- Paperback: 145 pages
- Publisher: Power Press; 4.1.2006 edition (June 28, 2006)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0943015537
- ISBN-13: 978-0943015538
- Product Dimensions: 4.3 x 1 x 6.8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 3.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 362 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,494 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Zen and the Art of Happiness Paperback – June 28, 2006
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A charming book....Shows readers, with
humor and zest, how to live in the now and change our futures. For most collections. --Library Journal
Zen and the Art of Happiness is enthusiastically recommended and user friendly reading for anyone seeking to enhance their spirituality, deal with life's stresses, and improve their physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being. --Midwest Book Review
This wonderful little book shows that we can overcome the obstacles to happiness. It s for those who want and
need change in expectations, habits, and outlook. Chris Prentiss teaches us how, with a joie de vivre that obviously comes from experience. Use his practical wisdom to get in the habit of being happy every day. Put this book by your bedside and the Zen of happiness can be yours. --ReverseSpins.com
About the Author
Chris Prentiss is the cofounder and codirector of the Passages Substance Abuse Treatment Center, located in Malibu, California, and the author of The Alcoholism and Addiction Cure:A Holistic Approach to Total Recovery. He has also written a dozen books on Chinese philosophy and personal growth. He is known worldwide for his interpretations of the I Ching that make this ancient and sometimes difficult-to-understand subject easy to use and apply. Prentiss has led personal empowerment workshops in southern California and has written, produced, and directed a feature film.
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Zen is not about labels, striving for happiness and avoiding sadness, It's not about using belief as a superpower.
There are several problems with this book, which I stopped reading after some 70 pages.
1. The idea that there is a seperate 'you' that can create thoughts and emotions and actions ex-nihilo, that can simply choose to be happy. Eastern religion is about recognizing the illusory nature of the self, and the deepest self being the 'whole works', not granting it godhood. The man goes on to state that there is no seperation in any of it, then goes on to state there there is a seperate 'you' acting as some sort of minature first cause.
2. The idea that we are free to choose our emotions. Your emotions are happenings, just like your thoughts are. If we were free to choose our emotions, noone would choose to be sad or angry.
3. The idea that if you 'wish for' and 'believe in' something that the universe will manifest it for you. This is "the secret". It's newage wishful thinking magic, and it is NOT zen.
4. The idea that everything that happens is good, is conflated with the idea that everything that happens is harmonious. His examples of bad things magically becoming good things involve rediculous outcomes, like the construction next door is actually a gift house for you, or you can get hit on the head by a rock and suddenly understand old obscure buddhist texts like the I Ching.
5. His endorsement of wholy' disproven medical interventions like acupuncture.
6. His blatant advertisement of his addiction center.
7. His idea that belief is powerful is a good idea. The problem is that we don't choose our beliefs. We do not choose what we are and are not convinced of. You can choose to ACT as if you believe something, and you can choose to PROFESS a belief in something, but if you believe it or not is not a choice.
8. The idea that the universe is based on continuation, and will always continue, and will always do what is neccessary to continue. The Second Law of thermodynmics, known as the law of entropy states exactly the opposite.
9. The idea that there are "laws of nature" that somehow exist and act as cosmic traffic cops somewhere out in the aether, is not even an eastern idea. That's completely western. The illusory nature of abstractions is not the super-realism of abstractions. Between the self illusion and this, he's completely misunderstood eastern metaphysics.
10. His conflation of metaphysics with supernatural.
11. I've run out of counter points, but Im sure there are more, because I only got about halfway through the book. If I had finished the book, this would be too long. I have taken a permanant maker and made a new title subtitle for it, "The secret" 'manifesting your reality through wishful thinking, with non-relevant zen quotes.'
If you are really interested in a self-improvement book based in an eastern worldview, I recommend 'the wisdom of insecurity' by alan watts. This half-baked book doesnt hold half a candle to it.
I didn't even mean to buy this book, I was trying to buy Zen and the art of motorcycle maintainance, which is also much much better.
* Look for the good in everything, if you don't see good then have faith that it will benefit you later or in some way you don't understand.
* We can control our happiness and how we respond to events.
* There is a brief, but interesting scientific explanation about how being in a good mood makes it easier to be in a good mood.
* Problems should be viewed as challenges that we can 'workout' with to strengthen ourselves and grow our wisdom.
* Stress and anxiety come from imagining a bad outcome and we don't need to do this.
* The author says the main reason every moment is to our benefit is because the universe wants to continue and we are apart of it, so it wants us to benefit.
* He speaks very literally and in absolutes. Every event benefits us. Some events seem to not have any benefit. Now just because something doesn't benefit to you doesn't mean you should react in a negative way, but some things are neutral or bad. For example, if I spill a drink on the carpet, I don't think this has some hidden benefit in the future. Should it cause me to be unhappy? No, but we don't have to 'pretend' it has a benefit.
* Title is misleading - there are small references to Zen, but the author seems to pull most of his philosophy from I Ching, which is an ancient chinese book, as well as a lot of other sources. And some of it it may just be his personal opinion.
* If you follow his philosophy, you'll start to have better luck/fate/fortunate. This has to do with the universe 'giving' you good things because it likes your attitude. He makes it seem like you have control over external factors, you don't and this is one of the big things where his philosophy actually conflicts with Buddhist teachings. We don't control things like the weather. You do have complete control over yourself and how you respond to events and how you perceive your reality. With these things, even though you don't have control over what happens, you can have control over your happiness. And the author does touch on this as well.
* Some of his philosophy is not in line with Buddhist beliefs. It's not about trying to be happy every moment, but experiencing everything as-is, rather not rejecting or grasping.
What he calls The Universe he notes some people refer to as God or something else. This is interesting and depending your belief system, you can align what he says with your own beliefs. In this sense, this book can be extremely useful to people of many different religions. The message could become "Have faith in God and trust in his will. Trust that he loves you and wants what is best for you in the end". A lot of people may find this more useful then his term "The Universe".
Regarding most of the Cons listed above, if you don't take what he says so literally, I think there is great potential for anyone to apply the ideas, become happier, and have a more positive attitude.