Basically, the prevalent social thought of the time is based on the idea that suffering stems from unfufilled desires, which stem from desire, which should be controlled and eliminated. Currently, the idea is to have it be the prevailing way of thinking rather than an enforced regime. The way the country is run is still heavily influenced by it, of course, in the same way the governments of Western nations now are influenced by christian ideas.
The problem is, I'm not a history or social science student, and I'm not overly confident in my ability to explain how this shift in thought came about. I've tried googling vague terms such as 'paradigm shifts' 'cultural transitions' and 'how paradigm shifts occur' with (unsuprisingly) little luck.
So, how could a change like this occur? I'm assuming, since it's not an enforced regime, that it didn't involve violence or force, but was more of a gradual shift. Still, there needs to be a precipitating factor - prehaps in the same vein as the industrial revoloution sparking democracy?
Also, my novel is set in Australia, though I think it's more plausible for it to have been started somewhere else (perhaps Britiian?) and spread. In which case, how did it spread, where would it likely spread to, and why to those places?
Thanks in advance to anyone who can aid me in my stumbling around in the dark. :)