The Dalai Lama, having traveled all over the world
and having met people from every walk of life, sees in all people
a shared aspiration to be happy and to avoid suffering.
I believe that the purpose of life is to be happy.
From the moment of birth, every human being wants happiness and
does not want suffering. Neither social conditioning nor education
nor ideology affect this. From the very core of our being, we
simply desire contentment. I don't know whether the universe,
with its countless galaxies, stars and planets, has a deeper
meaning or not, but at the very least, it is clear that we humans
who live on this earth face the task of making a happy life for
ourselves. Therefore, it is important to discover what will bring
about the greatest degree of happiness.
Reflect on the Dalai Lama's assertion
that all people desire to be happy and avoid
this feel true for you? What do you seek
for your life, at the deepest level? What do you
seek for those you love?
Universal yet, paradoxically, different
desire or inclination to be happy
and to avoid
suffering knows no boundaries. It is in our nature.
While everyone, everywhere, aspires and strives to better
their lives , the Dalai Lama observes the paradox that
those living in technologically and economically "developed" societies
appear to actually be less happy and to suffer more than people
living in less developed (agrarian) societies.
This is not to say that those in less developed cultures do
not suffer more from disease or physical ailments or hunger.
But in developed countries people have become so absorbed in
accumulating wealth that, while appearing to live agreeable
lives, they are vexed with mental and emotional suffering.
Through highly developed science and technology,
we have reached an advanced level of material progress that is
both useful and necessary. Yet, if you compare the external progress
with our internal progress, it is quite clear that our internal
progress is inadequate. In many countries, crises — murders,
wars and terrorism — are chronic.
People complain about the decline in morality and the rise in criminal activity.
Although in external matters we are highly developed and continue to progress,
at the same time it is equally important to develop and progress in terms of
Although you may not be in a position
to evaluate the happiness of people living in less
developed societies, does the Dalai Lama's diagnosis
of the ills of modern society ring true?
Is there a correlation between the
wealth and technology in your life and your true
Do you think acquiring more is the
way for you to become happier? Do you live your
life as if accumulating more will bring happiness?
The Dalai Lama had expected happiness
to be more easily attained in industrial countries
with far less physical hardships. Does it surprise
you to learn that this is not the case? Have you
considered that living in the modern world may
not lead to greater satisfaction?
Consider the scenario we see throughout
the modern world: people who emigrate
to more technologically advanced and more affluent
societies but continue to hold on to the societal
and spiritual values of their original cultures.