Classic and Contemporary Buddhist Works

Saying Yes To Life - Foreword

(Even the Hard Parts)

Foreword

Many wonderful themes fill these pages: not waiting for your life to be “right” before feeling good about it; loving life when it seems to be a mess and not just when it’s going smoothly; opening fully to the unwanted; and recognizing that in fact you can’t be fully happy until life is difficult.

These paradoxes warm my heart. They cut through the sentimentality that often passes for spiritual insight. They allow you to live now rather than some imaginary later when things have been sorted out. Things will never be sorted out. They will never be “right.” You will never be “right.”

This is a tough book. It doesn’t let you get away with much. Like all good Zen writing, it pulls the rug out from under your most cherished truths and habits. It makes you question exactly what you thought was beyond question. It shows the paradoxes that rule from minute to minute as

you try to get along and make sense of life. And it cleans the slate so you can go on with life freed of all the precious wisdom you have accumulated.

Zen has been an important influence on me for most of my life. It has helped me, a Catholic at heart, to not be attached to my beliefs or my heresies. It has helped me, a trained psychotherapist, to not believe I necessarily know what is going on or what is best for myself or for anyone. It has helped me, as neurotic a person as you might ever expect to meet, to love my life.

Some of the more challenging ideas presented in this book can almost be described as counter-inspirational. Yet when I turn them around in my mind, I find something valuable, even necessary. What’s more, I am called to question my own versions of the truth—just as I question the ones in this book.

I like this book, not in spite of my questions, but because of them. I like Ezra Bayda because I don’t think he assumes he gets it all right. I can’t bear writers who understand everything and tell us exactly how to do it all. This book is more like life. You can live with it like a friend or a spouse—not in absolute harmony but in real engagement.

I already have my favorite pages, sayings I don’t want to forget, formulations that are clearly inspired. How many books give you that much? This one is surely worth reading. And it’s presented in tidy morsels, in pieces you can chew and swallow one at a time. There is a certain outrageousness about this book that gives it life. I don’t recommend using it as a means for falling asleep. But I don’t want to make too much of the idea of waking up, either.

Thomas Moore

 

How to cite this document:
© Ezra Bayda, Saying Yes to Life (Wisdom Publications, 2005)

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