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Being Zen: Bringing Meditation to Life

4.12  ·  Rating details ·  556 ratings  ·  47 reviews
We can use whatever life presents, Ezra Bayda teaches, to strengthen our spiritual practice including the turmoil of daily life. What we need is the willingness to just be with our experiences whether they are painful or pleasing opening ourselves to the reality of our lives without trying to fix or change anything. But doing this requires that we confront our most deeply ...more
Paperback, 144 pages
Published March 25th 2003 by Shambhala (first published 2002)
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Average rating 4.12  · 
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Dec 22, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: recommendations
This is my bible. My own copy has been to prison with my brother and back, and I've actually bought5 copies of this to give to people because it's so good. If every other book adds spice to your life, this book is a cool drink of water. ...more
Nov 21, 2009 rated it liked it
"Our difficulties are not obstacles to the path; they are the path itself. They are opportunities to awaken. Can we learn what it means to welcome an unwanted situation, with its sense of groundlessness, as a wake-up call? Can we look at it as a signal that there is something here to be learned? Can we allow it to penetrate our hearts? By learning to do this, we are taking the first basic step toward learning what it means to be open to life as it is..."

I liked the way this author presented Zen
Nov 29, 2010 rated it really liked it
What I love about this book is the clear language that helps explain Buddhist philosophy. What's more, I truly appreciate his view that meditation isn't about magical enlightenment or for the purpose of reducing stress. Rather, it's about (if it can be said to be "about" anything) doing the hard work of being with yourself, with your life as it is. ...more
Joshua Buhs
Flappy-winged bird over familiar ground casts novel shadows.

Which is to say, in Bayda's first book, he hasn't quite figured out his voice, he covers material that has been covered many times over, and yet manages to bring some insights.

The book is primarily based around Zen practice--that is, sitting meditation, what to expect, and what to do. As his teacher says in a foreword, telling people to "just let go" is like telling an exhausted drowning person to "just swim." Bayda tries to break down
Jul 11, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Ezra Bayda is a dharma heir of Charlotte Joko Beck, who was the first Buddhist author I read. I'm working my way through our Buddhist bookshelf, and this is the current one.

August 14
Bayda has the best discussion of lovingkindness meditation I've come across. I've always had a sort of resistant feeling about the practice because it seemed too prone to self-delusion and reminded me of affirmations. He just blasts right past that limitation. He has also, for the first time, given me a glimmer of wh
Mar 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The message of this book can be summoned up in the following passage: "Expecting our problems to go away is truly our fundamental problem. We resist facing our life as it is, because facing life as it is means abandoning how we think our life should be."

This book really spoke to me and I found it very helpful. If I had to categorize it, I'd call it Buddhist psychology. The author is a former student of Charlotte Joko Beck. (In fact, she wrote the foreword.) So if you like her writings, you'll ce
I seem to have lost the copy I was reading... hmm...
Aug 29, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Short, to the point. How to sit with one's fear, pain, discomfort, and realize that life is exactly what it is, and we are exactly who we are. ...more
Danny Martin
Jun 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
I expected to read about concepts of nothingness, suchness, zen parables, and koans, that so often fill the pages in Zen books. Bayda goes into specific and carefully crafted detail on how to deal with: Pain (both physical and mental); Fear; Suffering; Anger; and even death. In this respect, it's more of an excerpt in Psychology, from a Zen Teacher's perspective. The book presupposes that the reader have some understanding of what Zen or Buddhist "practice," is, and what it entails, but is in no ...more
Jim Lavis
Sep 10, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The practice and understanding of Buddhism is one approach I use to comprehend and deal with our human condition. I find it very useful to read books on this subject to keep me focused on the right way to deal with life’s challenges.

This book certainly worked for me, but it didn’t speak to me as I expected it would. It could be the mood I was in, or perhaps how it referenced some of the practical ways of dealing with daily challenges, but I’m glad I read it. It reminded me again and again of wh
Mar 25, 2018 rated it liked it
I know Zen is impossible to put into words, but ultimately what this book does is only give some taste of Zen, but doesn't get you started or provide a cultural and historical introduction that I feel is necessary to understand this branch of Buddhism. On the plus side, it's an easy, entertaining read. ...more
Sheldon Frith
Feb 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
The first meditation book I ever read. It has some excellent beginner practices... however my one issue is that the author tends to spend too much time focusing on illness, since this was a big part of the authors journey, and glossing over many other issues that can arise in meditation...
Sara Inman
Feb 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I enjoyed this book, the mindfulness practices shared, and especially the stories at the end of the hospice patients that Ezra visited with. I found this book to be well written. It contained lots of love, considerate advice, and thoughtfulness towards the reader.
Clay Williams
Jul 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A wonderful book on working with whatever life presents to us. So much to learn here, especially in an age of spiritual materialism where the goal can be to do and gain rather than be, live, and love.
Jan 06, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Full of a lot more practical advise that can be integrated into daily life, even non-Buddhists. A step above all those meditation and zen books that are pretty much just filled with unhelpful sunshine thoughts. I think I'll buy this one, to reread. ...more
Scott Sancetta
Jul 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
OMG - Could it get any simpler or more sane (without being wimpy)?
John Dean
Nov 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Good little book fo wisdom and very practical in how we approach our life. Well worth the read.
Jul 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Excellent book, one I will reread often.
Sep 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
I thought this book did a tremendous job of walking the knife's edge between practical and spiritual. One of the few books of this ilk I've read that has had actionable information for me. ...more
Nov 11, 2019 rated it it was ok
I think maybe i've just read too many of these types of books lately. It didn't really resonate with me. ...more
Jan 22, 2015 rated it really liked it

If it is true, as the adage goes, that good things often come in small packages, then here we have some tangible evidence in the form of this wonderful first book from Zen teacher Ezra Bayda. A "small package" indeed, at under 150 reduced-size pages, and yet brimming with more useful information and sage advice than many a larger book.

Much of the useful information contained in Being Zen is concentrated in its opening section, "The Basics o
Jun 07, 2008 rated it really liked it
I've been meditating at the San Diego Zen Center since January. I get up at 5:30 most mornings - yes, I willingly get up at 5:30am - and walk the 7 minutes to the center. Ezra is one of my teachers there. Often after reading a book I wish I could talk to the author and pick his/her brain. I bought the book and thought "hey, here's my chance." The book is an easy read; very clear. There are lots of basic, usable instructions on meditation. Ezra's writing came across as vulnerable to me as describ ...more
Sep 21, 2013 rated it really liked it
This small book is a bible for beginers and advanced meditators alike. Grounded in fundamentals, hammers the basic message home using day to day examples. Infact other than day to day stuff - call them mundane mind objects-as they arise, what else is there? . Sitting with whatever that comes is the practice. The book helps you with this work while turning wriggling and twisting but still sitting! Also see "Saying yes ti life" and "At home in muddy waters" . These masquerades as Zen books but rea ...more
Nov 26, 2010 rated it liked it
It took me a while to get into this book, but as continued to read more and more, it started to click. I am not sure I personally liked the way the author presented some of the information, but the information itself was very inspiring. The sections on identifying/labeling your thoughts and asking the question, "What is this" were very powerful.

Overall, It was a pretty good book and offers some interesting ways to look at difficult situations.
Jan 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This was a deeply moving book - one to which I'll often return. It's particularly useful for anyone new to meditation or seeking some guidance. In the last chapter, Bayda writes of his experiences as a hospice volunteer and the connections he made and such an ability to connect is evident in the way he communicates his ideas. I found the chapters, 'three aspects of sitting' and 'loving kindness meditation' very clear and helpful ...more
Mar 24, 2008 rated it it was amazing
A friend recommended this book to me over a year ago, and I just got a chance to pick it up now. Bayda is a deceptively simple writer, but there is a lot of wisdom in his words about how to live, and how to use meditation as a tool for awakening compassion and better understanding.

I plan to read all of his books.
Mar 06, 2016 rated it really liked it
While I am not a practitioner of Buddhism, I found this book to be very enlightening and many of the lessons to be applicable just in every day life, thoughts and behaviors. Bayda presents a different way of thinking about your own behaviors, reactions, thoughts, and I hope to utilize these lessons to become a better person.
Matthew Gantt
Jun 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Spectacular, explained some things in in a fresh way that I couldn't seem to quite wrap my head around before. And those things that cannot be explained were illuminated in such a way as to help bolster my practice. I actually bought a second copy of this book to gift to another. I highly recommend this book for anyone who would like to deepen their practice. ...more
Geri Degruy
Jan 21, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Good book! Ezra Bayda shares many stories to help the reader know how to deal with many situations in life. He is compassionate and funny. This book is incredibly useful. I've given it to many people as a gift. ...more
Feb 28, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: spiritual
I loved this book. Every time I picked it up, it provided new ways of thinking about meditation and day-to-day experiences in a clear way that was really refreshing. I will no doubt continue to find gems in it, since I'm sure to pick it up to read again in a few years. ...more
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“We must first understand that both our pain and our suffering are truly our path, our teacher. While this understanding doesn’t necessarily entail liking our pain or our suffering, it does liberate us from regarding them as enemies we have to conquer. Once we have this understanding, which is a fundamental change in how we relate to life, we can begin to deal with the layers of pain and suffering that make up so much of our existence.” 0 likes
“There are people we laugh at because they can’t see the most obvious things about themselves. Well, those people are us!” 0 likes
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