The Sufficiency Economy has been widely referred to as a philosophy, a theory, as well as a concept, advocated by His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej.
In his royal speech on the eve of his birthday anniversary on 4 December 1998 at Dusidalai Hall, Chitralada Villa, His Majesty the King gave the approach the title of the “Sufficiency Economy” in English.
In his explanation, “The word sufficiency has another meaning, a wider meaning. It does not only mean self-sufficiency but also means to have enough for the individual to live on. This sufficiency was mentioned to those who were present here, in this hall — when was it? 20 or 24 years ago, in 1974. From 1974 to 1998, it is 24 years, isn’t it? On that day, I said that we should strive to have enough to live on.
“To have enough to live on, of course, means sufficiency economy. If everyone has enough to live on, everything will be all right. Furthermore, if the whole country can subsist, the better it would be, and Thailand at that time was on the verge of insufficiency. Some individuals had plenty, but some had practically nothing. In the past, there was enough to live on, but today, impoverishment is creeping in. We must, therefore, implement a policy of sufficiency economy so that everyone will have enough to live on. This sufficiency means to have enough to live on. Sufficiency means to lead a reasonably comfortable life, without excess, or overindulgence in luxury, but enough. Some things may seem to be extravagant, but if it brings happiness, it is permissible as long as it is within the means of the individual. This is another interpretation of the sufficiency economy or system. Last year, when I mentioned the word sufficiency, I mentally translated it and actually spelled it out as self-sufficiency; that is why I said sufficiency for the individual. In fact this sufficiency economy has a wider meaning than just self-sufficiency. Self-sufficiency means that the individual produces the things to fulfill his own needs without having to purchase them from others; the individual can live entirely on his own.
“Some people literally translate it from English into Thai as standing on one’s own feet. Some say that this expression is rather odd. Who would stand on our feet? If anybody stands on our feet, we would definitely get angry. Anyway, if we step on our own feet, we would surely stumble. These are perhaps rather strange thoughts, but they derived from the expression: to stand on our own feet, which means to be independent. This means that our two feet are firmly set on the ground, so we can stand without stumbling. We don’t have to borrow other people’s feet to support us. However, sufficiency or to have enough has a more extensive meaning than this. The word to have enough is sufficient; sufficiency is moderation. If one is moderate in one’s desire, one will have less craving. If one has less craving, one will take less advantage of others. If all nations hold this concept – I don’t mean sufficiency economy – this concept of moderation, without being extreme or insatiable in one’s desires, the world will be a happier place.
“Being moderate does not mean to be too strictly frugal; luxurious items are permissible, but one should not take advantage of others in the fulfillment of one’s desires. Moderation, in other words, living within one’s means, should dictate all actions. Act in moderation, speak in moderation; that is, be moderate in all activities.”