The paradox of Acceptance
It’s an amazing paradox that while many spiritualists declare this world to be an abode of endless misery, yet they are blissful. On the other hand for all the self-help and positive thinking, many moderns drown themselves in booze on weekends to forget their miseries. Facing our misery upfront, and accepting them helps us transcend the situation. Imagine a man goes to a doctor and after the tests the doctor reveals the many kidney, liver and heart complications he has. What would be his reaction? If he’s upset with the doctor that he’s giving bad news and seeks another doctor who would be more positive, that wouldn’t really help him. If however he accepts the reports, and prepares for the battle ahead, he’d be more peaceful. Einstein did say, ‘Once we accept our limits, we go beyond them.’
Buddha was once approached by a bereaving woman who had lost her only child. She was desperate for the Buddha to bring her back to life. Buddha compassionately deferred the miracle and said he could revive her son if she first got some rice from a house that had not seen death. She rushed to a nearby house, and while the hosts gladly parted with some rice, they also confessed that two years ago they had lost their parents due to old age. Then she hurried to another house where she learnt that the man had lost his wife last year due to an accident. Each house she went, she learnt someone had died. Slowly, the reality dawned on her, and she could come to terms with the inevitability of death. Buddha taught her acceptance with compassion.
When acceptance is bad
If you are a victim of abuse and domestic violence, don’t accept it; seek help immediately.
Acceptance refers to the principle of not resisting the flow. If you are abused, and you have been timid all your life, now you need to accept that you’ve got to fight it out.
Acceptance is not resigning to our fate; it is simply moving forward in life with grace and dignity. For example when I am stuck in a traffic jam I catch myself resisting it; my plans are upset. But there’s nothing I can do about it at that moment. I simply need to accept with a quiet grace, and focus on being present on other things. I could hear some lectures of my seniors, or watch the spectacle out of the window, or call a friend, but the more I resist the situation, the more I get frustrated.
I rise early each day and have a list of things to do. Yet, sometimes when I wake up late, I catch myself regretting that I wasted my precious hours. That’s when I make the conscious choice of accepting myself the way I am. ‘It’s ok to wake up late today. Let me offer the best I can now and today with what I have for service’. As I cool myself down with acceptance phrases, I get the strength to reorganize myself and contribute the best I can.