Healing Your Past and The Language of the Universe in ‘Zen and the Art of Happiness’ Chapters 9-10

Chapter 9 and 10 of Zen and the Art of Happiness by Chris Prentiss focus on the events of our past and how we can use them to create our own happiness. According to Prentiss in chapter 9 of the book, everything that has happened to us or will happen to us is ultimately for our benefit. He expresses that dwelling to much on the events that have occurred in the past, which have caused us much distress and pain, will prohibit us from achieving happiness in the present. He encourages us to live by this mantra:” This moment we call now is all that exists”. In his view need to “rein in” our runaway imaginations and stop dwelling in the fast and not to stress about our future, just simply live in the present and gain our centeredness

Furthermore, in Chapter 10 of Prentiss’s book he draws upon that concept of living in the now and encourages us to realize that we are agents of the Universe. According to Prentiss, we as human beings are constantly in communication with the Universe. This consistent communication is best exemplified through coincidental events. He gives examples of thinking of someone and the phone rings and its that person you were thinking of calling you.  Or wanting something really badly, like the scenario Prentiss gives of a couple wishing they could happen upon a white van with a great stereo system and 4-wheel drive so it will make traveling to and from their home in Hawaii easier, and coincidental circumstances make that wish come true. With this notion of coincidental events being the ultimate example of us communicating with the universe, Prentiss argues that once the universe because aware that you are in tune with it and it’s language then communication with the Universe will occur more fluidly and frequently. He also states that doing this will show that you are choosing happiness and accepting that regardless of  what events occur, all things that happen to you will beneficial.

With all that said, I would like to express my discontentment with Prentiss’s notions. Although, his ideas are generally wise and ‘zen’ in theory I believe that Prentiss failed to consider the complexities of life. I do agree with his notion that in order to truly be happy in the present we need to let go of our pasts and not worry too much about our future. However, I think it is simply foolish to believe that every painful and distressful event of our pasts will benefit us. It think that kind of mentality is naive, it is too idealistic. Prentiss’s zen outlook could be plausible if it took into consideration the true essence of human nature; our minds and inherent nature are too complex to live by the simplicity of his zen outlook

Post Submitted by Jadessa


One thought on “Healing Your Past and The Language of the Universe in ‘Zen and the Art of Happiness’ Chapters 9-10

  1. I believe that his idea that our past benefits our present is probably a common argument told/interpreted oddly. Many would say, “You can choose to use your past to move you forward or to be paralyzed by it.” Do not deny the past or suffer over it. Acknowledge it, your feeling about it, and then look at your new self-image. This may be a perspective from which you may use the past to move yourself over hurdles and into a better state of mind and body.
    I think that from this perspective the complexities of the world are seen in a different light.
    If he had the view I described above, he may not address the complexities, although, if he had a different view, he may not have addressed complexities for a different reason. So, I do not know his view, but I hope that I helped your understanding.

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