Rev. Kanji Ruhl on a Buddhist Life Worth Living

November 4, 2016

Each spring one of the highlights of the Life Worth Living course is our fantastic guests, who share with students how the traditions we study have shaped their lives. Our past interviews can be found here. Keep an eye on the page as we publish the interviews of our 2016 guests over the next few weeks.

We begin with Rev. Kanji Ruhl, a Zen Buddhist practitioner and Advisor to the Yale Buddhist Sangha. A 2008 graduate of Harvard Divinity School, Kanji suggests that, though Zen Buddhist practice is difficult, it is often in some sense its own reward, and can provide the strength needed to continue in it. 

One of the fruits of his Buddhist practice, Kanji says, is an ability to let go of a desire for happiness, the release of which comes along with a deep joy:

“Precisely because happiness is a conditioned emotion, dependent on circumstances, it’s very ephemeral. And that creates anxiety in people because when we feel that we’re happy, we also feel, well, this can’t last, eventually it’s going to go away… It’s inherently shallow, compared to joy, which is deeper and more abiding, and is unconditioned, and precisely because it is unconditioned, can be present anywhere, anytime…”

What about Zen Buddhist practice makes it possible to sustain a life of joy? Listen to the full conversation below, on our YouTube channel, or on our full Life Worth Living guests page here.