10. maj 2010

Dzongsar Khyentse on social harmony and happiness

In Laos there is a saying that too much education makes you unhappy. This proverb is contrary to everything you hear these days — namely that education is the key to everything.

But this kind of folk proverb has a lot of wisdom, in part because we often only identify issues as problems when we have knowledge and information about them. So we don’t really know whether our peace and happiness are due simply to ignorance or to our ability to make ourselves truly happy even when we have knowledge.

But there is more wisdom in that Laotian proverb, because education sometimes seems to make us so greedy and stressed. Many of my friends, particularly in Asian countries like Singapore and Hong Kong, are pushed relentlessly from a very young age to study so hard, get A’s, go to university, be competitive, get bank jobs, work around the clock, and live totally scheduled lives. They don’t have a life; they are stressed; and they aren’t very happy.

By contrast, Laotians still manage to smile and be friendly despite having been bombed more than any other country for a mistake they didn’t even make. From my own experience there, I think it may have something to do with Laotians being very laid back and seemingly not very ambitious or greedy.

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