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Shambhala Sun » How To Live a Genuine Life

08 Jul Posted by in Buddhist, Meditation | Comments
Shambhala Sun » How To Live a Genuine Life

We’ll always be conditioned beings living in a conditioned world. But we can learn to see the clouds of conditioning as just clouds in the context of the sky. To do this we need the precision of practice.

Erza Bayda

a guest post from Ezra Bayda

A Zen student walked in to see the master. Sitting down, he blurted out, “There’s something terribly wrong with me!” The master looked at him and asked, “What’s so wrong?” The student, after a moment’s hesitation, responded, “I think I’m a dog.” To that the master responded, “And how long have you thought that?” The student replied, “Ever since I was a puppy.”

What does this story have to do with spiritual practice? Everything. It puts the basic human problem in a nutshell. Next time you find yourself immersed in the drama of a strong emotional reaction, awash with deeply believed thoughts, ask yourself how long you’ve taken these thoughts to be the truth. Especially notice the ones you believe the most: “Life is too hard,” “No one will ever be there for me,” “I’m worthless,” “I’m hopeless.” How long have you believed these thoughts? Ever since you were a puppy!

These deeply held beliefs may not be visible on the surface of our minds; we’re often not even aware of them. Yet we cling to such deep-seated beliefs, these basic identities, because they’ve become rooted in our very cells—in our cellular memory. And their imprint on our lives is unmistakable. But in order to avoid experiencing the painful quality of these beliefs and identities, we continually engage in various strategies of behavior—habitual coping patterns that buffer us from the anxious quiver of insecurity. These strategies are our attempt to establish some sense of safety, security and familiarity. They might include seeking achievements, becoming a helper, trying to control our world or withdrawing toward safety. But do they ever give us a sense of genuine satisfaction? No. All too often they keep us stuck in dissatisfaction, not knowing where to turn. I call this place “the substitute life.”

Read the full post at Shambhala Sun.

Ezra Bayda, the author of Being Zen, received dharma transmission from Charlotte Joko Beck, and presently teaches at the Zen Center San Diego. This excerpt is from his book, At Home in the Muddy Water: A Guide to Finding Peace within Everyday Chaos (Shambhala Publications).

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