Vol. 6, Issue 3 (2019)
The Buddhist perspective on measuring wellbeing and happiness in sustainable development
Author(s): Rev. Pinnawala Sangasumana
Abstract: The idea of economic progress became commonly discussed with the advent of the work of Adam Smith and thereafter even while economists were starting to measure national income, the sustainability of growth was still questioned. A lot of recent debate on the search for proper indicators for “development” goes beyond limitations of GDP as a sole measure for societal progress. In this context, measuring and understanding of subjective social development has become one of the major challenges in terms of formulating appropriate indices. It is seen that, happiness being promoted as an unconventional indicator of measuring sustainability of both man and environment in the present development discourse through several attempts such as World Happiness Summit, World Happiness Report, Gross National Happiness Index (GNHI) and Better Life Index (BLI) etc. However, those attempts still have failed to explain many of the factors that impact most on people’s material, social and spiritual lives. In order to fill this vacuum, it is assumed that Buddhist teachings on happiness can be effectively applied with the concept of compassion (Metta). Based on this assumption, the present study aims to identify the Buddhist perspective on happiness in relation to the sustainable development and to find out its applicability in formulating indicators for judging the real happiness. Methodology of the research has set up focusing the literature survey and content interpretation based on the primary and secondary sources. Findings of the paper highlights three important Buddhist approaches for using happiness as a social development indicator; interdependency, favourable relationship and total satisfaction. It is revealed that the social development is motivated by Buddhism with emphasis on happiness where material, social and spiritual life overlap. It is recommended that four-fold happiness should be taken into consideration in measuring social development; physical, mental, social and spiritual.