Intelligent practice always deals with just one thing: the fear at the base of human existence, the fear that I am not.
And of course I am not, but the last thing I want to know is that.
I am impermanence itself in a rapidly changing human form that appears solid. I fear to see what I am: an ever-changing energy field…
So good practice is about fear. Fear takes the form of constantly thinking, speculating, analyzing, fantasizing. With all that activity we create a cloud cover to keep ourselves safe in make-believe practice. True practice is not safe; it’s anything but safe. But we don’t like that, so we obsess with our feverish efforts to achieve our version of the personal dream. Such obsessive practice is itself just another cloud between ourselves and reality.
The only thing that matters is seeing with an impersonal searchlight: seeing things as they are. When the personal barrier drops away, why do we have to call it anything? We just live our lives. And when we die, we just die. No problem anywhere.
— Charlotte Joko Beck,
in Everyday Zen