Buddhism and Happiness (Part III)

In my previous two posts I mentioned, very briefly, the path to happiness as expressed by Buddhism.

The aim of Buddhism is to reach Nirvana.  The roadmap to Nirvana is the Noble Eightfold Path. This path includes:

A) Wisdom – 1) right view and 2) right intention

B) Ethical Conduct – 3) right speech, 4) right action, and 5) right livelihood

C) Concentration – 6) right effort, 7) right mindfulness, and 8) right concentration

The eight factors of the path are significant dimensions of one’s behavior.

Nirvana is very similar to Aristotle’s meaning of life being to find happiness.  This happiness, as expressed by the ancient thinkers as well as the modern thinkers discussed in my book, is similar to that of Nirvana.

The path to attain Nirvana is also similar to the teachings of the ancient and modern thinkers.  The path requires concentration (effort, focus), and ethics (virtues) including wisdom.

While many similarities exist, there are some distinct differences: 1) Western happiness involves a hierarchy of actions (see the six galleries in my book), 2) Western Happiness requires a proactive approach to finding happiness – involvement, exposure, call to adventure, trials, capture of the gift, and desire to return to present the gift to society, 3) Western happiness requires a proactive love of neighbor as a requirement for the adventurer’s return with the gift in hand, and 4) it is the actions of the individual coupled with the love of that individual’s neighbor that delivers the happiness to the individual and  flourishing to society.

I believe that Western happiness and Buddhist Nirvana are very similar.  The tools needed to achieve these aims are also similar.  However, Western happiness is based on a more proactive involvement with others, and the proactive love of one’s neighbor, not just a turning inward, if society is to flourish.  It is this distinctive gift of the flourishing of society, only delivered if the individual reaches happiness, that is expressed in the teachings of the great thinkers as well as the many works of the great masters of the fine arts.

The attainment of individual happiness equaling the flourishing of society is a unique and noteworthy revelation of Western thinkers and artists.

Up next – Hinduism and happiness.

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