Modern Society and the Quest for Human Happiness
The Dalai Lama
The Dalai Lama, the Buddhist spiritual leader of Tibet, has spent most of his life in exile outside his country. His position as an important spiritual leader and his life experiences has made him a popular author and commentator on religion and society. In his travels he comes into contact with many people from different backgrounds and different countries. In this text have writes about his impressions of Western society and his ideas on how people can improve their lives. He contrasts the West with less developed societies to make his points clearer.
According to the article “Modern Society and the Quest for Human Happiness” by the Dalai Lama, individuals residing in advanced countries are more affluent and tend to have a less satisfying life than those who reside in developing countries and are poor. Lama explains the wealthy are less content in life because with all they obtain, they do not know what they are searching for. He expresses individuals who become obsessed with making money and material wealth will most likely live a less satisfying, frustrating life. However, some may use their resources logically and share it with the les fortune. In other words, most wealthy people are protective and greedy over their possessions because they are afraid of losing what they worked hard to earn. As a result, some may struggle mentally and emotionally causing a great deal of distress, tension, or happiness. On the other hand, underprivileged people partially suffer as well, but they learn to be grateful for what they have, strive for goals and eventually are more content and satisfied with their lives.
Life is really not about who has the fanciest house, the fastest car, the most money, or other material things. Rich people are vigilant and possessive wit their material things. Rich people are vigilant and losing what they fortunately acquired. Wanting and having material objects or money all have negative effects on humans. Dalai Lama states, “In their absorption with material wealth, they actually lose the dream of happiness, which riches were to have provided.” Money can buy material things but those material goods only provide temporary happiness. Rich individuals who become consumed in all of their wealth will most likely live a less satisfying, unhappy life. Most people want to succeed so with generating high ambitions and overworking yourself, you should achieve your goal but, with that comes consequences. For example, wealthy people tend to hold high status jobs which require them to be constantly working, delivering mental and emotional stress so they end up living an unsatisfied life.
On the other hand, poor circumstances, and highly value everything they have more than rich individuals. Dalai Lama state, “if we compare the rich with the poor, if often seems that those with nothing are, in fact the least anxious, though they are plagued with pains and suffering.” Lama expresses when comparing the rich and the poor, the poor is generally happier. Poor individuals experience less stress in their lives because they focus less on achieving material things and more on long-term goals to bring them satisfaction. The company of friends and family bring much more enjoyment than the material things. Poor people desire to escape poverty so they have reason to strive for contentment and happiness.
Furthermore, happiness comes to everyone in different ways. People who put money before everything else are less happy than those who highly value love and friends. Despite money contributing to happiness, money cannot buy true happiness because it comes from within you, not from anyone or anything else. Most people look to experiences or material possessions to bring them satisfaction. While that is sometimes the case, the sense of pleasure is never long lasting. For example, a person may enjoy his new iPad tremendously, but he may not know that it is not the source of true happiness. When his interest in it die, it quickly becomes very irritating. Hence, it is up to the individual to determine which path will lead them to a more satisfying life.
In conclusion, happiness is truly difficult to attain, says Lama. The wealthy are overwhelmed with making money and are distracted by the material objects provided by their wealth. They are blinded by what they assume is happiness. The poor learn to appreciate what they have and find more happiness in non-materialistic things which contributes to them having a more satisfying and meaningful life.