The Times of India reports that the Dalai Lama attributes the global economic crisis to a lack of spirituality:
Lack of spirituality and culture is the main cause behind the rampant corruption in the world. People have become selfish and materialistic, which has led to the economic slowdown.
In a way, I think he’s got a point: if we consider that actual physical currency is in circulation — and has been — and that homes are still complete homes, and businesses are still capable of producing consumable goods, then it would seem that the concept of value is what has changed, and not a fluctuation in tangible resources for exchange.
If the things we think of as having “value” have not inherently changed in the physical world (i.e. your house is still the same size — or bigger — than it was when you bought it, paper money is still in circulation, etc.) then we might conclude that the idea of value attributed to, say, gold or property, has changed because of the perception of people we have entrusted to calculate value on a daily basis.
Not to get all New Age-y, but it seems that if there were a change in the ideas as to what has real value — like, for example, information, interpersonal relationships, mental and physical health, etc. — people would literally invest more of themselves into real and lasting growth.
I don’t deny that the people around the world are suffering right now — and not just because they can ‘t afford to buy another gadget or take a vacation; rather, I think it’s a time where a lot of folks are caught in the midst of a paradigm shift in ideologies, between what was impermanent and illusory and what is the truer nature of what it means to be alive.