Buddhism, freedom, and the pursuit of happiness

Hey! This is our fiftieth episode!

This week, we take up our conversation from last time about aspects of American culture and their intersection with Buddhism — this time, talking about freedom. What does freedom mean in an American context? And how is this more political understanding different from or similar to soteriological concerns of freedom from samsara in Buddhism? This conversation leads us into the murky waters of the “happiness industry” and the growing connection in America between Buddhism and happiness. We argue that Buddhism challenges us to go beyond simplistic dualisms between happiness and sadness and critically examine our own selves and our own lives. This sort of radical honesty leads to being truly human. We wrap things up with a discussion of the importance of being critical of own’s own cultural baggage (no matter where that baggage comes from) and being open to having a true dialogue between Buddhism and American culture.