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Political ethicist. Writer. Podcaster. Free Market Buddhist.

A look at what the Buddha actually said about acquiring and spending wealth.

It’s easy to get the impression Buddhism opposes earning much wealth beyond what’s “necessary,” or using wealth for one’s own benefit instead of giving away everything beyond the minimum needed to get by. After all, monks shave their heads, put on robes, and take up alms bowls. If you listen to a lot of contemporary, politically engaged Buddhists, you’ll get the impression that Buddhism necessarily opposes market economies and that wealth inequality runs counter to Buddhist values.

But that view of Buddhism is misleading — and rather inaccurate if we look to the ancient texts to discover what the Buddha…


The first of the new Legend of the Five Rings novels is pretty fun.

I’m kind of a sucker for shared world fiction, so long as the world is great. Two years ago, I read or listened to nearly fifty Warhammer 40,000 novels in a twelve month period, which was both awesome and maybe not something to be proud of. This week, I dipped my toes in a different world, with the new in a new series of Legend of the Five Rings novels from Aconyte.

I’m a big fan of the new edition of the card game. It’s maybe the best card game I’ve ever played, dethroning Netrunner and the old Dune CCG…


The Buddha’s parable of the two arrows of suffering helps us understand why our politics seems so broken and harmful, and how we can fix it.

Our politics and political culture feel pretty broken. I don’t think many of us can take in the ways we engage each other on political matters and think it’s healthy. In fact, writing a week before the presidential election, political culture looks like nothing but suffering. We don’t like the government, we don’t like each other, and we especially don’t like the people who join opposing teams, or aren’t sufficiently supportive of our side. We vent on social media, shame mob outcasts and undesirables — and are quick to affix those labels to anyone with whom we have even the…


They can’t escape Trumpism, but they can’t win with it, either.

Donald Trump is likely to lose in a couple of weeks. Once he’s out of office, the Republican Party will need to figure out what to do next, and its options are grim.

At the national level, Trumpism has never been popular. Trump’s approval ratings have stuck to the low 40s for most of his term, and when you control for partisanship (a lot of Americans will say they approve of the president of the same party, even if they have no idea what he’s actually up to), the actual level of support for what Trump represents is a good…


The Buddha told us to interrogate our beliefs and discard those that aren’t helpful. This advice could radically change our politics.

The Buddha was a pragmatist. You can see this in the structure of the Four Noble Truths. He starts by stating the problem, then gives the cause of the problem, then notes that it can be solved, and finally offers a set of tools for succeeding in solving it. That the path to the end of stress is the fourth of the four truths tells us that what ultimately matters isn’t the path itself, but the existence, cause, and possible end of stress.

In other words, the Buddha began with the goal and then worked out a way to get…


Critiquing the case against consumerism, exploring the dangers of political consumerism, and showing how market innovation enables the cultivation of Buddhist values and practices.

Welcome to another issue of The Free Market Buddhist newsletter. This week looks at consumerism, a common worry Buddhists have about free markets. I discuss the Buddhist case against consumerism, argue that it’s less persuasive than it might seem, and point out the problems of political consumerism, which is both more pervasive and dangerous. The issue closes with an argument that unleashing markets and innovation from political control could in fact lead to less consumerism and more opportunity to cultivate Buddhist values.

The Dangers of Consumerism

Many contemporary Buddhists worry that capitalism promotes values that interfere with our ability to live the way Buddhism…


The parallels are strong—and troubling.

A common worry voiced by critics of our modern, market-driven economy is that capitalism leads to — and depends on — consumerism. For capitalism to sustain itself, corporations need us to always be buying whatever it is they sell. They thus work to make consumerism central to our culture, and even to our very sense of ourselves. Anti-capitalists argue that because this consumerism is so destructive — to us, our society, and the environment — free markets must be reined in and consumerism opposed. …


Laws depend on enforcement, which depends on violence. Does this violate Buddhist ethics regarding harm, even if we don’t intend the violence?

One of the arguments I make against Buddhist calls for expanded state action is that new laws and regulations are ultimately calls for violence and the threat of violence be used against others. When you say, “We ought to ban the sale of large sodas in order to prevent obesity,” what you’re actually doing is asking the state to use coercive violence against people who might sell large sodas. This is just definitionally what laws are. They’re authorizations of force. Otherwise there’d be no enforcement mechanism, and they wouldn’t really be laws at all.

Right Action, the First Precept, and…


I’ve been a practicing Buddhist for three years and a libertarian for twenty. I came to the latter through long conversations in college with my friend Trevor Burrus, who is now my Cato Institute colleague and my co-host on our Free Thoughts podcast.

I came to Buddhism by way of an interest in ancient philosophy. I’d long been a fan of the Greeks, and still am very much influenced by Aristotle. A few years back, I decided it’d be worth my time to branch out a bit, however, and I began with Buddhism. This meant that most of my early…


In each issue of The Free Market Buddhist, I write about the intersection of Buddhism and liberty. I’ll discuss different aspects of Buddhist libertarianism, give you a peek into my research, and offer links to resources I’ve found helpful.

Most Buddhists don’t have the luxury of avoiding politics entirely. Unless we become monks and escape from the world into a monastery, our participation in a politicized and politically governed society means we must “do” politics — or at least have it done to us.

For quite a lot of us, our Buddhism compels us to not just focus on our…

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