pursuit of happiness

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Posted by: | Posted on: January 9, 2013

Critics on the Pursuit of Happiness

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.
Posted by: | Posted on: September 12, 2008

The Pursuit of Happiness


The pursuit of happiness has been critical in human society. Essentially, many scholars have explored and defined it in various approaches. Some are theoretical, some are empirical, and some are practical.  Abraham Maslow has been considered the father of humanistic psychology and well-known for his conceptualization of a “hierarchy of human needs”.  But Manfred Max Reef, a Chilean economist and philosopher has argued the fundamental human needs are non-hierarchical, and ontologically universal and invariant in nature. Neuroscientist Professor Richard Davidson in Wisconsin University found the truth in his experimental lab about “the pursuit of happiness” persuasively spread worldwide. The three scholars tirelessly demonstrated their belief to address happiness for human beings.

This paper searches the correlation findings of these three scholars in comprehending fundamental needs of human being, handling with life, and pursing happiness. The methodology is epistemologically and qualitatively conducting. Four stages will be attentively debated; generalization the discovery each of these three scholars, comparative reflection of their studies, religious perspectives on happiness, and meditation as a tool.

This study might not able to offer the complete answer of “the pursuit of happiness”, but at least it can provide insightful perspectives of life explained by these three well-known scholars. In complimenting this, the philosophy and practice of meditation will be partly addressed. Meditation is a tool, mentioned by Professor Richard Davidson, to achieve his lab research on the question “what is happiness?”


Abraham Maslow categorized basic human needs the most primitive needs to the least needs such as physiological, safety, love or belonging, esteem, and self-actualization. But Manfred Max-Neef criticized Maslow’s as there is no hierarchy at all for the human needs; and he suggested “satisfactoriness” as the main manifestation to happiness. Richard Davidson in his experimental lab found that matured, experienced monks in practicing meditation are full of happiness. This research tries to take in light of those three discoveries without inserting any criticism or recommendation.