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.