Breaking the silence, changing the story: Buddhism versus neoliberalism

On Fri, 11 May, 2018 - 06:47
Yogaratna's picture

I’ve written a very brief introduction to neoliberal ideas and some of the ways they affect the current global political and ecological situation.  It explores many ways Buddhism and Buddhists are already presenting profound challenges to the neoliberal story - and celebrates this range of responses.  There’s a great deal of excellent work already going on - and a better world is certainly possible.  From meditating in the natural world to rewilding to non-violent direct action for older people (to name just a few) - there are very many ways we can build transforming the world into our collective and personal spiritual practice.

I’m hoping this text might help to spark some discussion on the neoliberal story and Buddhist responses to it during BAM (maybe check out Mokshini’s excellent post on the BAM 2018 page for 26 February).  

And I’d certainly be interested in anyone’s reflections or responses to the text itself.  Only 79 pages including the pictures!

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Christine's picture

Thanks for this Yogaratna. This is my reading for BAM 2018 :-)

Yogaratna's picture

Thanks Christine!  Any thoughts, feelings, feedbacks very welcome!

Kendal's picture

I’m a little late in reading your excellent article, but I would like to say how happy I felt after reading it, I have been in a GFR group for a year now and I had kind of got into thinking that within the Buddhist path it was kind of right to move away from confrontation, arguing a point, and picking one cause over another.

Your description of neoliberalism is a scary but realistic view, and one that is very difficult to challenge within society today as it has seeped so deep and is just, as you say, seen as reality. Your idea that It’s just a story we have been told and are now telling ourselves is a refreshing insight.

It was gratifying to understand that the Buddha also fought for social change, political dialogue and care for the environment as a kind of living being.

It is an inspiring read and one which I shall pass around my group. 

Thank you


Yogaratna's picture

Hi Kendal,

thank you for your kind comments.  Well of course it’s hard to know exactly what Buddhism is, isn’t it!?  But surely the Buddha himself did say what he thought about things, and was forthright on occasions.  Though he also made mistakes…

It’s obvious the Buddha cared deeply about suffering.  I do suspect that if he was alive today, he would want to know why people were suffering, and about the systems making that happen.  And I can’t help thinking he would be (skilfully) critical of many of our social and economic realities.  

I’d particularly recommend Naomi Klein and George Monbiot on neoliberalism as story, also Rebecca Solnit.

all the best,