By Ezra Bayda
Trumpeter, $14.95, 164 pages
What if the cause of our deepest unhappiness is the pursuit of happiness itself? What would it mean for us if, in the words of Zen teacher and author Ezra Bayda, “Happiness is not so much a feeling to be attained than a by-product of the way we live”? In a calm, measured prose on slowing down the aggressive, hyperactive mind, Bayda guides the reader through the helpful steps of simple meditation. He stresses the value of awareness, of breath and the space around us, to emancipate us to our full potential. And by showing, again and again that the craving mind and its false perceptions of the world create obstacles to that potential, he empowers a sense of hope and optimism about the human condition. For if we err on the side of desire, trusting in a fragile and perhaps inauthentic ego sense of self, we can use that understanding to break free of the illusions that limit us.
Not everyone will dive into Bayda’s advice. Those with an open mind about an open mind will be rewarded in reading Beyond Happiness with the most gentle of mentors on the path towards contentment.
Reviewed by Neil Liss