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: , , , , , , , , ,

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

  1. hot story says:

    Clearly the following ideas must be adapted to your type of business, your strategy, your clients, and the available
    media and journalists, but they should provide you with a general direction you may follow:
    . Anyway, always be careful about this type of apps-
    stay away, it sucks. Not only will you be able to Buy One, Get One
    for free all day long, but a delicious ice-cold shake will set you back one cent
    all day long, too.

  2. here says:

    Article writing is also a excitement, if you be familiar
    with after that you can write if not it is difficult to write.

  3. Nice post. I learn something new and challenging on blogs I stumbleupon on a daily basis.
    It will always be helpful to read content from other writers and use
    a little something from other sites.

  4. detox slim says:

    I am really grateful to the holder of this web
    page who has shared this enormous paragraph
    at at this place.

  5. Malinda says:

    Hello, i feel that i saw you visited my
    website thus i came to go back the desire?.I am attempting
    to find issues to enhance my web site!I guess its good enough to make use of a few of your ideas!!

  6. The basics will certainly help you to build a solid foundation- and with a strong foundation, only from that
    point it is possible to take a better approach to getting women. It does make noise however it is much
    quieter than an actual drum. You want to do this so your
    application is created and able to be distributed throughout
    the application marketplace.

  7. Fb really places a type of “rating” on all your posts.

  8. Yes! Finally something about Bodybuilding.

  9. Currently it looks like BlogEngine is the top blogging platform out there right
    now. (from what I’ve read) Is that what you are using
    on your blog?

  10. If you wish for to increase your knowledge just keep visiting this web site
    and be updated with the most recent news update posted here.

  11. Las dos requieren de un filtro humano para su inclusión lo
    que asegura la calidad de las web añadidas, pero también ralentiza
    y complica su inclusión.

  12. What’s up to every single one, it’s truly a pleasant for me to pay a visit this site, it contains valuable Information.

  13. Hello, i believe that i saw you visited my blog thus i got here to go back the desire?.I’m attempting to find issues to enhance my
    website!I suppose its ok to use a few of your ideas!!

  14. xe toyota van cu…

    The Happiness Summit: Four Religious Leaders Talk » Melvin Konner’s Blog…

  15. Hi there, this weekend is pleasant for me, as this moment i am reading this
    impressive educational paragraph here at my home.

  16. Auralux Stem CellActiv Review…

    The Happiness Summit: Four Religious Leaders Talk » Melvin Konner’s Blog…

  17. If some one wants to be updated with most up-to-date technologies therefore he
    must be visit this web site and be up to date everyday.

  18. Joomla! Málaga © Servicios de diseño web en Málaga: registro de dominios, servicios de hosting y
    correos, diseño web, capacitación, mantenimiento web.

  19. mobile online casino…

    The Happiness Summit: Four Religious Leaders Talk » Melvin Konner’s Blog…

  20. Flora says:

    Wow, that’s what I was exploring for, what a material! present here at
    this web site, thanks admin of this web site.

  21. خرید vpn says:

    whoah this specific site is actually magnificent i love reading through your content.. خرید vpn Sustain the good function! You realize, plenty of people need around for this information and facts, you can make them enormously.

  22. Cambogia select Reviews…

    The Happiness Summit: Four Religious Leaders Talk » Melvin Konner’s Blog…

  23. legit hyip says:

    I have been reading your blog The Happiness Summit: Four Religious Leaders Talk » Melvin Konner’s Blog and they are too much useful for me to read something new and special. And You can also view our website also legit hyip http://www.hyipreward.com.

  24. Marcelino says:

    I think what you published was actually very reasonable.
    However, what about this? suppose you added a little content?
    I am not saying your content isn’t good., however suppose you added a
    post title that grabbed people’s attention? I mean The Happiness Summit:
    Four Religious Leaders Talk » Melvin Konner’s Blog is kinda vanilla.
    You could peek at Yahoo’s front page and note how they
    create news headlines to get people to click. You might add a
    related video or a related picture or two to grab
    readers excited about what you’ve written. Just my opinion, it might bring your website a little bit more interesting.

  25. Generally I don’t read article on blogs, however I wish to say tnat this write-up very forced me
    to check out and do it!Your writing taste has been amazedd me.
    Thanks, quite geat article.

  26. I got this web site from my friend who informed me concerning this site and now this time I am visiting this web site and reading very informative content here.

    นี่คือของฉันเว็บไซต์;แว่นตากันแดด

  27. I’m impressed, I must say. Rarely do I come across
    a blog that’s both educative and interesting, and without a doubt, you have hit the
    nail on the head. The problem is an issue that not enough people are speaking intelligently about.
    Now i’m very happy that I found this in my search for
    something concerning this.

  28. judi bola says:

    Because in the middle class (mindset, not finances) society, we
    are taught that you go to school to to get a degree so that you can prove your
    education, so that you can have a good job that grants security.
    Here are some investment rules and strategies to follow when signs of deflation appear.
    Helment and pads are not required in flag football, as it is a
    less agressive version of American football.

  29. Costing around ?800.00, the Concept2 rower is full of superior ponents. The rail is a vital part of all rowers; this mhine has an aluminium rail that has a stainless steel trk. This enables very smooth seat movent in which the legs are totally engaged. With this ergonomic handle, you can have natural arm and hand positions which will augnt the effectiveness of the workout. It does not matter if your feet are small or large, the footrests are flexible and simple to adapt. One of the mhines most pioneering ponents is the spiral damper; it controls the air that flows to the flywheel. It is the user choice which “boat” he/e will be rowing, perhaps a high-speed ring boat, or perhaps a sluggi, heavyweight row boat.
    Shane Lechler Texans Jersey http://www.jadeveonclowneyjersey.com/authentic-shane-lechler-texans-jersey.html

  30. I have fun with, lead to I found just what I used to be looking for.
    You have ended my four day lengthy hunt! God Bless you man. Have a nice
    day. Bye

  31. soccer says:

    Paul tours his new middle school and makes plans to play on the soccer team.
    These games require you first to download an emulator and then the game.
    Twelve teams representing their countries were sent to compete.

  32. Louann says:

    Thhis way youu will not have to pay additional for the driver.

    IN this ceremony, Haldi paste, specizlly made by the brides mother, is brought
    in a silver bowl hat is applied on the groom. By becoming ordained,
    you are given that right to conduct ceremonies legally.

  33. Honda Civic says:

    Of course (“Of course” is technically
    a phrase, not a word, but I’m including it here anyway because it’s REALLY powerful.
    Also, the saltwater inside the ‘magic cubes’ is 100% non-toxic, so if one does begin to leak,
    simply throw out that slushy and start a new one. To help with inspiration try and
    discover a exercise friend as you will be much more reliable with your schedule.

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