My best read of the past 10 years

Rhobin Courtright’s instructions to her faithful followers: “Review or recommend a book, a short story, or an online article, or a post on someone’s blog.”

I have very little opportunity to read books other than those sent to me to edit, or to review. The one that stands out in my mind is nonfiction, based on extensive research, and with a message everyone should take in. If applied everywhere, it would change the world.


During my Honours year, I shared a lab with Gayle Avery. She went on to rise high in academia, and is a worldwide expert in sustainable business practices.

One day, a mutual friend shared some gossip with me: Gayle had a new boyfriend, but yuk, he was German, and shorter than her. What could she be thinking of?

I met him, and decided the gossip should have her mouth washed out. I immediately liked Harry. Yes, he was German and so what, and shorter than her, and so what. But he was a brilliant architect, with a mind that delighted in mathematical puzzles. Gayle’s father wasn’t so sure, but my two-year-old daughter, Natalie, helped with that. We were visiting when the little tot took Harry by the hand, took him outside, and pointed up. “Moon!” she said.

Harry’s reaction convinced Mr Avery that Gayle had found a suitable partner. After much adventure, he returned to study, and also reached professorial level, the two of them teaming up academically as well as nuptially.

In 2016, they were given the job of being editors and major contributors in a book about the then Thai King Bhumibol’s “Sufficiency Economy Philosophy.” All the other contributors were Thai, and brilliant at their work, but their English was approximately deficient. So, Gayle hired me to translate their Thai English into something a native English speaker would understand.

I was impressed, inspired and invigorated — not by the editing work, which was painful — but by the content.

I am sure His Majesty was an enlightened soul, another Buddha. As a very young man, in 1949, he developed what he called a “New Theory of Agriculture.” This was to farm organically, adapting practices to local climate, soil and resources, without borrowing but living within the initially impoverished farmer’s means. Wherever it was applied, farmers got out of crippling debt, soil was regenerated, forests regrew, food became healthy.

Then came the SE Asian economic crash, caused basically by greed and short-term thinking. King Bhumibol extended his theory to all economic activity, and the Sufficiency Economy Philosophy was born. It was field tested in many venues, further developed by other theorists, and presented to the world in Gayle and Harry’s book, Sufficiency Thinking: Thailand’s gift to an unsustainable world.

Sadly, the concepts of SEP are mostly paid lip service in Thailand. The book however contains some 20 case studies of its meticulous application in fields as diverse as medicine, cement manufacture and tourism. In each case, the results have been spectacular.

Basically and simply, SEP is Buddhist economics. We would have a future if global economics were run according to its principles.

You can read read my review here. I also have the links to a couple of buying pages at the end of the review.


Please comment, then visit the other people in the Round Robin. They live either in North America or in Britain. Given the COVID19 situation in these locations, they are on my list of sending a safety wish during my nightly meditation.

Rhobin L Courtright
Margaret Fieland
Fiona McGier
Diane Bator
Connie Vines
Beverley Bateman
Anne Stenhouse
Skye Taylor

About Dr Bob Rich

I am a professional grandfather. My main motivation is to transform society to create a sustainable world in which my grandchildren and their grandchildren in perpetuity can have a life, and a life worth living. This means reversing environmental idiocy that's now threatening us with extinction, and replacing culture of greed and conflict with one of compassion and cooperation.
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12 Responses to My best read of the past 10 years

  1. okwriter says:

    A very though provoking post. Thanls for sharing it. When I think about Buddhism I don’t think about the Sufficiency Economy Philosophy or Buddhist economics. In fact I’d never heard of them before. I think more of the spiritualism of Buddhism.
    Beverley

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dr Bob Rich says:

      Thank you, Beverley. As Fiona said below, there is Christian economics, which has wrecked the planet, and First Nations economics, which lived in long term dynamic balance with its environment. Buddhist economics is much more like that.
      🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. fionamcgier says:

    Me late faither from Glesga used to say that religion, and Christianity in particular, had a lot to answer for. Part of that is the idea that God gave man dominion over the planet and its resources. That’s a recipe for the disaster we’re fast approaching. Cultures like Native Americans, who choose to live in harmony with the planet, have always been ignored–to our eventual peril. And I can’t help but think the planet is already “slapping us”, as Rhobin put it. Gaia is using the virus to reduce the excess population, to try to gain herself a breather. With all of us staying at-home, nature is trying to heal itself–witness the cleaner air, with no cars/planes belching exhaust in the air. Unfortunately, the history of mankind shows that we’re slow to learn lessons that seem glaringly obvious to some. Mom used to say, “None so blind as those who would not see.” Yes.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dr Bob Rich says:

      Fiona, now you can see why I would love to have you and Rhobin as judges in the essay contest I am organizing. You both have the right attitudes, because this is a Green contest.
      I have a huge respect for the cultures of the Australian Aborigines, which were even more dynamically in balance with their environment.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Rhobin says:

    I think our children and grandchildren are all going to pay for our ‘the Earth is OURS’ philosophy, Bob. Books like these are going to be very important in future years to, hopefully, help make the Earth sustainable to human habitation. Right now it (the Earth) is ready to slap all of us.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Dr Bob Rich says:

      Too right, as we say in Australia. Yes, all complex systems move toward equilibrium when disturbed. That slap is from the return swing of the pendulum.

      Like

  4. Skye-writer says:

    So many good ideas out there being ignored to our detriment. This books sounds fascinating.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Hi Bob, Yours is the 2nd post in the RR I’ve read and the other also recommends a non-fiction book. I like non-fiction, although economics is outwith my comfort zone. Perhaps one of my offsppring would enjoy, though. Thanks for including us in your nightly meditation. We do need support in the coming months. anne

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dr Bob Rich says:

      Thank you, Anne. Yes, even with my translation, this is not a book you’d read to switch off, but is an object of study. As you know, for fun I recommend Dr. Seuss.
      🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  6. cassandrahue says:

    Thanks for pointing out this book, Bob! Having lived in Thailand and taking an approach to life similar to Stephen Batchelor’s “Buddhist Atheist” philosophical framework, this appeals on many levels. Definitely now on my reading list!

    Liked by 1 person

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