Buddhism Doesn’t Have a Monopoly on Happiness

Via Alden Wicker
on Dec 6, 2010
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I may be in the minority, but I often find myself thinking that Buddhism is the “happiest” way of life. Can you blame me? My sister once came home from a Baptist service crying because she was told she would go to hell. In high school I studied a famous tract from 18th century theologian Jonathan Edwards which is beautiful in its use of words, but basically says that God hates you. Uplifting stuff. Meanwhile one of the seminal books at the Dalai Lama has “happiness” right in the title.

But I don’t want to make blanket statements, which is why I was pleased to have my misconceptions corrected in this Huffington Post piece by Mary J. Loftus.

She attended a “Summit on Happiness,” hosted by Emory University’s Center for the Study of Law and Religion, where four religious leaders discussed our pursuit of happiness within the context of religious values. No matter if you are Muslim, Christian, Jewish, or Buddhist, you are free to seek your happiness, and seek it in your way. Well, with some caveats, of course. But you get the idea.

My favorite quote:

It is a happy human being who creates a happy ambience, a happy ambience does not necessarily create a happy human being.

~ Islamic scholar Professor Seyyed Hossein Nasr of George Washington University

Read the rest of the quotes and you’ll see why the Dalai Lama says that all the great world religions are valuable and meaningful.


About Alden Wicker

Alden Wicker is a freelance journalist and founder of EcoCult.com, a blog about all things sustainable in New York City and beyond. She also writes about electronic music, personal finance, and yoga for publications such as Well + Good, Refinery29, LearnVest, Huffington Post and Narratively.


One Response to “Buddhism Doesn’t Have a Monopoly on Happiness”

  1. Padma Kadag says:

    I understand your point….your profile picture looks happy! In a greater sense…Buddhism, to me, uses the term happiness primarily to point out our habitual tendencies to make ourselves happy. That everything we do is to gain some kind of happiness or ultimate satisfaction which we really never seem to accomplish. My happiness may involve actions and thoughts which you may find abhorrant and not "happy" to you. You and I have different habits. Using happiness is a tool for Buddhists to examine the nature of our desire. The Dalai Lama is genuinely happy because he has a greater degree of freedom than most of us. His mind is spacious due to who he is and also his diligent following of his teacher's instructions.. What we think will make us happy, generally, will increase our confusion. Buddhists can be happy in an ordinary sense like anyone else…But I would qualify that to say any Buddhist that practices diligently will not always be ordinarily happy