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International Conference on Buddhism in the Age of Consumerism
1-3 December 2008
Organized by
The College of Religious Studies
Mahidol University, Thailand.

(Download registration form)

                The conference is held to honor H.M. King Bhumipoladulyadej who lives and promotes the philosophy of “sufficiency economy” to guide the general Thai people to live in moderation and to help the poor earn income enough to keep them happy while preventing them from being swept away by the strong current of consumerism.

                Consumerism is a prevailing characteristic of contemporary societies the world over. Due to its increasing negative impacts on the well-being of humankind and nature, it is imperative that the consumer impulse be balanced with values other than materialistic ones. This requires a new vision of human well-being that is not dependent on ever-increasing consumption of natural resources which are now rapidly dwindling away. The new vision will not marginalize the importance of material well-being, but is an attempt to find new ways in which humanity can flourish in harmony with its inner nature and the environment.

                The main thrust of Buddhism is to lead humanity on the way to eliminate suffering and to find genuine happiness. More than 2500 years ago the Buddha taught mankind to be aware of its potential and showed the path for this. Accordingly Buddhism has a contribution to make for those in the consumerist society to realize this new vision.

                The conference will bring together people with diverse areas of expertise to collaborate in the pursuit of happiness for the entire human race in ways that fully take into account the realities of economics, politics, education, psychology and spiritual values. Holding the conference in Thailand where the majority of the population is Buddhist may provide a valuable opportunity to look at the challenge of consumerism against the background of Theravada Buddhist teachings and practices. The participants may see how Thai Buddhists manage to cope with the increasing influence of consumerism on their-lives and society. The conference will also be useful for Buddhists themselves in their struggle to grapple with this reality while remaining faithful to the teachings. Since this struggle is the experience not only of the Buddhists but also of those of other traditions the conference therefore will be useful for them as well.

                The conference begins each day with lectures by invited speakers and will later break up into discussion groups to take up the issues presented in the lectures. This will enable participants to join in the discussion on the issue of their interest. Each group will select a representative to report its conclusions in a later plenary session.

                 The number of participants will be about 200 consisting of monks and academics, both Thai and foreign. For the benefit of Thai audience the highlights of the lectures will be translated into Thai and thrown onto the screen. Simultaneous translation may also be available. The speakers are prominent persons internationally well-known for their work in these fields. They are:

                1. Dr. B. Alan Wallace, President, Santa Barbara Institute for Consciousness Studies, U.S.A. author: Genuine Happiness: Meditation as the Path to Fulfillment.

                2. Dr. Matthieu Ricard, member, French National Order of Merit; monk and scholar of Tibetan Buddhism; author: Happiness: A Guide to Developing Life’s Most Important Skill.

                3. Dr. Joanna Macy, holder: Outstanding Woman in Buddhism Award of U.N.; ecophilosopher; scholar of Buddhism; author: World as Lover, World as Self.

                4. Lyonpo Jigme Thinley, Prime Minister, Royal Government of Bhutan.

                5. Mr. Sander Tideman, Businessman with experience in law, banking, and organizational development; co-founder of “Spirit in Business”, Netherlands; author: Mind Over Matter; Gross National Happiness.

                6. Dr. Tim D. Jackson, Professor of Sustainable Development, University of Surrey, U.K.; author: Material Concerns–Pollution, Prevention and Quality of Life.

                7. Mr. Robert Biswas-Diener, Program Director, Education and Learning Center for Applied Positive Psychology, U.S.A; Assoc. Editor: Journal of Personality.

                8. Dr. Tim Kasser, Assoc. Professor, Knox College, U.S.A; author: The High Price of Materialism.

                9. Ms. Mirabai Bush, Executive Director, Center for Contemplative Mind in Society, U.S.A; co-author with Ram Dass: Compassion in Action: Setting Out on the Path of Service.

                10. Dr. Ronald Nakasone, Buddhist scholar, Graduate Theology Union, U.S.A; author: Ethics of Enlightenment.

                11. Dr. Pinit Ratanakul, Director, College of Religious Studies, Mahidol University; Thailand; author; The Dynamics of Tradition and Change in Theravada Buddhism.


International Conference on Buddhism
in the Age of Consumerism

Monday 1 December, 2008
Morning Session
08.00 – 09.00 a.m.
09.00 – 09.10 a.m.
Opening Ceremony
09.10 – 09.45 a.m. .
A video depicting H.M. King’s promotion of the philosophy of sufficiency economy to guide Thai people to live in moderation and to help the poor earn income enough to make them happy
09.45 – 10.00 a.m.
10.00 – 11.00 a.m.
Keynote Address:
A Buddhist Paradigm for Human Flourishing
Speaker: Dr. B. Alan Wallace
11.00 – 11.30 a.m.
Questions of Clarification.
11.30 a.m.–1.00 p.m.
Lunch Break
Afternoon Session
1.00 – 1.45 p.m.
The Psychology of Consumerism
Speaker: Dr. Tim Kasser
1.45 – 2.30 p.m.
The Psychology of Human Flourishing
Speaker: Mr. Robert Biswas-Diener
2.30 – 2.45 p.m.
2.45 – 3.45 p.m.
Discussion Groups
3.45 – 4.45 p.m.
Plenary Session

Tuesday 2 December, 2008
Morning Session
09.00 – 09.45 a.m.
Economics and the Pursuit of Happiness
Speaker: Professor Tim D. Jackson
09.45 – 10.45 a.m.
Political Pursuit of Gross National Happiness
Speaker: Lyonpo Jigme Thinley
10.45 – 11.30 a.m.
Designing an Economy that Works for Everyone
Speaker: Mr. Sander Tideman
11.30 a.m.–1.00 p.m.
Lunch Break
Afternoon Session
1.00 – 1.45 p.m.
Changing Mind, Changing Brain
Speaker: Dr. Matthieu Ricard
1.45 – 2.30 p.m.
Consumerism and Buddhism: A Thai Response
Speaker: Dr. Pinit Ratanakul
2.30 – 2.45 p.m.
2.45 – 3.45 p.m.
Discussion Groups
3.45 – 4.45 p.m.
Plenary Session

Wednesday 3 December, 2008
Morning Session
09.00 – 09.45 a.m.

Human Flourishing in Harmony with Environment
Speaker: Dr. Joanna Macy
09.45 – 10.30 a.m.
Education and the Pursuit of Human Flourishing
Speaker: Ms. Mirabai Bush
10.30 – 11.45 a.m.

Buddhism in the Age of Consumerism:
A Concluding Reflection
Speaker: Dr. Ronald Nakasone
11.45 – 12.00 a.m.
Closing Remarks
Speaker: Dr. Pinit Ratanakul

The College of Religious Studies, Mahidol University,
Salaya, Phutthamonthol 4, Nakhorn Prathom, 73170, Thailand
Tel. (662) 800 - 2630 - 39 Fax. (662) 800 - 2659
Email: crwww@mahidol.ac.th, or atcrsmu@gmail.com
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