Saying Yes To Life - Selections

(Even the Hard Parts)


264 pages, 5.5 x 6.5 inches


ISBN 9780861712748

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Saying Yes to Life p.4-5

Essay Titles

  • The Human Dilemma          
  • The Energy for Awakening
  • Self-Observation      
  • Ideals
  • Judgment      
  • Discomfort    
  • Meditation    
  • Transformation        
  • “What Is This?”
  • Emotions
  • Anger
  • Anger as Practice
  • Saying Yes to Fear
  • Illusions
  • The World of Why
  • No One to Be 
  • Rituals and Reality   
  • Meditation as Detour           
  • Goals  
  • Resistance     
  • Perseverance
  • Fear   
  • Fear In Others          
  • Relating From Big Mind
  • Students and Teachers
  • Relationships
  • What We Want from Others
  • The Spiritual Practice of Relationships
  • Seeing Others           
  • Betrayal         
  • Fundamental Security         
  • Conflict in Relationships      
  • Anger and Blame in Relationships
  • Empathy in Relationships
  • Forgiveness
  • Grief
  • Breathing Into Loss
  • The Pace of Change
  • Efforts and Resistance
  • Inside and Out
  • History
  • The Addiction of Blaming
  • Blaming as Defense
  • The Heart of Suffering
  • Sex
  • Work
  • Mindfulness at Work
  • Money
  • Activity and Awareness
  • Doing What Is Right
  • The Need to Help
  • Taking a Leap
  • Balance
  • Taking Pauses
  • Two Kinds of Food
  • Nature
  • The Mystery
  • Who We Truly Are


True happiness has no cause. It is the natural state of our being, when unobstructed.                     

Look carefully! Look without filters and see through your thoughts.

Behind attachments is freedom. Behind fear, love. Behind desire, the quiet joy of being.

What happens when we slow down and pays attention? Everything! Innumerable delights are right at hand.

Thank every one of the ten thousand things: gratitude turns our world right-side-up.

Though the heart may feel small, it is spacious beyond the mind’s imagination.

The spaciousness of the heart can hold the suffering of the world.

The Human Dilemma
We all have disappointments, fears, inadequacies. And so we build walls—of self-image, of habit, of pretense—to keep these unwanted feelings out, to protect us from feeling them. But in hiding behind these walls, we cut ourselves off from the heart, and the heart from the world. Even so, our disappointments, fears, and inadequacies remain. The question is not whether we can fend these things off forever—we can’t. The real question is what we can learn from willingly facing the things we haven’t wanted to see. Cowering safely behind our walls, we don’t realize the extent of our blind spots, and we can’t see the havoc we create with the blind actions that come out of them. Only by letting these walls be dismantled—and thereby realizing the extent to which we are driven by the vanity of our endeavors, the smallness of our attachments, and the urgency of aversion—can we reconnect with the heart.

Real prayer surrenders to the moment. Real prayer listens deeply. Real prayer opens to life.

Learn to pray without ceasing.

The Energy for Awakening
The energy necessary to awaken constantly leaks away from us, morning till night. As we struggle to hold our lives together—trying to win, trying to please, trying to hide, trying to avoid discomfort—our energy is dissipated in mindless chatter, needless action, wanton daydreams. We rage, we lust, we fear. We gossip, complain, dramatize; we fidget, tense, strain; we fantasize and worry. Above all we try to plan for the unknowable. And all the while the very energy that could fuel our awakening leaks away, drop by drop. Our task is to learn to stop these leaks.

We can see the face of God in everyone and everything by bringing a gentle awareness to the heart that’s still too closed to see.

Residing fully in the present moment allows the unconditioned energy of life to flow through the conditioned body and mind.

The willingness to simply rest in the physical experience of your life is the key to spiritual transformation.

Shining the light of awareness transforms that which is observed.

We awaken to self-knowledge through the relentless practice of self-observation. Self-observation is not analysis; it is simply noticing what we think, how we think, what we fear, how we react, and what our strategies of behavior are. Notice, notice, notice. In observing ourselves objectively—that is, without judgment—we can begin to see clearly our fear-based ideas of how we’re supposed to be, how others are supposed to be, how life is supposed to be. In seeing through our beliefs, we penetrate the countless layers of illusions that silently run our lives.

Self-image and social conditions shift like sand; a life built on such a base will never be stable. Awakening to the vast ground of our true nature is the only secure foundation.

When we require that people be different, we block the possibility of real connection with to them.

You don’t have to get rid of any feelings. You don’t need a different personality. Just give up your opinions and self-judgments.

Letting life just be requires mercy toward ourselves.

As much as we deny it, we still believe we’re supposed to be perfect. Our ongoing anxiety and sense of inadequacy testify eloquently to this unexamined truth. In spiritual practice, this trap takes the form of making one attempt after another to measure up to some ideal of how a spiritual practitioner is supposed to be—more calm, loving, wise, or simply more together. Yet becoming truly calm and loving requires that we first see clearly the extent we still punish ourselves by clinging to ideals of perfection.

Love is the wanting to give with no thought of getting.

Give yourself to others, like a white bird in the snow.

When our plans crumble and there seems to be nothing left, it is only by completely surrendering to what is that we can realize that what is left is more than enough.           

Suffering is the most effective vehicle for awakening the heart.

We all make judgments about who we are and how life is, and these judgments become lenses that distort everything we see. We then look through our filtering lens seeking proof that our judgments were right all along. If we think “I’ll never measure up,” we’ll search until we find some “fault” to confirm that this is the truth. But in mistaking our judging thoughts for Truth we miss reality. The devastating power of judgments such as “I can’t do it” or “I’m no good” derives from the fact that we never question their verity.

Good fortune is arbitrary, and certainly nothing we can rely on—yet we still cling to the belief that it’s our right that things always go our way.

Clinging to notions of how life ought to be, of what you want, of what you hate, always leads to suffering.

Perhaps it’s the belief that we shouldn’t have any problems, any discomfort, any pain, that makes modern life seem so distressing. Life doesn’t match our image of how it should be, and we conclude life itself is wrong. We relate to everything from the narrow, fearful perspective of “I want”—and what we want is to feel good. When our emotional distress does not feel good, we recoil from it. The resulting discomfort generates fear, then fear creates even more distress, and distress becomes our enemy, something to be rid of. Let us instead examine our basic requirement that life should be comfortable. This one assumption causes all of us endless difficulties.

Most of the time we cruise through life on automatic pilot, gliding across the thin ice of denial. But ignoring the things we don’t want to face will not prevent us from falling into the frigid water below.

There is often a vague sense of danger with which we greet almost every person and every situation. If it had a voice, it might whisper, “Please don’t hurt me.”

Becoming aware of how often we relate from self-protection is a step out of the prison of fear.

No matter how you may be feeling, simply sit down, experience the texture of what is happening in your body and mind—and then just let it be.

Sitting in meditation allows the body and mind to settle into stillness. In that stillness we become the openness that allows all of life in, including the parts we’ve never wanted to face. As much as we would like to have pleasing and special experiences, the path of meditation is about being ever awake—to whatever we feel, special or not. Meditation is not about achieving nice states of mind while sitting on a cushion. The essence of meditation is to simply be here, bringing full awareness to just this moment. When stillness yields to the incessant outpouring of our overactive brain—we come back again and again to what is, to awareness of the breath, the body, the environment.

The basic paradox: everything is a mess yet all is well.

Our nature is connectedness and love—not the separateness to which our suffering clings.

When we cling to fear and shame, we forsake the gratitude of living from our natural being.

The path to love requires open-hearted attention to the very things that seem to block our way to it.

The basic pain of feeling separate and disconnected is a fundamental human experience. Yet when we consciously reside in the physical feeling of separation, we come closer to recognizing its insubstantiality. Continually bringing the light of awareness to our viscerally held beliefs, our pretenses, our protections, our anxieties, begins to dissolve these self-imposed boundaries, the boundaries that block awareness of the vast reality of being. This is the slow, transformative path to freedom.

Saying yes to life means saying yes to everything, even longing, fear, and pain.

Joy is impossible without pain.

It’s the heart’s nature to give.        

Giving from “should” is not giving from the heart.

Spiritual work is possible in one place alone: here, in exactly what you are experiencing right now.

“What Is This?”
We can’t wake up simply by wishing to. Without specific, ongoing effort we will continue to sleepwalk through our self-centered dream. Genuine awakening requires bringing attention repeatedly to the present moment of our life. One laserlike tool to help us do this is the practice of continually asking ourselves, “What is this?” Used in this way, the question becomes a koan, and as with all koans, the “answer” can never be conceptual. Don’t try to analyze what the moment is about. Instead, fully feel the texture of what your life truly is right now. The only real answer to the question “What is this?” is your immediate experience itself.

The Zen mind speaks with strength, saying “Just do it!”

The Zen heart speaks softly, saying “Just let it be.”


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

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Saying Yes to Life by Ezra Bayda is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
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