By Suma Varughese May 2007 Acceptance is a resounding yes to life that dissolves all resistances and negativities. In its still witnessing presence, transformation happens. sinners becomes sages, illnesses recede, problems vanish Ever since I launched into the process of self-transformation, two words have guided my progress. One is awareness and the other is acceptance. It became clear to me that these two words and what they implied were the torches that would show me the way. All else was darkness. My fall into grace was incidental. An inner experience taught me that true happiness was only through focusing on the happiness of others. Because the experience had been so internal, I had very little support at the external level. No guru, no Gurubhai or kalyan Mitra, no satsang, no books of wisdom. Just the two words. These words constituted my path. Awareness brought the entire contents of the subconscious mind into the conscious level – greed, repressed anger, extreme inertia, indiscipline, lack of concentration, a fractured memory, indifference, and various other characteristics that I was not proud of. On the contrary, I had an extreme resistance to them. Having lately come out of the enlightenment experience, where I had experienced myself as being loving, compassionate, balanced, peaceful, joyous and effective, it was agonizing to see the shadow side of my personality. My expectation of myself was so high that I could not bear to act in a way that was not aligned to my values and ideals. And alas, I was always doing this. My uncontrolled appetite for food made me cringe with shame. My flaming anger that lashed out at one and all with little heed for consequences had me aghast at my own destructive ability. My poor memory, zero concentration and indifference made it almost impossible to live and I was petrified of bumbling into disasters and catastrophes. I lived in utter distrust and horror of myself, filled with a deep and all-encompassing fear of life. One part of me actually took up the role of a policeman, and began to keep a 24/7 vigil on my thoughts, words and actions. There is nothing more unnerving than having a part of you watching the rest of you. I became almost paralyzed with self-consciousness and fear of displeasing this tyrannical me. My entire focus was on this self-surveillance, leaving very little for the outside world. Naturally, I was always goofing up and the tyrant was always beating up on me. The Healing BalmIn the midst of this inner kurakshetra, acceptance would steal in like a balm. Cocooned as I was in layers upon layers of resistance that made me feel compressed and suffocated, I would work on the immediately accessible outer layer and affirm that I accepted it. The practice always made me feel a little better. I would breathe more easily and feel as if a little space had come between my resistance and me. “Acceptance is the true test of having let go of the ego”- Geeta Rao It has taken me years and years of this assiduous practice to peel off all the layers that I was shrouded in. Today, I am busy reclaiming all the parts of me that I had rejected and resisted all these years. I tell myself that it’s okay to be angry, okay to have forgotten to buy my mother’s magazine, okay to be slow at work, okay to have eaten the things I know I should not have eaten and so on. I also affirm that it’s okay to resist them. And you know what? It actually is okay. The burden of resisting rolls off me and I feel light, free, liberated. Of course, the process is ongoing. Every moment brings on a fresh emotion and a fresh resistance to it. But each time I defuse it, I feel a little more integral – as if all the scattered parts of me are fusing together. For that is the great quality of acceptance. It brings together what is riven apart; it dissipates the false and the negative and it brings out the true and the positive. I have a long way to go still – I still react, I still resist, but the momentum is so much less and more easily defused. The tyrant in the head has actually packed up his bags and left, finally convinced that I will not plunge headlong into disaster. There are moments of great peace and stillness. Joy bursts upon me occasionally, such as when the piercing sweetness of the koel cry seduces me during my morning walks or when I stand by the window on quiet afternoons and respond to the breeze caressing me and playing over the water of the creek outside my house. Fear has almost vanished. I m ready to accept whatever phantoms and demons it conjures, right from growing old alone, to being ill and bedridden, to dying. I am finally beginning to get that resistance does not change a thing. It only makes life a whole lot harder. Instead, I ask myself these days, can I do something to change the situation? And what I cannot I am finally learning to let go and allow the Great Wise One to carry for me. What is acceptance?Acceptance is a great resounding yes to life; an unconditional reception of all that life brings. Acceptance is the final answer to the crippling uncertainty of life. We finally accept in the very depths of our being that life is change and there are no guarantees and that this is okay. Through acceptance, we align ourselves to the nature of life and flow with it. Acceptance defuses all conflicts, releases all resistance. Says advertising tyro and ardent Vipassana meditator, Geeta Rao, “Acceptance is really the true test of having let go of the ego. It is not a passive state as people often assume – it becomes an active and natural choice. The root of all conflict is our lack of acceptance because we subconsciously want things to conform to our script and we all have a script.” Acceptance means that all the fractured parts of the psyche have come together and one is just one, not a multitude. Acceptance is one step short of surrender, for one has not yet fully given over charge to God. One is still in the process of gathering oneself up. But as soon as acceptance is complete, then it flows into surrender. Then one no longer needs to consciously orchestrate one’s growth – the process is given over to God and all we need to do is to live, fully, completely, unconditionally. On the pathSo where does it all begin? From which context does one step into the path of acceptance? So difficult to say because the cyclical process of growth makes generalizations impossible. Acceptance can be accessed at any point. For most, it is an outcome of assiduous spiritual practice. It begins to grow gradually allowing for a progressive reduction of resistance until one fine day, one wakes up to find that resistance has taken wing and fled, like a swallow returning to its native climes in summer. But for those who choose to make it a path, perhaps the key ingredient is good self-esteem. In my case, before I embarked on the path, I was graced with an insight that I was whole, perfect and complete at the soul level and the rest was conditioning. This insight enabled me to distinguish between who I was, and the behavior I manifested, preventing me from mistaking the latter for who I was. This was crucial, for otherwise I would not have been able to stand to see the extensive damage I had done to myself without cracking up. Self-esteem, or the knowledge that we are okay at the deepest part of ourselves, affords us the courage to really look within and contain what we see. As Clarissa Pinkola Estes writes in her book, Women Who Run With the Wolves: “There are times when its (awareness or skull light as she calls it) reports are painful and almost too much to bear: for also the fiery skull points out where there are betrayals brewing, where there is faintness of courage in those who speak otherwise. It points out envy lying like cold grease behind a warm smile; it points out the looks which are mere masks for dislike. As regards oneself, its light is equally bright: it shines on our treasures and on our foibles.” The second parameter when using acceptance as a path is to twin it with awareness. We can only accept what we are aware of. All too often our emotions, feelings, reactions and so on govern us. Helplessly, we must submit to having them firing over our shoulder, for we are completely identified with these states. Only a certain level of awareness can bring on a separation between them and us, to enable us to see them rather than simply be them. It is this detachment that accesses acceptance. Affirmations, from personal experience, are also useful on the path. For a long time out there I simply affirmed that I accepted what I was going through, whether I did or not. Eventually, I actually did get to the stage where the affirmation manifested into being. Can the mind remain with the pain without any movment away from it?- J Krishnamurti Natalie DaCunha (name changed), a college lecturer and an avid student of Vedanta, says, “Acceptance is at the cornerstone of my spirituality. I always recite the prayer of St Francis of Assisi, ‘Oh. Lord, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; the courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.’ In many situations especially at the college front, I ask myself what is it I cannot change about this situation and try to accept it. Right now, I have put on some additional weight. It’s a small issue but it is not easy to accept for one who has never had to worry about it. Accepting the body is a daily challenge.” Jnana YogaAs a path, acceptance fits more readily into jnana yoga than any other. For acceptance involves a modification of the mind, a change in the way the mind sees. Vedanta advocates the concept of prasaddha buddhi to access acceptance and equanimity. We are advised to accept whatever befalls us as prasad from God. No matter how unwelcome the event, we need to cup our
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