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Riding my bike today (through the gorgeous Dandenong ranges) I was pondering about an invitation I had received to a “Happiness Seminar” in Sydney. The Dalai Lama headed the list of luminaries.

The axiomatic starting point for the Seminar was that “our purpose on earth is to be happy”. Riding a bike in the Dandenongs, or writing on RedBubble or eating a fine meal this postulation seems very real. But …

If this truly is our purpose it must be all of our purposes. Can I honestly believe that the purpose of a starving child in Africa is to be happy? For the millions sacrificed in World War Two was their purpose to be happy? And what about the injured or mentally depressed? Have all these people failed somehow in their purpose because they are not happy.

Maybe I need to go to the Seminar, but on the face of it I feel that it is a bit of a nice Western construct to assert happiness is the only goal. Maybe it is a necessary assertion for us because we indulge in so many things that make us miserable (materialism, gluttony, greed, one-upmanship) but it hardly sounds like it can be a universal purpose.

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