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Transcribing the oral tradition...

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Buddha by Trevor Ling - The - Part 2

by Sangharakshita


Manjuvajra: There is another possibility, actually, that if now the sort of Western states in
Europe and America, - they've got a lot of the money, the financial wealth and so on - if they
started investing in the developing countries, building their factories there - but still taking
the profits back for themselves, they could become kind of financial cities ................( voices
speaking at the same time .... words obscured )
S: Well this has happened to some extent, but some of the developing countries are not
agreeing to that. This just what they're resisting very strongly, that they strongly object to.
Nagabodhi: This is the theory of the multi-national company.
S: Multi-national companies in some parts of the Third World are having quite a difficult
Nagabodhi: It was quite interesting listening to ...he's now the ex-American ambassador to
the U.N. talking about theories of aid. He was saying what a fantastic development the multi-
national company had been. He said no-one could have foreseen that, as if this was a great
kind of positive step towards helping the Third World. There are people who still see them in
this way. Certainly most of the stuff I've read about them - they just seem to in fact carry the
exploitation a step further. You attract cheap labour from the indigenous workplace so that
rather than the developing country kind of just working out its own development, you just
attract everyone off the field with promises of good wages or, to them, relatively fabulous
wages. They make transistor radios or the parts for transistor radios, that are put together
back in America say and then flown back, and the natives who come off the fields, rather than
spending their wages on things that will help their own country and their own families, they
are working in a kind of western factory so the sort of things they want are the things that
they have to buy from America!
Vessantara: If they ask for more money, then you just threaten to close that plant.
[Many people speaking at once]
S: There are some motor car factories in Britain that put together cars out of parts that are
manufactured say in Italy.
Siddhiratna: The threat was to shift the Ford plant to somewhere like Pakistan or India.
S: Yes, right, but supposing Pakistan catches up, then where will they shift to? OK they shift
to Indonesia. They catch up and where are they going to shift to then? But there is a sort of
possible solution and that is the so-called alternative technology, which is of course just in its
infancy. That is to say getting power directed from the sun and things like that. No doubt
that will be explored very much in coming decades.
There is apparently an organisation - I think it's a business organisation - which will install
on or in your roof, apparatus for catching the heat of the sun and which will heat your water
for you and give you all the heating that you need, and thirty thousand houses in Britain have
already been fitted with this. That is a beginning isn't it. So this is something that we could
well look into. It costs about £2,000.
Nagabodhi: I got a lift a few months ago when I was hitching up from Brighton with the man

who's just developing and marketing these and I got on very well and I'm going to be getting
in touch with him.
S: That's a very interesting development, though isn't it. You cease to be dependant on oil.
This is what you're using for your central heating and all that. For instance in this place if
we're spending say £1,000 a year for heating the place, well spending £2,000 for getting heat
from the sun, that's only your cost for oil for two years. So it might be worth considering.
__________: It's not quite that simple.
S: I'm sure it isn't but....
Nagabodhi: This guy said it took seven years and he reckoned it would pay for itself after
seven years. But it can be introduced very gradually.
S: There you are. We ought to look into it.
Lokamitra: If we do have a loss in the standard of living which is happening, then the
implications of that as far as discontent and so on are tremendous.
S: Oh yes. Well it means a complete sort of reorientation. Because what is the average chap
in the factory working for? Higher wages. We've been conditioned for the last few decades
into thinking that the standard of living is going to go up and up and up, but it isn't.
Vessantara: The question arises though whether a drop in the standard of living will mean
that most people feeling more insecure will cling on to their jobs and if you look back say to
the time of the depression, people didn't seem able to see beyond just being in work and
S: Being in work, regular work, was the kingdom of heaven. That was Utopia.
Vessantara: So I wonder whether, if we return to something akin to that situation, it may
mean that....I think a lot of the people who have moved into some kind of spiritual movement
have been able to do so because that lower level was satisfied. It's easy to get jobs, you
__________: Or even the welfare state...
S: Even ten years ago a youngster could get jobs as frequently as he liked. That is no longer
quite the position is it. Some of you even I think in your younger days, you thought nothing of
spending just a month in a job and then getting another one. But probably those who are now
at the age that you were then can't do that. Or not so easily anyway.
Siddhiratna: I think lowering the standard as well meant that the whole economics of the
country become lowered as it were, then it will make things more difficult in terms of
shramanas being able to wander around. There won't be the welfare state for instance.
S: Right, even in India it has become difficult for the sadhus to wander around in some
areas. In some parts of India they've got notices outside the villages saying that sadhus who
beg will be prosecuted. So this is why it becomes important, and this is why I've been saying
that the Friends, the Order members, must start their own businesses, and have a source of
income which will give you right livelihood, which is the most important thing, and which
will not take all your time, and which will give you enough money to live on provided you
accept what would be regarded as a lower standard of living. You can't expect support from

the general public, even with regard say to Sukhavati, what have we had from the general
public - very little - it's mostly come from within the Movement, from our own Friends.
So you're not going to get support from the public, especially a purely spiritual movement like
ours. We can't present ourselves as anything very educational or cultural. At least not very
honestly anyway. So we're going to have to earn ourselves, and I think this in a way our
great new thinking. That Order members and mitras and other Friends have to get together
and found and run their own businesses which will be one, Right Livelihood, two, part time,
three, give you enough money for a modest existence to provide the material basis for your
life as a human being and your spiritual development. That really is within the limits of our
own Movement, what I envisage what will have to happen in the world at large later on
anyway. Unless of course it's come the revolution or anything silly like that. We want to get
in our own revolution first!
So in that way we become a sort of model, not only from the spiritual point of view, but even
from an economic point of view.
Siddhiratna: I think that's partly the nature of chinese communes isn't it, in Mao's China, in
that they're pretty well self supporting. There was a film on him because he's just died, which
showed that they had their own machine shops, and iron foundries but on very very small
S: This is what Mao tried to do with regard to iron production, but that was a disastrous
failure, because that was going too far in the other direction and not taking into account the
human factor. He wanted that every cottage should have a little furnace to produce ...

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