Sandcastles: Buddhism and Global Finance

Tricycle promo: Now playing: Sandcastles: Buddhism and Global Finance (November 17–30)

“Does Western Buddhism encourage its adherents to serenely ignore their participation in the capitalist machine? So says prominent Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Žižek, whose pointed critique was inspired by this documentary. Featuring commentary from speakers as diverse as Tibetan Buddhist teacher Dzongzar Khyentse Rinpoche and economist Arnoud Boot, Sandcastles breaks open the murky subject of financial trade with insights from both Buddhists and economists.”

I saw this film and I was deeply impressed with its sophisticated analysis, both of global finance and capitalism on the one hand, and a Buddhist and socially ethical response on the other.

Dzongzar Khyentse Rinpoche provides a very sharp insight into the nature of rich/poor global relations [paraphrasing]: “There are rich people because there are poor people. Rich people have this dream that someday they will live on an island by themselves and there will only be rich people in the world. But that will not happen.”

Furthermore, the sociologist in the film, Saskia Sassen, proposes a solution to the crisis caused by global finance. She claims, first of all, that we will not bring down the global capitalist system. Rather, the global financiers will kill each other off. Second, we can create an alternative economy that is socially responsible, based on shared non-material values of mutual care and a responsible relationship to the environment. This is already happening in small scale cooperatives in some places, but if these small sites of cooperative economy are replicated millions of times in many places, it will create and new system that is capable of replacing the current one.

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