By Barry Magid
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Additional info for Ending the Pursuit of Happiness: A Zen Guide
As such, it can function well or badly, and be intact or suffer damage—although this way of talking is obviously metaphorical. This psychoanalytic self refers to such things as the state of our self-esteem; for instance whether we are easily hurt or offended or whether we can consistently maintain our bearings in the face of life’s difficulties. We can also speak of our “self” as who we are in the sense of our personality or character. A person may have a strong sense of himself, be clear about who he is or about what she wants, or always feel anxious, uncertain, and doubtful about her 24 · Ending the Pursuit of Happiness motives and goals.
We recreate it as a living tradition in our lives both by our efforts and by our choices. ” When we read about how Zen has traditionally been practiced over the centuries in China and Japan, or even when we think about how the previous generation of teachers were trained, we must decide how much we can simply follow in their footsteps and where we need to branch off onto our own path. How much of Asian culture must we learn and assimilate in order to maintain a genuine connection to our spiritual ancestors?
With a Zen of “no gain,” we step outside of our usual realm of questions and answers, problems and solutions, off the endless treadmill of self-improvement and instead experience the completeness of our life as it already is. Psychoanalysis is similarly grounded in the open-ended, non-goal-oriented experience of our moment-to-moment mind as it is. Americans are addicted to progress and self improvement. The psychoanalytic method, almost as much as traditional Zen practice, goes against the grain of our modern life.