How come all the Theravada Countries so under-develop?

Casual discussion amongst spiritual friends.

Re: How come all the Theravada Countries so under-develop?

Postby jcsuperstar » Fri Mar 05, 2010 6:16 pm

ando wrote:Hello Wind,

You asked the same question I asked in the now defunct community that is Buddhist Community about the state of Buddhist- majority countries. I think its is a good question. Thanks for asking it here. We all learn by asking questions.

My question then was more on why lands of the enlightened sages seem to suffer the worst conflicts, and so is kind of historical in nature. In India, Buddhism is a shadow of what it was and there's fighting up north and down south. We all know what happened to the monks in Burma. Sri Lanka until recently suffered a war. Vietnam and Cambodia still has legacies of war. In Afghanistan they bombed the Bamiyan stautues. Japan committed unspeakable atrocities during WW2, under the auspices of Buddhism I'm told. China, the birthplace of sages like Lao Tze and Confucius, seems permanently cursed by cruel emperors to communism. Tibet is politically troubled. etc etc.

I was born and raised in a tiny SE Asian village where there was no electricity or running water so I ask as an Asian. My grandparents were killed by the Japanese army. I used to think what a blessing it is to be born in the region where the sages were born. Surely the presence of extraordinary teachers would have had a great calming effect on the people that would last for generations. Boy, was I wrong.

I do get this common answer though... there are bad people in every culture. Well yes, but it still doesn't explain why there's disproprotionately more riots, wars, uprisings, militarism, cruel monarchs and gross violations of human rights in regions dotted with temples than in regions without, say like Scandinavia. In some of these sagely lands, the fighting hasn't stopped since the Buddha's time.

Any thoughts?


look at sizes and population densities. Europe as a whole has only had what, a 40 year period of continuous peace in the last 2000+ years? there are riots in Europe all the time, just turn on the news. "uprisings, militarism, cruel monarchs and gross violations of human rights" um Spain, and don't forget Germany and Italy how many decades ago?(not that many) and by extension south Africa and what about the 98million or so natives in the Americas killed off by Europeans? modern Scandinavia hardly makes up for that...
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Re: How come all the Theravada Countries so under-develop?

Postby ando » Sat Mar 06, 2010 1:18 am

jcsuperstar wrote:look at sizes and population densities. Europe as a whole has only had what, a 40 year period of continuous peace in the last 2000+ years? there are riots in Europe all the time, just turn on the news. "uprisings, militarism, cruel monarchs and gross violations of human rights" um Spain, and don't forget Germany and Italy how many decades ago?(not that many) and by extension south Africa and what about the 98million or so natives in the Americas killed off by Europeans? modern Scandinavia hardly makes up for that...


Greetings jc,

Yes you are right but there is one difference. Ancient India and China was where great enlightenment happened. Ancient Spain and Germany wasn't. Eastern sages influenced millions about virtuous life, setting up wholesome traditions, temples and so on. No such thing happened in Europe. So barbarism in Europe wouldn't surprise me but barbarism in the land of the enlightened?

The Romans, Greeks and Vikings have stopped killing. The people in the land of the enlightened haven't. Now if I add what's happening in the lands of the Abrahamic religions, the Incas and the Pharaohs I can't help but wonder if there's a correlation between spiritualism and violence. I find the notion disturbing but I am unable to explain why the more temples/mosques/churches/synagogues you find around you, the more likely your human rights will be violated.

Any ideas?
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Re: How come all the Theravada Countries so under-develop?

Postby notself » Sat Mar 06, 2010 4:20 am

ando wrote:...I can't help but wonder if there's a correlation between spiritualism and violence. I find the notion disturbing but I am unable to explain why the more temples/mosques/churches/synagogues you find around you, the more likely your human rights will be violated.

Any ideas?


There is a correlation between violation of human rights and State religions or State religions in all but name. Religion and politics are usually a bad combination.
Though one may conquer a thousand times a thousand men in battle, yet he is indeed the noblest victor who conquers himself. ---Dhp 103
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Re: How come all the Theravada Countries so under-develop?

Postby plwk » Sat Mar 06, 2010 5:45 am

...I can't help but wonder if there's a correlation between spiritualism and violence. I find the notion disturbing but I am unable to explain why the more temples/mosques/churches/synagogues you find around you, the more likely your human rights will be violated.

What does one expect from falliable man made institutions? :popcorn:
From my experience, less is more... :thumbsup:
And have learned that it's better to see what one can contribute to the well being/improving of conditions rather than keep expecting... :group:
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What is it? It is recollecting the Enlightened One.
If this single thing is recollected and made much,
it invariably leads to weariness, cessation, appeasement, realization and extinction.

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Re: How come all the Theravada Countries so under-develop?

Postby Paññāsikhara » Sat Mar 06, 2010 6:02 am

ando wrote:
jcsuperstar wrote:look at sizes and population densities. Europe as a whole has only had what, a 40 year period of continuous peace in the last 2000+ years? there are riots in Europe all the time, just turn on the news. "uprisings, militarism, cruel monarchs and gross violations of human rights" um Spain, and don't forget Germany and Italy how many decades ago?(not that many) and by extension south Africa and what about the 98million or so natives in the Americas killed off by Europeans? modern Scandinavia hardly makes up for that...


Greetings jc,

Yes you are right but there is one difference. Ancient India and China was where great enlightenment happened. Ancient Spain and Germany wasn't. Eastern sages influenced millions about virtuous life, setting up wholesome traditions, temples and so on. No such thing happened in Europe. So barbarism in Europe wouldn't surprise me but barbarism in the land of the enlightened?

The Romans, Greeks and Vikings have stopped killing. The people in the land of the enlightened haven't. Now if I add what's happening in the lands of the Abrahamic religions, the Incas and the Pharaohs I can't help but wonder if there's a correlation between spiritualism and violence. I find the notion disturbing but I am unable to explain why the more temples/mosques/churches/synagogues you find around you, the more likely your human rights will be violated.

Any ideas?


Hi, just some thoughts on what you have posted here. I've highlighted those points, above, for clarity, but leaving the whole statement intact.

The area of Europe certainly had some "sages" during it's time. People like Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, etc. in Greece. Christianity led many people to achieve very virtuous states and understanding in Europe, for many centuries. Possibly pre-Christian teachings had very holy people, too. However, their history has been largely wiped out, and also twisted, unfortunately.

Much of that ancient European thought and spirituality came from the Middle East. For instance, the Greeks considered the Egyptians as very wise, and earlier civilizations such as the Sumerians etc, had their own sages, too. And, we must also include the Abrahahmic religions - remember, Islam found it's way into much of southern Europe about 1000 yrs ago.

Of course, if we claim that only Buddhism has true "sages" or "holy" people, that is fine. I wouldn't disagree in the "ultimate sense" (paramartha). But, other traditions still have very virtuous and wise people. If we define sagicity or holiness only in terms of Buddhism, well then of course we can't really include anywhere other than parts of Asia in this discussion. Unfortunately, that would make the discussion rather limited I am afraid, so prefer to keep a broader perspective.

----

In general, not just to Ando: I think we should also be careful about claiming that spirituality or religion, or the like is somehow related to more violence. I think that some serious socio-historical analysis would be required. We don't want to accuse other religions of fostering such violence, how much more so should be avoid such claims towards the Dharma! (Not that anyone has said this, but let us reflect, anyway.) Attacking others' religions as "violent" may itself be a form of violence against them.

Let us strive for accord and peace! :group:
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Re: How come all the Theravada Countries so under-develop?

Postby Wind » Sat Mar 06, 2010 6:50 am

Paññāsikhara wrote:
Let us strive for accord and peace! :group:


Well spoken Venerable. :namaste:
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Re: How come all the Theravada Countries so under-develop?

Postby jcsuperstar » Sat Mar 06, 2010 7:01 am

ando wrote:
jcsuperstar wrote:look at sizes and population densities. Europe as a whole has only had what, a 40 year period of continuous peace in the last 2000+ years? there are riots in Europe all the time, just turn on the news. "uprisings, militarism, cruel monarchs and gross violations of human rights" um Spain, and don't forget Germany and Italy how many decades ago?(not that many) and by extension south Africa and what about the 98million or so natives in the Americas killed off by Europeans? modern Scandinavia hardly makes up for that...


Greetings jc,

Yes you are right but there is one difference. Ancient India and China was where great enlightenment happened. Ancient Spain and Germany wasn't. Eastern sages influenced millions about virtuous life, setting up wholesome traditions, temples and so on. No such thing happened in Europe. So barbarism in Europe wouldn't surprise me but barbarism in the land of the enlightened?

The Romans, Greeks and Vikings have stopped killing. The people in the land of the enlightened haven't. Now if I add what's happening in the lands of the Abrahamic religions, the Incas and the Pharaohs I can't help but wonder if there's a correlation between spiritualism and violence. I find the notion disturbing but I am unable to explain why the more temples/mosques/churches/synagogues you find around you, the more likely your human rights will be violated.

Any ideas?

a handful of enlightened people amidst billions of others leading their lives based on greed, hatred and delusion and you think it would seriously change things?
and as for europe there are many alive that remember italy as a facist state, the greeks really didnt do all that well in the 20th century, and what about the mafia? the vikings have calmed down abit since joining the nazis however...

lines on maps are just that, they dont really exist, same really for cultures, there are no major differences between any one culture and the next really, they all pretty much function in the same way, sure you have different cuisines and dress but what is significantly different between america, china and peru? not much.

the buddha was pretty much a drop from society/culture, he interacted with it, but didnt subscribe to it's ideas of class, caste, life fueled by greed etc. there probably has never even been any culture or society based purely on buddhism in our known history.
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Re: How come all the Theravada Countries so under-develop?

Postby ando » Sat Mar 06, 2010 3:03 pm

Hi all, I guess its true what you all say. By the way I didn't mean to make it sound that Buddhism should be the gold standard in each country. I think spiritual goals are pretty similar regardless of brand - all want peace, respect, enlightenment albeit in different ways. And they find their way into our lives via traditions. The values of Confucianism, for example, is still an important building block in traditional Chinese identity and education, an example of how an enlightened person is still influencing the lives of ignorant millions long after he died.

Still, as I run my palms over the stony ruins of Angkor Wat and other temples from China to Borobudur and I look at the masses, many in a desperate state, I cannot help but wonder... what happened?
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Re: How come all the Theravada Countries so under-develop?

Postby catmoon » Sat Mar 06, 2010 9:58 pm

If religion determines wealth, then the answer to the OP question has to be "Because they are not Christian".

If you find this conclusion unacceptable, there must be something wrong with the question....
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Re: How come all the Theravada Countries so under-develop?

Postby Paññāsikhara » Sun Mar 07, 2010 1:43 am

catmoon wrote:If religion determines wealth, then the answer to the OP question has to be "Because they are not Christian".

If you find this conclusion unacceptable, there must be something wrong with the question....


Most of sub-saharan Africa is also Christian too ...
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Re: How come all the Theravada Countries so under-develop?

Postby Vardali » Sun Mar 07, 2010 9:24 am

catmoon wrote:If religion determines wealth, then the answer to the OP question has to be "Because they are not Christian".

If you find this conclusion unacceptable, there must be something wrong with the question....


Actually, there might be a grain of truth in this, especiallly when looking at how in Christian history material wealth and Godliness have been interlinked, taught and seen as a justification for Christian missionaries to go and spread their "word" and lifestyle, enforcing a link to European and later US hegemony. Colonialism and industrial revolution were to some significant effect build on this, I guess.

I don't remember exactly what book it was but I remember from my university days long gone, that the effect of Calvinism etc. was seen as significant part of the explanation for the industrial revolution in Europe in the first place. Most established religions seem to follow more conservative streams (as in "maintaing established procedures and roles"); it appears that only "new" religions or cults seem to focus on change.

But this is just my uninformed opinion, I have never really studied such correlations and my view might be biased by accidental readings.
Still, what concerns me in this type of topic is how any peaceful, spiritual group can survive when opposing more aggressive groups with far less compunction. Perhaps they can't and the "state-religion" label is just distracting from that?

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Re: How come all the Theravada Countries so under-develop?

Postby salmon » Wed Mar 10, 2010 2:31 am

This thread reminds me of an excerpt I read in a book called "The little monk's white porridge cafe" (小和尚的白粥馆). It's like "Chicken Soup for Buddhists"...a collection of daily musings by a young novice living in a temple in China. I'll briefly share that excerpt...

There was a rich lady, Mrs Lee, who lived in the town just below the temple. She would come to the temple often to pray as her husband worked as a local official and she came frequently to seek the blessings for her husband's smooth office.

One day, she noticed a young novice wearing torn robes. She brought it to the attention of one of the senior monks, lamenting, "Venerable Sir, who is that poor novice in the shrine? His robes are tattered and torn! Surely he must be suffering." The senior monk explained that the young novice's robes were frequently torn as he liked to climb trees and arranged for them to be changed so as not to mislead other devotees.

Later, while the author of the book went to help the novice change his robes, the young novice asked him.
"Brother, did you notice that poor devotee in the shrine this afternoon?"
"Are you talking about Mrs. Lee? Why would you say she is poor?"
"Well, she may be dressed in very nice clothes and have many gems on, but did you see that perpetual frown on her forehead? Surely she must be suffering!"
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Re: How come all the Theravada Countries so under-develop?

Postby mikenz66 » Wed Mar 10, 2010 3:51 am

Hi Ando,
ando wrote:p/s There are more Mahayana Buddhists in Malaysia than Theravada, as the Chinese form the bulk of the Buddhist population there.

Do you have any statistics on that? I do know that there are both, but of the Chinese-Malaysians that I know, all are Theravada. Of course, my sample is skewed due to the circles I move int... But clearly there are a number of famous Malaysian Theravada teachers and a large number of Theravada mediation centres in Malaysia.

Metta
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Re: How come all the Theravada Countries so under-develop?

Postby appicchato » Wed Mar 10, 2010 6:02 am

Hi Mike,

For a ratio check out the directory for Malaysia at Buddhanet...http://www.buddhanet.info/wbd/country.php?country_id=48
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Re: How come all the Theravada Countries so under-develop?

Postby mikenz66 » Wed Mar 10, 2010 6:07 am

Hi Venerable,
appicchato wrote:Hi Mike,

For a ratio check out the directory for Malaysia at Buddhanet...http://www.buddhanet.info/wbd/country.php?country_id=48

Thanks, that gives a few more hits for Theravada organisations than Mahayana, but it's hardly good statistics.

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Re: How come all the Theravada Countries so under-develop?

Postby Jeffrey » Sun Oct 19, 2014 10:35 am

Four years since the last post in this thread. Hope you don't mind me reviving it. It seems like a good place to continue with the quote found in the FAQ of the Mahamevnawa.

1.9 If Buddhism is superior as we say, then why the Buddhist countries are poor?

We have to think twice about you being saying that the Buddhist countries are poor. Let us think about the past for a moment. Buddhist countries like India and Sri Lanka were the most developed countries in the world at the Buddha’s time. This was also true at the time when there were Arahants (the noble disciples of the Buddha who attained Nibbana) among us even after the Buddha’s passing away. This statement can be verified if we go to those countries and check their past. In that time period, these countries have had huge buildings such as castles of seven or eight floors, advanced irrigation systems, parks, well-developed highway systems, and as well as self-sustaining economies. The people in most of the western countries now known as powerful and developed were not even morally matured in that era about 2550 years ago. The Buddhist countries will still be powerful like before if the people are still following the Buddha’s teachings and live a true life of a Buddhist. Since some Buddhists fail to follow the pure teachings of the Buddha, they lost their wealth. However, people who are still living true Buddhist lives remain rich and prosperous. They will not lose their wealth in the future as long as they follow the Buddha’s teachings to guide their lives. Using the Buddhist way of economy, therefore, not only the Buddhist countries but also the whole world can be developed.

http://english.mahamevnawa.lk/faq/


Putting down others to raise yourself up doesn't seem like a particularly dhammic approach. It seems some Muslims make a similar argument about economic and political decline resulting from lack of adherence to "true" religion.
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Re: How come all the Theravada Countries so under-develop?

Postby martinfrank » Sun Oct 19, 2014 12:10 pm

Sanghamitta wrote:Then there is the belief that if I sit on a special cushion called a zuton or a zablonski or somesuch and wait long enough in an upright posture while breathing in and out, I will discover that I have in fact had a "Buddha nature" all along..so thats all right. Phew.


Thank you! :goodpost:
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Re: How come all the Theravada Countries so under-develop?

Postby No_Mind » Mon Oct 27, 2014 3:38 am

Wind wrote:Is it a coincidence that all the Theravada Buddhist Countries (Burma, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia, Sri Lanka) are so under-develop? Some might say they are poor countries although it doesn't nececisarily reflect their quality of life. Do you think Theravada Buddhism had any contribution to their state of being? I personally prefer countries that are more natural than industrialized. What do you think, is it a good thing or a bad thing that these countries are still relatively primitive?

And when we look at Mahayana Buddhist Countries like Japan and China, they have a big economy and plenty of wealth. Quite the contrast to Theravada Buddhist Countries. Likewise, do you think Mahayana Buddhism play a role in shaping these countries? Or is it totally unrelated?


Let me answer this question from an Indian's perspective. You are partly correct. Hinduism and Buddhism leads to fatalism due to belief in Karma. That was not intended in the scriptures and teachings of either religion but that is how it came to be interpreted over the centuries.

China and Japan do not follow pure Mahayana Buddhism (to the best of my understanding from internet). Some Japanese schools like Nichiren Buddhism are almost unrecognizable as Buddhist teachings with chanting of "Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo" and a scroll called "Gohonzon".

Further it is quite wrong to place China in same bracket as South Korea and Japan. Chinese villages are still desperately poor like Indian villages or Thai villages. Till four decades back China had the epithet "sick man of Asia". That speaks volumes about it.

Yet all of these countries bar Burma, Laos, Vietnam have seen significant economic development in past three decades. There has been a change in mindset and as education has spread so has prosperity. China is planning a space station and India has sent an orbiter to Mars.

Burmese military junta has had a stranglehold on the nation for decades. Laos and Cambodia have little natural resources to exploit and no ports.

It is easy to develop a small city-state like Singapore rather than a full sized country. You create one port and you get enough revenue to spend on schools and build roads since you are building only 80 miles of roads and six schools at most. Bring in few banks and you have enough job for all your graduates. Singapore is not a valid case study. The city I live in is 1800 sq km. Singapore is 716 sq km. It is less than pint size .. on second thoughts it is not even a pocket sized country. It is a stamp sized country.

Malaysia has oil and is wealthy due to that. Nothing special in drill and spend lavishly as liquid gold flows out.

The subcontinental religions that are older - Buddhism, Hinduism, Jainism (not Sikhism which is only few hundred years old) place great faith in "Que Sera Sera, Whatever Will Be, Will Be" it is not in our hands attitude. Whether it is in our hands or not in our hands is debatable, so one cannot outright blame the religion for stating the obvious.

Being older civilizations (China, India and S.E Asian countries) they are also rife with superstitions of every sort that prevents progress. But give it time - a hundred years - and most of these nations will be reborn. The process is already well underway. China is the second largest economy and India the third (by purchasing power parity). But per-capita income remains low.

In their own way Thailand and Sri Lanka have done well also. When Thailand suffered floods three years back entire world ran out of hard drives since they are major manufacturers of hard drives (I know because my hard drive broke down a month after the flood and I had to buy one at three times the normal price)

Sustainable economic progress (that phrase itself is an oxymoron since there are no examples of sustainable economic progress in any country but no wish to debate it here) is complex and depends on probably hundred different factors. When Shah Jahan who built Taj Mahal ruled India, India's share in world trade was 15 %, approximately same as US share of world trade in Clinton years. That was only 348 years ago. I am sure China had similar prosperity.

Japan is a great nation because it is (was ?) disciplined. What they have achieved is (was ?) by sweat of their brow and their industrious nature. But they have a stagnant economy for two decades powered by ever rising deficit financing. Allow time and the deficit (at $10.5 trillion, it is 200 % of GDP) along with an aging population will come back to bite them as Japanese youth lose touch with the innate Japanese discipline and start drifting cars and coloring their hair neon pink.

Like all things economic status too is impermanent. It is always the same through history - first few generations lay the foundations, next few build on the foundations and then next few squander what was built and then the civilization topples over into penury, superstition and anarchy.

:anjali:
Last edited by No_Mind on Mon Oct 27, 2014 4:44 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: How come all the Theravada Countries so under-develop?

Postby SarathW » Mon Oct 27, 2014 4:07 am

Let me answer this in Sri Lankan perspective.
I have to agree with no mind but I see it in another angle as well.
The problem come down to the fundamentals.

About 137bc Sri Lanka had it's golden time under Buddhist king Dutugamunu.
He built the highest building in the ancient world, Ruwanvalisaya, which was second only to pyramids.
Their irrigation and engineering capabilities, even wonders many new age scientists.
Then came the downturn.
Many Indian invasions, famines deteriorate the Buddhist culture.
The worst was seen by European control for many hundreds of years (about 300 years).
People are breaking the five precepts (worse was alcohol consumption) and they did not follow Buddhist teaching.
Discrimination of people in the ground of cast, wealth, creed and ethnic background push the country to the brink of civil war.
We don't seem to learn a lesson as yet!
:thinking:
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Re: How come all the Theravada Countries so under-develop?

Postby Dhammanando » Mon Oct 27, 2014 7:33 am

No_Mind wrote:... as Japanese youth lose touch with the innate Japanese discipline and start drifting cars and coloring their hair neon pink.


Interesting theory, but as we know from the case of the Danish tennis star Caroline Wozniacki, neon-pink hair isn’t necessarily incompatible with self-discipline and high achievement.

z.jpg
z.jpg (70.29 KiB) Viewed 115 times


Perhaps a more serious risk to the Japanese economy will be those yellow-haired men wearing shirts decorated with multi-coloured phalluses.

2.jpg
2.jpg (385.25 KiB) Viewed 115 times
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