Where there is peace, there is happiness. Inner peace of the mind, distilled in tranquility, is perhaps the greatest source of happiness. When I am tense, and anxiety ridden, it is often because I lack inner peace of the mind. There is a blockage somewhere preventing me from the calm and ease I yearn for. Zen is the art of unblocking that tension, through a sort of mind-based training. Meditation is one of its key exercises, designed to distill the mind of what Buddhists call "mara".
Is it not true that happiness comes from within? But what is inner happiness worth if there is nothing but difficulty elsewhere? What I mean is, let's say someone's life is by all objective opinions, depressing. Let's say for example, that someone with no home, no loved ones, declining health, and no foreseeable way to improve this in the future, has mastered the art of meditation and finds himself experiencing an inner bliss that no amounts of fortune or fame could reproduce. I ask myself seriously, if I would trade places with him. I have to be honest and say "no", I wouldn't. For all my problems, and lack of happiness that the blissful man had found, I do not think I would want the problems he must eventually face.
The inner peace he experiences through meditation is only a temporary experience in his presence. He will eventually have to face the reality of his situation like a drunk who sobered up in a jail cell. So I guess what I am saying, is that inner bliss through the practice of meditation, as good as it is, is not the only bliss that I want. I want the kind of inner peace that comes from knowing my life is something tolerable, and that it is populated with things in it that give me happiness in and of itself. I want to be living the life that gives me happiness, and not have to meditate in order to escape any kind of hell I find myself in.
If one can find inner happiness irrespective of the condition of their life, then couldn't that also prevent that person from improving their situation since they are content with having less than optimal conditions?
Deeper than meditation is the zen way of looking at things so that in the long run, a dire situation can be perceived in a new light. Therefore what bothers the mind can be soothed not just momentarily. I am no Zen master that is for sure. My realistic understanding of Zen is only months old and surely I have a lot to learn. I just thought I'd mention this inner conflict I have with some of the practical applications of Zen.
Welcome to Atheism and the City. This blog is about exploring atheism through contemporary urban living. I live in New York City, the secular metropolis, and I have an avid interest in all things religion, science, philosophy, politics, and economics. I am an atheist, a humanist, a philosopher and a thinker, and the purpose of Atheism and the City is to write about my thoughts and experiences on the subjects and topics that I have a passion for. Feel free to respond to any post whether or not you agree.