Science of Sukha by Zack Walsh (includes a study of Gross National Happiness of Buddhist Scholars and Monks in Taiwan)

There are many engaged Buddhists incorporating science into Buddhism without reference to traditional value structures and there are many Buddhist scholars ignoring or rejecting the ongoing development of Buddhism by scientific research. This paper seeks to avoid these two extremes by constructing a platform upon which Buddhists and scientists can meaningfully advance one another’s understanding of happiness and well-being without neglecting important differences. Using an integrative literature review format, research from positive psychology, happiness economics, and contemplative science will be linked to Buddhist ethics, in an effort to delineate the territory and boundaries of Buddhism’s engagement to the science of happiness. Since there is no operational definition for a Buddhist concept of happiness in current scientific literature, this paper will also attempt to lay the foundation for its establishment in three ways: First, it will define happiness in correspondence to the Buddhist concept of sukha; second, it will integrate scientific research into a construct that retains the concept’s traditional integrity; and third, it will experimentally demonstrate the validity of sukha by providing evidence of its functional relevance to lived Buddhist practice. The paper will conclude with a critical analysis of the potential merits of Buddhism’s happiness hypothesis in future studies.

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