"Interfaith Summit on Happiness" Brings Together International Religious Leaders
  • Tue, 10/19/2010
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19 October 2010

Emory University hosted a two-day "Summit on Happiness: Understanding and Promoting Happiness in Today's Society," with Islamic philosopher Seyyed Hossein Nasr, the Dalai Lama, Chief Rabbi of the United Kingdom Lord Jonathan Sacks, and Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori of the Episcopal Church.

The event was organized by Emory University's Center for the study of Law and Religion with the aim of bringing together major voices of world religions in a round table discussion on the topic of happiness.

The summit is part of the Center's five-year project on the Pursuit of Happiness. Among the questions they hope to answer: What do Judaism, Christianity, Islam and Buddhism share in their understandings of happiness? What are the areas of disagreement, and why? Dare they explore a common scientifically explained physiological state of happiness that is brought about by giving up oneself in service to others, either through acceptance of faith or through meditation? Is happiness achievable in this life, or must it wait for the afterlife? Can the world religions construct a way of working together to cultivate peace?

Regarding Islam's answer to these questions, Scott Kugle, Associate Professor of South Asian and Islamic Studies said: "The Quran is very clear that happiness in this world in this moment is really not the object of life. Rather you should be living not for your own contentment and satisfaction but for God's contentment and satisfaction with you."

Leading up to the event, Emory University posted a series of videos on YouTube discussing different faith perspectives on happiness and well being.

Sources:

Pam Stout, "Dalai Lama and faith leaders converge at 'Interfaith Summit on Happiness' " Ann Arbor October 18, 2010

"Dalai Lama's 'Happiness Summit' offers interfaith views of 'wellbeing' " Faith and reason October 18, 2010

April L. Bogle, "The Role of Happiness in the World Religions" The Huffington Post October 17, 2010