Self-Acceptance: The Name of the Game

I have been writing quiet a bit about the transformative power of surrendering in this blog so far and I think it’s time to clarify what I exactly mean by that. After all, surrendering is but another pointer to help break the resistance to the full experience of the present moment, to be fully present and alive. Only in surrender can we align ourselves with the depth of our being.

What probably to most people comes to mind first when they hear the word “surrender” is a conscious act of giving up in the face of having lost all hope of a better outcome. In this context it suggests weakness and defeat. For others, “to surrender” does not have this negative connotation. For them it means allowing, accepting, embracing.

I try to carefully avoid using any of these words to describe surrender. To me, they imply the notion that something needs to be done. Surrendering in a spiritual sense, however, is not something that can be achieved or brought about actively, because it is the very absence of interfering in any way, that is the hallmark of surrendering. Even the very trying not to resist is, at its root, a form of interfering and resistance.

If surrendering is an absence of resisting, how to not resist?

There are realizations and methods that can help “trick” ourselves into surrendering mode. One of them is the realization of Oneness, another is what I would call “only awareness” and, last but not least, self-compassion. These realizations have in common that they establish some sort of intimacy with all experiences, pleasant and unpleasant. Which makes sense, if we think about it, because we are biologically wired up for survival and surrendering is only a viable option to the reptilian parts of our mind if it does not constitute a threat to the organism. No matter how surrendering happens, though, what it ultimately leads to is a liberating acceptance of oneself.

Let’s start then with Oneness. To come to the realization that all is One in many different shapes and forms releases the anxiety vis-a-vis an “other” that may threaten our survival. It is a realization of highly devotional character. All is fundamentally known to be a manifestation of all there is (call it the divine, supreme intelligence, creator, God or whatever). As such, it cannot be flawed. In Oneness, there is no reference point to make such a qualitative statement anymore. All must be exactly as it is supposed to be, because all is IT. That includes all my experiences, conditioning, biological make-up etc. Nothing is neither in any way wrong nor right. It just is. And therein lies a deep acceptance, a surrender to everything.

Only awareness” is the realization that at the heart of our being is awareness, while we usually identify with the content of awareness, that is, our memories, thoughts and sensations. It is a realization of clear discernment. When the mind is quietened down enough (e.g. by means of contemplation or transcending opposites) one gets a glimpse of content-free awareness. In these moments it seems as the experiencer alchemistically merges with the experience to reveal that what’s always there is the capacity to experience, the experiencing through and within awareness. Since this capacity is ongoing and unconditionally allowing all experiences in, there is an understanding of the impossibility to block unpleasant experiences from coming into awareness. And while it is realized that there has never been a choice over what’s experienced, there is profound inspiration from the fact that our fundamental nature does not discriminate. It naturally embraces it all. The giving up the illusion of control and the identifying with the loving nature of awareness leads to a falling into the grace of surrender.

Finally, self-compassion is the realization that everybody of us is struggling internally with similar issues. No one gets a pass on them. It is a realization of the heart wisdom. Since we are all born into this world vulnerable and weak, we are conditioned to be over-sensitively wary of threats which causes us to contract and suffer in variable degrees. You and me, we are going through the same thing. We are brothers and sisters in the human condition. Put into this perspective, our suffering becomes nothing to be ashamed of or to be avoided, since it is of universal nature among the human species. Again, this sort of natural opening to the whole array of human experiences is non other than a way to surrender.

When we fully surrender, we have come to fully accept ourselves. In this alignment of persona and soul is where the duality between inner and outer vanishes.

Much of spiritual life is self-acceptance, maybe all of it.
~ Jack Kornfield

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4 Comments on “Self-Acceptance: The Name of the Game”

  1. Les Collins says:

    Hello. I recently discovered you on Twitter, and appreciated your non-dual comments/observations; then spent some time enjoying your website. Like yourself I have attempted to convey non-dual insights and pointers for quite a few years at a weekly group in Rochester, NY, with I guess one might characterize as mixed results. I don’t let that bother me (usually, at any rate) as I really only do it (or appear to) because it feels like the ‘right’ thing to do, and because I really enjoy doing it. Whenever the question arises in the group regarding its reason for being, I maintain that it is, in the end, solely for entertainment.

    I could spend time arguing or debating fine points of explanations or pointers in your various blogs, but I don’t really feel that would be terribly constructive. You are obviously a good teacher and are very well read and well spoken. Rather let me bring up something that crosses my mind from time to time. It’s the question of whether it isn’t somewhat disingenuous, after all, to be a ‘teacher,’ or so-called teacher, of non-duality itself. ‘Teaching’ necessarily posits a dualistic teacher/student relationship in order to exist, even if in ‘mere appearance’ only. And the notion that there is ‘anyone’ to benefit in any sense from an enhanced knowledge or understanding of non-dual principles or pointers, subtly belies an underlying concession and acceptance of a dualistic reality of some sort! It makes one wonder if Lao-Tse wasn’t dead-right when he said: “He who knows does not talk, and he who talks does not know.” But, of course, even THAT was said, and written, wasn’t it!

    In the end, though, I still don’t have a better answer to the question of why to teach, study or read the non-dual material itself other than the fact that it just FEELS so damn true, is just plain fun, and uniquely holds out the hope and promise that we can not only aspire to that ultimate state of peace, love and bliss, but that we truly ARE THAT!

    Thank you again for your excellent blog and writings! And if you’re interested, my blogsite (also new) is http://thereisonlygod.com.

    Peace and Blessings,
    Les Collins

  2. Hi Les!

    Many thanks for your comment. Highly appreciate it!

    I have looked through your Blog and find it very interesting. Because of your actual face-to-face “teaching” you seem to have a good idea of where people are “stuck”. Myself on the other hand write about where I was/am stuck, since I don’t teach anybody. I have started twittering and blogging just a couple of weeks ago and still need to find my “voice” in this “business” 😉

    Just like you I am not trying to convince anybody but share what feels like a meaningful insight or discovery in the most interesting topic there ever was: the mystery of existence. I feel thrilled about it and that’s reason enough for me to write about it. Similarily, there is no reason for a true artist to create art other than for engaging in the act itself. No goal or hidden agenda. Just because it feels damn good. That way there is a chance that something gets created that can stand alone, that is sufficient in itself, in no need of interpretation because its message cuts right through.

    I have no problem with the fact that a “teaching” setting or the notion of “anyone” benefiting from the “teachings” might strenghten a dualistic standpoint. After all, the only reality we will ever have direct sensual access to is the dualistic sphere of things, while the ultimate reality can never be experienced but only intuitively “realized”. The world is unreal but ultimately it is the only reality we have! In that sense, the dualistic world IS the ultimate reality (manifest). The world IS Brahman. Samsara IS Nirvana. This IS the promised land. Form IS Emptiness and vice versa. Since the world is both, unreal and real, how could I ever take sides? For me the “goal” of all this is to be able to wholeheartedly engage in this (dualistic) world exactly because there is the realization that the world and the “I” are being dreamt (by consciousness or whatever you want to call the universal creative principle).
    Having said that, I do admit that the ignorance of a purely dualistic world-view could be strenghtened with these sort of “teachings”. But that is the case for any combination of words or talk, as you rightly point out. It’s not an Advaita or spiritual “teaching” problem, but the limitation of language per se. When this “stuff” is shared, some will (hopefully) realize their freedom, others will be led into more (apparent) bondage. If this is not shared, however, almost nobody will. Although there is nobody suffering on an absolute level, suffering stinks tremendously on the relative level. Sharing is caring.

    Love & Light
    Daniel

    • Les Collins says:

      Daniel,

      Thanks for your excellent reply. I would argue with your earlier comment that “I don’t teach anybody,” however. Although it’s certainly the case that “we” don’t teach anybody, what we call ‘teaching’ never really ‘NOT HAPPENS.’ And not only through your blog, but the ’embodiment’ of a deep level of insight which expresses through the apparent form ‘Daniel’ has no choice but to emit the fragrance of that ‘essential nature’ 24/7. [And, for that matter, the speech and actions of all the ‘apparent people’ embodying the widely held POV that self and others are the one true reality, also serve to teach 24/7. Namely, to demonstrate the bleak and dismal consequences of that insane perspective!]

      Certainly you are correct- that all apparent undertakings in this dualistic mine-field of expression cannot help but run the risk of reinforcing the sense of the reality of the Dream of Forms, even non-dual teachings themselves. Fortunately, however, the ubiquitous nature and quiet voice of the field of aware-presence, the ‘World’s’ only source and substance, never moves and never sleeps. When, through grace or destiny, a ‘form’ awakes to the recognition of its own voice and its own reflection in and as that one and only ‘experience’/’experiencer,’ then there is no one left to wander, and no where left to go.

      If that is our experience, our reality, we can no more refrain from teaching, overtly or unobtrusively, than a bird can refrain from singing, the sun can refrain from shining, or a world can refrain from appearing. In the end it’s all perfect, from start to finish, with no one who needs to do anything, and yet with nothing ever left undone.

      May we recognize in the World the face of the Guru, and that of our own.

      Namaste,
      Les


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