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Is there any merit to supporting Buddhist owned businesses?

matthewmartinmatthewmartin Amateur BodhisattvaSuburbs of Mt Meru Veteran
Wasn't sure where to put this question. No "upasaka" category.

The idea occurred to me when I saw that the auto mechanic today is SE Asian & had a picture of a king & a monk on the wall. (I'm guessing Thai, but I suck at identifying SE Asian scripts)

Comments

  • vinlynvinlyn Colorado...for now Veteran
    Yes, probably King Bhumipohl and perhaps the Thai Supreme Patriarch (who just died the other day...I think he was 100).

    I have mixed feelings about the issue, and I'll tell you why. The last time I went to visit my mother in Winter Park, Florida, I stopped at a garage that did most non-major car repairs, service work, etc. I said I needed an oil change and new oil filter, and he asked if I had any evidence that I was a Christian (church ID card, etc.). I said no, and that I couldn't see why it would make any difference what religion I was in terms of getting an oil change. His answer was that his business gave a 15% discounts for card-carrying Christians.

    Oooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo. So bad.
    Chazmatthewmartin
  • ChazChaz The Remarkable Chaz Anywhere, Everywhere & Nowhere Veteran
    edited October 2013
    vinlyn said:

    Yes, probably King Bhumipohl and perhaps the Thai Supreme Patriarch (who just died the other day...I think he was 100).

    I have mixed feelings about the issue, and I'll tell you why. The last time I went to visit my mother in Winter Park, Florida, I stopped at a garage that did most non-major car repairs, service work, etc. I said I needed an oil change and new oil filter, and he asked if I had any evidence that I was a Christian (church ID card, etc.). I said no, and that I couldn't see why it would make any difference what religion I was in terms of getting an oil change. His answer was that his business gave a 15% discounts for card-carrying Christians.

    Oooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo. So bad.

    Well, I guess a business owner can offer discounts to whoever he wants. You see it a lot in other areas like businesses offering certain discounts to members of certain clubs.

    Once, he owner of a Tibetan gift shop gave me a sandalwood mala, albeit a cheap one, free because I was a Buddhist. He didn't ask for any evidence. I don't know if he would have offered the same courtesy to a Christian.

    An old friend has a son who is a born-again Christian. The son makes exquisite Taiko drums and tried to arrange sales of his drums to a Taiko drum ensemble, based out of a Denver Jodo Shinshu temple. They refused him because he wasn't a Buddhist.

    SCCA gets member discounts, or at least used to, with a number of sports car - related business around the country.

    All that said, I think it's at least in keeping with a sense of community, to patronize Buddhist-owned businesses whenever possible. I don't know if there is a "merit" - as in the merit from practice - to doing this. I think this is especially true when the business may not be all that successful. For example, I was in Colorado Springs Saturday afternoon, and had they been open, I would have stopped at a Tibetan gift shop I know of to buy a little something. CoS isn't exactly a hotbed of Buddhist activity and I suspect stores like that don't do as well as those in Boulder or even Denver.

    matthewmartin
  • vinlynvinlyn Colorado...for now Veteran
    It's a fuzzy line. I think there's a difference between supporting a minority-owned business (which in my view is fine), but I think the situation I outlined above is totally not fine.
  • ChazChaz The Remarkable Chaz Anywhere, Everywhere & Nowhere Veteran
    vinlyn said:

    .... I think the situation I outlined above is totally not fine.

    And I completely understand your feelings. It does seem a bit unfair, but, businesses are free to offer discounts to anyone based on any criteria. For myself, I'm free to take my business elsewhere, for whatever reason I see fit.

    I thought that the Taiko group refusing to do business with my friend's son was bogus as hell, and could border on illegal (discrimination based on religion). I think if someone can contruct a musical instrument of acceptable quality and design it shouldn't matter if the guy's a Baal worshiper, but for some people it does.

    My wife does skin art using Henna. One evening he had 2 Sudanese women over for some henna work, Muslim of course, and when they saw I was repairing a mala for a friend they inquired and we had an interesting chat about Muslim rosaries vs. Buddhist. I asked them if a Muslim would take or buy a rosary made by a Buddhist. They said, absolutely! Something tells me it's not quite that simple, but that's just how things go.

  • vinlynvinlyn Colorado...for now Veteran
    Interesting.

    I asked my adopted son (who is Pakistani Muslim) about a discussion a few of us had the other day. Would a Muslim accept a pig's heart valve in open heart surgery.

    Interesting about the henna. Each year when we had our school's international night, some Indian ladies always wanted to do the henna skin art on me.
  • matthewmartinmatthewmartin Amateur Bodhisattva Suburbs of Mt Meru Veteran
    Refusing the cash of pagans (or Christians) or charging them more-- doesn't seem like right livelihood-- I can't put my finger on why. If the contract was for labor, or rent, I suspect it would be illegal.

    Steering money towards businesses that subscribe to an ethical code, I suppose might be smart shopping if the business actually did follow their ethical code--less likely to get ripped off. But in a country where 100% of everyone is Buddhist, maybe it doesn't have the same ability to distinguish those who subscribe to Buddhist ethics and those that just happen to be Buddhist.

    I bought my meditation cushion from Esperanza Threads in Cleveland, since they try to seem to be progressive in their personnel policies.

    I'll have to think about this more.
  • ChazChaz The Remarkable Chaz Anywhere, Everywhere & Nowhere Veteran

    I'll have to think about this more.

    Definitely some food for thought in this discussion.

    I'm enough of a cynic, that in the case that @vinlyn cites, I suspect that the Christians are actually paying a fair, going price and the rest of us are getting a price marked up by 15%. No real discount going on, just one to make a certain customer demographic think they're getting a deal. The rest are getting hosed.

    That may indicate a deviation in opinion voiced in earlier posts, but hey .... food for thought?

    I like your choice in cushion and think you made a wise one. I got my cushions from a yoga studio in New Mexico made by the owner from organic, sustainable material. Even though the owner isn't a Buddhist, her products are great, and having met her, like her POV. They're also really comfy cushions!

    @vinlyn ... Seeing as you live in The Springs, I'm a bit surprised you haven't run into Christian-only discounts before this.



  • vinlynvinlyn Colorado...for now Veteran
    Well, remember, I've only lived here 3 years. But I don't support stores and businesses that base some of their customer base on religion. For example, I don't do Chick-Fil-A, because there are other choices. Sometimes I do shop at Hobby Lobby, but more when I can't find what I want at one of the other similar stores.

    In Thailand I tended to stay away from Muslim-owned establishments...not because of religious prejudice, but rather because when I did patronize them I found their attitude to very frequently be genuinely unfriendly...and more so the further south you got into the peninsula.
  • Bodhidharma was invited to visit the Emperor Wu of Liang, who was a great patron of Buddhism. The Emperor had built many monasteries, and he asked Bodhidharma what merit his generosity had earned. "No merit," said Bodhidharma. Startled, the Emperor asked Bodhidharma the supreme truth of the Dharma. "Vast emptiness; nothing holy," replied Bodhidharma. Finally, the Emperor asked, "Who are you?" "I know not," said Bodhidharma.
    http://monkeytree.org/silkroad/mindbody/emperor.html
  • There is merit when you don't look for merit.
    Barra
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