Religion and Happiness: A Buddhist-Christian Response

By Wioleta Polinska.

Published by The International Journal of Critical Cultural Studies

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Published online: August 5, 2015 $US5.00

Research during the last few decades has identified participation in religion as contributing to lasting levels of happiness. While the evidence is varied and not unanimous, there is a general consensus that religion is correlated with well-being. In light of Buddhist and Christian theologies that value interdependence of human beings with the rest of reality, I will propose caution regarding reports where happiness is assessed by self-reported individual well-being. Instead, I will argue that given contemporary ecological deterioration and growing inequality between poor and rich, there is a need for a theology of happiness that includes the flourishing of all people and of all nature. Both Buddhist and Christian theological reflections insist that a separate, individualistic concept of happiness is misguided. Since we exist in a matrix of interdependence, nothing can be delinked; we cannot step out of the matrix. Wishing to step outside of the matrix is self-centered, but also, futile. Since our lives are intertwined with the myriads of other beings, we “inter-are” so deeply that “the only alternative to coexistence is co-nonexistence.” But if we compassionately embrace our kinship with others, happiness without the prosperity of others should not be welcomed.

Keywords: Happiness, Mindfulness, Buddhist-Christian Dialogue

The International Journal of Critical Cultural Studies, Volume 13, Issue 3, September 2015, pp.67-80. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Published online: August 5, 2015 (Article: Electronic (PDF File; 483.270KB)).

Dr. Wioleta Polinska

Full Professor, Religious Studies, North Central College, Naperville, Illinois, USA