Melvin Konner M.D. Ph.D.

The Official Website of Melvin Konner, M.D, Ph.D.

Welcome to my website. Its purpose is to encourage a scientific approach to human nature and experience and to explore the interaction between biology and behavior, medicine and society, nature and culture. Throughout a long life I've been fascinated by why we do what we do, think what we think, feel what we feel. I've sought answers in anthropology, biology, medicine, evolution, brain science, child development, history, and culture...
You are here: Home The Happiness Summit: Four Religious Leaders Talk

The Happiness Summit: Four Religious Leaders Talk

November 12th, 2010

Religious summit finds happiness in relationships and even in suffering.

dalai-lama-emoryLast month at Emory (my university), the Dalai Lama was the center of a conversation-a “summit,” according to the press-on happiness. Also included were a Presiding Episcopal Bishop, the Chief Rabbi of Britain and the Commonwealth, and a famed Islamic scholar. None of them said anything about mood, and several denied that happiness has much to do with pleasure.

The Bishop, Katharine Jefferts Schori, defined it as “using the blessings of the world for the benefit of all…None of us can be truly happy unless all are happy.” If she’s right about that, then, alas, none of us is truly happy. But she clarified this a bit, making it more attainable: “In the reign of God, when God rules, when all are in right relationships, we will find the greatest happiness.”

She also said she is “struck that happiness is both physical and mental. In Christianity, bodies are of utmost importance. The incarnation teaches us that our bodies are a blessing. Part of happiness is having our bodily needs satisfied. Having enough to eat, having shelter, having meaningful work.” And yet we understand, “that all existence is a prayer, that there are blessings in each moment of the day. Washing the dishes, putting the body to work, all is a blessing. The simple awareness of God’s presence in every moment, every encounter, every challenge is happiness.”

The Rabbi, Lord Jonathan Sacks, joked at one point that when you study Jewish literature and history, “happiness is not the first word that comes to mind.” But he noted that there are two Hebrew words for happiness: osher, which refers to a kind of individual happiness, and simcha, which is the happiness shared with others-the latter being the best and most important.

He also defined what happiness isn’t: “We spend money we don’t have to buy things we don’t need to make us happy.” But far from increasing happiness, this is “the most efficient way to manufacture and distribute unhappiness. If I have a certain amount of money and power and give some to you, I have less. If I have love and happiness and give some to you, I have more. Spiritual happiness is the world’s greatest renewable energy.”

This sounded a bit like a song learned in preschool: Like a “magic penny,” “Love is something, if you give it away, you end up having more.” But then, it’s been aptly said that everything important we need to know, we learned in kindergarten.

The Islamic scholar, Prof. Seyyed Hossein Nasr of George Washington University, also immediately delved deeper than any notion about mood or pleasure. He pointed out that the Arabic word for “beauty” is the same as the word for “virtue” or “moral goodness,” with the implication that this is where happiness lies.

He also said that in the Quran, the word for happiness “is identified with the state of paradise. We never leave the pursuit of happiness, which in itself means that we are not really made for this world alone. Every happiness that we seek outside of spiritual happiness comes to an end, and the ending is always sadness.” In contrast to this pursuit, life’s main goal is self-discovery. “Once we know who we are, we are happy. But very few people in the world know who they are.”

The Dalai Lama must surely be among them. Krista Tippett of National Public Radio was the moderator, and she asked him how he can be happy while he and the Tibetan people are suffering. “Of course, my life wasn’t easy,” he said. “We lost our country. It’s sad, but that brings different and new opportunities.” Happiness can come out of tragedy, and “our life depends on hope, hope for better…Happiness does not come from the sky. Happiness must be created within us and our family.”

Although one thinks of Tibetan Buddhism as suggesting that happiness comes from within, through individual meditation and the overcoming of suffering, the Dalai Lama’s view that “happiness must be created within us and our family” suggests more, and it seems to correspond to both forms of happiness that Rabbi Sacks alluded to.

Surely the Dalai Lama’s ability to encourage and spread happiness among his own and other peoples suggests a convergence with Bishop Schori’s “right relationships” and Prof. Nasr’s “moral goodness.” As Rabbi Sacks said, directly addressing the Dalai Lama, “If we could only learn one thing from you, which is how to laugh the way you do, I think we’d increase the happiness in the world,”

Or as Helen Keller put it, “Life is full of suffering, but it is also full of the overcoming of it.” From the hands of a great soul who was both blind and deaf in her body, the core of the secret we are all seeking.

Note: By invitation, I’ve started a blog on the Psychology Today website, and my latest post can be read there or here, although different comments may be  posted there.

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

312 Responses to “The Happiness Summit: Four Religious Leaders Talk”

  1. 3d spiele says:

    So verpönt das Zocken auch dargestellt wird, so steht ja zum Glück fest, dass Gaming, ein dem Alter des Spielers angemessenes Spiel vorausgesetzt, förderlich für den Geist sein kann.
    Beim Spielen lernt der Gamer fernab vom Alltag schnell zu Entscheiden und seine Handlungen zu priorisieren.
    Viele Videospiele vermitteln überdies auch Basiswissen über Management und fördern die Logik des Spielers.
    Selbst die verschrieen MMOs können doch öfters den an den Haaren herbeigezogenen Effekt
    der Vereinsamung} invertieren. Der Spielende kann mitunter vielen unfreundlichen Leuten begegnen, doch findet der Spieler öfters just in seinem Lieblingsspiel Gleichgesinnte.

    Im Endeffekt: das Gaming ist hammer! Ungeachtet des
    Spiels und der Plattform, Zocken verbindet, Gaming ist ein Kulturgut.

  2. The aky Romanian and Brazilian sales numbers and the rather weak Argentinian and Czech transtions were obviously influential but the o hundred niy-eight web retailers with a rather poor average -10.6% were the critical driver for the overall downturn in sales numbers of 3.63%To summarize, Spain had the strongest stretch with transtions up 6.82%. A surge of 16.05% was the most robust rise from any single online store while a fall of 21.2% was the weakest decrease from a single online retailer. Brazil had the poorest period with trade down 7.89%.
    Germany Christoph Kramer Jersey http://www.soccerofficialonline.com/GERMANY-CHRISTOPH-KRAMER-JERSEY/

  3. They should be relatively challenging, but you should ensure that you can meet them, with a minimum of pain, every
    time. I know some people mix it with oatmeal and make protein cookies out of it.
    Media Highlights: Blair on “The Big Idea - The American Dream” with
    Ivanka Trump:.

  4. It is actually a nice and helpful piece of info. I am happy that you just shared this useful info with us. Please keep us informed like this. Thank you for sharing.

  5. One more thing to say is that an online business administration program is designed for people to be able to smoothly proceed to bachelor degree education. The 90 credit college degree meets the other bachelor education requirements then when you earn your associate of arts in BA online, you will possess access to the most recent technologies in this particular field. Some reasons why students need to get their associate degree in business is because they’re interested in the field and want to get the general knowledge necessary before jumping in a bachelor college diploma program. Thanks for the tips you actually provide in your blog.

  6. My spouse and I stumbled over here from a different page and thought I might
    check things out. I like what I see so i am just following you.
    Look forward to checking out your web page yet again.

  7. Woah this website is definitely magnificent i like examining your articles. Carry on the nice paintings! You realize, plenty of people are seeking about for this data, you may help these people greatly wedding ring set.

  8. My partner and I stumbled over here coming from a different
    website and thought I may as well check things out.
    I like what I see so i am just following you. Look forward to exploring your web page for a second time.

  9. Woah that site is amazing i love examining your posts.. http://www.artdecolampshub.com Keep in the fantastic operate! You realize, lots of people are searching all around in this information and facts, you’ll be able to enable them to enormously.

  10. Booker says:

    Great info. Lucky me I ran across your blog by chance (stumbleupon).
    I’ve saved as a favorite for later!

  11. hack says:

    Hello my family member! I wish to say that this article is amazing, great written and come with
    approximately all significant infos. I’d like to peer more posts like this
    .

  12. kids care says:

    Hello! I’ve bren following your web site for some time now and finally got the bravery tto go ahead and give
    you a shout out from Houston Tx! Just wante too tell you keep up the excellent work!

Leave a Reply


Blog Navigation

Selected Books

  • JoomlaWorks Simple Image Rotator
  • JoomlaWorks Simple Image Rotator
  • JoomlaWorks Simple Image Rotator
  • JoomlaWorks Simple Image Rotator
  • JoomlaWorks Simple Image Rotator

Login Form