Saturday, January 26, 2008

Radical Acceptance

Gautama BuddhaImage by Mesq via Flickr
I want to share a Buddhist lecture with you that I found to be just completely beautiful  It is so full of wisdom, love and compassion that as I listened to it, I found myself feeling almost overwhelmed.  You know how when you're listening to some talks/sermons/lectures, you just can't wait for them to end because you're bored out of your mind?   And there rare ones when it ends just as it seems it was getting started?  This was different from either of those.  There was so much wisdom in this talk, I kind of wished she'd stop and save some for later because it was almost too much to absorb in one sitting.  The lecture is titled "Radical Acceptance".  You can find it here:  Radical Acceptance Like most Buddhist talks, there's very little here that is uniquely Buddhist.  It's mostly common sense and human psychology.  I'm feeling increasingly comfortable with labeling myself as a Buddhist because when I do the Buddhist practices and listen to the Buddhist lectures I feel myself growing as a person, more in balance, better connected with everything around me and on a higher spiritual plane.

When I listened to this talk, I was touched not only by her words, but I could feel compassion and love just in her voice.  I've found the same thing listening to Gil Fronsdal (a regular on ZenCast). 

As I was listening to the lecture, I was thinking "This is the best lecture I've ever heard".  Usually, I'm not one for hyperbole. So, I'll back off of that.  But, I would definitely put it in my top 10.  I've downloaded the mp3 to save for later listening and I will be sharing it with Ty and with Kayla.

Of course as I'm listening, I'm bringing all my baggage along with me, as we all do.  So, probably one of the reasons the message is so powerful for me is it's so counter to the destructive self-image I was taught all my life.  Rather than focusing what is "wrong" with me, this approach allows me to focus on what is right with me.  Rather than fighting the present, regretting the past and fearing the future, this teaching allows me to embrace who I am and where I am in all circumstances.

I liked where she (well, actually the Buddha) broke down self-acceptance to two simple things. 

  1. recognizing what is going on in any moment and 
  2. meeting it with compassion.  

The Buddha even met Mara (his self delusions) with compassion. The softening she described is what I've been able to achieve increasingly over the past few years. Compassion begins with ourselves and we have to learn to accept our human frailties.   As Tara pointed out, acceptance does not equate to complacency.  Acceptance of how things are now does not mean we do not work for a better future.  It just means we stop trying to hold on to what we cannot hold onto.  And, we stop trying to resist what already is.

I really liked her point about having to do at least some of the work in groups and reaching out to what is beyond ourselves.  Both Christianity and Buddhism (in the West anyway) are too into rugged individualism, IMO.  I really didn't begin to heal until I got into counseling.  All the reading (Bible and self-help books) did nothing for me until I got compassion from another human being.  My counselor helped me find acceptance and forgiveness within myself.  But, it took someone (a human being) outside of me to help me do that.  And, I liked what she said about acceptance not being something we can do with just our minds. I knew in my head what I needed to do.  But, I could not translate it to my whole being.  Acceptance must be done with our whole beings.

I am beginning to be able to connect with the concept of being an observer and stepping outside of my "small self".  Frankly, that meant nothing to me when I first heard it. But, now it's becoming reality. It's hard to describe to those who haven't experienced it.  And, I could not experience it until I began meditating.  An example is my mind races a lot. I have a lot of ideas and I tend to worry.  This used to cause terrible insomnia. But, now when I wake up and my mind is racing, instead of fighting it, I accept it. Because I can (most of the time) separate "me" from my thoughts, I just sit back and watch it go.  Usually, this allows me to fall back to sleep. But, when it doesn't, I accept that too.  The other morning I woke up with two things on my mind.  Neither was worry, actually it was more excitement about a project I'm planning (remodeling our kitchen) and planning for an undertaking I have to do for our company.  My mind kept flipping back and forth between the two things. I watched it for a while, actually got a lot of good ideas out of it.  Then, it was time to get up and I quickly ran to the computer to get down the ideas before they faded away.  What could have been time spent worrying about and fighting insomnia actually turned into productive time.

The lecture is pretty long.  It's about an hour.  If you listen to it and you like it, let me know. Also, there's a great little novel you might enjoy, if this resonates with you. It's called Jake Fades.


Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

No comments: