The Right to Happiness

Needless to say, the international conventions on human rights contain lists of various rights of citizen (which abuse would lead to the suffering of affected individuals).  However, realisation of these rights (through the State’s protection) would obviously not lead the individual to avoiding sufferings, and would not guarantee achieving happiness.

Buddhism differentiates between two kinds of happiness: relative and unconditioned:


  1.              Relative happiness depends on favourite external circumstances and relations    

               with others, while

  1.              unconditioned happiness is a state of deep inner fulfilment,

              independent of the reaction of others. 

This state of “mind of joy”  - as the Lotus Sutra describes it - has emerged as an effect of the individual’s efforts of living in perfect harmony with the natural Law or Order of life (the Law of Cause and Effect) and being unfazed by the changing circumstances - no matter how severe they may be.

In any case, happiness cannot be found in isolation. The teaching of Interconnectedness stresses the oneness of oneself and all people, in fact, it teaches the “oneness of self with all living beings and the environment”. 

In this scope, any pursuit of personal happiness must include that of others as well.  This view on maintaining happiness through being interconnected with others - eliminates the narrow and superficial understanding of “pursuing happiness” based on the limited ego-self. 

“Pursuing Happiness” was regarded as an unalienable right of citizen in The American Declaration of Independence (1776). “Pursuing Happiness” can be considered as a right, because it fits the definition of “right as an inherent property”, which is the tendency of ‘avoiding sufferings and seeking happiness’ - inherent in all people.  It is a desire shared by all people, and its nature is not restricted nor conditioned.

Seeking the unconditioned (or ultimate) happiness - is identified also with enlightenment.

Enlightenment - as the Lotus Sutra implies - is “maintaining the joy of living” through caring of others, described also as people’s natural tendency: Shu Jo Sho Yu Raku “ - which means:People in the land of enlightenment are happy and at ease”Lotus Sutra, Chapter 16.


Author: Safwan Darshams

The Lotus Sutra’s Unique Teachings on Attaining Enlightenment

The Revolutionary Teachings of the Lotus Sutra

Comparison between The Lotus Sutra and other spiritual scriptures

The Authenticity of the Lotus Sutra

    Frequently Asked Questions