Buddhism for real contentment | Daily News


 Today is International Day of Happiness:

Buddhism for real contentment

“The Gross National Happiness (GNH) is a philosophy that guides the Government of Bhutan. It includes an index which is used to measure the collective happiness and wellbeing of a population. The GNH is instituted as the goal of the Government of Bhutan in its Constitution, enacted on July 18, 2008. The GNH is distinguishable from the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by valuing collective happiness as the goal of governance, emphasising harmony with nature and traditional values as expressed in the nine domains of happiness and four pillars of the GNH. The four pillars of the GNH are sustainable and equitable socio-economic development, environmental conservation, preservation and promotion of culture and good governance. The nine domains of the GNH are psychological wellbeing, health, time use, education, cultural diversity and resilience, good governance, community vitality, ecological diversity and resilience, and living standards.”(Source - Internet)

The Buddhist Kingdom of Bhutan is a place where people have found indescribable peace and a true feeling of happiness.

It is a country that values its people’s happiness above everything else. It is the only nation that puts happiness at the core of public policy. They firmly believe that people’s happiness does not depend on the country’s economic development and they find happiness in Buddhism.

“The story of Sri Lanka is totally different from Bhutan. Sri Lanka is a tiny island blessed with an abundance of natural resources and a strong tradition of Theravada Buddhism, having been visited by the Buddha three times. But unfortunately, most Sri Lankans are still living an unhappy and unsatisfied life. So we need to find the reason,” Senior Medical Officer at the Apeksha Hospital in Maharagama, Anura Vitharana (Dip. in Psychology and Counselling) said.

He said that Buddhism is the key to people’s happiness. Our forefathers used to practise generosity which means allocating time, donating money and food, or showing kindness to people in need. Their entire lifestyle was based on Buddhist philosophy. Buddhism had a tremendous influence in creating Sri Lanka’s culture and traditions. Buddhist values helped people to appreciate and focus on what they have rather than what they do not. As a result, they lived a stress-free, satisfied and happy life.

But after the introduction of the open economy policy in 1977, the entire country and the lifestyle of people changed. People used to grasp whatever came from the West without considering whether it is suitable or not.

As a result of the open economy, people’s lifestyles also became more complex. Sometimes people spend money to purchase non-essentials just to maintain their social status. A majority of Sri Lankans are Buddhists by birth. But they do not follow Buddhist philosophy which emphasises core teachings that contribute to building peace such as love, compassion and generosity.

We are fortunate to have a President who really loves the country, its people, culture and heritage, and makes a sincere effort to bring in economic and social prosperity to the people. As citizens, we too have a responsibility to support him in achieving his goals.

The development of a country has traditionally been measured using economic indicators such as per capita income and the GDP. Indeed, it is now widely accepted that measurements of income and poverty do not adequately measure human wellbeing.

“Under the leadership of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, various measures have already been taken aiming to improve human wellbeing, the ultimate goal of which is to maximise happiness or satisfaction,” Dr. Vitharana said.

In his election manifesto, ‘Vistas of Prosperity and Splendour’, President Rajapaksa mentioned that it was his responsibility to create an enabling environment for a citizen to be prosperous and contented, leading to a happy family, and so create a law-abiding society in Sri Lanka. He further pledged to fulfil his responsibility by creating a secure and prosperous nation and urged the country’s citizens to fulfil their responsibility.

Dr. Vitharana further said that the lack of inner peace badly affects the psychological and physical health of a person. Globalisation and the advancement of science and technology have resulted in multiplying the severity of tension and stress in daily life. With the progress of the standard of living came increased pollution, unemployment, and violence, and people began to find it difficult to find peace within them.

This situation has resulted in dissociation, misunderstandings, and the increase of divorce rates, road accidents and various other personal and social issues.

“You are happy about your life and you feel everything is going so well and you are living your life without any tension or worries. But as a medical officer who deals with cancer patients, I have noticed how people react to a disastrous situation in life. A majority of them feel broken, hopeless, they give up and surrender themselves to that situation or bad time. However, a small number shows courage and fights against that situation and keeps on fighting against that difficulty until and unless they do not win and achieve their dreams and goals,” he said.

The life story of US cycling champion Lance Armstrong is a very good example. He never allowed himself to lose hope and strength.

He faced all his difficulties with much courage. At the age of 25, Armstrong was diagnosed with advanced testicular cancer.

Everyone thought such a serious illness would end his cycling career. But he proved that if you have determination and self-belief, then you can fight and face any difficult situation, and every difficult situation will make you strong and give you strength to live happily.

“Human beings are subject to desires. But even when we are able to satisfy these desires, the satisfaction is only temporary. Pleasure does not last. Even if a person is not suffering from illness or any other loss, he or she still feels unfulfilled and unsatisfied. This is the truth of suffering.

The Buddha was able to identify the cause of all suffering. If we can create a society based on the true essence of Buddhism, within that society there would be no room for corruption, crime and other issues which currently prevail in our society,” Dr. Vitharana added.

He stressed the importance of introducing Lord Buddha’s teachings and the essence of Buddhism as a part of the country’s informal education.

Then the students would be able to practise them in their day-to-day lives.

Dr. Vitharana further stressed the importance of strengthening unity among all ethnic groups in order to ensure a peaceful society, because in ancient times, people belonging to all ethnic and religious groups used to live peacefully.

But politicians and extremist groups are trying to fulfil their political and other narrow objectives by creating various issues among different ethnic groups. Ordinary people should understand this reality.


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