Zen and Commerce

jetavana-stupa

Wealth is the ability to fully experience life. – Henry David Thoreau

The Buddha himself – the historical Buddha who lived 2,500 years ago – was a very practical and pragmatic person in addition to being a immensely spiritual. He didn’t have time for much theory or dogma and spent his days after finding enlightenment trying to show others how to accomplish the same – and to do so by focusing on the here and now. Zen, in particular, is entirely focused on reality – this moment and things as they truly are.

Based in reality, zen and buddhism recognize ‘real life’ and the need to earn a living.

One of The Buddha’s early students and chief lay disciple was Anathapindika, a wealthy banker. Anathapindika met Buddha just a year after his enlightenment and was a generous patron, donating Jetvana Monastery to be used for a place of learning.

As a banker, Anathapindika did business, traded gold and valuables and grew wealthy. But, he did this nobly. As part of his teachings The Buddha outlined to him the four keys to happiness for a lay practitioner:

– Enjoy sufficient wealth that is acquired by righteous means

– Spend wisely on family friends and good causes; and don’t hoard wealth

– Be free from debts

– Live a pure live without committing evil in thought, word and deed

As I’ve said in a few talks I’ve given, those first three could almost be pulled directly from a wealth or investing seminar. All are important.