Being Poor in Spirit as Human Liberation

Resources »Eapr »East Asian Pastoral Review 2010 »Volume 47 2010 Number 1 »Being Poor In Spirit As Human Liberation

George Tissera


Impoverishment of the Masses in Sri Lanka

Most often poverty is discussed as an economic issue. The economic aspects of poverty have been the focus of most discussions but it is very important to view all economic, political, and social issues from a multidisciplinary approach. This is so with respect to poverty. Poverty is multidimensional in its causes and consequences. Therefore, a holistic perspective and approach is indeed necessary to understand the many facets of poverty.

Poverty is most often understood in terms of income and the equity issues in the distribution of income. Income is indeed an important factor, yet it is an incomplete conceptualization of poverty. It does not merely refer to low income but includes the related social and individual deprivations. The purpose of this essay is to bring out the economic and sociological dimensions of poverty in the hope that the concept could be studied and understood from a broader perspective. Thus, it is very practical to see some of the important implications that can be drawn from this conceptualization. For instance, Sri Lanka over the years since independence has relied on two broad strategies for human development and alleviation of the social exclusion and marginalization caused by poverty. These strategies are human capital development and implementation of a number of welfare measures.

During the first three decades after independence, the government policies focused mainly on equality rather than economic growth. Hence, the major motive of the five year plan (1972-1976) of the then Sri Lanka Freedom Party (S.L.F.P.) government was the reduction of inequality. The S.L.F.P. government gave the highest priority to import substitution, social welfare programs, and assets redistribution strategies. For instance, "the priority was assigned to supplying essential food items and assuring a nationwide distribution of essential foodstuffs at subsidized prices or with a minimum mark up. This was achieved through a trading system which relied on public sector imports and wholesale marketing and a scheme of retail distribution (food subsidies and food stamps) through a widely dispersed network of ‘Co-operative Societies.’ The major food items included rice, wheat flour, dhal, dry fish, sugar and powdered milk."2

Thus, there was an improvement in human development. Unfortunately, the S.L.F.P. was very poor in economic performances, because Sri Lanka underwent several external shocks during this period. For instance, the oil price hike in 1973-1975 was a major adverse external shock; the 1971 insurgency led to serious economic disruption and the performance of economy was also adversely affected by weather conditions in the mid-1960s and 1972-1973.3

The United National Party government in 1977 reversed the economic policies and strategies pursued since 1970. For instance, the general ration program which was introduced during the 2nd world war continued till 1979 and was found to be an expensive program for the government to continue and the government in 1979 decided to limit the ration system only to the needy households. The needy or the poor were defined as those families claiming to be earning Rs. 3,600.00 per year or less at that time.4 As far as human development was concerned there was deterioration since 1977.

Meanwhile "a package of new economic measures was introduced and its most significant feature was the reduction of the role of the state in economic activity and the promotion of the private sector. On the other hand, foreign investment was welcomed with open arms and was offered attractive incentives and tax holidays. Further, the government advocated the privatization and transfer of unprofitable and also profitable public enterprises to private ownership or management."5

In this sense, the year 1977 was a landmark in the economic and social policies of the post-independence period. The social and economic policies were made more open and the trade was really made free as there was a shift from an inward-looking development strategy to an outward-looking development strategy to free the economy from an array of controls. Ajitha Tennakoon, the macroeconomist who holds almost the same view as Karunatilake with regard to the trade liberalization, says that "the countries with outward-oriented policies grew faster than countries with inward-oriented policies and also suggests that the prudent macroeconomic policies and political stability are also major causes for successful liberalization."6 In such an exposure, these economic liberalization policies generated a wide range of new economic activities, resulting in an accumulation of profits. Therefore, it is evident that the economic liberalization policies in the post-1977 period were colored by the neoliberal phase of capitalism. It is a world-wide network and therefore it globalizes.

Social Consequences of Globalization

The obstruction of intercultural communication

Johannes Hoffmann7 explains the gravity of the capitalist domination as one global market in economy and some of the social consequences which arise as a result of globalization. For him, the obstruction of intercultural communication resulting from the globalization of the capitalistic economic system is one of the fundamental consequences of globalization. "There is the world-wide interconnection of all economic activities which brings about the joint operation and interpenetration of capital flows, labor markets, information, raw materials, management and organization, all of which takes place to a planetary extent in a uniformly internationalized, concurrent and totally interdependent manner."Therefore, the outstand-ing feature of the capitalist economy is that "there is further the phenomenon of ecological, political, cultural, social, psychological, technological and economical globalization, together with its interworking with the economic sphere."9 In other words this whole phenomenon is controlled by the law of market or the law of capital, with the sole purpose of earning profits and therefore fewer opportunities for welfare that leads to the destruction of the ecology as well.

It is evident that within the context of the capitalist economic policies (also in Regaining Sri Lanka-Project Report),10 the systematic privileging and subsidizing of monetary wealth leads to ecological destruction and unemployment all over the world. Also the increased productivity resulting from technological progress reduces the number of workers that are required.11 The Sri Lankan economic system also to some extent discourages people working in the paddy fields—this affects adversely the ecology of the country—instead the people are encouraged to work in the industrial sector. This is proved by the statistics shown in the three major economic sectors. For instance, in 2005 the industrial sector has achieved the highest growth rate of 8.3% and contributed 36.3% to the overall growth, while the agriculture sector grew by 1.5% and contributed positively to economic growth by 4.4%. The service sector has shown an average growth of 6.4% and contributed by 59.3% to the overall growth.12

At the time Sri Lanka received political independence, she was predominantly an agricultural economy. The governments after independence attempted to develop the domestic agricultural sector through the development of agricultural infrastructure to improve irrigation facilities and institutions for the delivery of credits, inputs, and extension services. Sometimes the government intervened directly in price setting, purchasing, and marketing of agricultural products, as we can see in the following table:

Table 1: Composition of Exports as Percentage of Total Export.13










Agricultural exports













































Minor agri.










Now most of these activities are owned by the private sector. Since the agricultural sector is in the hands of the private sector, the subsistence sector, especially through the Non-Government Organizations produces ‘Tran genetic field crops’ such as paddy, kurakkan, sweet potato and maize. At the same time the continuing process of rationalization brings about a higher rate of exploitation of natural resources such as soil, air, water, and raw materials.14 So, the subsistence nature of the domestic agriculture sector has largely disappeared. As a result, there has been an increased commercialization with the expansion of the market economy. The poor farmers who cultivate their paddy fields out of their own seeds would be unable to do so, because of the Tran genetic seeds and the higher rate of exploitation of natural resources. So, as a result they would become the poorest of the poor in the country.

The consequences of monetary structures

The monetary value is another social consequence of globalization. In the context of capitalism, "the money of the economy induces progressive growth and makes it mandatory to utilize nature from the vantage point of calculability and in the interest of the instrumental rationality of money."15 Here the primary orientation to money and interest means exponential growth. Therefore, this induction of exponential growth leads to ecological disaster. The Stability of the monetary value is an important phase of the economy; it is heavily dependent on the "stability in the macroeconomic environment, the soundness of the users of the financial system, and systematically important financial institutions, the stability of markets and the soundness of financial infrastructure. Also, a stable financial system fosters a stable payment and settlement system, facilitating the smooth functioning of economic activities of a country."16 The main point in monetary value is to see how development could be turned in a positive direction, i.e., here it is helpful to consider the growth of the economy in relationship to the growth of wealth and ecology of the society. In such an exposure, everyone plans effectively for the benefit of economic, ecological, and social growth. But in reality, human development or the measures of the welfare of the people is given very poor attention, because all developments that ignore the law of nature and not the law of money, are condemned to fail. For instance, with the introduction of Samurdhi17 a number of auxiliary welfare programs which were in operation for sometime, i.e., School Mid-day Meal, Janasaviya and the Food Stamp program, have been discontinued. Hence, the development that is being controlled by the law of money increases the ecological and social differences and increases inequality of income. In principle, everyone knows that inequality in income results in greater poverty.

Praful Patel, the vice president of the World Bank South Asia Region once said, "economic growth does not essentially mean poverty reduction, therefore, Sri Lanka should plan effectively for the benefits of growth to reach the poor in a meaningful way."18

Global Submission: The consequences of monetary structure for the world economy

The other social consequence of globalization is the global submission of the market, i.e., in economic liberalization, the whole trade is subjected to the law of the market. Thus, according to this law, even the masses and the labor force of Sri Lanka which consists of three distinct economic sectors, namely, urban, rural and estate, are also depending on the market. This is one of the main economic powers of the capitalist system and even according to the Central Bank Report, the general objectives of industrial policy, given in 1995 by using the "New Industrialization Strategy for Sri Lanka," are also meant only for a high industrial development. Unfortunately there is no room for agriculture and services and for human capital development within the frame of the New Industrialization Strategy for Sri Lanka. The following are the main characteristics of the New Industrialization Strategies for Sri Lanka:19

a. Expansion, diversification, and upgrading of the industrial base.
b. Efficient management of physical and manpower resources.
c. Employment and income generation in both rural and urban sector.
d. Export orientation.
e. Regional industrialization.

It is evident that the impact of the main characteristics of the Industrialization Strategy for Sri Lanka has ultimately caused upheavals in the society at large, even though these objectives were identified and implemented to flourish the trade. Although there seems to be improved performances, both in terms of profits and soundness during 2005, the effects of the economic liberalization adversely affected the poor of the society. For instance, the economic liberalization has caused the highest income inequality in the urban sector, with the highest per capita income while the lowest income inequality is found in the estate sector, with the lowest per capita income. Therefore, in such a context, the income inequalities naturally cause the social differences that would create unrest and dissension among the masses.

It is noteworthy here that J. W. Wickramasinghe, an economist, says that "there are no economic ends but there are only economical and uneconomical ways of achieving given ends and the economics deals with a very important aspect of human behaviour."20 So in the process of achieving given ends, Wickramasinghe further says that "the people naturally incline to choose a ‘selfish system’ which concerns solely and purely on one’s own interest, whereas ‘self interest’ concerns the simultaneous fulfillment of both one’s own interest and interests of others, though the former dominates over the latter and if ‘selfish interest’ is the ruling economic dogma in a capitalist economy, then how to achieve a better society."21

This has been a real problem for all the governments which were unable to find any remedy for this tragedy of income inequality for centuries. So, the monopolization of the natural resources to the profit of a few and the consequent denial of the rights of the poor over their livelihood often result in their displacement, further impoverishment, pollution, and ecological destabilization. In other words, this unfavorable situation has not only created huge disparities among the people but also has paved the way to create a brutal society where poverty has become the foremost human tragedy. In this sense, I would say that poverty is a crime against society. Who is responsible for this crime? Who are the poor in Sri Lanka? How many Sri Lankans are poor and where do they live? Then, how could poverty be reduced and eradicated in Sri Lanka?

Policy Measures to Transform the Society

Poverty exists everywhere and it is a subject which concerns more than half the population of this world, but there has been progress. For instance, "extreme poverty in developing countries fell from 28% in 1990 to 19% in 2002. Over the same period the number of people in developing countries grew 20%, to more than 5 billion, leaving 1 billion people in extreme poverty."22 It is also a matter of great concern for our country. I believe that the root cause for most of the social upheavals in our country is also poverty. If poverty is successfully tackled, it will provide the basis for solving many of the frustrations and dissension affecting our societies.

The concept of poverty is then clearly different from the economist’s characterization of poverty as lack of adequate income for basic living. It is not merely low income but it includes the related social and individual deprivations. The Socio-Economic Review, published by Sri Lanka Institute of Social and Economic Studies (SLISES), also defines poverty "as a condition of material deprivation."23

The present government has articulated its policies and strategies to accelerate economic growth and development and to reduce regional imbalance and poverty on a sustainable basis in a number of policy documents. The key policies and strategies outlined in the Sri Lanka New Development Strategy – Framework for Economic Growth and Poverty Reduction 2005, are as follows:

The strategy of the government stresses the need for combining an efficient private sector with a facilitative public sector, while strengthening the pre-requisites for growth as well as growth promoting factors. So the government’s plans embrace infrastructure development, thereby enhancing access to markets, investing in human capital and encouraging technology improvements by entrepreneurs, promoting investments throughout the country by ensuring policy stability and consistency, increasing institutional support and providing incentives for research and development. 24

It is important to ask whether the present government has taken the required reform measures to complement these efforts to further enhance the overall efficiency of the economy.

First of all, as far as promoting the prerequisites for economic growth and development is concerned, a more economic growth needs to be accelerated further to at least 8% to alleviate poverty, reduce unemployment, and raise the standard of living on a sustainable basis.25 Conceptually, economic growth figures reflect a slow growth in the economy, according to the Bank Report 2005. For instance, the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) grew by 6% in real terms in 2005 compared with 5.4% in 2004.26

Table 2. Real Output (percentage change)






















(Source: Central Bank of Sri Lanka, Annual Report 2005)

This improvement in Gross National Product (GNP) and Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has been a result of the government’s effort to reduce income inequality, especially through prudent monetary policy measures. The year 2005 started with several challenges posed by domestic and external shocks and their related uncertainties. For instance,

the impact of the tsunami necessitated a massive volume of resources for a quick recovery, oil prices were escalating rapidly, elections related uncertainty loomed large and additionally the peace process was at a standstill. As the year progressed, the uncertainties began to dissipate and the economy marched forward. Responding to monetary policy measures, high economic growth and relatively lower population growth pushed the per capita income to a higher level at US dollars 1,197. As a result of this economic growth, the inflation also declined from a peak 15.9% in February 2005, to reach 8% by December 2005.27

Even if there is an improvement in the economic growth statistically, when compared to the population growth rate of 1.2%, the economic growth rates observed are not impressive.

The preliminary results of the Consumer Finance and Socio-Economic Survey (1996/1997) of the Central Bank indicate an improvement in the income distribution, together with a reduction in the population and the unemployment rate.

According to the Registrar General’s Department (RGD) the estimated mid-year population of 2005 was 19.7 million. The rate of growth of population at present is 1.1 per cent and this is a significant progress achieved over the past two decades. Although the population growth has slowed down, particularly since the 1980s, the addition to the total population is estimated to be over 200,000 persons per year, as the table below shows:

Table 3. Growth of Population (percentage change)








(‘000 persons)













(Growth of population percent)













(Source: Central Bank of Sri Lanka, Annual Report, 2005)

So, as far as the reform measures of growth and regional development are concerned, the human resources development is the most important factor, i.e., enhancing access to education, improving the quality and relevance of education at all levels, providing high quality, equitable, cost effective, modern and sustainable health and care services.

Hence, when there is less improvement in the human resources compared to the population growth rate, that would certainly lead to social differences in the categories of the income inequalities and income distribution. Even according to the Consumer Finance Survey (1997-98) of the Central Bank, there had been a considerable degree of inequality in the income distribution in Sri Lanka. For instance, "the poorest 40% of the spending units in the income ladder received only 14.5% of the total income generated in the country, whereas the richest 20% received 53.8% of the income. Consequently, 80% of all spending units received 46.2% of the total income."28

Also, in numerous poverty studies, for instance, three household consumption surveys covering the entire nation except the North and East (i.e., the conflict areas), were undertaken during the 1990s. Out of these three surveys, two were conducted by the Development of Census and Statistics (DCS), entitled Household Income and Expenditure Surveys (HIES), and the third by the Central Bank (CB), entitled Consumer Finance and Socio-Economic Survey (CFSES). These show that 25% of the Sri Lankan population live in deprivation and below the poverty line (in the 1990s). The Development of Census and Statistics (1995-96) Survey suggests that long term poverty affects around 25% of the population in Sri Lanka. Moreover, the research study carried out by the UNICEF and UNDP (United Nations Development Project)29 shows that 18% of the population in Sri Lanka live in deprivation and below the poverty line in 1998.

Parallel to the survey reports, Harsha Athurupana of the University of Colombo, says that

the deprivation caused by income inequalities is experienced most acutely in areas with the highest level of poverty in the country, that is Nuwara Eliya, with a recorded 31% of the population living in poverty. This rate is followed by districts like Monaragala 29%, Polonnaruwa 28%, Badulla 27%, Ratnapura 25%, and Kegalle 24%. Gampaha ranks lowest in the index with only 12% of the population living in poverty and Colombo second lowest with 13% of the population living in deprivation, according to the study."30

These data clearly indicate that the benefits of the economic growth had not automatically trickled down to the poor. The reason is clear. Poverty in Sri Lanka is predominantly a rural phenomenon (including the estate sector) with almost 90% of the poor residing in rural areas.

In such a context, the implementation of the required reform measures of the income redistribution strategies is very important. This is evident in the government’s role in reducing income inequality during the last five decades. Hence, the governments in the past have made use of different mechanisms in two distinct phases:

a. In the first phase, till 1977, social welfare programs and asset redistribution strategies were given the highest priority in the economy to equalize the income distribution of the people.
b. In the second phase, from 1977 onwards, income grew faster during the period after economic liberalization and so, the policy has been to improve the living standards of the people without touching the unequal income distribution.

Employment as an indicator for human liberation

Sri Lanka was the first country in South Asia to adopt liberal, open economic policies. The United National Party government elected in 1977 and all the other successive governments have placed high priority on improving the quality of life of its people, in terms of nutrition, health, education, housing, amenities, and in all the aspects of human behavior. Practically most of these efforts have borne very positive results. In the process of implementing the strategies, the government needs the labor force as a basic requirement. Therefore, even if there is a decline in the population growth rate of 1.2%, when compared to the unemployment growth rate of 7.7%, the labor force growth rates observed are not impressive.

During the 1940s and 1950s, unemployment was not a major problem. Unemployment emerged as a problem during the latter part of the 1950s and according to the 1953 Consumer Finance Survey (CFS), the unemployment rate was 16.6%. According to the CFS in 1973, the unemployment rate was estimated at 24%, the highest on record. With the liberalization of the economy, the unemployment rate declined sharply after 1977. According to the Central Bank report in 2005, the unemployment rate had declined from 15.9% (in 1990) to 7.7% (in 2005), as Table 4 below shows.

Table 4. Labor Force and Unemployment (percentage change)








Labor force ‘000)













Labor force participation rate













Unemployment rate of labor force













(Source: Central Bank of Sri Lanka, Annual Report, 2005)

With the increase in population the labor force too has increased. According to the Special Labour Force Survey (SLFS),

the labour force, which is defined as persons who are aged 10 years and above, and able and willing to work, increased to 8.14 million persons in August 2005 compared to 7.98 million persons in the third quarter 2004. Consequently, about 7.7% of the labour force of about 8.14 million is estimated to be unemployed. The unemployment rate estimated by the Special Labour Force Survey (SLFS) declined to 7.7% in August 2005 from 8.3% in 2004.31

This decline was due to the overall economic growth that prevailed during 2005, absorption of labor by the recovery from the Tsunami devastation, and implementation of the graduate employment program.

Although 150,000 are annually entering the labor force and looking for employment, in 2005,

the increase in the labour force was moderate compared to 2003 and 2004, in which years the sample coverage expanded through the inclusion of the Eastern and Northern provinces, respectively. Further, the loss of lives due to the Tsunami devastation at the end of 2004 also restricted the increase in the labour force in 2005. According to the Special Labour Force Survey (SLFS), the labour force consisted of 7.52 million employed persons and 0.62 million unemployed persons in 2005.32

Of these over two thirds of the overall unemployment are women and youth. Therefore, the country faces a difficult task in generating productive employment and income-earning opportunities for a labor force which will continue for some time to grow faster than the total population. This means that a high growth rate of unemployment results in higher poverty. Therefore, this has been a critical situation for the country heading towards social unrest again.

In this study, we have attempted to look at the existing major policies and determine whether they serve the government’s social, cultural, and economic goals. In doing this, we need to examine a few of the principle economic objectives. This is done by a look at the nature of the present trade policies and analysis of their effects on the producers and consumers. Although this has been a very brief summary, it is evident that there is a wide divergence between the impact of existing policies and the economic objectives of the government. For instance, the behavior of income distribution seemed to be accompanied by government policy changes and indeed, the government welfare policy has largely contributed to reduce the inequality not only during the inward-looking economic policy regime but also during the liberalized economic policy regime. Unfortunately, it is crucial that our country’s liberalized economic policies did not bring adequate benefits for the poor. An important reason this has happened is that most of the problems of trade policies center on the global market economy. So, usually, in the context of an industry, the income inequality persists despite economic growth.

Finally, it is the ruling government that is responsible for evaluating and resolving the prevailing economic problems which are raised due to different issues and situations. Hence, the question is what sort of policy measures would more effectively contribute to reach the economic objectives of the government? The arguments presented below suggest that there are two fundamental changes required to arrive at favorable policy measures.

  1. Reduce the level and variability of protection in the policies of the global market in order to increase the competition in domestic markets and thereby to increase the growth of incomes and employment. This will also lead to a better society where there is no inequality among the people.
  2. Reduce and then eliminate the global market economic infrastructure where everything is determined by price. So, as an alternative, a much more balanced market economy could be introduced which is not a hundred percent open and also reduce the laws that work against the local economic activities of the developing countries. This will result in more room for the welfare of the common people.It is worth noting here that a number of countries including Sri Lanka have been adopting this policy reform approach as an alternative for the global market economy system which is really ruining the institutions, organizations, and countries as well. In conclusion it is very important to note that countries like India, Malaysia, China, Korea, and Japan that are already in this process have proven successful.

Social Consciousness to Transform the Society

If the government really wants to have a change in policy as an alternative to the prevailing market system, then a rapid transformation of social consciousness is needed. This is the most urgent renewal needed, a newness of consciousness signified by the spirituality underlying all the religions in Sri Lanka.

At this point, it is worth noting the insights of J. W. Wickramasinghe on the role of the different aspects of human behavior in a capitalist economy. Although he is a leading figure in the field of economics, he strongly admits that the moral, ethical, and spiritual aspects of human behavior are not ‘non-economic’. He further says that "if the economists attempted interpreting economics as a positive science, ignoring the moral, ethical and spiritual aspect of human behavior, then that would not only create huge disparities in endowments among the people but also would have created a brutal society."33

In reality we are still in the place that is pointed out by Wickramasinghe. Even if there is plenty of human and prime natural resources in the country, Sri Lanka still is a developing country. The instrumental forces that draw the country backward are not materialistic but non-material.

It is important to forego egoism or tanha which frequently creates brutal societies. The foremost concern is to show how important it is to destroy egoism or tanha, greediness, and selfish interest, in view of a sound spirituality. It is precisely here that the spiritual and moral traditions could enter and control the sphere of global market by way of the charismatic role of the revolutionary teaching of the world religions. This is the kind of spiritual revolution ardently needed in Sri Lanka, i.e., to be spiritual is to be open to reality and to respond to it relevantly as adequately as possible. From the perspective of human praxis, it is being poor in spirit (in biblical Christianity) and being appiccha (in canonical Buddhism), the key terms signifying the paths towards a better human society and human liberation as well.

Thus, in this section, I shall study the notions of appiccha and other Buddhist terms related to it, as well as the Christian term, being poor in spirit.

Appiccha (appa+ iccha)

To begin with, appa34 (adj) means "to make little, small, little, insignificant, often in the sense of ’very little (=next to) nothing’" (cf. Digha-nikãya i. 61); compare the Greek alapaVv, alapaso, to empty. Appiccha35 (adj., appa + iccha:) connotes "desiring little or nothing, easily satisfied, unassuming, contented and unpretentious" (cf. Sam-yutta-nikãya i. 63, 65; A iii. 432; iv. 2, 218 ff.; 229; v. 124 ff.; 130, 154, 167); appicchata (neut., fem.,contentment), "being satisfied with little, unostentatiousness" (cf. Digha-nikãya iii. 115, Majjhima-nikãya i. 13;Samyutta-nikãya ii. 202, 208 ff.; Anguttara-nikãya i. 12, 16 ff., iii. 219 ff., 448, iv. 218, 280). The opposite ofappiccha is mahiccha (cf. Milinda-pañha 242; Suttanipãya 494). Another similar word to appiccha isakincanna,36 which refers to a state of having nothing, absence of possessions, nothingness, i.e., cherish no worldly wishes whatsoever, and akincannayatana (neut.), the realm or sphere of nothingness (cf. Digha-nikãya i. 35, 184; ii. 156). This word refers to the state where there was absolutely no craving for sights, sounds, smells, tastes, tangibles, mind objects37 (cf. Digha-nikãya iii. 253). Yet in another place, its meaning refers to "those who will dwell practicing the Dhamma properly and perfectly fulfils the Dammha-way"38 (cf.Majjhima-nikãya ii. 254, 263; iii. 28, 44; Samyutta-nikãya iv. 217; Anguttara-nikãya i. 268; iv. 40, 401).

The word sukha39 is related to appiccha. It refers to a pleasant path, easy progress, happy or pleased (cf.Digha-nikãya ii. 233) and well being, happiness, ease, ideal, success (cf. Digha-nikãya i. 73; Majjhima-nikãyai. 37; Anguttara-nikãya iii. 355), i.e., "one should do deeds of merit that brings happiness."40 There are two kinds of this word, namely, kayikasukha and cetasikasukha (cf. Anguttara-nikãya i. 80; praise, wealth and heaven). There are four aims of this word, namely, possessing, making good use of possessions, having no debts, and living a blameless life (cf. Anguttara-nikãya ii. 69). The opposite of this word is asukha: "Lord, may the Blessed Lord stay for a century, may the Well-Farer stay for a century for the benefit and happiness of the multitude, out of compassion for the world, for the benefit and happiness of devas and humans", so much was Venerable Ananda’s mind possessed by mara,41 (mara = ‘death’, the personified spirit of evil, the Tempter, very similar to the biblical Satan). But like Brahma, he is only the temporary incumbent of an office,and often combined with dukkha.

This abstract noun appicchata is a key word in Buddhist spirituality. The association of iccha (desire, want, need) with lobha (acquisitiveness) in the Budhist Canon seems to indicate that the literal meaning of appiccha as ‘having minimum wants’ is an understatement for complete detachment or renunciation of all inordinate desires. This is further confirmed by the use of the term papiccha(having sinful desires) as its opposite, instead of the more commonly used expression mahiccha(having great or inordinate desires).42

In fact

the development of appicchata as well as the avoidance of its opposite, mahicchata, is presented by the Buddha himself as a distinctive mark of his doctrine (dhamma), spiritual praxis (vinaya) and his whole dispensation (sasana). So, here, it is worth noting that the word santutthi (contentment, i.e., the state of being satisfied with what one has) which accompanies the word appicchata cannot but evoke the happiness and joy that is attributed to the spiritually poor in the text of Matthew’s beatitude.43

The Christians through self-oblation, denying one’s self, taking up one’s cross, find the way of being poor and happy. Buddhists through the realization of no-permanence, emptiness and non-self (anicca, dukkha, anatta) find the way of being appiccha and happy.44 This is further confirmed by the Lord Buddha when he proclaimed perfectly the five perceptions making for maturity of liberation, i.e., "the perception of impermanence (anicca), of suffering in impermanence (anicca dukkha), of impersonality in suffering (dukkhaanatta), of abandoning (pahana), of dispassion (viraga)."45


Daliddiya46 (and daliddya, neut.) (Sk. Daridrya) means poverty (cf. Digha-nikãya iii. 65, 66; Anguttara-nikãyaiii. 351 ff.; Jãtaka i. 228).

Aloysius Pieris looks at the path of appicchata in a slightly different perspective. For him these ideals not only define religious life, but also serve as the noblest motive for embracing the very life on this earth. According to Pieris, spiritual poverty, appicchata, neither tolerates nor justifies material poverty, dalidda. The materially poor can reach spiritual perfection (arahantship; the attainment of the last and highest stage of the path [magga]; arahant means the perfection in the Buddhist sense, Nibbana; cf. Samyutta-nikãya iv. 151) by becoming greedless or poor in spirit.47

The strong demand for "poverty in spirit" (appicchata) as the condition for discipleship does not imply a religious justification of material poverty (dalidda) among the masses, as if to imply that the rich can remain complacent about their riches without sharing it with the needy as long as they are "spiritually" detached from their wealth, and that the poor should remain in their poverty and misery in order to prevent their minds from hankering after riches.48

In the Bible, so also in the Tripitaka,49 the lowly social condition of the poor is never regarded in itself as a form of holiness. Therefore, it is important to study the two forms of poverty analyzed by Aloysius Pieris. According to him, "the socio-economic poverty (daliddiya), which is certainly an evil (dukkha) and the ultimate root of its evil, is not to be identified with just the material poverty (dalidda) but with greed (tanha, the opposite of appicchata)."50 Walpola Rahula Thera also says that poverty (daliddiya) is the cause of immorality and crimes such as theft, falsehood, violence, hatred and cruelty (see Cakkavattisihanada sutta; Digha-nikãya iii. 395-405).51


The word tanha52 (fem.) [Sanskrit trsna, besides tarsa (masc.) and tr. (fem.) tarsna, thirst (Greek, tarsia, tarsia] means dryness and its neuter form is drought and thirst; (v.) to be thirsty, or to make dry (in Greek, tersmai, tersmai). Another form of tanha is tasina; literally drought, thirst, craving, hunger for, excitement, the fever of unsatisfied longing (i.e., thirst, pipasaya for solid food; cf. Samyutta-nikãya ii. 101). The opposite of this word is to have peace of mind (i.e., upekha or santi). In its secondary meaning, tanha is a state of mind that leads to rebirth.

In the chain of causation, it is said how tanha arises when the sense organs come into contact with the outside world; there follow sensation and feeling and these result in tanha (Digha-nikãya ii. 34). Also there are three aims of tanha; namely, kamatanha, bhavatanha and vibhavatanha (craving for sensuous pleasure, for rebirth or for no rebirth). These aims are mentioned already in Digha-nikãya ii. 61, 308; iii. 216, 275; Samyutta-nikãya iii. 26,158. It is said that tanha, the source of sorrow, must be rooted out by the way it is laid down, i.e.,by the Aryan Path (ariya-magga). Only then can the ideal life be lived.53 In Sangiti Sutta the Lord Buddha taught the disciples about ignorance (avijja) and craving for existence (bhavatanha) as something to be abandoned (cf. 33, verse 1.9 (2).54

There is another group of three aims of tanha given as kamatanha, rupatanha and arupatanha (Digha-nikãyaiii. 216) and yet another as rupatanha, arupatanha and nirodhatanha (Digha-nikãya iii. 216).

Tanha binds a person to the chain of sansara, of being reborn and dying again and again, until arahantship; i.e., to have got rid of tanha is arahantship (Digha-nikãya. iii. 238; cf. Samyutta-nikãya iii. 8, 107) or nibbanais attained.

On the other hand, Aloysius Pieris speaks of "the spiritual poverty or appicchata as a means of eradication of greed (tanha-nirodha; cf. Digha-nikãya iii. 216). The characteristics of greedlessness (alobha), namely, sharing (samvibhaga), generosity (dana), and offering up (caga) would result in communal life (sangha)."55The well-known Sigalaka Sutta56 is a concrete example for this communal life and it shows with what great respect the lay person’s life, family, and social relations are regarded by the Buddha.


In the secular sense of the Greek usage, the word, ptwcóV, ptōchós, denotes a beggar, or just a poor person with few possessions. But it means much more than that, i.e., the state of one’s life with a total economic poverty.57 The people who have nothing are forced to beg to survive. Ultimately, they are dependent on others for material or social help without which they cannot survive. In the NT, almost always, ptwcóV(ptōchós) means economic poverty. Those who are poor always depend on the generosity of others (see Mt 19:21; 26:9, 11).58 Therefore, poverty means total dependence on other peoples’ gifts. This helps to keep oneself alive and it is opposed to ‘self-sufficiency.’

Luke 6:20 simply has "the poor". Moreover, the religious meaning can also be found in Luke, despite several simple contrasts between the rich and poor (as in Lk 12:13-21; 14:7-14; and 16:19-31). The rich have little sense of need for God (see 12:16-21; 16:19-31), while the poor depend upon God (see 1:46-53; 14:25-33).59

According to Hagner60 there is another perspective to poverty, "the poor are not persons who are submissive, mild and unassertive, but those who are humble in the sense of being oppressed (hence, ‘have been humbled’). The poor are almost and always poor in spirit, the poor in spirit are almost always the poor. For those in such a condition have no recourse but to depend upon God."

In sum, it is worth noting here that the poor in spirit indicates those materially poor (greedlessness) who place their trust in God. Since the poor have no other recourse, they are generally driven to complete reliance upon God. The poor in spirit are thought to be the people of God’s special concern61 (see Ps 9:18; 33:18; 40:18; Is 57:15; James 2:5). However, some people who are materially poor (dalidda) may place trust in materials (because of greediness, i.e., tanha the opposite of appicchata) without placing trust in God. These are not poor in spirit.62

Ptōchós and appicchata as means for human liberation

Jesus began his mission inviting people for conversion of heart: "Repent, the Kingdom of God is near" (Mk 1:15). How do we understand the conversion of heart today? This is important because, in the realm of politics, conversion would mean conversion from ignorance to conscientization and from status and power to service. In the realm of economics, conversion would mean conversion from hunger to satisfaction, from poverty to prosperity, from hoarding to sharing and from injustice to justice. In social life, conversion would mean conversion from casteism to equality, from division to unity, from selfishness to sacrifice, from hatred to forgiveness and from limitedness to fullness. In the realm of spirituality, conversion would mean conversion of heart from cult to truth, from death to life, from fear to courage, from doubt to faith and from sin to holiness. Such a spiritual, political, economic, and social conversion of all of us would make us all children of God.63

The people in Sri Lanka are divided on the basis of caste, class, ethnicity, and religion and as a result people experience division, suspicion, hatred and also suffer the disastrous consequences. There are clear parallels between the ‘then’ and the ‘now’ not only in the presence of hunger in our world but in the application of economic theories which appear to pay little attention to or care about the realities on the ground. For instance, today, the neo-liberal economic theory marches under the banner of ‘market forces.’ The market, which sets the price of everything but knows the value of nothing, pays little attention to social and environmental cost. Therefore, the present situation of our country at the national and global levels is clearly unsustainable and certainly leads directly to hunger and civil strife.

The people in our country therefore need a conversion as explained above. Hence, the social consciousness as it exists in appicchata, sukha, akincanna, and ptwcóV (ptōchós) can promote unity among people and be channels of peace by bringing equality among people. One could multiply illustrations of authentic spirituality from these words either in the Bible or the Tripitaka. But they underline also the illustrations of spirituality for mission to the world. It is interesting to see how this mission to the world, dominated by the global market, is carried out to the ordinary people in order to respond to their minimum needs. Undoubtedly, it is evident that "according to the Buddhist thinking, to put oneself in a meaningful and acceptable position in society, man needs the means, i.e., wealth and property (dhana and bhoga)."64 In other words, "Buddhism does not consider material welfare as an end in itself; it is only a means to an end, a higher and a nobler end. But it is a means which is indispensable, indispensable in achieving a higher purpose for man’s happiness. So, Buddhism recognizes the need of certain minimum material conditions favourable to spiritual success."65

The Buddhist, even in terms of basic needs, has to act in accordance with the ethics of living (vinaya), because the Buddha did not take life out of the context of its social and economic background. Rather, he looked at it as a whole, in all its social, economic, and political aspects, i.e., "one has to be in the right, accepting responsibility to better his economic situation in life and one has to put in a good deal of honest striving."66 The Buddha even went into details about saving money and spending it, as, for instance, he said that "one should divide his wealth in four. One part he may enjoy at will, two parts he should put to work, the fourth part he should set aside as reserve in times of need."67 Indeed, Jesus did not preach social revolution, although his message brings the whole pain-ridden world of humankind radically under God’s critical judgment and so calls for a turnabout. This is not the profoundest vein in the beatitudes, but what they enshrine is a spiritual affirmation of the ultimate power of powerlessness. Here, the first thing one must realize is the importance and need of "poverty of the spirit" (Mt 5:3), namely, the importance of having a realization of one’s own nothingness and a consequent need of and dependence on God. So, the basic requirement on the part of everyone confronting God is one of self-emptying; i.e., the poor in spirit in an absolute sense.

Therefore, a middle path has to be discovered, in order to integrate personal development in all its dimensions and to reconcile personal development with the welfare of peoples. The middle path is spiritual poverty (this is understood by the standing orders given by Jesus to those who are blinded by their wealth (see Lk 12:33, "sell your possessions and give alms"; Lk 14:13, "When you give a feast, invite the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind"; Lk 18:22, "Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor") or appicchata that would precisely enable the people to share the means, i.e., wealth and property (dhana and bhoga) and then to be satisfied with the minimum wants (appicchata or tanha-nirodha). Hence, there is a need for renunciation (greedlessness, i.e., poor in spirit and appicchatawa) or the eradication of greed (tanha-nirodha). Thus, the Lord Buddha preached about kamatanha, bhavatanha and vibhavatanha as things to be abandoned (cf.Digha-nikãya iii. 481). The Gospel of Luke describes being rich (greediness) as an eschatologically dangerous state (e.g., the rich fool in Lk 12:16-21; the callous rich man in Lk 16:19-31, and the rich ruler in Lk 18:18-23). Moreover, a state of greed covered up by false religiosity is abhorrent and requires a thorough cleansing, as in the case with some Pharisees (see Lk 11:39-41).

While the rulers of the state are responsible to alleviate poverty by making a planned intensification of domestic production and avenues of employment, the people of the state also must live with a constant social consciousness as having satisfied with minimum wants, which is an understatement for complete detachment or renunciation of all inordinate desires. This process of action would definitely lead the state to an economic redress that which undoubtedly carries with it a dignity and a sense of triumph and achievement.68 I would like to point out this ‘economic redress’ as a remedy for the strategies of the alleviation of poverty.

Missionary Action to Transform Society

The mission of Jesus Christ is to seek and save the lost (see Lk 19:10). Then, what kind of mission would resemble most the modern day parallel to the mission of Jesus? It is here that the missionary action to transform society encourages us to reflect upon the meaning of God’s salvific plan for the rich and the lost. This is a network of relationships between persons who love and respect one another, accept the Kingdom values, seek to do God’s will, and act out of love. In this sense, the rich in Luke’s Gospel do not have success with spiritual matters (see the parable of the rich fool, in Lk 12:13-21; the story of the rich man and Lazarus, in Lk 16:19-31; and the rich ruler’s encounter with Jesus, in Lk 18:18-30). These show how difficult it is for the rich to enter the Kingdom of God. But Luke saves the successful conversion story of Zacchaeus to the last.

Zacchaeus becomes the immediate recipient of God’s grace as he undergoes a ‘radical transformation’. Zacchaeus is a rich man but he was also a marginalized man. In many ways, Zacchaeus represents a significant number of rich people whose riches are linked with dishonest gain (tanha) or unfair distribution.

Luke ends the pericope with the mission statement by Jesus, i.e., "for the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost" (Lk 19:10). So, how did the salvific mission of Jesus change Zacchaeus’ life? It brought a personal relationship with Jesus, a new attitude towards work, a concern for the poor, and a reinstatement to his family and community. After all this, Jesus says, "Today salvation has come to this house" (Lk 19:9). Salvation meant that Zacchaeus’ whole self had been transformed, his life, his home, his work, and his sense of public responsibility.69

In our discussion on the missionary efforts to transform society, the theology of Acts is informative and inspiring. The Acts of the Apostles is a book which contains the historical nucleus of the infant Church, from the ascension of our Lord onwards. In this glimpse of the life of the first Christian community in Jerusalem, the author of Acts reports about four major qualities of the nascent Christian community (cf. Acts 2, 42-47).70They are fellowship, praying, breaking of the bread, and teaching.

Fellowship, κοινονια, koinōnia. Indeed, koinōnia reflects in Greek an early Semitic name for the Jewish group of believers in Jesus. During the first years of the mission in Jerusalem (see Acts 2:1-5:42), the Christians were of one mind (see 1:14; 2:46; 4:24; 5:12). Acts 2:42 describes the fervor of the first Jerusalem Christians who were so filled with the love of God and neighbor that everyone shared what he/she possessed with fellow-Christians. The Christian community in Jerusalem had all things in common, koinōnia, and it was a real gesture of the ideal Christian family.

Praying for each other. The Apostles were convinced that the last times had begun and that this world’s wealth had lost its meaning.71 So, they took a very firm stand and continued to pray for the sick (see Acts 4:8-12) and those far from God (see 8:26-31). For instance, Barnabas, a man of standing in the Church in Jerusalem (cf. Acts 4:32-37) was convinced that Saul had become a disciple of Christ.

Breaking of the bread (a quality that presumably refers to the Eucharist; cf. 1 Cor 11:23-26).

According to Paul, "the recalling of the Lord’s death may echo the Jewish pattern of Passover (Greek, αναμνεσις, anamnēsis), making present again the great salvific act of crucifixion. The Gospels showed the risen Jesus present at meals (cf. Lk 24:30, 41-43; Jn 21:9-13; Mk 16:14), so that the Apostles recognized Jesus in the breaking of the bread (cf. Lk 24:35), may be related to belief in his coming at the celebration of the Eucharist. A sacral meal eaten only by those who believed in Jesus was a major manifestation of κοινενια, koinonia.72

Teaching of the first apostles, didaché (see Acts 2:42). The Apostles from the day of the descent of the Holy Spirit convincingly and effectively preached the truth of Christ’s resurrection and their miracles confirmed their preaching (see 3:12; 4:7; 6:8). For instance, while Peter was explaining Christ and his teaching (see 10:36-43), the Holy Spirit came upon all the Gentiles present.

The four major elements characteristic of Jerusalem communal life reported by Acts show how the believers felt strongly that ways and means should be found to overcome the obstacles to communal life.

Since thelove mission of Jesus is to "search for the lost and bring back the strays" and this has been an urgent need of the Sri Lankan society, a rapid transformation of mass religious consciousness should well be taken, with inspiration from the teachings of the Church. It is true that many of the values are enhanced by upholding the religious traditions, but now they are diametrically opposed to the values and negative effects on society. Therefore, it is high time to be aware of the illiberal consequences of market values. For instance, "the rights are for money rather than for human persons"73 and it is still worse to say that "when money becomes the supreme value, human beings and human communities as such do not count, unless they have a financial clout."74 This proposal is not utopian, on the contrary, it is well in accord with the real facts of the matter. The two value systems are clarified in the following presentation.75

God is loveMoney is supreme value
Loving service to the other, espe-Profit for oneself and
cially the needy and helplessone’s group or company
Sharing of wealth, detachmentUnethical profit accumulation
Respect for allRespect for wealthy, powerful
Liberation of the captivesDebt slavery of the poor
Truth and honestyMedia manipulate of the minds
JusticeFree market above justice
Equal dignity of allMarginalization of the poor
Woman’s dignity and rightsExploitation of women
Love of little childrenNeglect of children’s dues
Safeguards of familyBreak-up of family
Genuine freedom of conscienceFreedom for the market forces
Land, homes for allWorld apartheid, homelessness
Work and fair wages for allUnemployment, gross inequality
Law for humansLaw and system for profit
Compassion for the needyExclusion of the needy
Health, abundant life for allGenocidal killer system
Non-violence, forgiveness, peacePromotion of arms, crime, violence
Love of nature, safeguardDestruction of the environment, of the earth ecology
Assumption: joy in love, serviceMoney market brings happiness.

The two sets of values show how the social consequences of Jesus’ teaching and that of globalization are diametrically opposed to each other. What does the contrast teach us about ministry to the people whose wealth and power have clouded the vision for a meaningful life? First, we need to remember that the rich and the lost are also the objects of God’s salvific concern. It is easy to forget the spiritual needs of the rich in the face of the overwhelming needs of the poor. But it is evident and clear that all are in need of salvation. The rich are no exceptions, because, they are also just as fallen as the poor are and therefore must hear the gospel. The above contrast shows how the powers of the global market have developed in such a way that they could determine the prices not only for goods and services, but also for human values.

The Church can be instrumental in directing the economic powers in this world. As far as the Christian Social Thought and the teachings of the Church on social concerns are concerned, much will be desired.

Earlier, the goal of the mission of the Church was mainly the implanting of the Church and pastoral care of the Christians. But today by mission, the Church does not mean only that but rather the proclamation of the ‘Kingdom or the reign of God’ especially for the poor, captives, marginalized, helpless, handicapped, etc. Unfortunately, still there seems to be a relative neglect of justice and sharing, and then the personal salvation was given the priority.76

The Church has been unable to contest seriously the basic social inequalities and the disparities, etc. But the signs of the times invite the Church to come out of the traditional religio-social framework in order to stand against the evil powers and to seek and save the lost, because, the lost include both the rich and the poor. While the Church is giving many gifts to the people, it must naturally become an organization for radical change that brings equality and social justice to society.77 There is another traditional hindrance for the Church to overcome this challenge. That is the priority list of the emphasis. High on this list must be social justice and sharing. Unless the Church takes the initiative towards a radical change in the social thinking to contest the social upheavals in society, personal salvation will have no meaning today. The Church itself would then become the cause of inequalities and disparities among the people, rather than making the poor, the exploited workers, captives, marginalized groups, those who suffer from ethnic discrimination, the physically handicapped, mentally retarded, and old people who have become helpless, etc., blessed in the Kingdom or the Reign of God.


In a country such as Sri Lanka, the development of both the public and private sectors is a challenge. Moreover, the Sri Lankan experience shows that a weak social and economic framework with poorly managed and badly conceived globalization can make and increase the differences among the masses. So, the weaker the economy and governing policies, the more difficult it becomes for development to yield benefits. In this paper, my purpose is to cover the varied aspects of the economy of Sri Lanka highlighting change, progress, and problems, like poverty, income inequality, etc.

Since Sri Lanka’s independence there is very little improvement in the economy. Its economic position was considerably strengthened with the open economy which was sparked off by the liberalization of economy. But it is clear and evident that the economic growth achieved is not sufficient when compared with the population rate, and as a result the social differences are widened, causing damage to the natural rhythm of human life. The above study shows how income inequality arises as a result of the lower GDP rate which drives the society to poverty, brutality, and violence.

Therefore, the solution for this enormous problem is that there must first be a transformation of the social consciousness of the people. Then we must present a correct vision, i.e., samma dhitti, in the light of the religious traditions in Sri Lanka. Although the social consequences of Jesus’ teaching and of capitalistic globalization are diametrically opposed to each other, I have shown how being poor in spirit and appicchatacould become transcendental means of ethics of living, ushering in the desired liberation. This means living a simple life, avoiding tanha over many things, i.e., mahicchata. In this way, the poor in spirit or tanha-nirodhacan be seen as spiritual instruments in the process of transforming the social consciousness of the masses towards human liberation. Such innate power is transcendental.



1. In this contextual study, I am researching into the notion of poor in spirit which is found in the first beatitude (see Mt 5:3). There are other important concepts such as peace-making, working for justice, etc., which are relevant to the social, economic and cultural context in Sri Lanka. But the limited space of this paper does not allow such an extensive study

2. H. N. S. Karunatilake, The Economy of Sri Lanka (Colombo, Sri Lanka: Centre for Demographic and Socio-Economic Studies, 1987), 381.

3. Central Bank of Sri Lanka, Economic Progress of Independent Sri Lanka (Colombo, Sri Lanka: Central Bank of Sri Lanka, 1998), 5-6.

4. A. D. V. de S. Indraratna, "Poverty in Sri Lanka: Incidence and Poverty Reduction Strategies," A Socio-Economic Review (1998): 583.

5. Karunatilake, The Economy of Sri Lanka, 381.

6. K. Upalinie Ajitha Tennakoon, "Trade Policy Reforms in Developing Countries," in Essays in Economics in Honour of Prof. K. Dharmasena, ed. Herath Madana Bandara, K. Upalinie Ajitha Tennakoon, and M. M. Gunatilake (Colombo, Sri Lanka: Godage International Publishers, 2006), 91.

7. Johannes Hoffmann, "Globalization and Money: An European Perspective," in Globalization and Its Victims, ed. Michael Amaladoss, (Kashmere Gate, Delhi: Indian Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge [ISPCK], 1999), 26.

8. Ibid., 26.

9. Ibid.

10. Government of Sri Lanka, "Regaining Sri Lanka: Vision and Strategy for Accelerated Development," 2003, 9-10.

11. Hoffmann, "Globalization and Money," 29.

12. Central Bank of Sri Lanka, Annual Report, 2005, 16.

13. K. U. A. Tennakoon, "General Equilibrium Analysis of Sri Lanka’s Trade Liberalization Policy Options," Ph. D. Thesis, Switzerland, 2003, 48.

14. Hoffmann, "Globalization and Money," 29; cf. Government of Sri Lanka, "Regaining Sri Lanka," 18-20.

15. Hoffmann, "Globalization and Money," 30.

16. Central Bank of Sri Lanka, Annual Report, 2005, 141.

17. Samurdhi is a welfare project launched by the local government to help the poor, i.e., those with below $1 income per day.

18. Praful Patel, "Effective Planning Vital for Benefits of Growth to Reach the Poor," Daily News, 20th Aug. 2003.

19. Central Bank of Sri Lanka, Economic Progress, 111.

20. J. W. Wickramasinghe, "Capitalism: Creator of Affluence and Poverty," in Essays in Economics in Honour of Prof. K. Dharmasena, 23.

21. Ibid., 31.

22. The World Bank Report, "On World Development Indicators," 2006, 2.

23. A. D. V. de S. Indraratna, "Poverty in Sri Lanka," 578.

24. Central Bank of Sri Lanka, Annual Report, 2005, 3.

25. Ibid., 1.

26. Ibid., 16.

27. Ibid., 1.

28. Central Bank of Sri Lanka, Economic Progress, 39.

29. A. D. V. de S. Indraratna, "Poverty in Sri Lanka," 577.

30. Harsh Athurupana, "Nearly 18% live below poverty line," The Island, 05th December, 1998.

31. Central Bank of Sri Lanka, Annual Report, 2005, 71.

32. Central Bank of Sri Lanka, Annual Report, 2005, 69.

33. Wickramasinghe, "Capitalism: Creator of Affluence and Poverty," 41.

34. Pali Text Society (PTS) Dictionary, s.v. appa, 55.

35. PTS Dictionary, s.v. appiccha, 57.

36. PTS Dictionary, s.v. akincanna, 94.

37. Digha-nikãya iii. 224.

38. Majjhima- nikãya i. 41, cf. Digha-nikãya iii. 262.

39. PTS Dictionary, s.v. sukha, 716.

40. Samyutta-nikãya i. 5.

41. Digha-nikãya iii. 246.

42. Aloysius Pieris, Prophetic Humour in Buddhism and Christianity (Colombo, Sri Lanka: Ecumenical Institute for Study and Dialogue, 2005), 93.

43. Ibid., 94.

44. Ibid., 127.

45. Digha-nikãya iii. 498.

46. PTS Dictionary, s.v. daliddiya, 320.

47. Pieris, Prophetic Humour, 94-95.

48. Ibid., 95-96.

49. Tipitaka, Skt. Tripitaka ("Three Baskets") is the basic scripture for Buddhists transmitted orally from the Buddha’s time in the Pali language. The three main canonical divisions are the Vinaya (Code of Discipline-containing monastic rules), the Sutta (Discourses-teach-ings of the Buddha) and Abhidhamma (Higher Doctrine-metaphy-sical commentaries on the Sutta).

50. Pieris, Prophetic Humour, 98.

51. W. Thera Rahula, What the Buddha Taught (Dehiwala, Sri Lanka: Buddhist Cultural Centre, 1996), 81.

52. PTS Dictionary, s.v. tanha, 294-295.

53. Digha-nikãya iii. 516.

54. Digha-nikãya iii. 481.

55. Pieris, Prophetic Humour, 98.

56. Digha-nikãya iii. 461-469.

57. P. Klemens Stock, Sermon on the Mount Mt 5-7, Pontifical Biblical Institute (unpublished document), Rome, 1991, 25.

58. Ibid., 25.

59. W. D. Davies and D. C. Allison, The Gospel according to Saint Matthew. A Critical and Exegetical Commentary, Vol. 2 (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1988), 444.

60. D. A. Hagner, Matthew 1 – 13, Word Biblical Commentary, Vol. 33a (Dallas, TX: Word Books Publisher, 1987), 92.

61. Ibid., 91.

62. P. Klemens Stock, Sermon on the Mount Mt 5-7, 30.

63. A. Alangaram, "Religions for Social Transformation," Indian Theological Studies 41 (2004): 140.

64. Thera Dhammavihari, "Poverty, Hunger and Underdevelopment," Dialogue 32-33 (2005-2006): 148.

65. W. Thera Rahula, What the Buddha Taught, 81.

66. Thera Dhammavihari, "Poverty, Hunger and Underdevelopment," 149-150.

67. Digha-nikãya iii. 466; cf. W. Thera Rahula, What the Buddha Taught, 83.

68. Thera Dhammavihari, "Poverty, Hunger and Underdevelopment," 150.

69. Minho Song, "Good News to the Rich: God’s Salvific Plan for All," Journal of Asian Evangelical Theology10 (2002): 12-17.

70. Richard J. Dillon, "Acts of the Apostles," New Jerome Biblical Commentary (Bangalore: Theological Publications in India, 1991), 734.

71. R. E. Brown, An Introduction to the New Testament (Broadway, NY: Doubleday, 1997), 286-287.

72. Ibid., 288-289.

73. Tissa Balasuriya, "Challenge of Globalization to the Universal Church," Logos 41 (2004): 14.

74. Ibid.

75. Ibid., 25.

76. Ibid., 29.

77. Ibid., 28.

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