e-ISSN 2231-8542
ISSN 1511-3701

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Consuming with Mindfulness: Import of Buddhist Philosophy for an Ethic toward Consumerism

Soumyajit Bhar

Pertanika Journal of Tropical Agricultural Science, Volume 26, Issue 3, September 2018

Keywords: Buddhism, climate change, consumerism, gas-guzzler, mindful consumption

Published on: 28 Sep 2018

This essay grounds itself in the recent debate concerning the imposition of moral obligations on individuals because of their indulgence in over-consumption practices. There is a growing body of literature that argues against imposing moral obligation on individuals because the contribution of individuals' consumption to global warming is insignificant. In this context, by drawing insights from Buddhist philosophy, I posit that the normative ground to impose moral obligation on individuals, however, may not always be the environmental harms, rather, I particularly demonstrate how the individual-centered moral deliberation of Buddhist philosophy regarding consumption can be a sufficient moral ground to make an individual responsible of his or her own consumption. First, I will provide a detailed account of how over-indulgence in consumerism is seen in Buddhist tradition. This will particularly explicate why, according to Buddhist tradition, endless persuasion of the materialistic path to satisfying one's desire, is considered a moral wrong. Through this premise, I also refute the usual belief that consumption actually offers an individual happiness and make her feel contented in life. After unpacking the drivers behind consumption and highlighting the major shortcomings of those, I further borrow from Buddhist thoughts to delineate avenues that can lead us out of the prevailing consumerist lifestyle. I invoke the notion of mindfulness to enhance our power of self-reflection and to critically review our own consumption. In conclusion, I affirm that mindfulness at both individual as well as collective level could be an appropriate way to move toward a sustainable and just society.

ISSN 1511-3701

e-ISSN 2231-8542

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