Human happiness has been a widely debated topic for the past 2,500 years within the various philosophical and religious traditions. However, happiness itself remained an elusive concept within the context of recent empirical happiness research. This qualitative phenomenological study aimed to understand the phenomenon of happiness from the perspective of sadhus, holy ascetics of India, who renounce all their material possessions and worldly desires for the discovery of true happiness or moksha (Sanskrit: freedom from all sufferings). Using Husserl’s transcendental phenomenological method, the study selected 20 sadhus for in-depth interviews. The sadhus reported their happiness as ananda (Sanskrit: happiness), far higher than normal levels of happiness that ordinary people experience. Inductive thematic data analysis found that happiness is every human being’s most fundamental unchanging true nature, and one must discover it within, not in the external world. According to the sadhus, happiness has an animate nature, meaning it is a living construct with no shape, form, size, or other qualities, but happiness is conscious or “the knower.” The sadhus also described human happiness as infinite, all-pervasive, beyond, and distinct from the human mind. They described happiness as none other than Divine, their source of continuous care and protection. The study found sadhus are very happy people and have no sense of fear. They attributed their happiness to five critical factors: (a) Guru, a spiritual teacher, (b) self-knowledge, (c) serving others, (d) practicing yoga and meditation, and (e) renunciation and living a simple life. From the perspective of sadhus, this study found everyone has access to immense happiness which can be discovered within through virtuous actions and secular practices like yoga and meditations or mindfulness-based meditations.
|Commitee:||Mackenzie, Elizabeth, Wiens, Kandi|
|School:||University of Pennsylvania|
|Department:||Chief Learning Officer|
|School Location:||United States -- Pennsylvania|
|Source:||DAI-A 81/2(E), Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Social studies education, Social research, Psychology|
|Keywords:||Happiness, Phenomenological, Positive psychology, Qualitative, Sadhus, Spiritual|
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