Real Life Book Summary - Real Life Book explained in key points
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Real Life summary

Sharon Salzberg

The Journey from Isolation to Openness and Freedom

4.5 (28 ratings)
15 mins
Table of Contents

    Real Life
    Summary of 6 key ideas

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    What keeps us small

    In the Buddhist school of thought, there are three causes of suffering – three hindrances to a life of clarity and connection. These are grasping, aversion, and delusion. 

    Grasping is when we cling to a person, an object, or an experience. This could range from a seemingly innocuous hankering for a square (or three) of chocolate to a medically diagnosed addiction. We typically grasp because we believe we’ll be able to hold onto, or eventually attain, pleasant sensations. 

    Aversion arises when we fight against ourselves, another being, or an experience. This too is a sliding scale, and can include anything from berating yourself for forgetting where you left the keys to full-blown hatred for a political figure. We avert in the hope of somehow sidestepping unpleasant sensations. 

    Delusion is when we disconnect from an experience that may be ambiguous, boring, or simply neutral. As we so heavily lean on pleasant highs and unpleasant lows to define our lives, we space out in the “uneventful” intervals in between. 

    But the thing is, we can’t enjoy a fully engaged life in any of these states. Instead, we need to tap into each of their opposites: peace instead of grasping, compassion instead of aversion, and vibrancy instead of delusion. 

    Buddhist philosophy posits that this possibility is available to each and every one of us, in any moment. Sure, we may have wired some strong neural pathways up until now – but we can also rewire them in an instant. 

    “It’s not quite that simple!” you may exclaim. And no, swimming against the tide of strong conditioning isn’t easy. But it is that simple. So let’s see if we can make it at least a little easier by exploring some practical examples. 

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    What is Real Life about?

    Real Life (2023) is a guide to navigating life’s seasons with clarity and connection. While we all feel small and disconnected at times, we don’t have to remain stuck there. Drawing on a variety of voices, Real Life shares the possibility of a more expansive and aligned experience – even in the face of some of life’s most formidable challenges.

    Who should read Real Life?

    • Anyone struggling with loneliness, grief, or trauma 
    • Individuals wanting to embrace greater freedom and joy
    • Longtime meditators seeking to deepen their practice

    About the Author

    Sharon Salzberg is a leading meditation teacher and New York Times best-selling author. Credited with playing a significant role in introducing Buddhist practices to the West, Salzberg is known for her focus on vipassana (insight) and metta (lovingkindness). Her previous books include Real Love, Real Happiness, and Lovingkindness

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