Mahayana Buddhism and Gross National Happiness in Bhutan

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Michael Givel


In 1972, the fourth King of Bhutan announced that Gross National Happiness was more important than Gross Domestic Product. In this paper, the basic conceptual features of Mahayana Buddhism are discussed particularly as they relate to the Mahayana Buddhist view of happiness. The primary purpose of Mahayana Buddhism is to spread happiness and compassion to everyone in the world. This includes that by awakening to the Ultimate Truth, one obtains greater clarity and insight about the true nature of the universe, leading to internal peace and happiness. As this paper shows, the goal of modern Gross National Happiness is also based on Mahayana Buddhist principles to increase happiness for everyone. This occurs through governmental policies and programs that promote material needs balanced with becoming enlightened.

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Author Biography

Michael Givel, University of Oklahoma

Professor of Political Science.