A battery of world renowned scholars spanning the realms of Economics, Psychology, Philosophy, Neuroscience, Contemplative Science and business assembled at Zurich in April 2010 for a conference that was unique in both content and context. Imaginatively titled “Altruism and Compassion in Economic Systems”, the conference was hosted under the auspices of the Mind and Life Institute. The overarching objective and structure of the conference was a series of inter disciplinary dialogues engaged in by the experts with His Holiness the Dalai Lama. This juxtaposition of Science and Spirituality resulted in the discussion of innovative and ingenious topics such as Altruistic Sanctions/Altruistic Punishment, Pro-Social Behaviour, the linkage between Egoism and Altruism, Neural Bases of Compassion, Buddhist Economics in a materialistic world, Micro-finance and Women, Compassionate Leadership etc.
The pantheon of speakers included the likes of experimental social psychologist David Bateson; John Dunne, an Associate Professor in the Department of Religion at Emory University; Ernst Fehr, a professor of micro-economics and experimental economics and Chairman of the Department of Economics at the University of Zurich; and Matthieu Ricard, a French Buddhist Monk residing at Schechen Tennyi Dargyeling Monastery in Nepal. This conglomeration of distinguished scholars deliberated on meaningful measures that could be instituted in a practical, cost effective and result oriented manner to make our Planet a better place to live in. The Dalai Lama not only attended each and every session but also freely espoused and articulated many of his views on the topics being discussed and debated upon.
“Caring Economics” is a thought provoking, engaging and benevolent collection of thoughts and words that has as its edifice the eradication of physical and mental pain and the enhancing the quality of life. Quality of life here is not representative of furthering the material aspirations and ambitions of an insatiable population, but preventing the exacerbated evils that arise from a profusion of unequal distribution of wealth and welfare. However the talks do not detract from the necessity of possessing basic material comforts that are inevitable to ensure an acceptable standard of living. The book comes as a refreshing respite that offers a sensible and implementable solution to escape the clutches of the mundane vices plaguing us as we go about performing our daily chores. Caring Economics – Spreading contagious encouragement and an optimistic outlook about our future.