“For the good of the many, for the happiness of the many, for the welfare of the world …” (‘Bahujanahitāya bahujanasukhāya lokānukampāya’)
– Anguttara Nikaya 2. 146).
In ancient India, the good life was thought to consist of the pursuit of the “four ends of life” (Skr. purushartha). The four ends of life consisted of:
- “dharma” (virtue, morality and obligation);
- “artha” (wealth and material prosperity);
- “kama” (love and pleasure) and
- “moksha” (spiritual liberation).
Despite the orientalist perceptions of India as a land of ascetics and wandering holy men, most Indians seem to have preferred a worldly existence. Indeed, the institution of the householder (Skr. grhastha), and the associated institutions of marriage and family life, were considered the ideal to live by.
The Buddha and the early monastic community (Skr. sangha) were forced to confront this basic social and cultural reality. In fact, they realized quickly that a community of lay followers was needed if the Sangha was to survive economically. If only tacitly then, the Buddha accepted the institution of the householder as a legitimate way of life for the Buddhist layperson.
The Buddha was accordingly forced to address questions of family life, wealth and worldly happiness or artha. In one discourse, he speaks of the following four types of worldly happiness: 
- the happiness of acquiring economic security and sufficient wealth through just proper means. (artha sukha);
- the happiness of spending that wealth liberally one oneself, one’s family, friends and on good deeds (bhoga-sukha);
- the happiness of saving so one is free of debts (anrna-sukha);
- the happiness of living a pure and faultless life (anavadhya-jiva).
The following four factors would also help the householder attain that happiness:
- to work or to be skilled, efficient, earnest and energetic in whatever profession one is engaged, and to know it well (utthana-sampada);
- to preserve one’s income (arakhsa-sampada), viz. to save that which one has earned justly and through one’s personal efforts;
- to associate with good company (kalyana-mitraka);
- to live within one’s means (samajivika).
The pursuit of arthain Buddhism, however, is always subject to the considerations of dharma. That is one’s activities in the world should conform to a moral standard including such values as tolerance, non-violence, and compassion for others.
For instance, wealth is not legitimately earned by:
- killing or harming others;
- taking from others what was not freely given;
- engaging some form of sexual misconduct;
- false or injurious speech;
- selling or dealing in intoxicating substances.
In Buddhism then, the pursuit of wealth or artha provides the material foundation necessary for pursuing the good life – pursuing one’s moral and spiritual development for the good of the world.
 Sigala Sutra (Digha Nikaya, 31); Angutara Nikaya (Columbo, 1929), 232-233, 786; Jataka, I, 260, 399; II, 400; III, 274, 320; V, 119, 378 (cited in What the Buddha Taught, the Walpola Rahula, [Gordon Fraser: London, 1959], 78, 82-83, 84-85).
While the Pali Canon was directed mostly towards monastic life, the Buddhist monastic community was quick to recognize the benefits of having a well-off lay community and admitted several prominent householders into its fold while endorsing the legitimacy of the life of the householder (Skr. grhastha).
 Angutara Nikaya (Columbo, 1929), 786 cited in Rahula, 81.
 Angutara Nikaya (Columbo, 1929), 232-233, cited in Rahula, 82.