One: A mass shooting in a church in America, and a mass Yoga performance in India. As the Dalai Lama said, ‘when every 8 year old child is taught meditation, then there shall be peace in the world’. So this past week schools in the UK have added mindfulness to the curriculum to help children cope with stress.
Two: Over a year ago I went to meditate with Buddhist monks in the jungles of Laos. The Hindus, Buddhists and Surrealists all know the world is an illusion. So they can be detached from its pains. Happiness comes from that realisation and that realisation comes as the ancient Hindu text, the Bhagavad Gita, carrying the ‘Song of God’ Himself says, comes from meditation.
Western scientists recently discovered that Hindu-Buddhist style meditation stimulates areas of the brain which cause a feeling of happiness.
Three: The British Prime Minister on taking office said he wanted a measure for happiness not just economic growth (GDP). Why? Because despite a relentless rise in British GDP since it’s ever been measured, our happiness has not had the same trajectory. Indeed some of the happiest people in the world live in countries which have the lowest GDP.
The American Founding Father revolutionaries under their Constitution even sought to rid themselves of the British ‘in pursuit of happiness’. Happiness is therefore a legitimate political goal. Even though over 200 years since its founding, the country with the world’s largest GDP does not have the greatest happiness.
Four: Steve Jobs did it. As you take your MBA and try to emulate the greatest businessman of the century, don’t forget it was his meditation he referenced time and again to success.
When was I happiest here in Laos? When cycling down a remote jungle hill or a moonlit deserted street at midnight. Why? It was the meditation the monks here told me of. My mind was empty. Meditation with monks taught me something; as a Hindu, I already knew how to meditate.
Five: Want to make British people happier Mr PM? Want the nation to be more productive? Want it to compete better? Teach meditation in schools. Your children are being whooped by those from Eastern meditative cultures – can’t get any worse can it? The benefits to concentration and performance are well known. You can’t keep spending your GDP out of unhappiness.
And that leads me to one final important part of happiness. I helped raise funds for 150 scholarships for learning Hinduism through the Oxford Centre For Hindu Studies. Education is freedom, and freedom is a luxury, freedom from the illusion of attachment to comfort. Bringing happiness to others is a source of the greatest happiness of all.