The Pancasila code of happiness

Anand Krishna, Jakarta | Opinion | Tue, July 03 2012, 6:00 AM

The Jakarta Post

Paper Edition | Page: 6

Recently, I attended a conference where one of the participants objected to the popular depiction of our national ideology, Pancasila, as one of the four pillars which support the nation.

The other three being the 1945 Constitution, the integrity/unity of the Indonesian State/Nation, and our National Motto of Bhinneka Tunggal Ika, meaning “appearing as many, but essentially one”.

The aged veteran’s argument is worth recounting. “In his historic June 1, 1945 speech, Bung Karno was very clear that Pancasila was Philosophie Grondslag, the basic philosophy, or dasar-negara, the foundation, upon which the modern state of Indonesia was to be built.”

What then, are the pillars holding up our house? Perhaps health, education, economy and social security? And, the roof of this house would be “good governance”?

But let’s not stretch this analogy too far. Let us check if the Panca (five) sila (principles) are still relevant today. And most importantly, how can these sila increase our happiness, the main objective of all human effort and struggle?

Modern research points to health, social relations and self-satisfaction as the primary sources of happiness. Money, interestingly, is nowhere on the shortlist. Money is acknowledged as one of life’s necessities, not as a basis of happiness.

So how do these three sources relate to the five codes of the Pancasila?

Health is first and the foremost. There is an old saying, “When money is gone, something is gone; but, when health is gone, everything is gone.” Writing this, I am reminded of my old friend who once owned a pharmaceutical company. A self-made man who had dragged himself up from being an ordinary salesman, he said, “Then I was too poor to afford a meal in a restaurant. Now, I am too rich to afford it.”

He could not afford it because he didn’t have money. Now, he has the money, but his health will not permit. He is diabetic, suffering from hypertension and high cholesterol levels.

So where does health feature in the Pancasila? It is the fifth, the code of Kesejahteraan and Keadilan commonly translated as prosperity and justice. I interpret this as general wellbeing. Prosperity is not wealth alone; it is also the physical and mental health of the populace.

Similarly, justice is not only served in the courtrooms. It must also be reflected in our social relations. This overlaps with the second sila of humanity and, also the second prime cause of happiness: healthy, enriching relationships.

Any relationship based on the principle of “you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours” can never be lasting. This principle is only appropriate in trade: I sell, you buy or vice versa. Life is not trade; life is not all about business.

Life is about living, and living is about human emotions and relationships. It is not about human rights alone, but also human values: the universal values of peace, love and harmony. It is about valuing life itself.

Life is about togetherness, concord and self-sacrifice to preserve peace, which takes us to the third sila: unity.

When we speak of unity today, we can no longer limit it to just one nation. It must encompass all humanity. Our laughter and tears cannot be termed as Western or Eastern. Our joys and sorrows are universal.

The third sila is a call for all of us to live harmoniously. Unity is harmony. Democracy, related to the fourth sila, can never result in global peace, so long as it sides with the strong, vocal majority. Democracy must be redefined to accommodate the interests of all. Only then can lasting global harmony be realized; only when the majority and the strong willingly share what they have in excess with the less privileged.

The vocal must realize that it is truth that triumphs, so they better voice the truth, or not be so vocal. Truth and sharing then are the secrets to remaining united as a nation, and also to realizing global harmony.

Notice please, that the second sila of humanity, the third of unity, and the fourth of democracy are all related to social relations, the second prime cause of happiness.

Finally, the first sila: not only about tuhan or god, but about ketuhanan, godliness, the goodness within you and within me. This is our inner reality, the principal cause of all and everything. This inner reality is the source of peace and harmony.

Talking about peace, I am not sure that total world peace is ever possible. We cannot completely free our world of all conflicts for all time. Furthermore, peace is not the end of all wars and conflicts. Neither is it the end of all mishaps, sicknesses, and sorrows. Is that possible?

It may not be, but global harmony is always possible. Global harmony may not end all conflict, but it can open our hearts to dialogue. It may not end all pain and sickness, but it can certainly soften the heart of the haves to help and serve the have-nots.

The road to global harmony is through inner peace. This is the third of the prime causes of happiness — inner satisfaction. Thus, the first source of happiness, health, relates to the fourth sila. The second, relationships, relates to the second, third and the fourth sila. And, the third cause, inner satisfaction, relates to the first sila. Pancasila, my friends, is not just a national ideology, but a working plan to live happily…

The writer is a spiritualist and author of more than 150 books.