Gross National Happiness – Bhutan’s guiding development philosophy

A discussion with His Excellency Lyonpo Jigmi Y. Thinley, Minister of Home and Cultural Affairs of Bhutan at UC Berkeley

Event Details


UC Berkeley International House
Chevron Auditorium 2299 Pedmont Ave, Berkley,


January 25, 2006 from 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm America/Los Angeles (UTC-08:00)

Gross National Happiness — the guiding philosophy of Bhutan’s development process — was pronounced by His Majesty King Jigme Singye Wangchuck, soon after his enthronement in 1972. GNH is a balanced and holistic approach to development, and is based on the conviction that man is bound by nature to search for happiness, and that it is the single most desire of every citizen.

Join us for an address by His Excellency Lyonpo Jigmi Y. Thinley, Minister for Home and Cultural Affairs of the Royal Government of Bhutan as he outlines how Bhutan uniquely recognizes happiness as more than an utopian concept by the establishment of four key national strategies or pillars. Mr. Thinley also addresses the serious flaws in conventional economic growth paradigms, which complicate the human’s strive toward happiness by presenting complex means to achieving it.

The keynote speech will be followed by a discussion involving the following honorable panelists:

Robert Reich, J.D., Professor of Public Policy at the UC Berkeley Goldman School of Public Policy (and former Labor Secretary under President Bill Clinton),

Dr. Paul Ekman, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus of Psychology at the UC San Francisco,

Dr. Clifford Saron, PhD., Assistant Research Scientist at the Center for Mind and Brain, UC Davis,

Dr. Alan Wallace, Ph.D. President of the Santa Barbara Institute for Consciousness Studies will moderate the discussion.
Biographies of the speaker and panelists:

His Excellency Lyonpo Jigmi Y. Thinley, Minister for Home and Cultural Affairs, Royal Government of Bhutan

His Excellency Lyonpo Jigmi Y. Thinley has held positions in the Government since 1982. Recent positions include Minister for Foreign Affairs from 1998 to 2003 and Prime Minister from 2003 to 2004. From 1987 to 1989 His Excellency was appointed as Permanent Representative of the Kingdom of Bhutan to the United Nations in New York. Currently His Excellency also holds positions in various bodies and organizations. He is inter alia President of the Center for Bhutan Studies, Chairman of Druk Air Corporation (National Airline), President of The Youth Development Association of Bhutan and Counselor of the Asia Society in New York. Lyonpo Jigmi Y. Thinley has publicized five books and has given lectures on various topics at major international gatherings and Universities in many countries. He is the holder of three awards: The grand order of the “Druk Thuksey”, the “Coronation Medal” for meritorious public service and the Alumni Fellow Award of the Pennsylvania State University, USA. His Excellency received his B.A. from Delhi University, India and his M.P.A. from Pennsylvania State University, USA.
Dr. Paul Ekman, Ph.D., Professor of Psychology at the University of California, San Francisco (Emeritus)

For 32 years, Dr. Paul Ekman was a Professor of Psychology in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of California at San Francisco. He received his undergraduate education at the University of Chicago and New York University. He received his Ph.D. from Adelphi University in 1958 after spending a year in clinical internship at the Langley Porter Psychiatric Institute, part of the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF). He served as chief psychologist in the U.S. Army, Fort Dix New Jersey from 1958-1960. On discharge he returned to UCSF where he held a three year postdoctoral research fellowship. He then initiated his research program supported by grants from the National Institute of Mental Health and the National Science Foundation, and the Advanced Research Projects Agency of the DOD, loosely affiliated with UCSF. In 1972 he was appointed Professor of Psychology at UCSF. His interests have focused on two separate but related topics. He originally focused on ‘nonverbal’ behavior, and by the mid-60’s concentrated on the expression and physiology of emotion. His second interest is interpersonal deception. His many honors have included the Distinguished Scientific Contribution Award of the American Psychological Association in 1991, and an honorary doctor of humane letters from the University of Chicago in 1994. Dr. Ekman retired from UCSF in 2004. He currently continues to consult on research and training related to emotion and deception.
Robert B. Reich, J.D., Professor of Public Policy at the Goldman School of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley

Robert B. Reich has served in three national administrations, most recently as secretary of labor under President Bill Clinton. He has written ten books, including The Work of Nations, which has been translated into 22 languages; the best-sellers The Future of Success and Locked in the Cabinet, and his most recent book, Reason. His articles have appeared in the New Yorker, Atlantic Monthly, New York Times, Washington Post, and Wall Street Journal. Mr. Reich is co-founding editor of The American Prospect magazine. His weekly commentaries on public radio’s “Marketplace” are heard by nearly five million people. In 2003, Mr. Reich was awarded the prestigious Vaclev Havel Foundation Prize, by the former Czech president, for his pioneering work in economic and social thought. In 2005, his play, Public Exposure, broke box office records at its world premiere on Cape Cod. As the nation’s 22nd Secretary of Labor, Mr. Reich implemented the Family and Medical Leave Act, led a national fight against sweatshops in the U.S. and illegal child labor around the world, headed the administration’s successful effort to raise the minimum wage, secured worker’s pensions, and launched job-training programs, one-stop career centers, and school-to-work initiatives. Under his leadership, the Department of Labor won more than 30 awards for innovation. A 1996 poll of cabinet experts conducted by the Hearst newspapers rated him the most effective cabinet secretary during the Clinton administration. Mr. Reich has been a member of the faculties of Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government and of Brandeis University. He received his B.A. from Dartmouth College, his M.A. from Oxford University, where he was a Rhodes Scholar, and his J.D. from Yale Law School.
Dr. Alan Wallace, PhD., President of the Santa Barbara Institute for Consciousness Studies (moderator)

Dynamic lecturer, progressive scholar, and one of the most prolific writers and translators of Tibetan Buddhism in the West, Dr. Alan Wallace continually seeks innovative ways to integrate Buddhist contemplative practices with Western science to advance the study of the mind. Dr. Wallace, a scholar and practitioner of Buddhism since 1970, has taught Buddhist theory and meditation throughout Europe and America since 1976. Having devoted fourteen years to training as a Tibetan Buddhist monk, ordained by H. H. the Dalai Lama, he went on to earn an undergraduate degree in physics and the philosophy of science at Amherst College and a doctorate in religious studies at Stanford. With his unique background, Dr. Alan Wallace brings deep experience and applied skills to the challenge of integrating traditional Indo-Tibetan Buddhism with the modern world.
Dr. Clifford Saron, Ph.D. , Assistant Research Scientist at the Center for Mind and Brain at the University of California at Davis

Dr. Clifford Saron received his Ph.D. in Neuroscience from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in 1999. He has had a long-standing interest in brain and behavioral effects of meditation practice. In the early 1990’s he was centrally involved in a field research project investigating Tibetan Buddhist mind training in collaboration with Jose Cabezón, Richard Davidson, Francisco Varela, Alan Wallace and others under the auspices of the Private Office of H.H. the Dalai Lama and the Mind and Life Institute. Currently, in collaboration with Alan Wallace, Paul Ekman and numerous other colleagues, he is coordinating a longitudinal study known as the Shamatha Project, investigating the intensive training of attention based on the practice of meditative quiescence (shamatha) and cultivation of four qualities of the heart: compassion, loving kindness, empathetic joy, and equanimity. His other main research focus concerns elucidating multisensory processing deficits in children on the autistic spectrum.


Photograph: Myleen Hollero