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Humanization of Development 

A Theravada Buddhist Perspective

P. D. Premasiri

In accordance with an important logical distinction to which contemporary philosophers have drawn our attention it is reasonable to affirm that the term development is the one primary meaning which is evaluative rather than descriptive. The term development implies the growth of something, but when used in the sense of a goal to be pursued by communities and nations the intended growth must be desirable and worthwhile. Just as the term ‘reform’ logically involves the effecting of a change which is desirable and worthwhile the term development too logically involves a process of change which is desirable and worthwhile. Questions regarding what is desirable and worthwhile cannot be decided purely on the basis of descriptive criteria. They are not questions of empirical science but questions of value involving primarily moral criteria. It is a common assumption that evaluate judgements are culture-relative. It is true to a great extent that this is so. But today it appears to be the case that there is a tendency towards the establishment of a global culture or a universal culture and the dominant elements of this global culture appear to be supplied by the Western model. The cultural values of the West are an intermixture of the traditional theistic religious values derived from the Judeo-Christian faith and its more modern materialist values springing from the consideration that the source of all human knowledge is modern science and the source of all power is the technology derived from the applications of scientific knowledge. The evaluative assumptions underlying the contemporary Western concept of development are being blindly adopted by other civilizations of the world without a sufficient critique of the very contradictions evidently involved in the practical implications of such a concept. It is an urgent requirement in the context of the contemporary human predicament to point out that there is profound wisdom concealed in the cultural heritage of the non-Western civilizations which could be utilized as a corrective to some of the ill-conceived evaluative assumptions of the Western concept of development which is increasingly leading to a dehumanization of man. It might, of course be contended that judgements of value are non-rational and therefore cannot be established as universally valid judgements. However, many contemporary philosophers have drawn attention to the possibility of finding a rational basis for value judgements including those in the field of morality although such a basis might not accord fully with the inductive and/or deductive rationality found in the other sciences. If such a possibility is admitted the search for some degree of universality in our value judgements would not be in vain. In order to do this all authority has to be suspended, and values imposed on people by new forms of cultural imperialism have to be boldly subjected to criticism. This approach seems extremely relevant in the discussion of the concept of development.

The term ‘development’ is used today with a characteristically materialist bias. This is evident when one considers the basis on which countries are described as developed or underdeveloped. The principal criteria adopted for determining whether a nation is developed are the quantity of goods produced and consumed, the gross national product and the per capita income of the people. All these criteria are monetary or material. Surely, if in any community people die due to starvation, poor health facilities, lack of proper clothing and shelter it would not be proper to call such a community developed. There are certain basic material needs without the fulfilment of which the quality of life of a human being can in no way be conceived as satisfactory. The admission of this fact need not commit us to a purely materialistic conception of development. For such a concept of development can be said to be based on an inadequate and unexamined evaluative assumption. If people die of starvation in a particular community we will not be inclined to call that community developed. But what if people face the threat of being robbed at gunpoint in the most modernized cities of the world, or of being shot in broad daylight in a market square, or if a young lady is not safe from being molested and raped by sex criminals, or if people attempt to overcome their discontentment with life with large doses of debilitating drugs and alcohol which create immense misery within their families and households, and if more and more people have to seek the help of sedatives or psychiatric treatment to overcome their mental distress and above all if we face the constant threat of being annihilated by nuclear war between superpowers who incessantly compete for a bigger share of the world’s resources? Under such circumstances can we boast of any genuine development?

When development is used in the context of human notions it is possible to speak of numerous spheres of development such as economic, technological, political, educational, social, cultural, moral, spiritual and so on, which, though separately conceivable are causally interrelated. Like in Plato’s doctrine of the soul according to which justice is established by each part of the soul fulfilling its appropriate function, development can be said to occur when an appropriate development has occurred in each of the above spheres. Therefore, when development is thought of in general it would be necessary to take into account a desirable harmony and integration of several different areas of human concern. Among these different areas some may seem to have a priority as well as an overriding claim over others. A sound development policy needs to pay adequate attention to these priorities in order to make the development effort meaningful in the human context. Some spheres in which development may be effected could adversely affect others resulting in lopsided development. This is likely to lead to a process of development which is ultimately self-defeating. The contradictions and dilemmas that have arisen in connection with the lives of people living in the so-called developed or affluent world makes it imperative that we should consider development in terms of a holistic vision. Such a holistic vision demands a moral foundation for development. It is in connection with such a holistic vision and a moral foundation for development that the teachings of Theravada Buddhism seem to have something very significant to offer.

A process of growth which is not conducive to or which is detrimental to the well-being of man cannot properly be called development just as any action or pattern of behaviour which is not conducive to the well-being of the agent and those affected by such actions or patterns of behaviour cannot be called moral. The current trends of development policy which seem to be becoming gradually universalized compel right thinking men to pause and ask the question ‘Is man for development or is development for man?’ What is becoming increasingly evident is that the former alternative is becoming the order of the day. The natural consequence of this is that man is getting more and more alienated, and is being reduced merely to a cogwheel in a machine, created by powers and authorities beyond his/her control, depriving him/her of the opportunity to develop the real human spiritual potential. It is this spiritual potential in man which developed to its fullness makes him/her ultimately satisfied, contented and happy. In brief development appears to be dehumanizing man increasingly. The time has reached to reassess this trend and to think of ways and means of humanizing development.

Mankind has already begun to feel the effects of the development policy pursued by the so-called developed nations of the present century. The effects of industrialization on the natural environment is drawing the attention of ecologists. The problem of industrial wastes polluting the water resources, factory fumes and other gases emitted by modern machinery polluting the atmosphere, the damage done to the ozone layer, the poisons introduced in the form of modern agricultural technology affecting all forms of life on earth including human, and numerous other ecological problems are the visible effects of the current development policy which is universally advocated. The effects of competition for the limited resources available for human consumption in accordance with the affluent life-styles of nations who call themselves developed have produced the paradoxical consequence of allocating nearly three-fourths of the world’s economic resources for the creation of weapons destructive of both human life and the natural environment. The unrestrained pursuit of material wealth and the immoderate urge for the gratification of the senses have only led to a complete obliteration of a reasonable distinction between mankind’s needs and wants. The naturally unlimited and insatiable wants are being converted into needs under the extremely unwise and unwarranted assumption that there are enough resources in the world to satisfy all the needs that are being artificially created. Such newly created needs can be satisfied only by disregarding the delicate balance between man and his natural environment. The modern city which is a creation of the current concept of development is described by some writers as a product of a new form of terrorism in the guise of development. All that is beautiful in nature is destroyed to create an artificial environment consisting of concrete forests in which human beings are crowded like animals in a zoo. At this point it is necessary to pause and question the unexamined belief in the omnipotence of material science and technology and recognize the potency of a science (vijja) which has for a long time been ignored even by those people who were the traditional inheritors of it. It is the science of spiritual discipline, the science of self-development which is advocated in the philosophy of life and the philosophy of development implicit in Buddhism. It may be argued that in this ‘science’ is to be found a viable solution to the contradictions and paradoxes of the currently dominant concept of development.

Buddhism uses the term bhavana which in meaning is very proximate to the English term development. Since the term has been used primarily in the context of the development of the self or the mind or the spiritual potential of man, the term has usually been rendered into English as ‘meditation’. This rendering has obscured the fact that the spiritual discipline promoted by means of bhavana is a kind of self-development. In the Buddhist context development is believed to be desirable first and foremost of man himself, who serves as the very instrument of other forms of development. It is men themselves who formulate development policy and it is men themselves who implement such policy. The nature of the influence of the moral character of the supreme agent or instrument of all development activity on the nature of the development achieved has often been overlooked. It is here that the question of the moral quality of the development achieved arises. Should development be geared to the production of what Mill once called ‘satisfied pigs’. According to Buddhism, development basically stands for the development of man, his/her character, his/her personality and his/her humaneness. In Buddhism one who has a developed or cultivated personality is referred to as bhavitatta. In the full sense of the term it is a person who is fully enlightened and liberated from the miseries of existence, who is perfectly happy and at ease and who can truly be characterized as a developed personality. According to Buddhism the foremost of such developed beings is a Buddha whose personality represents the highest development of great compassion (mahakaruna) and great wisdom (mahapanna). The greatness as well as the quality of the life of a human being depends, according to Buddhism, on the wisdom and morality that is perfected in him/her. The conquest of oneself is better than conquering thousands of men in battle.1 There is no power in this world that can take away the victory of the person who has conquered himself/herself through self-development.2 Self-development involves the elimination of the unwholesome traits of mind, the roots of evil behaviour (akusalamula), greed, hatred and confusion of mind. The prescribed method for such development is presented as the eightfold path or the threefold moral training consisting of the cultivation of wholesome patterns of behaviour in terms of observing certain norms of conduct (sila), attaining composure of the mind and developing the wisdom which results in a total self-transformation leading to the elimination of all unwholesome traits of mind.

The Buddhist position is that if men are wise they would give priority to self-development over and above all other development. Self-development should serve as the basis for other kinds of development. As the Dhammapada says: "Irrigators divert water. Fletchers shape the arrow shaft. Carpenters shape wood. The wise ones tame themselves."3 Any development that is effected outside ourselves, that is in man’s material environment, must be directed and controlled by persons with cultivated minds. If what moves them to decisions and actions are the roots of unwholesome behaviour, greed, hatred and confusion, the consequence of development attempts are likely to be self-defeating.

The Buddhist concept of self-development is believed to be a hindrance to development by the advocates of the Western concept. It is believed to be incompatible with the goals of development as conceived by them. The self-development advocated in Buddhism, it is believed, is intended for the liberation of the individual. It is said to lack any social concern. It is argued that the "aim of Buddhism is not to shape life in the world, but to teach liberation, release from the world."4 The Buddhist attempt to attain inner peace (nibbana) through self-development is understood as "an absolutely personal performance of the single individual".5 This is a gross misrepresentation of the Buddhist position suggesting that the Buddhist ideal of self-development is incompatible with real social and material development. This is extremely unfortunate, for what is required in the context of the contemporary human predicament appears to be precisely a sound moral basis for material and social development. Buddhism does not consider self-development in its sense of the full flowering of the spiritual potential of man as an absolutely personal attainment of a single individual. The enlightenment attained by each individual is an event of great cosmic significance. The Buddhist tradition appears to have indicated this figuratively in its canonical account of the preaching of the first sermon of the Buddha, the supremely enlightened one. According to this account the great news of the first sermon of the Buddha reaches even the high heavens in the cosmos, inhabited by sentient beings of superhuman excellence.5 This shows that the liberation doctrine of Buddhism which insists on the importance of self-development is of universal and cosmic significance.

Buddhism does not see an absolute separation between a concern with the affairs of the world and a concern with liberation in a more ideal and spiritual sense. In fact, the highest liberation is something to be won here and now (dittheva dhamme) not in a life after death. Degeneration in the affairs of the world is closely linked to the absence of a sound moral ideal as well as the scarcity of those who dedicate themselves solely to the pursuit of moral and spiritual perfection. Buddhism does not place its trust entirely in politicians. Politicians are dependable only when their actions are governed by righteousness (dhamma). Guidance in righteousness has to come from the spiritual community, or from persons who are in the real sense of the term awakened to truth (sambuddha). In the Buddhist tradition it is held that there are two persons who are born for the welfare of all rational beings. First and foremost it is a fully enlightened Buddha who gives direction on the path of righteousness. Secondly it is a Universal Ruler (cakkavattiraja) who establishes a just social and political order.

The Buddhist ideal of Nibbana has been wrongly interpreted as an other-worldly ideal. On the contrary it could be viewed as the kind of ideal that is necessary for the promotion of a harmonious world-order. The spiritual community referred to in Buddhism as samanabrahmana are those who pursue the goal of moral perfection. They are expected to perform a social role of no mean significance. The enlightened sage wanders in the community like the bee that produces fruit by taking the essence of the flower.6 The ideal ruler (cakkavatti) preserves, protects and extends due patronage to the spiritual community as part of his cardinal duties. It is also customary for a ruler of that stature to approach the spiritual community and get moral advice and direction.7 The Buddha mentions as one of the principles that prevented the degeneration (aparihaniya dhamma) of the Vajjian community and their care and concern for the spiritual community.8 There is a tendency today, specially among those who believe in the omnipotence of material science, to be cynical about a way of life which gives priority to spiritual discipline. Buddhism sees a social order which disregards the importance of spiritual discipline, devalues persons engaged in such a pursuit, and gives no active encouragement to it treading a path of development which is in the end self-defeating.

The common belief is that the contemplative life of the spiritual seeker involves a negation of action. This belief has led to a tendency to contrast it with the active life. This attitude is to be seen among those advocates of current notions of development who believe the contemplative life of the spiritual seeker to be a hindrance to development as envisaged by them. In the Buddha’s own day there are instances in which such criticism was directed against Buddhism. Some critics of the life of the Buddhist recluses saw their lifestyle as one given to inaction and laziness (akammakama alasa). The Buddhist response to this was that those who engaged themselves in self-development were engaged in the performance of the highest form of work (kammasetthassa karaka).9 For they were supposed to be engaged in an endeavour involving the elimination of greed and hatred. The Buddha himself is said to have met with a similar response when he once went on his usual round of alms-begging. In this instance he points out that he is not a mere idler, but one who like a farmer, is engaged in cultivating his self the produce of which is the fruit of immortality (amatapphala).10 It is difficult to comprehend these Buddhist attitudes on a purely materialist approach to values. What is important is to judge whether when we suspend materialist presuppositions and fit the Buddhist ideal into a more holistic perception of the nature of the human predicament it has something very meaningful to offer. Buddhism envisages a society in which a distinctive role is assigned to the life of the recluse who cultivates total detachment and provides moral inspiration to the lesser moral beings in order that they could themselves gradually progress towards the most desirable goal of final liberation from unwholesome passions. The close tie that has traditionally existed (which is today getting fast eroded) in Buddhist societies between the lay community and the community of bhikkhus can be viewed as a devise of promoting the material development of a community on the basis of moral and spiritual values. Those who have failed to understand the dynamics of such a social order have interpreted the relationship as a dichotomous separation into "this worldliness" and "other-worldliness".

This mistake is evident in observations made by anthropologists like Spiro who introduce a somewhat artificial dichotomy between what is called "kammatic Buddhism" and "Nibbanic Buddhism". It is my contention that there is only one type of Buddhism, and that is both ‘Nibbanic’ and ‘kammatic’. Commenting on the Buddhist goal of liberation Spiro says:

Ideationally, its conception of salvation is indeed a radical one, entailing the transcendence of the entire physico-temporal world. Sociologically, its character for a soteriological community is equally radical: in order to transcend the physico-temporal world, it is necessary to abandon the socio-political world. But physical retreat from the world is not sufficient; it is merely a necessary condition for yet another psychologically radical act: having abandoned the world, one must sever all ties to it and withdraw cathexes from it. Salvation can only be achieved by a total and radical rejection of the world in all its aspects.11

It need not be denied that such aberrations of the Buddhist ideal have sometimes occurred in its historical development and that there have been and are representatives of the kind of ideology which Spiro describes. But neither the Buddha nor his most accomplished disciples subscribed to a way of life which accords with such a description. Such descriptions have overlooked the role of Nibbanic persons in the world as it is conceived in the teachings of Buddhism and traditionally understood by Buddhist societies. Enlightened, Nibbanic beings who have accomplished the task of self-development are born out of the world, grow in the world and live in the world without being tainted by the ways of the world (loke jato loke samvaddho loka accuggamma titthati anupalitto lokena). They are the most capable of providing the much needed good sense and moral illumination to the world. They are like the beautiful lotus that grows in the mud but remains in the mud without being tainted by the muddy water.

Insofar as development is conceived as a change in the course of things effected by human intervention, planning, deliberation and effort as a means of overcoming human misery and of promoting human well-being, the proper starting point for such a process of change should be the hearts and minds of men. However, with the growth of the mechanistic view of the world that has taken root along with the developments in the natural sciences since the seventeenth century the belief that human behaviour is totally determined by the external stimuli came to be widely accepted. This belief has been further promoted by the developments in behaviourist psychology of the twentieth century, and by socio-political doctrines like Marxism. The consequence of this belief has been that all attempts at overcoming unhappiness and misery through self-discipline have been considered to be unrealistic. There is no doubt that material conditions of life affect people’s moral consciousness. Buddhism, to be sure, has recognized this. Moral degeneration and social disharmony are sometimes traceable to unjust socio-economic structures. But the process involving morally degenerate men and unjust socio-economic structures is a viciously circular process. The question is, how we could break into the vicious circle and put an end to it. The key to it lies in a change of heart especially among those who assume the role of leadership, political authority and social responsibility. Those persons in whose hands the responsibility of giving direction to a social change lies, are required to possess, if not in full, at least to a considerable degree, the kind of self-development that is envisaged in Buddhism. A noticeable weakening of the unwholesome dispositions, greed, hatred and delusion which can be identified as the roots of evil behaviour which generate suffering not only to the possessors of these traits but also to the community at large becomes an urgent requirement. When a change in the course of events is to take place in accordance with human plans and intentions, human beings themselves become operative links in the process of change. The original source of the intended change is ultimately a network of human decisions and actions. What if this source is itself intensely corrupt due to the influence of the deep-rooted unwholesome dispositions and attitudes? What if those at the source do not care to be guided by moral ideals, by notions of justice, by kindness, compassion and universal fellow feeling? Under such circumstances neatly formulated social and political theories fail miserably, as has been amply demonstrated in the recent history of mankind.

The dominant belief today which has taken root along with the materialist and mechanistic world-view is that the use of science and technology is the solution to all our problems. Questions about the cultivation of man’s inner nature are considered as irrelevancies indulged in by those accustomed to outmoded and obscurantist modes of thinking. The widespread belief is that scientific rationality and technical competence is sufficient to solve all of mankind’s problems. Insistence on moral virtues serves no purpose, for according to their view they will never be acquired by mankind. Buddhism, on the other hand insists on the comprehension of the inner sources of human wickedness, evil, tensions and miseries. According to Buddhism it is a psychological fact that there is no point at which man can reach fulfilment in the satisfaction of desires (kamesu loke na hi atthi titti). A point of fulfilment can be reached not by permitting human needs to keep on increasing by converting the limitless wants into needs, but by a kind of spiritual development which promotes contentment (santutthi). Contentment, according to Buddhism, is the greatest wealth (santutthi paramam dhanam).12 E. F. Schumacher recognizes this psychological truth of Buddhism and relates it to the wisdom that is required in formulating development policy thus:

An attitude to life which seeks fulfilment in the single-minded pursuit of wealth — in short, materialism — does not fit into this world, because it contains within itself no limiting principle, while the environment in which it is placed is strictly limited.13

Buddhism does not discourage the production of material wealth. What Buddhism discourages is the servile dependence on consumer goods. Production of wealth should not overstep morality. The production of material wealth by righteous means without exploitation is commendable. A householder’s happiness consists in having sufficient wealth (atthisukha), in enjoying the wealth he possesses (bhogasukha), being free from economic indebtedness (ananasukha). However, far more valuable than these sources of happiness is the happiness derived from righteous living (anavajjasukha). The pursuit of wealth should not drive the human being to greed, avarice, miserliness and envy. In a human being’s effort to make a living sufficient care should be taken not to violate the most important factor of the eightfold path which has a relevance to the economic life of a person, namely, right means of livelihood (samma ajiva). The ideal lay Buddhist should live the life of a householder with the mind free from the stain of avarice (vigatamalamacherena cetasa), with readiness to share one’s wealth with others and with his hands always in readiness to be stretched out to give to others in times of need.

Factors of the Noble Eightfold Path, the threefold scheme of moral development, the four sublime abidings (brahmavihara), and the four grounds of beneficence (sangahavatthu) could be viewed as universally valid schemes for self-development. These are not sectarian virtues; they are not the commandments of any particular God; the beneficial effects of their adoption could be universally tested. Buddhism also teaches universally testable techniques of mind culture (bhavana) which are effective in psychological tension reduction, in the therapy of mental illness, in the treatment of psychogenic diseases of the body, and above all in the attainment of insight into things as they are (yathabhuatanana) and consequently, in acquiring self-transforming wisdom and attaining inner peace and tranquillity. Buddhism believes that human beings can live in peace with their fellow human beings as well as their natural environment only if they cultivate peace within themselves.

Self-development involves the development of the various aspects of personality in a balanced way so that the total personality which is the outcome of such development is not harmful to the person himself/herself nor to others. This is the principal criterion adopted in Buddhism to distinguish between what is morally good and morally bad. Kusala is that which is not harmful but beneficial to the person himself/herself who cultivates a particular trait of character or pattern of behaviour, as well as to other members of the society to which that person belongs (na attabyabadhaya samvattati na parabyabadhaya samvattati na ubhayabyabadhaya samvattati sukhudrayam sukhavipakam).14 It is for the development of such a personality that the Middle Way of Buddhism is prescribed. Buddhism does not advocate the negation of the importance of the body or the physical aspect of personality. The body has to be adequately nourished, and taken care of by keeping it free from diseases paying due attention to its cleanliness as well as through temperance and moderation in food habits. It is for this reason that Buddhism shuns the extremes of austerity and sensuality. This ideal of the Middle Way needs to be reflected in any development policy which is modelled on the Buddhist philosophy of development. Any attempt to create stimuli that promote over indulgence in sensuality, or the other extreme of austere living which does not promote good physical growth and healthy living is not in agreement with the ideal of good life as conceived in Buddhism.

Buddhism recognizes the importance of the body or man’s physical existence as a vehicle through which man can strive for the perfection of human excellence which consists in nothing but the development of the spiritual aspect of man’s being. It is in this connection that Buddhism has much to offer to modern man. Buddhism insists on the importance of self-reliance and human effort and initiative, in the development of the moral and spiritual aspects of man instead of relying on superior powers which according to Buddhism could be seen as creations of man’s own imagination. There is great inner spiritual wealth which a person can develop within himself. Such wealth is considered in Buddhism as Noble Wealth (ariyadhana). Noble Wealth consists of confidence (saddha), good conduct (sila), sense of shame and fear to do wrong (hiri, ottappa), learning (suta), generosity (caga) and wisdom (panna).15

The spiritual qualities to be developed in self-development involve no mystery or metaphysical concepts. They are obviously wholesome psychological qualities. These psychological qualities have a great utility not only in realizing the supreme goal of Buddhism, but also anything worthwhile in a man’s life which is even lesser than the supreme goal. Thus the cultivation of sila at least to the extent that is required of the Buddhist layperson, produces a law abiding and useful member of any civilized society. The development of mental composure produces persons whose minds are not scattered and confused, persons who are both mentally and physically relaxed, and persons whose mental hindrances that obstruct the proper functioning of the mind in achieving any intended goal are eliminated. The mental hindrances which are supposed to be eliminated in attaining mental composure (samadhi) are disturbing desires for sensuous enjoyment (kamacchanda), hatred or ill-will (vyapada), restlessness and worry (uddhaccakukkucca), drowsiness and laziness (thinamiddha) and vacillation of mind due to doubt and diffidence (vicikiccha). These are obviously hindrances that obstruct the proper performance of any task. The Four Bases of Psychic Power (cattaro iddhipada) are according to the teachings of Buddhism essential components of self-development. It is believed that those who have developed, multiplied, cultivated and established within themselves these bases of psychic power may, if they wish to, elevate themselves even to the status of supernormal beings having the ability to control even material forces of nature. These bases of psychic power can also be understood as psychological qualities which could be utilized in the achievement of any worthwhile objective or goal. They consist of the development of a genuine interest in what one wants to achieve (chanda), effort (viriya), proper direction of focus of thought (citta) and proper investigation (vimamsa). In each case these qualities of mind should be rigorously harnessed in order to achieve one’s objective. The interest (chanda), for instance, should be concentrated, it should be sustained with effort, and volitional force should be generated with a view to attaining one’s objective (chanda samadhi padhana sankhara samannagatam). The cultivation of these psychological qualities are undoubtedly useful and necessary in the effective achievement of any worthwhile goal. The factors of enlightenment which are supposed to grow within the personality of one who applies oneself to the path of self-development are also wholesome psychological states. They are mindfulness (sati), investigation of truth (dhammavicaya), effort (viriya), joy (piti), tranquillity (passaddhi), mental composure (samadhi) and equanimity or a balanced and impartial mind (upekkha).

The essence of the Buddhist teaching on development is that all development must be guided by wisdom. For all development is first and foremost by man and for man. Wisdom can be gained only by self-development. Science and technology have provided us with knowledge, but not wisdom. The knowledge of the fool arises for his/her own ill (yavadeva anatthaya nattam balassa jayate). It might be contended that the development of science has put an end to superstition by enlightening man on human nature itself. It might further be contended that the moral ideals and patterns of behaviour traditionally upheld were derived largely from mythical beliefs and superstitions and that the scientific revolution has had the advantage of replacing those beliefs with empirically testable and scientifically valid beliefs about human nature. It might be argued that traditional moralities have been replaced by the more scientifically grounded morality which may be described as "scientific humanism". It might also be claimed that as a consequence of this the concern with human rights and resistance to all kinds of discrimination has come to the forefront in the ethical consciousness of contemporary man. All this may to a certain extent be granted. But the mechanistic and materialistic world-view associated with modern science which leads to an exclusive interest in changing the external factors for the attainment of happiness and well-being without the slightest concern about changing one’s own inner nature seems certainly to be putting man on the path of self-destruction. This is true of a vast area of productions of modern science and technology having the veritable effect of a dehumanization of development. What is required for a humanization of development is nothing but self-development.


1. Dhammapada 103.

2. Ibid., 105.

3. Ibid., 50.

4. The World of Buddhism, edited by Heinz Bechert and Richard Gombrich (Thames and Hudson Ltd., London 1984) p. 7.

5. Vinayapitaka (Pali Text Society, London) I, 11-12.

6. Dhammapada 49.

7. Dighanikaya (Pali Text Society, London) 3.61. It is to be noted that the standard English translation of this passage occurring in the Sacred Books of the Buddhists series is totally erroneous. According to the original text the ruler should seek the advice of the spiritual community regarding what is right and wrong. According to the translation it is the ruler who should prescribe what is right and wrong to the spiritual community. Perhaps the translator could not imagine the Buddhist tradition recognizing the person who is spiritually elevated being of a higher status than the ruler.

8. Dighanikaya 2.75.

9. Rohini Therigatha.

10. Suttanipata (Pali Text Society) p. 13.

11. Melford E. Spiro, Buddhism and Society, (Harper and Row, 1970) p. 65.

12. Dhammapada 204.

13. Small is Beautiful, (Harper and Row, 1975) p. 30.

14. Majjhimanikaya (Pali Text Society) 1.415

15. Dighanikaya (Pali Text Society) 3.163.

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