Translation from EPOCH TIMES May 21st 2022 (by Erhard Meyer-Galow)
Bhutan's Happiness is very often misunderstood.
From this small Kingdom, the concept of Gross National Happiness is going around the world.
But the essential element in it is often disregarded in the West.
From Kathrin Sumpf
“Few things are as about Bhutan are so often misunderstood as the concept of Gross National Happiness", explains Prof. Dr. Erhard Meyer-Galow, new Honorary Consul of the Kingdom of Bhutan in Germany.
He made it clear on May 14, 2022 in Frankfurt that there are serious differences in the definitions of "Happiness" between the West and the Kingdom in the Himalayas.
At this Bhutan Day event, he also presented the further development of Gross National Happiness to the concept of "Gross National Peace" in his speech. Both are reason enough to take up the topic.
Bhutan's Happiness rests on Body and Mind, Soul and Spirit
In recent weeks, Meyer-Galow has noticed, that in all his conversations about Bhutan, after a few minutes his interlocutors are switching to the topics of Ukraine and Russia, NATO and the EU, sanctions and their own desire for peace.
Before these topics, the talks moved in the direction toward the climate crisis and Corona. Meyer- Galow, who is very well acquainted with the Bhutanese way of life, recognizes a common factor behind it: Fear and Anxiety.
Bhutan has managed, however, to reduce fear and anger and bring serenity, empathy and kindness as the social standard in society.
With some pride, he explains, "Bhutan is a small country with a big message."
Most people in the West with whom he had spoken, however have a completely wrong understanding of Happiness in Bhutan. They have no idea what was meant by Happiness when H.M. Jigme Singye Wangchuck, the 4th King, declared in 1979 that Gross National Happiness is more important than the Gross National Product (GNP).
The concept is enshrined as an obligation under Article 9 (2) of the Constitution of Bhutan.
Happiness has a long tradition in Bhutan.
As early as 1629, in the "Legal Code" of the Bhutanese constituent states, it was stipulated: "If the government cannot provide for the happiness of the people there is no reason for the government to continue to exist."
Gross National Happiness stands on four pillars: Fair and sustainable socio- economic development, preservation and promotion of vibrant culture, environmental protection and good governance. The important difference to western thinking is that Bhutan is a Buddhist country and therefore Happiness arises from Buddhist tradition and emptiness.
“Happiness arises from within and is not limited to external fulfillment of desires and well-being," says Meyer-Galow.
” It is important to understand that "Bhutanese Happiness" is neither based on a materialistic or egocentric focus. True happiness in Bhutan is based on three pillars: the Happiness of the Body and the rational Mind, the Happiness of Soul or Psyche, and the Happiness of the Spirit according to Buddhism”.
But "most western people are stuck in their heads and only try to understand happiness", states the Honorary Consul, "they have no access to the spiritual level of the soul and therefore cannot experience the Happiness of Soul andSpirit.”
In Germany, mostly happiness is derived from the subjective well-being of the egocentric individual (hedonism) and the religious connection is disregarded. The Gross National
Happiness of Bhutan is often interpreted in the West in the sense of satisfaction. According to Meyer-Galow more correct may be Bliss or as it is called "Ananda" in the Upanishads or as a result of practices in Buddhism - tranquil contentment, serenity, compassion.
It arises from Mindfulness and Awareness in the Here and Now.
In the West, the most important dimension of Happiness is lacking
Most People in the West lack the spiritual dimension of life. Therefore Bhutan's Happiness remains incomprehensible to them.
Meyer-Galow explained in Frankfurt that the Buddhist Dharma (the Buddhist teachings) is leading to an experience of a reality which is what neither eyes nor ears can see and hear.
To achieve it, the human being must develop further (Individuation according to C.G. Jung), become more mindful and become more serene, he recommends. "To achieve this there are many spiritual paths such as meditation, contemplation, imagination, dreams, prayer, recitation of mantras and sacred texts, yoga, aikido, etc.--
and archery, so popular in Bhutan.
Also experiences in nature, culture, music, love and meditative movements are part of it."
“Following the experience of Mindfulness”, he said, “there is the second step, the letting go of all attachments, of the Ego. The result is the happy human being, who is not bound to the desires and demands of the Ego, but is grounded in the Self, our inner dimension, which is of divine origin".
Meyer-Galow sees the reason for the West's failure in history. Western people have lost their roots and their basis through the epochs of enlightenment, modernity and postmodernity.
Bhutan, on the other hand, has kept the focus on the Wholeness achieved by the Buddhist teachings.
During the Enlightenment, from about 1720 to 1800, the mind became the measure of all things. "In spite of all achievements in Science, Technique and Medicine in this period people separated from their soul. And as soul is the important guide to spirit they have separated from their spiritual spirit. The connection with nature was broken. The time of romanticism and natural philosophy, as Schelling, Böhme, Goethe, Alexander von Humboldt,( to name but a few) expressed, is over and the time of Wholeness is over."
The following epoch of modernity and industrialization from 1880 to 1920 was a countermovement to realism and naturalism; it was characterized by great technological advances. Now Germany is in the epoch of postmodernism and despite all the material progress, it is at a dead end. The people live in fear and anxiety, with burn-out and psychic depression.
Bhutan, on the other hand, has preserved the magical connection to nature.
The Kingdom in the Himalayas was not going through the technological progress nor through the disadvantages of the West. Currently Bhutan is looking for a way to achieve technological progress with their Buddhist orientation without the problems of today's Western culture.
The Great Peace of the Nations
Gross National Happiness could be referred to as further development to the "Gross National Peace", ideally also to the "Gross International Peace" according to Prof. Dr. Erhard Meyer-Galow. Through a speech of the Fifth King of Bhutan on the 114th National Holiday on December 17, 2021 this development was stimulated. H.M. King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck built a bridge between the Happiness in Bhutan and Peace in the world. He related his country to the world and explained that there is no lasting peace in this world if our goals are so different from each other.
"There cannot be enduring peace, prosperity, equality and brotherhood in this world if our aims are so separate and divergent, if we do not accept that in the end we are people, all alike, sharing the Earth among ourselves and also with other sentient beings, all of whom have an equal role and stake in the state of this planet and its players”.
The "Gross National Peace" - the term Meyer-Galow coined- is beginning in each individual human being. "Nowadays there is not only a desire for Happiness, but also for Peace and security, safety and comfort."
One way to reach it, however, is the way of Bhutan.
Each individual must first make peace within himself prior to peace can prevail in society. And only through the further development of the individual, morality and ethics can grow. When the human-beings develop inwardly, then further developments and compassion may arise and they then usually act ethically impeccable - not because they have to, but because they cannot do otherwise.
In Bhutan this means quite concretely that not only the children are required to meditate several times a day. A life without greed, hatred, jealousy and envy is strived for, in order to achieve peace in the family, in the village and in the city, in Bhutan and finally in the whole world.
In contrast to this is the western way of improving people only through laws and sanctions. Without recognition of a higher divine principle, the human being remains a prisoner of his Ego and cannot grow beyond himself.
He then wants to be to be praised all the time, to always be right and it is always the others who are to blame.
Bhutan trusts in the Gross National Happiness concept, which leads to the "Gross National Peace" (Gross National Peace, GNP).
For the King, however, the transformation is too slow. In his speech, he found unusually clear words and called for improvements in the in terms of Gross National Happiness. In a survey in 2010, 41 percent of people were happy, five years later only 43.4 percent were happy. So there is still significant potential for improvement