Critics on the Pursuit of Happiness

Posted by: | Posted on: January 9, 2013

There are critics on the theory of Maslow. Many scholars affirmed that “the pursuit of happiness” is not hierarchical at all. Among them, Manfred Max-Neef said satisfactoriness is the state of happiness (read this summary).

I am thinking about the adaptation of Bhutanese government to convert GDP to GDH. As the world is hugely influenced by materialism, the Buddhist country like Bhutan embarked on a different approach to answer a question that “Happiness of human beings really constructs on material or psychological satisfaction?”. For Max-Neef, he listed many domains and sub-domains of human’s need and his conclusion to satisfactoriness as the state of happiness for human beings arguably coincides with the teaching of Lord Buddha.
 
Dr. Richard Davidson who is the American neuroscientist believes that the spot of happiness of human beings is on the brain. He used lab to experiment happiness. There are exact spot of brain movement to show happiness. But in general, common people show their happiness spot unstable. After spending many years for his research, finally he met with Somdech Dalai Lama and got advice on taking monks to the lab to experiment happiness. 
 
Two monks who have deeply pursued into Dhamma stream from their Vipassana show their brain absolutely stable. Dr. Richard called this spot “Nibbana”.
 
So what is the true commodity of happiness? GDP or GDH? However, I am considering “four necessities” is the basic need for all human beings. Buddha said “Subbe Satta Ahaarakitikaa” or means that “All Beings Survived by Food”.
 
With this statement, common people understand that food means rice or other edible substances to swallow through mouth. But for Buddha, at least there are four types of food. Among those foods, the food of freedom is very substantial. 
 
Western philosophers adopted “freedom” as the factor of development since the end of crusade era. Allow people to act and speak freely is the diversification of human capital and social capital. As a teacher, if you don’t allow your student to approach their own thought and finding, how can the knowledge being obtained? As the parents, if they cope strictly their children, those children might not be able to develop their own potential at the highest. As a country leader, do you want to see your citizens being silent in order to develop a country?
 
For Western countries, the freedom of press, the freedom of speech, and the freedom of participation etc. are the core value of “development states”. 
 
To end the above point, “the pursuit of happiness” might be not motioned far from the “Vimutti” or “Freedom” Buddha addressed.