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December14, 2022, Zen and Happiness: Practical Insights and Meditations to Cultivate Joy in Everyday Life by Joshua R. Paszkiewicz
Life is filled with thrilling highs, crushing lows, and everything in between. But often, we spend too much time planning for and reacting to our experiences, rather than simply “being” in them. Zen tradition strips away all your preconceived notions of what is means “to live” and teaches you how to let go and be present so you can find bliss in the everyday. After reading a variety of books about Buddhist, I found this one to be especially refreshing and enlightening. It is a simple, yet profound, guidebook you can use in both your busy and your relaxed life. Joshua, a multireligious cleric and scholar who trained in Zen traditions in Japan, Korea and Vietnam, will be with us to share his journey and wisdom.
“Bodhidharma is widely considered to be the progenitor of the Zen tradition. His core teaching was that Zen is ‘a special transmission outside of the scriptures, that is not dependent on words or letters, but which directly points toward the true nature of mind, allowing one to become awakened.’”...”Zen is a method of holistically and meticulously examining your own life and overcoming the commonly garnered inaccurate, and often inadequate conceptions of how life works.” (2) It sounds like Zen is more about my life than about past lives and great minds and teachers. Is that accurate? Can you share steppingstones in your life that illustrate?
In the section of misconceptions of Zen, you respond to these myths: Zen is undefinable. Practicing Zen means becoming a Buddhist. Zen is a form of meditation. Zen is supposed to be difficult...Rather, the central and most universal discipline of Zen is the mutual tending to an ongoing mentored relationship between a student and a teacher.” (4-5) How do you and others find the teacher and discern she/he is the right teacher? Is having a teacher always essential?
“The Four Nobel Truths
1. Suffering exists in ways big and small
2. The Cause of Suffering – We become infatuated with impossibility because we perceive things
to be in ways others than they really are.
3. The End of Suffering – the Zen path is for people prepared to transcend the theorizing and
storytelling, to get to work on the things that can be known and that can be worked on.
4. The Eightfold Path – right view, right intention, right speech, right action, right livelihood,
right effort, right mindfulness, and right concentration.” (8-11). Looks easy. Is it?
“Zen does not require belief as it is commonly understood nor the religiosity and metaphysics that are found in its parent and competing Buddhist traditions. Zen retains no premodern notions of biology and cosmology found in Buddhist orthodoxy, for example...Zen has freely co-opted practices from other Buddhist schools and employed them toward the aims and objectives of the Zen tradition --- namely, the full awakening of its adherents, in this very lifetime, as liberated, aware, and fully human, happy beings. Zen, in its simplest form, require only that people show up and try. In fact, the most classical instruction for the basics of entering the Zen way is simple, and perhaps a bit crassly, the ‘sit down, shut up, and pay attention.” (13) I will share my story from North America Assisi. “Do you have any questions?”

“The discipline of wearing some form of habit relating to Zen can prove both easily doable and useful to new practitioners...wear your habit to call your mind to your mindful practice throughout the day. Each time you find your attention drawn to the beads/necklace/scarf/whatever, through its weight, through adjusting its position, or even when someone asks about it, take a moment to enjoy several slow, deep breaths ---or at least the spirit of them, as circumstances might demand.” (61) I wondered why I enjoy wearing beads, now I know. Thanks!
Zen practice is almost always about awareness. The same practice regard that can manifest this self- inventory as a Zen practice can transform your present experience from a life suspended to a life embodied.” (88) What does “life suspended to a life embodied” mean? How will I recognize that I have made the transformation?
“The word SAMADHI refers to a particular variety of concentrated meditative absorption wherein time and space – and perhaps even self – seem to fall away to the eternity that underpins every moment.” (112) Have your experienced this and are you willing to talk about it?
“The great Zen Master Kyong Ho once said, ‘Don’t hope for a life without problems. An easy life results in a judgmental and lazy mind.’ He then went on to invoke the advice of sages of the distant past, who always invited practitioners to ‘accept the anxieties and difficulties of this life.’ For this exercise, regard your meditation practice less as a place to zone out and more as a place to tune in. And ultimately, a place to accept your present reality and act accordingly, with wisdom and grace.” (114) Why practice Zen then, if it does not rescue me from my brokenness?

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