Looking ahead to next week’s refreshed and resonant broadcast of our Buddha in the World program, here’s some new material with the guest of that program, Indian journalist Pankaj Mishra. In the original interview with Krista in 2005, he had come out of a personal adventure retracing the steps of the Buddha and reflecting on his modern-day relevance. He had some powerful things to say about globalization, so we sought out his thoughts once more, this time on the economic crisis.

Now, as he did in that program, he critiques the ideologies of progress and globalization. But his critique makes me think of something in our Recovering Chinese Religiosities program: we often measure progress solely through economic terms; we measure China’s and India’s increased economic power as invariably good. And the logic is fairly convincing: if a country has more money, its citizens must have a higher standard of living, and must therefore be happier.

But, unfortunately, the opposite must also be true — that when we lose money, we lose happiness, because we lose security. Never mind “we” — maybe I’m just talking about myself. I am secure when I know I have a roof over my head, a job, food nearby, the whole nine. Yes, I admit it: having money makes me worry less about the future.

So how do we deal with this unhappiness and insecurity? As Pankaj Mishra says, we don’t have to invent some new solution to our way of living. Our traditions already have resources to heal us. We need to live like we’re bound to the people around us. Perhaps doing so — especially in a society where we value individualism and specialization — would have prevented the larger crisis. Well, who can say. We can’t really apply that program across society, but we sure can try it in our own lives. I suppose as the news gets worse day by day, being bound to other people is one way we might collectively stay afloat.

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9Reflections

Reflections

Thank you interviewing Pankaj Mishra. He summary of Buhddism and reasoned analysis of the situation in Kashmir was refreshing. I will certainly read his latest book.

We may be forced to see, even if only briefly, the deeper bankruptcy of desire-driven materialism. But we Americans do so only reluctantly, and will likely do so only so long as the recession forces it upon us. I understand that the deprivations of the Great Depression also drew people closer together for a while, but they also left deep emotional scars; our traditions do offer us some access to comfort and wisdom, but they can also exact a price in the curtailment of what we allow ourselves to consider humanly possible, and can fuel more suffering through rabid absolutism. It seems we err if we offer blind trust either to traditon or to modernity.; we must not forget that both are, in large part, human creations, and our creations are as imperfect as we are.

Several years back, I awoke to your first SOF program with Pankaj Mishra. I recall literally jumping up out of bed yelling, Wow! Wow!. His insight and clarity really excited me, especially as I had already been part of an Engaged Buddhism sangha. I really "got" Buddha's teaching in a new way, and I immediately purchased Mishra's book, which I have shared with many.

I look forward to hearing more from Pankaj Mishra, and thank you for re-airing this wonderful segment. As we Americans are forced by the realities of our economoy to not only simplify our lives but to once again embrace community and sharing, it is my hope - and my commitment - to see us also find the joy in that. Unless we find the joy in making these changes, we will see them only as what we have to give up, rather than to see the freedom, the liberation that simplicity and community can be. Thich Nhat Hanh says that suffering is not enough, we must also learn to smile. We must be the smile for others. I am in motion to simplify, to share more of my resources, and I can feel the smile already bubbling up within me. Thanks for your program.

Thanks all for commenting. The program, this latest interview, and a lot of Pankaj Mishra's writing is so incredibly relevant nowadays. I'm happy I had a chance to speak to him. We've received some great response to the re-airing of this program, and his cautious, skeptical take on modernity. We originally thought of airing the program around October, when the meltdown was in full force, but I think the program is even more relevant now than it was then, or when we originally aired it.

I am extremely happy to listen Pankaj Mishra talking to you on the subject which is very relevant to our world going through difficult times.
How proud I feel reading Pankaj's articles, reviews etc , is very difficult for me to to explain, as I was his teacher when he was studying in his secondary school in India. At present I am teaching in Singapore and I wish to know Pankaj's email id so that I can contact him and express my feelings about being so fortunate to be connected with this great student of mine in some special way. I really need your help in this regard, tell him I am Rakesh Verma , his Mathematics teacher in his Lucknow school.
I thoroughly enjoyed reading the posts here and I am inviting the attention of English department of my school in Singapore.
With best wishes and regards
Rakesh Verma

It is wonderful to hear from you. It reminds me of my old English teacher from high school, meeting her years later, and sharing those fond memories of being in her class. I will forward your information to Pankaj. I'm sure he would love to get back in touch with you.

I realy enjoy listening to Pankaj Mishra. I thinhk his thoughts are refreshing .

I love to listen to Krista's show.... when I first tuned in to her show couple of years ago, i immediately fell in love with it ... i eagerly wait for her shows every week ..

Anyway, being a muslim, I was touched when Pankaj Mishra described
the condition of Kashmir... I would only hope that both disputing parties stop fighting and , instead, try to co-exist with each other ....

and again nice show,,,,

This man is right on the money! Money only seems to flow to the top and the ones on the bottom are left out. The Media shows most of the riches and their actions which seems to make some of us believe that we have the right to such riches and start robbing the ones we believe should not have it all. Our world is made of all kinds of different believers, with different outlooks in life and there is where globalization becomes almost dangerous. We seem to think that we can change peoples ways or their way of thinking, hoping they will accept us the way we accept them, but that is almost impossible because it means that they would have to give up their identity. That is why I think that we all should stay where our thinking and our actions are a common thing and accepted by all. If we choose to go to other places, we should be ready to accept their ways and live by their rules and laws. All this sounds real easy to do but unfortunately it has NOT been working! I think ,
all we have accomplished with that globalization so far, it has caused mankind to loose sight of the real meaning behind thankful, grateful, respect, love,and self pride. It made way for greed, discontent, destruction, hate, and many other unwanted behavior! That is because governments and certain businesses have had all the financial benefit and the rest of the people remain in the same financial mess. I may wrong, but this is how I see it!