Monday, August 29, 2011

Inner-Peace and Happiness

A member of our Sangha asked a question which inspired me for this post.  "Do you think there is a difference between inner-peace and happiness?"

I believe there is a difference but they are definitely interconnected.  To me, happiness is an emotional response to conditions and events.  Inner-peace is a mindset (for lack of a better term) which allows us to accept conditions, whatever they may be, and can be the root for happiness.  The Buddha himself valued inner-peace above happiness.

With a clear mind and inner-peace we can accept suffering with less stress and figure out the root cause of it.  That lessening of stress inevitably leads to happiness.  Of course, we as humans aren't always happy.  We always have a desire for what "is best in our view."  Though through inner-peace, we can realize that we are able disregard what "is best in our view" by extinction of ego and desire.  Therefore, happiness ensues.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Book Review: Returning to Silence

Returning To Silence by Dainin Katagiri is a wonderful work for the beginner of Zen and the experienced alike.  It is somewhat of a guide book, one that can be referenced back to time and time again.

In this book, Katagiri Roshi gives many practical examples of applying Zen not only in sitting/Zazen/meditation, but also in our daily life.  Katagiri is of the Soto Zen tradition, so many of the practices lie around this.  But it is in no way any less beneficial to any Buddhist.  Consider it a handbook to the Buddhist mind if you will.

It covers everything from dualism, Zazen, poetry, art, life, and more.  I consider it invaluable addition to my library.  I highly recommend this book to beginners, those interested in what Zen is really about, and to the experienced Zen Buddhist.

I hope you give this book a chance.  It is jam-packed with wisdom and knowledge from an experienced Soto Zen priest.  Read a bio of Dainin Katagiri here.  My own teacher is in the lineage of his Dharma Transmission and is the honorary founder of Ryumonji Zen Monastery where I spend a lot of my learning time.