From Publishers Weekly
Kaza, who co-edited the environmental Buddhist collection Dharma Rain
, gathers key Buddhist thinkers to reflect upon aspects of consumerism, greed and economics. Certainly, many other authors have examined consumerism from the lens of their religious traditions, but this book's Buddhist perspective is unusual, and its pairing of consumerist critiques with core Buddhist concepts is generally fruitful. Buddhism assumes, for example, that the very foundation of suffering is desire - a core teaching that has obvious applications to consumerism, whose goal is to multiply and intensify desire. Moreover, Buddhism stresses the impermanence of all things, providing a valuable perspective on the transient nature of goods. Several of the authors in this cogent anthology draw upon the metaphor of the "hungry ghost" of Buddhism to describe the ethos of consumerism: with their enormous bellies and tiny mouths, hungry ghosts are incapable of ever being satisfied. Some of the book's most helpful essays draw on Buddhism not merely to diagnose the problem, but to prescribe solutions on individual, local or global levels. Second-generation Zen American Sumi Loundon seeks the Buddha's middle way as a viable compromise between the consumer desires of her heart and the austerity of her antimaterialist childhood, while Vermont Zen Center teacher Sunyana Graef discusses taking refuge in the Three Jewels as an antidote to selfishness and excess. (Feb.)
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"Finally! A book about consumerism that goes to the very heart of the matter—that it corrodes our precious human capacities to know truth, see beauty, and feel love. These seventeen highly intelligent, compassionate, and lucid Buddhist teachers each give a unique understanding of what gnaws at most of us about our consumer habits. They each show how Buddhist thought can help clear our minds and settle us down. Hooked!
is also just an exceptional Buddhist primer for Westerners no matter what their consumer habits. I highly recommend these essays to everyone."—Vicki Robin, coauthor of Your Money or Your Life
and founder of Conservation Cafes
"Stephanie Kaza is gently and winningly shrewd; Buddhism is the faith practice that has looked most clearly at desire and what it means. This volume, therefore, is extremely readable and extremely useful to those of us from other faith traditions trying to come to grips with the modern plague of consumption."—Bill McKibben, author of Enough: Staying Human in an Engineered Age