Buddhism shows the way to happiness
by R.M.S.K. Rajapaksha
According to Buddhism economic welfare is a
happiness. However, Buddhism does not recognise the
progress achieved through economic gain as real if it is
devoid of a moral foundation. Accumulation of wealth is
thought to be the sole purpose in most of us. This goes
counter to Buddhist teaching.
Buddhism has been recognised by many
as a practical religion in which pragmatic and effective
solution is offered to everyone in their day to day
encountering issues. It teaches a set of ethics which
has to be practised here and now, everyone is benefited
here and now through practice. Everyone is invited to
have a look (ehi passika) and understand by having
examined and scrutinised it, if anybody is within the
reach, they can proceed. It is hard to see such a
liberty is offered in comparison to other world
religions and such a greater transparency is witnessed
in an unprecedented scale. Here we are making an attempt
at looking at issues that we are encountering presently
and see how viable approaches are to be made in Buddhist
perspective in solving issues. Out and out Buddhism
talks about perfect happiness, mental peace, tranquility
and freedom which we lack in the contemporary society.
In the present world, people are encountering so many
problematic illnesses both physically and mentally since
they engage in unending accumulation of wealth, their
needs are unlimited, satisfaction is rarely found in
them. Consequently, so many therapeutic specialists are
consulted in order to heal their ailments both mentally
This phenomenon is mushrooming equally in the West as
well as in the East. Seemingly, people’s ailments are
reported all over the world in unprecedented scale. The
consultation of Buddhist teaching has been greatly felt
than ever before. Innumerable examples are scattered in
what the Buddha teaches in His doctrine as a way out of
this problematic situation.
In the Karaniyametta Sutta, mention is made of
“sallahukavutti” which can be translated as “light
livelihood” and it further mentions as “appakicco” ie.
of few duties. If one were to spend a light livelihood
and that person is less likely to encounter both mental
and physical ailments as he is free of stress and mind
is very pleased and not troubled at all. As a result,
the person finds peace and happiness fully. Some spend
their life with full of miseries and unattained wishes
and needs. Consequently, they will get hurt in this life
itself and the life after. If someone leads a simple and
contended lifestyle which is shaped by Buddhist
principles, it will bring happiness and satisfaction in
this life and hereafter. Apparently, some Buddhists may
not utilise these principles in their day-to-day work.
As a result, they get hurt incessantly both physically
and mentally. So, we can term this type of Buddhists as
nominal Buddhists. The Buddha said once, “santhutti
paramam dhanam”. Happiness is the greatest asset that
one possesses. Despite the fact that many have wealth in
abundance but happiness is no longer with them. Their
happiness disappears as they strive to safeguard what
they have accumulated in abundance. It does not mean
that material progress is denied altogether by Buddhism.
Material accumulation is needed for anyone to survive.
But it has to be earned by knowing one’s own situation.
Buddhism speaks of things as they are (yathabhuta).
Hence, many have a wrong impression of Buddhism. The
reality of nature cannot be hidden. It has to be
understood and encountered one way of the other. What
Buddhism does is that things are told and explained as
Evidently, people are somewhat reluctant to accept the
true nature or the true aspect of life. Buddhism is the
only philosophy which speaks of the true nature of
phenomena besides science.
Two well-known Buddhist texts called ‘Theragatha’ and
‘Therigatha’ are best examples of joyful utterances of
the Buddhist disciples who found peace and happiness in
life through the Buddha’s teaching.
King Kosala, one of the Buddha’s close associates, once
told the Buddha that unlike followers of other
philosophies, the Buddha’s disciples are joyful and
elated (hattha-pahattha), jubilant and exultant (udaggudagga),
enjoying the spiritual life (abhiratarupa) with
faculties pleased (pinitindriya), free from anxiety (appossukka),
serene (pannaloma) peaceful (paradavutta) and living
with a gazelle’s mind (migabhutena cetasa) ie. light
hearted. According to the king, the healthy disposition
of the disciples was due to the fact that disciples have
realized the utilized well the teaching of the Buddha.
The Piti or joy is one of the seven factors of
enlightenment or Satta Bojjanga which is essential or
indispensable factor in the realization of the Nibbana
Buddhism speaks of four kinds of happiness which is
essential for leading an ordinary family life. The first
happiness is to enjoy economic security or sufficient
wealth acquired by just and righteous means (atthi sukha).
Frankly speaking, atthi sukha is essential for ordinary
house holders. Happiness naturally arises in them as
they are secured with the wealth they have. Second
happiness (bhoga sukha) is the spending of wealth of on
meritorious deeds. The third happiness if to be free
from debts (anana sukha) which is a very important
concept in the modern world. Most of us raise loans but
fail to return them. Hence, unexpected troubles may
come. One has to remember that repaying loans is a must
for happiness. The fourth happiness is to lead a pure
life without committing evil deeds (anavajja sukha). By
following these three principles alone you could
generate happiness satisfaction in your life.
According to Buddhism economic welfare is a
pre-requisite for happiness. However, Buddhism does not
recognise the progress achieved through economic gain as
real if it is devoid of a moral foundation. Accumulation
of wealth is thought to be the sole purpose in most of
us. This goes counter to Buddhist teaching.
Another set of principles the Buddha taught is contained
in the five precepts or Panca sila. The precepts help
people to lead a trouble free lives.