Happiness & Prosperity

Happiness & ProsperityPart 1

We bring you a comprehensive analysis on above based on a study done by Ms.S.Karunaratna with the support of Buddhist Cultural Centre, Sri Lanka. In order to make it more interesting we break the topics in to five sub topics & each will be presented on a daily basis. Please do share this with your friends and family.

The Buddha’s prescriptions for prosperity and happiness have been always laced with liberal doses of ethics. But sometimes the correlation between ethics and happiness is not very clear. The following pages try to make this connection.

The Buddha’s attitude towards material wealth

Many people, including Buddhists, believe that Buddhism spurns the acquisition of material comforts and pleasure and is concerned only with spiritual development. The attainment of Nibbana is, indeed, the goal. However, the Buddha was very much alive to the fact that economic stability is essential for man’s welfare and happiness.

In the Anguttaranikaya (A.II. (69-70) the Buddha mentions that there are four kinds of happiness derived from wealth. They are:

1) Atthisukha – The happiness of ownership.

2) Anavajjasukha – The happiness derived from wealth which is earned by means of right livelihood, i.e. not dealing in the sale of harmful weapons, not dealing in the slaughter of animals and sale of flesh, not dealing in the sale of liquor, not dealing in the sale of human beings (e.g. slavery and prostitution) and not dealing in the sale of poisons etc. basically, all trades that has an adverse impact on any living being.

3) Ananasukha – the happiness derived from not being in debt.

4) Bhogasukha – the happiness of sharing one’s wealth. This kind of happiness is an extremely important concept in Buddhism.

Although the Buddha saw that economic stability was important for man’s happiness, he also saw the harmful side of wealth. Rather, he saw that man’s natural desires and propensities are such that wealth provides ample scope for these propensities to surface and indulge themselves. Yet, it appears, desires can never be fully satisfied for it is stated in the Ratthapalasutta (M.II.68) “Uno loko atitto tanhadaso.” The world is never satisfied and is ever a slave to craving. The Dhammapada (vs. 186-187) also points out this insatiability in man. “Na kahapana vassena titthi kamesu vijjati…” Not by a shower of gold coins does contentment arise in sensual pleasures.

On another occasion the Buddha said, ” Grass is to be sought for by those in need of grass. Firewood is to be sought for by those in need of firewood. A cart to be sought for by those in need of a cart. A servant by him who is in need of a servant. But, Headman, in no manner whatsoever do I declare that gold and silver be accepted or sought for. “(S.IV 326) The meaning is very clear from these statements. Wealth is to be sought not as an end in itself but as a means to an end, for attaining various objectives and fulfilling duties.

The Andhasutta (A.I. 128-129) presents an apt analogy where we can locate the ethically ideal position. The Buddha says there are three types of persons to be found in the world: The totally blind, the one who can see with one eye, and, the one who can see with both eyes. The man who is totally blind is the one who can neither acquire wealth nor discern right from wrong. The one who can see with one eye is the man who can acquire wealth but cannot discern right from wrong. The one who has perfect sight in both eyes is the ideal individual. He can acquire wreath and also discern what is right from wrong. The Buddhist view is that the ideal man is the man who is wealthy and virtuous.

In another analogy (S.I.. 93ff) the Buddha classified people into the following categories:

Tama (dark) to Tama (dark)

Tama (dark) to Joti (light)

Joti (light) to tama (dark)

Joti (light) to Joti (light)

The tama person is poor and may or may not possess good qualities such as faith and generosity. The Joti person is rich and may or may not possess good qualities such as faith and generosity. The Tama person who does not possess good qualities who is mean and devoid of faith will go from from darkness to darkness. The Tama person who has faith and is of a generous disposition will go from darkness to light. The joti person who is devoid of faith and generosity will go from light to darkness. The Joti person who has good qualities will go from light to light.

Sometimes wealth causes certain people to be miserly. The Buddha has remarked that riches “that are not rightly utilized run to waste, not to enjoyment” and compares such a person to a lake of pure water lying in an inaccessible savage region. (S.I. 89-90).

TBC.

Part 2