In Indian philosophy, there is a well
known trick: Neti, Neti (Not this, Not this). Path of exclusion. When
you have explained what Spirit is NOT, whatever is left is BOUND to
be Spirit; When you have decided what all you DONT want to do on a
particular evening- you are left with very clear and fewer options,
minimizing scope for confusion and dilly-dallying! So let me discuss
what is non-acceptance in general and a specific context. Hopefully,
this will lead us to a better understanding of what Acceptance could
mean for us.
with “what is”. It is a -often subconscious- resistance to the
the present moment. You want it to be different. You want to be
somewhere else- with different people- doing something different. You
are convinced that other ways of arranging the present moment would
certainly be better- than as it is now. So, when you are in office,
you are dreaming of what you will do in the evening. And when you are
with friends in the evening, you wish, you were in the office
finishing off that important piece of work!
struggle, a running away – never at peace with the present moment.
This leads to “absentee landlord syndrome”. You go through life
but are not actually living it. You stammer- but when the
therapist asks you to describe your difficulties, you are at a loss.
You may have stammered for years but have never stammered consciously
and therefore, dont understand as to what happens in those moments.
You have never truly accepted your “issue” and therefore you are
unable to find a solution for it.
from? What does it do to us? To situations? How does it manifest? Let
us take a common scenario : I hate going to market. I know it has to
be done as a very practical necessity of life. I know that it is even
GOOD for me- socially and physically. But…there is a feeling that
if I could postpone it, it might just go away and leave me alone. The
need for marketing itself might disappear. But why dont I want to do
haggle with shop-keepers; and haggle you must in this country! May
be, marketing involves decision making and in the process you make
some “less than good” (may be even “rotten”) decisions, which
can be criticized by family members:
buying it? Half of the dozen are bad!
already have two unused packs in the cupboard!
mistakes- or SEEN to be making mistakes. It does not go well with our
self-image of an intelligent adult. But I am not aware of these
subtle psychological reasons; All I am aware of is- I dont care for
marketing. Let it go away from me and leave me alone. If I postpone
it, find excuses (today is weekly off – market will be closed!),
delay it, do it badly- may be family will stop asking me to go and do
marketing. Who knows! At the same time, I feel bad when I am playing
all these little “waiting games” unconsciously. So, this kind of
resistance does not work in the long run; it leaves no one happy
me: Awareness that something needs to be done and a Resistance to it.
This resistance stops me from accepting that something needs to be
done and that this something is inherently not difficult or
distasteful. Under different circumstances, I could even enjoy and
excel at marketing (Suppose I was the “Purchase Officer” for my
spend many sullen evenings over the years, exactly in this frame of
mind- unhappy, resisting, waiting, postponing, fearful, suspicious.
Can such a mind, on its own, do a 180* turn? Unlikely. Why? The
principle of entropy says, that things left on their own, simply move
from order to disorder. If you stop caring for a building, it changes
into a rubble, without any effort on your part. But the obverse does
not happen, however much time you give it!
identified with our minds. We ARE our minds. So, we are never able to
stand apart and see these moods, these negative downward spirals,
objectively. Eye sees the world but cant see itself. So these moods
may be quite obvious to our family & colleagues – but never to
us. It is like a man with a drinking problem: he is never able to see
that he has a problem; More the friends and family talk about it,
greater is his denial, his resistance.
asked- do you stammer?- he worked very hard to hide it and say at
least some sentences fluently.. When he was teased, he would be very
angry and try harder to fight his stammering? We all know what
happens when we try to fight our stammering! This is a downward
spiral. More we resist, worse it becomes. And we know NO OTHER way of
responding to it. So, in a nutshell, we are STUCK. Yes really stuck –
like a coalition government. 🙁
is- lack of consciousness in our day to day life. We have learned to
live and respond in a highly absent-minded, mechanical “auto-mode”.
If we could see all this, we certainly would try out other options.
One way to do this is- getting in touch with others, since it is
obvious that, on our own, we will keep on repeating the old patterns
of thinking, feeling and reacting. But there is a big obstacle here:
Our ego will not let us meet other stammerers:
loser. What can they teach me? Why should I go and sit in a room full
approach a therapist. Why? Because in our mind: I dont stammer.
Therapist is only for those stammerers. I just hesitate a little bit-
that too on just a few words.
remember sometime back a young man phoned me and said: I
want to come over just for one day. Just teach me how to say my name.
That is all.
possible for a pws to spend an entire life in denial, running away
from this moment as it is and continue to endure “low grade”
suffering for a long long time. It reminds me an Urdu couplet: This
life neither burns up in a clear flame, nor does it dissipate away in
smoke! (or something to that effect..Zindagi jalti hai, na jal ke
dhuan hoti hai.. if I remember correctly?)
some idea about acceptance? Acceptance is accepting this
moment as it is – and people in this moment, as they are. No
struggle, no resentment, no resistance. This calmness (not sad
resignation) becomes the basis for enduring change. Actually change
happens on its own. We just allow it to happen rather than struggle
against it. Our inner spontaneity and creativity takes over: some
one starts to dance, someone sings and some one starts writing
prolifically; some one starts a self-help group, someone starts a new
enterprise, some turn to other human beings with great interest.. No,
life does not become easy, comfortable – but it becomes full of
possibilities and joy. Please share your experiences with acceptance.