In his book Ethics for the New Millennium, the Dalai Lama outlines what he sees as being necessary for a happy life. The key focus of the Dalai Lama's (DL) argument is the practice of altruism within every aspect of one's life "whether interacting with a friend or foe compassion is of utter importance. He states that "the more we truly desire to benefit others, the greater the strength and confidence we develop and the greater the peace and happiness we experience- (p. 130). But I question whether this idea can be put into practice in a capitalistic western world that depends on a competitive, cut-throat mentality for its survival. .
One of the points made by the DL that drove me to ask this question was his distinction between ethical and spiritual acts. "An ethical act is one where we refrain from causing harm to others' experience or expectation of happiness. Spiritual acts we can describe in terms of those qualities mentioned earlier of love, compassion, patience, forgiveness, humility, tolerance, and so on which presume some level of concern for others' well-being- (p. 61). The DL describes ethical and spiritual acts as being imperative to a happy life. But I question how one can be an active member of western society without causing harm or suffering to other people's experience or expectation of happiness. .
What the DL fails to grasp in his theory concerns the complex political and economic history of western capitalism. The once existent proletariat of America has long since been exported to countries in which companies can produce their product(s) without the restrictions and regulations placed upon them in the states (this has an enormous impact on the environments and resources of these countries). These countries are always very poor economically, which gives the companies an endless supply of cheap laborers "thus making the process more cost effective.