The Dispute Of Happiness
The Tricycle Fall 2005 issue was one of the best yet! So many articles on happiness, so much to think about—and like all really good discussions, it left me asking so many questions! Here are two:

As a college professor, I sometimes ask my students what they think is the most important thing in life; increasingly, the answer is “happiness.” But I remember asking that question when I was a college student and getting answers like “I want to be rich,” “I want power,” or (since it was the ’60s) “I want love.” It seems as if fewer people are making the assumption that happiness comes automatically as part of some external factor. Could this mean that we are beginning to learn something?

Second question: if Americans are changing their views about happiness, could this be in part a result of the growth of Buddhism among us? According to the National Survey of Religious Identification, the number of Buddhists in this country grew from 401,000 in 1990 to 1,082,000 in 2000. That’s a growth of over 170 percent! Surely this means that more and more Americans are having some contact with Buddhists, and thus with the dharma and the concept of escape from suffering. Could the “happiness craze” turn out to be one of Tricycle’s own chickens coming home to roost?

—Ralph Doty, Norman, Oklahoma

I have just finished reading the Fall 2005 issue of Tricycle. The issue has “The Pursuit of Happiness” as its organizing theme. This type of marketing may sell copy, but something substantive has been lost.

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