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January 6, 2013

Entrepreneurship, Buddhist Style, Building One's Means

Entrepreneurship is defined by the Harvard Business School as, in my paraphrase, the pursuit of opportunity regardless of the resources that one controls.

It sounds as if the entrepreneurs were setting themselves up for failure, courting failure by deliberately biting more than they can chew.

What we often miss is their ability to build their means as they go. In the Jazz improv style, they create as they go till their resources become commensurate with their goals.

This is most lucidly illustrated in the following Buddhist story.


The Mouse Merchant


Volume 1. Story Number 4: CULLAKA-SETTHI-JATAKA

  1. The young man picked up a dead mouse on a street and sold it for a farthing at a tavern for their cat.
  2. With that money, he bought molasses and drinking water, and gave them away to flower-gatherers returning from the forest. He sold the flowers they gave him, to some customers.
  3. After a storm, he noticed fallen branches and boughs and leaves in the king's pleasure garden. Children's playground gathered them for him, "by bribes of molasses". He sold the branches etc to the king's potter.
  4. "... the vicinity of the city-gate with a jar full of water and supplied 500 mowers with water he struck up an intimacy with a land-trader and a sea-trader a horse-dealer with 500 horses .." He was setting up trade intelligence networks of his own!
  5. "... his sea-trading friend brought him news of the arrival of a large ship about a hundred merchants came down to buy the cargo ... " He seized the chance to obtain the exclusive rights to the whole cargo of the ship, and sold these rights to other merchants for profit.

Reference


The Jataka, Volume I, tr. by Robert Chalmers, [1895], at sacred-texts.com
THE JATAKA OR STORIES OF THE BUDDHA'S FORMER BIRTHS.

TRANSLATED FROM THE PALI BY VARIOUS HANDS
UNDER THE EDITORSHIP OF PROFESSOR E. B. COWELL.

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