A Buddhist Bookstore


Prof. Dietrich Fischer – TRANSCEND Media Service

A husband and wife grew increasingly apart. The husband, a businessman selling bicycles, brought his accounting books home and pored over red and black figures in the evening. His wife, who had become increasingly interested in her spiritual life and was fascinated with Buddhism, felt disgusted by her husband’s materialism.

She blamed him, “Why are you only interested in money?”

He retorted, “If it were not for these black figures, you would not live so well. Look at your good food and fancy clothes, and our nice house that you enjoy!”

She protested, “I don’t need all those external luxuries. I prefer a rich inner life.” Both developed affairs, and there was a risk that the marriage could end in divorce.

Johan Galtung was asked for advice. He found that both had some legitimate and some illegitimate goals. Earning an income for the family and being interested in Buddhism were both perfectly legitimate. What was illegitimate was their effort to convert their spouse, to become like themselves. The best way to bridge the legitimate goals is a “joint project” that combines the interests of both partners.

He suggested that they open a Buddhist bookstore together. It took only one week until the wife began to develop an interest in red and black figures. And after about a month, the husband for the first time read one of the books he was selling.

They are still happily married.


Dietrich Fischer (1941-2015) from Münsingen, Switzerland, got a Licentiate in Mathematics from the University of Bern 1968 and his Ph.D. in Computer Science from New York University 1976. 1986-88 he was a MacArthur Fellow in International Peace and Security at Princeton University. He has taught mathematics, computer science, economics and peace studies at various universities and been a consultant to the United Nations. He was co-founder, with Johan Galtung, of the TRANSCEND Network for Peace, Development and Environment in 1993.

Excerpted from Dietrich Fischer’s Stories to Inspire You – TRANSCEND University Press-TUP.


This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 8 May 2017.

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