving the economic productivity. Local scholars will be a role model in demand reduction and mindful consumption to the people.
Society becomes a locus for quality of live promotion and people-centered community building when 5 conditions are met: 1) The practice of self-reliance at household level is sustained, 2) exchange system to serve the demand of the community and then the outsiders, 3) The product will be distributed to the whole society, 4) freedom of exchange, and 5) market mechanism could solve the problems and complexities. Apart from quality of life improvement, the efficiency of sufficiency economy according to Buddhist Philosophy also focuses on interconnectedness, unity, fair trade, and live in harmony with other and nature.
The survival of mankind depends on the wealth of natural resource and the quality of the environment. It is considered as an important source of wealth, food security, habitat for all living beings, medicine and culture. The mountain rainforest, mangrove forest, wetland and sea ecology system should therefore be well protected and maintain biodiversity to guarantee the universal access to wealth. Sufficiency practices an truth-seeking learning that fosters a more harmonious relationship with the nature, will increase the resource available for future generations.