I was reading an article about the current financial crisis. The writer was making a point about Eastern philosophy and the ways it differed from that of the West. It was quite a well written article in many ways. At one point the writer drew the conclusion that the financial crisis was ultimately caused by greed, and I would concur with that, and also add that envy comes into it as well.
But the writer of the article seemed to point to Western philosophy as the culprit. He argued that it was the Western tendency to view ourselves as separate from everything we see around us that leads to this situation. I can't go along with that. I would rather argue that it is the technological power wielded by the West that has caused its greed and envy to be such a large and destructive force in the world. This has been around since the Industrial Revolution began in Western Europe around the 17th and 18th centuries.
I have been to many places in the world, and I have not noticed that greed and envy are any less prevalent in Eastern countries than in Western ones. I would say that greed and envy are more or less uniformly distributed throughout the world.
To my mind, the fault lies not in the philosophies of East and West, but in the widespread ignorance of those philosophies. We can learn from the philosophies of the East, there is a great deal of truth to be found in them. Many Westerners have followed their tenets, and have integrated them into their own way of life. But we can also say that much of Western philosophy is equally true, and equally adaptable to a satisfying life, in harmony with one's environment. The key to this is in how these truths are applied in one's own life.
There is one respect in which I would agree that the study of Eastern philosophy would benefit people in the West. When we study those philosophies, everything about them seems new and fresh to us, even though they have been in existence for a very long time. It is like finding a hidden treasure. This makes it possible for us to approach them without too many preconceived notions about them. The problem with the Western philosophies is that they are too familiar, or at any rate, they are expressed in terms that SEEM familiar, leading us to believe that we know all about them, so there is nothing we can learn from them. Such a notion is a mistake, but an understandable one.