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is this my path?

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My understanding of “the path” as that which presents itself in each moment, regardless of whether I like it or not, find it pleasant or not, or had planned that way. The path is the path, obstacles and all. Or even better, as Antonio Machado writes, There is no path. Paths are made by walking.

The practical implications are profound: at every moment of my life — night and day, sickness and health, today or a year from now — the only thing that is real is what I’m able to experience. Anything else is either projection, fabrication, or wishful thinking. On paper, this makes sense, but while riding life’s roller-coaster it’s almost impossible. Yet, when I examine situations where I felt frustrated or disappointed, my dissatisfaction (my ‘suffering’) arose from self-made expectations: This is how I’d like a relationship to unfold and when it doesn’t happen, I get upset. This is how I’d prefer my manager to behave and when she doesn’t I blame her for my unhappiness. This is the customer service I feel entitled to and when it doesn’t pan out, I feel angry.  

Careful observation and facing-what-is reveals a disconnect between how I’d like the world to be and how it unfolds in fact … and makes clear my cause for suffering. To start dealing with such dilemmas, Ezra Bayda suggests, we need to ask a fundamental question, “Can I welcome this as my path?”

because if we don’t ask. we’re unlikely to remember what practice is. Understanding that our distressful situation is exactly what we need to work with in order to be free is essential.  …

We won’t be able to use [a certain] situation as an opportunity to learn unless we can clearly and objectively see what is actually going on. …

Only when we understand what is actually going on can we make this critical step of welcoming our distress. This is where we can literally say yes to it, because we comprehend that as long as we continue to resist our experience, we will remain stuck.

source: Bayda, E. (2009). Zen heart: simple advice for living with mindfulness and compassion. Boston: Shambhala, p. 94-97.


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