Facing the problems of a global economic crisis, imbalance of production and consumption, financial market volatility, ecological destruction, degradation of the natural environment, climate change, increasing poverty, and social injustice, mainstream economists advocating capitalism confront many challenges today.
In an attempt to address the contemporary world situation, Master Sheng Yen (1930-2009), founder of the Dharma Drum Mountain (DDM) organization, introduced the concept of Protecting the Spiritual Environment (PSE) in 1992. More than just a religious concept or movement, PSE also provides practical ideas and methods to help face the world's economic dilemmas. I therefore call this new approach to economics ＂PSE Economics＂, as it is clearly different from other economic theories and approaches.
In its discussion of PSE Economics, this paper raises several questions. What are the Buddha's teachings to address economic situations? Are the principles of PSE consistent with that of economic life that the Buddha taught? Can we resolve our economic problems and environmental crisis using PSE?
In an attempt to find answers to these questions, this paper develops the economic system guided by Protecting the Spiritual Environment, addressing the root of world economic problems: desire. The key issue in PSE Economics is determining how to deal with our desires while mainstream economics predominately ignores this issue. PSE Economics can be applied using two methods. The traditional approach applies Buddha's teachings and seeks Contentment with Fewer Desires, Right Livelihood, Altruism, and Cordiality in Sharing. The second, practical approach guided by the Fivefold Spiritual Renaissance Campaign carefully and conscientiously regulates one's consumption, production, and distribution. These actions lead the world toward Protecting the Four Environments and the Six Ethics of the Mind campaign. The principles and approaches of PSE Economics were instilled by the Master providing our contemporary world with solutions that are environmentally sustainable, socially just, and globally peaceful. Perhaps this will open a window to a beautiful vista that is also pleasing to the eyes of mainstream economists.