Tag Archives: dharma

Hinduism and Happiness (Part III)

In my last post, I mentioned that the key to attaining both types of happiness (the Good Life as well as the Divine Life) for the followers of Hinduism is the practice of dharma. It can be translated as a virtue meant to cultivate positive feelings towards others while overcoming any animosity.

In addition, the Divine Life flows from the Good Life, both achieved through the practice of dharma, or vitue.  The Good Life represents wealth, success, recognition, and intellectual and aesthetic pleasures.  The Divine Life is the ultimate aim of life representing freedom from pain and suffering.

The path for the attainment of happiness is very similar to that presented in my book, as expressed by the great thinkers and the masters of the fine arts.  The Hindu “Good Life” is similar to the Journey: the Journey being the first three galleries of the exposition.  The first three galleries represent education and preparation as well as the development of social skills and friendships leading to exposure activities delivering wealth, achievement, prestige, and recognition.

The path for the Divine Life, which flows from the Good Life, is similar to the Adventure galleries of my book: the fourth, fifth, and six galleries of the exposition.  These galleries represent the call to adventure to seek the boon for society and the return back to the everyday world with the boon in hand.  The capture of the boon and its delivery to society is what produces happiness for the individual as well as the flourishing of society.

Like the Hindu dharma, the Adventure requires five virtues for happiness to be attained: wisdom, courage, moderation, justice, and love of one’s neighbor.  And like the Hindu Good Life, the Journey must be successful before the Adventure (like the Hindu Divine Life) can be contemplated.  Moreover, as in the Hindu tradition, the goal of the Divine Life is similar to the end of the West’s Adventure – freedom from pain and suffering and an integration with universal values.

So, the Hindu way to happiness is very similar to that of the West.  The path is hierarchical (the Good Life leads to the Divine Life which leads to freedom from pain and suffering, or moksha) and the vehicle for traveling the path is virtue, or dharma, without which happiness can not be achieved.

As with Buddhism, it is comforting to know that a major religious tradition from the East approaches the path to happiness in a similar fashion as the traditions from the West.

Next up, Islam and happiness.

Hinduism and Happiness

I am no expert on Hinduism, just as I am no expert on Buddhism. I am simply curious about other religions and philosophies about life. From what I have read, Hinduism, which has its roots in India, very much parallels the teachings of the West regarding the attainment of happiness.

Hinduism has about one billion followers, making it the third largest religion.  While is has many different traditions, there is an essential unity among Hindu followers.

Hinduism has four responses to the question: What do people want?  The question could also be put as: What is the meaning of life?  Hinduism answers the above question with the four aims of life: artha, kama, moksha, and dharma.

Artha and kama together correspond to the “Good Life.” Artha represents wealth, achievement, worldly success, fame and power. Kama includes intellectual and aesthetic pleasures such as reading, art, friendships, teaching, etc.  These two provide the means to achievement and pleasure – the “Good Life.”

Moksha refers to the mystical experience of the Divine.  It is the final goal of human life, and each person, according to Hinduism, has the potential to achieve it.  Moksha represents the second type of happiness, happiness that comes directly from God.

The key to attaining both types of happiness is dharma. According to Hinduism, the one universal duty of all people is the practice of dharma.  A meaningful translation of dharma is the practice of virtue: the cultivation of friendship and compassion for our fellow beings and overcoming animosity.

More about Hinduism and happiness in my next post.