Last year I highlighted an interesting conference at Thailand’s Mahidol University on the topic of Buddhism and Science.

The same institution, the College of Religious Studies at Mahidol, has now issued an announcement for a conference on Buddhism and consumerism. It will be held at the Salaya campus from 1-3 December 2008, and hopes to attract 200 monks and scholars from around the world. The registration fee is $100 (3000 baht) per head. Last year, long-time readers may recall, “To celebrate His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s Eightieth Birthday, the organizers [were] pleased to inform you that the registration fee for this [Buddhism and Science] conference [was] waived.” This year it looks like everyone will have to pay.

But, just like last year, the royal mandate of the conference is put right up front. The pamphlet advertising the conference begins by clarifying that:

The conference is held to honor H.M. King Bhumipoladulyadej who lives and promotes the philosophy of “sufficiency economy” to guide the general Thai people to live in moderation and to help the poor earn income enough to keep them happy while preventing them from being swept away by the strong current of consumerism.

To chew over the consumerist theme, the speakers at the conference include a French monk from a Tibetan Buddhist order, an eco-philosopher, the Prime Minister of Bhutan, a Professor of Sustainable Development and a number of other Buddhism academics. But before any of them get to the podium the first business in the Monday morning session is “A video depicting H.M. King’s promotion of the philosophy of sufficiency economy to guide Thai people to live in moderation and to help the poor earn income enough to make them happy”.

As always, if any New Mandala readers are planning on attending I expect there would be much interest in a report of proceedings. And if you would like to write one please don’t hesitate to get in touch.