Unit IX.  Acceptance
CONTENTS

1.  Time
2.  Ego controls
3.  Renunciation
4.  Acceptance of oneself
5.  Change
6.  Responsibility
7.  God’s gifts
8.  Surrender

Materials needed: Journal, drawing materials

Books needed:

When things fall apart*
No death, no fear
Living from the heart*
Healing communication*
Paradoxes of love*
Memories and visions of Paradise
Eternal echoes*
Straight from the horse’s mouth*

Exercises and practices:

Resistance
Touching the earth
Ego controls
Non-attachment
Spiritual powers
Maya
Dying
Self-check
Changing habits
Balancing polarities
Memory or vision of Paradise
Living Light
Choicelessness
Qualities of surrender

* You may already have these books

Surrender means to accept what is.  That means giving up all thoughts of and attempts to change things.  It means ignoring desires, wants and preferences.  It means forgetting about expectations of how we think things ought to be or to become.  It means releasing our assumptions, opinions, ideas, concepts and needs for information.  The way things are right now, in this moment, is exactly how they are meant to be.  Furthermore, they have been arranged for the good of our souls and lives in the world no matter how difficult the prospects may seem to be.  We may not believe this is so, but it is fact, a fact that can be verified by experience if we relax into it and give it the good old college try.  We could begin with an hypothesis that it is true and do some reality testing.  Let us take an example.

I struggle every year with worries about whether I will be able to find someone to dig up my vegetable garden as that is now beyond my physical ability.  It is important to me to grow my own vegetables, so I know they are clean and unadulterated.  I also enjoy some that are not found in the local markets.  If I fret and struggle with these worries, they enlarge and accelerate until I can hardly risk picking up the phone to ask someone for fear they will say no.  However, if I remember that help is always provided when I am able to generate some trust around the issue, Spirit unfailingly comes through with someone.  Sometimes it is a person who does not need the money but rather the teachings Spirit can send through me or food for the spirit.

Or suppose we feel caught in the economic, inflationary crunch.  It seems there is not enough money to make ends meet anymore.  Everything costs more, and we don’t see how we can find the means to buy what we need to keep body and soul together.  This is not an imaginary situation.  It is one that many people are facing right now even in the richest country in the world though they may not talk about it.  What happens if I accept it instead of railing against it?  A change of attitude changes the way I feel about it.  Emotions settle down and I am able to more rationally seek a solution.  I might, for example, see it as an opportunity to release some more attachments.  I can wear last  year’s clothes.  I can invite friends to a pot luck supper instead of staging a sit-down dinner party.  I can collaborate with friends to put in a garden to supply food.  I can open myself to new possibilities for work that I never thought of before.  I can clean houses or make repairs on houses for other people.  These jobs are never filled, and they are just as valuable as any other kinds of work if they are seen as honest sources of income.  

One of the most important things I learned at Yasodhara Ashram was that all work has equal value.  It is how we view it that makes all the difference.  When I first went to the ashram, I thought the most difficult thing for me to do would be the work, karma yoga, I would have to do.  I knew it would be manual, domestic labor: cooking, cleaning, canning and weeding the garden.  After some 30 years of housekeeping, that was definitely not an appealing idea.  However, I was delightfully surprised.  Because the work was done in the company of others and dedicated to the Divine One, I really enjoyed it.  Some of this was because I did not have the total responsibility for the outcomes of it.  All I needed to do was to stay in the present with it and watch what was occurring.  This is acceptance.  Surrender to what is.  You have to try it to see for yourself.  One thing to remember though.  You are not going to change anything, just do what is in front of you as my mentor used to say.  If you can bring joy into it, more the better.  If you can bring yourself to trust the Divine One to take care of you, you will not starve.

Exercise: Resistance

Read chapters 1-2 in When things fall apart and chapter 5 in No death, no fear.  Where does our resistance to surrender come from?  What is its dominant emotion?  How might we get around that?  How much of our resistance is due to how we construe reality?  What if you changed your mind about how things are?  What kind of outlook would bring you more peace and serenity?  Where is your true home?

Time

The practice of mindfulness is the practice of coming back to the here and the now to be in touch deeply with ourselves, with life.  – Thich Nhat Hanh

There is no such thing as time.  Physicists and rishis agree on this fact.  That means that everything is happening right now.  That is a difficult idea to get our minds around since we have been conditioned since birth to believe in linear clock time,  so much so that most of us have an inner clock that keeps perfect time.  I haven’t used an alarm clock in years except to catch airplanes in the early hours of the morning.  I can wake up on the minute that is predetermined before I fall asleep.  Nevertheless, time is simply a social convenience that helps us do things together.

So what does it mean to live in the present moment?  Among other things, this means to keep our minds firmly planted in what is going on right now.  The past is over, and it is safe to release all the trauma, emotions and regrets that may be associated with it.  It is not better than the present, we only fantasize that is the case when we don’t like what is going on in the present.  Notice that that kind of situation involves judgment, comparisons and desires.  If we do not judge the present nor compare it with some kind of arbitrary standard, we might find out that it is all right just as it is.

The same goes for the future, even the one five minutes ahead of us.  This is not to say that we do not make plans, for sometimes that is necessary.  However, it does say that we do not get married to our plans and insist that they come to fruition no matter what.  In doing so, we may forego something infinitely better that wishes to slip in on little cat feet to surprise us with joy.  If we recognize that all plans are tentative, it saves a great deal of frustration and enables a kind of warm flexibility to inform our lives.  Surprises can be exciting and fun if we are open to discover their inner gifts.

Therefore, we might accept that time is arbitrary and bend it to serve us instead of enslaving us.

Exercise: Touching the earth

Read chapter 8 in No death, no fear and do the exercises.  Can you get a sense of the paradoxes of time in reflecting on this chapter?  It is almost like a rubber band that can be stretched out or relaxed into a small space.  Consider how you really experience time.  Does it bully you?  frustrate you?  help you?  scare you?  What is your reaction to the way time manifests in your life?  Do you want to moderate  that?  What would be the role of acceptance if so?  If you can relax with respect to time, can you feel it seeking its own balance or does it simply disappear?


We need to stay conscious in the moment, every moment, so we do not miss the opportunities that are offered us or the lesson that is presenting itself right now.  It is very difficult to stay conscious all the time.  We have spent a lifetime being unconscious, lulled to sleep by all our conditioning.  Life makes us tired, and it is much easier just to let it go by without any more stimulation from doctrines about enlightenment.  If you do not believe that you have been asleep, watch some children.  You had that kind of energy and wonder once.  What happened to it?  Life.  Education.  Work.  Disappointment.  However, it is not gone forever.  You can wake up and reclaim it, but it will be difficult. . . and very rewarding if you persist.

Ego Controls

The trouble with surrender and trying to live in the NOW is that we have egos that have been taught that their job is to control reality so that we can experience life as we want it to be.  Self-will and desires are at the top of the list of priorities.  Television and advertisements drill into us that we have “needs” that can only be satisfied by buying something or acquiring something whether it is status, sex, a soul mate or an automobile.  Our families and education system teach us that we cannot be successful in life unless we learn how to control ourselves, others, the environment and its resources.  What all these teachers do not tell us is how to be happy, how to find love, how to bring peace into the world.  Nor are we taught, usually, how to give love to others.  Consequently, we have become a nation of diabetics and cancer victims addicted to commercial and/or mood-altering drugs.  In case that statement does not make sense, consider that sugar is often used as a substitute for love and cancer is associated with helplessness and hopelessness.

To do this work, it is essential to release our efforts to make things happen.  We must accept that we cannot always have our own way and that, perhaps, it might not even be good for us to have it since that reinforces ego’s attempts to dominate our lives.   All religious traditions spell out what are often called “sins.”  These are attitudes or practices that are detrimental to spiritual growth and development.  All are ego-related.  Let us look at the seven deadly sins of Christianity and see with what they might be replaced by a practicing mystic.  

Seven deadly sins

The first and foremost is pride or arrogance which is how it often is manifested.  This is an unyielding attitude of superiority that tends to rigidify the personality at the same time that it fends off others who might like to become closer to the person.  It is an obvious ego defense often used by people who have serious doubts about their own self-worth.  Its negation which is favored by spiritual practice is humility, an attitude that results from surrender to Divine Love and acceptance of what is.

Another deadly sin is avarice or greed.  This is based on desires and a wish to satisfy all of one’s ego wants.  Avarice may manifest as a piling up of possessions, money, status or power.  This activity may result from insecurity and a sense of deprivation likely to have its roots in infancy and childhood or in poverty during the developmental years.  Its opposite is renunciation, self-denial and moderation all of which wean the ego away from its dependencies.

Lust, luxury, sensuality or pleasure-seeking gives undue attention to gratification of the senses.  Avarice may be found in combination with luxury as it would tend to support it.  This deadly sin can be found in those who focus all their attention on self-gratification.  Its antidotes are celibacy, purification and self-denial.

No one would contest the inclusion of wrath or anger in this list since it so often injures others as well as the owner of it.  In fact, modern medical research is documenting the negative physical effects of anger on those who experience it to excess.  There is a place for righteous anger against wrong-doing.  But the bulk of anger is ego-related and due to frustration, not getting one’s own way or projection.  Its opposite is love and good-will.  Love and anger would even seem to be mutually exclusive as their physical actions in the body are very different, i.e., reaching out to or striking against respectively.

Intemperance or gluttony is taking pleasure to extremes.  Overeating comes to mind as does nymphomania.  Everything is indulged in to its limit and the person may still be unsatisfied.  This is another sin that may have its roots in deprivation as it seems to compensate for it.  Restraint and fasting are practices that would tend to modulate intemperance.

Envy or discontent and ill-will are one result of lack of self-worth and self-esteem.  We can see it as a form of compensation for a perceived lack in oneself or in one’s resources.  Others are seen to have more of what one lacks and deserves.  Contentment and equanimity are attitudes that when cultivated may help to counteract envy.

Finally we have sloth or laziness, unwilliness to work or exert oneself.  This might grow out of dependency, lack of self-confidence or passive aggression.  It manifests as lack of energy to take action in the world.  Its opposite would be a willingness and ability to do meaningful work.

I believe it is wrong to present sin as wrongdoing.  Bishop Pike’s (1955) idea was that anything that separates us from God is a sin.  To the extent to which this is true, each person can determine for him- herself whether something is a sin.  Generally, however, I dislike the word because it implies judgment and punishment.  It seems to me that we are all doing the best we can under our own circumstances, and there is no reason for anyone else to judge me unless I am harming someone.  

Nevertheless, we have to deal with these kinds of attitudes and behaviors because they can block our spiritual path.  This is not because we are bad or wrong, but because they prevent development of attitudes and behaviors that are compatible with Spirit, Love and Light.  It goes without saying that we cannot address these issues unless we accept the fact that they may be present in our own lives to some degree or other.  It is only through extensive clarification of the personality and ego that we can be sure that we have identified and overcome such blockages.

Exercise: Ego controls

1.  Read chapters 9-11 and 13 in When things fall apart.  How does cool loneliness help you deal with the blockages we have been discussing?  What are the marks of existence and how can they be addressed?  Do you resonate with any of them in particular?  Compare the four maras to the seven deadly sins.  What did you learn from Chodron about how to deal with them?  Why is an open, non-judgmental space essential to transformation of ego issues?

2. Read chapter 12 in Living from the heart and do the exercises.  Water is a symbol for both the soul and love.  It is also a purifier.  So use the practices on a regular basis in your work on purifying the ego’s needs for control.  

Renunciation

Another thing that must be accepted is renunciation in all its forms.  This is because attachments to anything be it people, things, ideas, social position, etc. keep us from our primary relationship to God.  We must also give up expectations of how things should be or will be along with any assumptions that we know how things are or ought to be.  Old habits have to go especially those that are dysfunctional.  

Attachments to people are most difficult because we have been taught to depend upon others for meeting our needs to belong or for love and security.  However, as adults, we are now able to take care of our own needs, so we can let go of any dependencies in our relationships.  This is not to say that we do not have relationships, but that we do not cling to or grasp them, or feel they are essential to our well-being.  All non-essential learning must go.  This means habits of thinking, information clutter, concepts and opinions.  It should all be culled through and sorted out in comparison to a set of value criteria and priorities.  Swami Radha used to liken this process to cleaning out a closet that had been collecting junk for years and had not seen the light of day.

Exercise: Non-attachment

Read chapter 8 in When things fall apart.  What are the eight worldly dharmas and how can we deal with them compassionately?


On a slightly different level, we need to discard any attachments we may have developed to psychic powers
, visions or voices.  These can be dangerous sidetracks if we become too identified with them.  Along the same lines, take heed for spiritual materialism.  This is the attitude that I am so spiritually advanced, look at me.  True spiritual advancement is marked by humility.  So let that be a measure of your progress on the path.

Exercise: Spiritual powers

Read chapter 5 in Healing communication.  This will give you some ideas about how spiritual powers may be used productively.  You might want to try the Windows of the Sky practices.  More information about this can be found in Acu-Yoga (Gach, 1982).


We have to accept, then work to remove, all illusions or veils over who we really are.  These veils are called maya, and they contribute enormously to our sense of separation and our perceptions of dualities.  Just being in a body means we have minds that are programmed to process polarities.  Our neurons work in an on/off modality.  That means a duality.  Dualities by their nature enable us to use our senses in the world, so we can never be completely free of them.  However, we can recognize them for what they are and put less energy into our perceptions of them.  Think of them as constructs of the mind just as the senses are tools of the mind.  And, knowing that the mind constructs reality, take it with a grain of salt.  Detach yourself from belief in it, let’s say.  The rishis say that freedom from maya means we no longer need to reincarnate again because the work has finally been done.  

Exercise: Maya

Read chapters 1-2 in No death, no fear and do the practices.  Think about how the Buddhist attitude is an antidote to what we have been taught to believe.  Select one of the practices and carry it out for a week or so to see what changes it can manifest for you.


Death or fear of death is another idea that needs to be released.  Who we really are is immortal and can only change its attire.  What distresses us is losing physical contact with those we love when they die.  We can no longer apprehend them through our physical senses.  However, other means of contact remain intact.  On the other hand,  the thought of losing our own bodies may frighten us.  This fear arises when we identify with our bodies rather than seeing them as temporary vehicles for our souls.  Life contains us, not the other way around.  So we exist in life and are supported by life, a life that does not go away nor go anywhere.  It is just here.  It pervades everything in the world and universe.  We exist in life and love as a fish exists in water.  As we grow into trust and acceptance, these fears will gradually extinguish themselves.

Another form of death is death of the moment and of the past.  It is the nature of reality to move and change, to transmute and transfigure itself, to transform into something else new and different.  It is a dynamic pageant of life, so we cannot hold on to it.  This can be a relief if the moment is unpleasant, but we are going to have to transcend judgments of pleasant and unpleasant along with all the other value judgments we have learned how to make.

Exercise: Dying

Read chapter 9 in No death, no fear for some more ideas on how to cope with death and dying.

Acceptance of Oneself

One of the most interesting things to observe about projection is that we also tend to project good qualities we cannot accept in ourselves onto other people.  When we idolize movie stars, political figures, sports heroes or, yes, religious figures, we are denying that those salient characteristics also exist in ourselves.  Perhaps they are not manifested, but they are there.  Baseball card swapping and collecting is an example.  Teenage girls cutting out pictures of movies stars is another.  But the projections don’t end with puberty.  Adult men spend hours on a weekend afternoon in front of the television set watching baseball, football or basketball vicariously enjoying the masculinity so blatantly displayed in those games.  That this is a deeply felt need in men is reflected in the salaries such heroes can command.  Similarly, women shop for beautiful clothes and other items that attractive models insinuate will cause them to more closely resemble the advertisements or “dolls” in the fashion magazines.  Often these “dolls” are anorexic and thus  keep their exceptionally thin figures.  More to the point,  anorexia and bulimia are two disorders almost exclusively suffered by women who feel that their bodies are too fat to pass inspection by those in the world whose opinions they value.  So we see that advertising has caused vast numbers of adults in our society to deny their own inner beauty or sexuality thereby projecting it onto others who are, perhaps, not as truly beautiful or attractive as the one doing the projecting.  There is no need for shame or guilt in being who you are.  Someone once said that beauty is in the eye of the beholder – what else is that but projection?

It is true that we must accept the limitations of embodiment, and this can be a real challenge especially when the body becomes ill or aged or fails to serve us in the manner to which we have become accustomed.  Handicaps can become the focus of someone’s life if they make coping with daily events a problem.  But it is just being in a body that causes most of our spiritual problems.  Because we are dependent upon our senses to interface with the outside world, we are almost forced to perceive everything in terms of dualities which we now know is not the true reality.  In learning how to meet the needs of our bodies, we develop mental concepts and self-images that do not correspond to who we really are.  All the sages tell us this.  We come to base our self-esteem and self-respect upon an illusionary self-image that the ego is pledged to defend whether it is an attractive image or not.  

What if we were able to accept our own divinity and began to visualize ourselves as god-people?  How would that change your self-image?  All of the good qualities that you project onto the god-image now become your qualities.  Which ones do you manifest and which are repressed and subject to projection?  How would your self-value change if you could claim this spiritual  inheritance?  It is true that we must accept our limitations, those things about ourselves that we cannot change such as our height and big noses or the way our hair grows on our head.  But we can change the way we think about our qualities.  If we see ourselves as beautiful souls and truly believe that, we will radiate light in such a way that everyone around us will see us as the most gorgeous person they know.  

Along with accepting the attractiveness of our souls, we must accept their plans for this lifetime.  Until we discover why we came into a body and take  responsibility for unfolding and activating those  plans, we are going to experience our lives as victims of fate or other people’s wills or our own obsessive compulsions to make things happen some certain way that will gratify our egos.  That energy could find better expression in opening the way for our souls’ agendas in this lifetime.

In addition to accepting ourselves, we need to also accept others in their pristine identities.  Consider how much time you might be spending trying to get those around you to conform to your ideas of how they should be living their lives.  Or of how you would like them to meet your needs.  We are raised to believe that relationships should be reciprocal in terms of meeting needs.  To some extent this is so, in acquiring our food, for example.  Few of us are entirely independent in that domain.  However, this sort of collaboration does not necessarily extend to being waited on by a spouse or children, nor to exchange of favors and other forms of gratification.  It is appalling to discover  that sexual “favors” are even legislated in most states.  The last time I looked, denial of sexual intercourse to one’s spouse over a specified period of time was grounds for divorce in New Jersey.  This kind of thing is a violation of respect for the divinity of others.

That which we fail to acknowledge in ourselves is called the shadow.  Usually the shadow is repressed, so we are completely out of touch with it.  However, it needs to be reclaimed in order for us to become whole and to free the energies used in repression for other activities.  I realize that this information is beginning to sound like a litany, but that is because it is so important, and it is essential that we deal with it in order to progress on the spiritual path.  Unrecognized shadow aspects have the power to disrupt our lives and usually at the most inopportune moments.  So here we have other personality aspects that must be accepted, so they can come out of hiding and be integrated into the whole self.  A great deal of the initial purification work has already dealt with these issues, but we need to take another look to see if there are deeper roots that need to be extracted.

Exercise: Self-check

1.  Read chapter 14 and 15 in When things fall apart.  Chapter 14 is about bodhicitta.  Bodhicitta is one’s innate tenderness and open heartedness.  It accepts and protects the vulnerability of ourselves and others.  This is the part of yourself that you can call upon for help and guidance in place of the usual ego defenses when you are releasing old negativities.  Chapter 15 is about Tong Len, a Buddhist practice to deal with negativity.

2.  With bodhicitta in mind, review your projections.  Make a list of all the things you value in other people.  Think about specific people you admire and what exactly you like about them.  Then opposite each item, make a note about how it manifests or is a potential in you if it is not manifested.  Notice particularly the ones that arouse emotions or that are immediately rejected as they will be important to you.  Do the same with things you dislike in other people.

3.  With these two lists in hand, begin to do the Tong Len practice that follows:

Tong Len

Tong Len is a practice to develop your heart by calling up empathy for yourself and others.  It comes out of the Buddhist tradition and is based on a wish to help others.  It develops bodhicitta, the genuine heart of sadness.   You begin with those you love, including yourself,  and eventually are able to bless those who are your enemies.  You may use the following directions or those in Chodron’s book (1997, pp. 95-97) whichever feels most compatible.

Directions:  Sit for meditation.  Allow your body to become quiet and your breath to slow down.   Then begin to work with your breath.  First, breathe in the dark, heavy, black and hot energy.  Breathe out the light, cool and white.  Breath into the holding on and breathe out the letting go.   When this is well established, begin to work with the shadow.  Breathe in the negativity and breathe out sympathy and relaxation.  Make it impersonal, do not focus on the person if it is projected, but on the energy.  However, if it is your negativity, you own it, then let it go.  You are dealing mainly with the feelings, cleaning them up.  When I practice it, it feels to me like my body is a magnet and I am re-aligning the energy as it goes through me.  You do not hold on to the stuff, you transmute it.  You do not think about it, just do it.  Use your imagination to visualize the quality of the energy, then see what it is turning into as you breathe it out.  Finally, when you are comfortable with this stage, you can begin to work for all people including those you dislike.  Eventually, you will be able to practice Tong Len anywhere you feel the need.  If you walk into a room where there is a lot of conflict, you can just vacuum it away.  Tong Len may be used to clear any negative energy and is not just restricted to the shadow.

This practice takes a while to manifest results, so be patient and use every opportunity to practice it.  It is perhaps easiest to begin with yourself or someone you love and/or who loves you, someone who is not threatening, and then move on to more complicated relationships as you gain some skill.

Change
 
Buddhists tell us that impermanence is one of the givens or three marks of life on earth.  The other two are suffering and egolessness.  Impermanence simply means change.  Nothing stays the same.  All is fluid and moving.   What is curious about this is that although change is always going on we cannot really change things.  Or, to be more exact, we cannot always make things happen the way we want them to – at least with any degree of reliability.  Even if we work very hard to make our dreams come true, it seems there is always a characteristic of the dream we failed to consider,  and it turns up missing  thus spoiling the whole accomplishment.  If you pray very hard for a certain kind of lover and do all you can to attract that person, you may find that though s/he has all the qualities you specified, s/he is the wrong age or is unavailable because you did not include that in your working image.  Or you may have given twenty years of your life to make a lot of money only to find that there is no longer a compatible person  to share it with.  You may buy the perfect home only to find, after you’ve moved in, that you miss being near the water or that your neighbors let their dogs run, so your cat cannot go outside.

We need to leave space open in which the Divine One can work.  Remember that soul plan?  If we get into a space of general acceptance of what is and cease striving to get our own way, we might find that the higher powers are coming through with some very soul-satisfying developments that we could not have even imagined let alone requested.  Sometimes we just have to get out of our own way.  Be quiet.  Relax.  Wait.  Some people say, “Go with the Flow.”  This is good advice.  Float on the river of life and see where it takes you.  There can be a bit of adventure in this kind of attitude.  More often than not, what happens will delight you.  A Buddhist teacher used to advise us to “Ride the wave.”  That can have all sorts of implications if you consider the symbolism of oceans and waves.

Another way in which we need to address change is in terms of changing our habits.  That can be done systematically through various spiritual practices.  Or it can be done as a result of feedback we get from others about our behavior.  When someone gives you negative feedback,  especially, be grateful instead of defensive.  Defensiveness keeps you from having to do anything about the problem.  I have a good friend who is so adept at giving corrective feedback that I usually don’t get the full impact until just as I am dropping off to sleep that night.  Incidently, this is an ideal time to introspect as the ego is weary and much less likely to interfere.

Exercise: Changing habits

Read chapter 21 in When things fall apart.  How does Chodron suggest we change our habits?  What is the role of mind?  How do habits relate to grasping and fixation?  Make some notes in yor journal about  your findings.


One productive thing we can do about change is to work toward balancing the polarities.  We don’t forcefully manipulate things, it is more like a dance with what is.  If, in a dance, we lean too far in one direction, there’s a likelihood of tilt.  However, dance is supported by balance both kinesthetically and visually.  So, let us say, Penelope has a tendency to say mean things when she feels attacked.  What she might do is mentally bow to her partner, make a turn in her head feeling for the balance point between ignoring what was done and retaliating with rage.  In that open space, an appropriate answer may come more easily.  Or, if I am always seeing the negative side of things and coming across as a critical, sour puss, I can make a definite effort to look  for potentially good outcomes.  Instead of commenting on how crowded the houses seem in the town to which my daughter has moved, I might note the potential for finding new friends in such a highly populated area.  Nothing is all bad – or good.  Look for the balancing factors.

Exercise: Balancing polarities

Read pages 96-116 in Paradoxes of love.  Vaughan-Lee is dealing mainly with masculine and feminine differences here, but what he says applies to all polarities.  Think about your life and see if there are any polarities you need to work with.  Draw a map of its development in your life and include a stretch of it to represent the future and changes you would like to make.


Transformation

We call change in our spiritual lives transformation.  We hope to metamorphose into spiritual butterflies.  We feel constrained by our present chrysalis and long to escape into the freedom of the Light.  On a more inclusive level, there are some who lament the current state of affairs in the world and our tendencies to destroy the planet and each other.  More optimistic folks say the transformation is coming and the present darkness simply presages the coming of Light.  Others think we have lost what we once had, a golden age of Paradise, and are trying to restore it with our numerous inventions and machinations.  Transformation on this level implies enormous if not apocalyptic change; and we may, in fact, be standing on the brink of such a change.  If we believe in a Divine Power, that is certainly possible.  What do you think?  And what would you see as your position in such a dynamic upheaval?  How does individual transformation relate to more universal changes?


Exercise: Memory or vision of Paradise

Read Heinberg’s book, Memories and visions of Paradise.  Heinberg is a member of the Emissaries of Divine Light who have a center in Loveland, Colorado.  These people have committed themselves to gifting the world with Divine Light.  I have visited their center and know that they are people who radiate Light from beautiful souls.  Heinberg is reviewing ancient myths to see what they can tell us about transformation.  In only 43 pages, he gives us something to think about.

Responsibility

In all of this, one might wonder what of my family and friends, my children, my job?  How do I work on my own soul’s development and still have time and energy for those I love?  This is a very important question when we are looking at priorities.  Children, especially, take enormous time and energy.  It may be, if you have young children, that you will have to see your spiritual journey grounded in your interactions with them and with family and/or jobs.  It is no accident that the yogis assigned 25 years to the householder stage of development.  If you have several children, it can take longer than that.  However, householding is the most rigorous spiritual practice I can think of.  You get your ego lessons absolutely every day, sometimes several times a day when your childen are infants and preschoolers.  So, in accepting your responsibilities to family and society, you are not reneging on a commitment to the spiritual path.  Instead, you are plunging in right at the center of the battlefront.  If we think of it that way, it becomes easier to accept what it demands of us.

We must also take responsibililty for our own lives, our freedom, our choices and our divinity.  We sit in the driver’s seat of our lives.  What is important to remember is that it is not the ego, but the Self who is driving the vehicle.  We have not only made promises to our families, but to our own souls that must be honored in the best way possible.  Here is another opportunity to take a dilemma to a higher level in search of a solution.  What does a perplexing situation look like from the soul’s point of view when the ego says it cannot manage all these commitments?  How do your family, friends, job and other potential sources of distraction from the spiritual path fit into your soul’s plan?  You chose them for some reason.  If you can discover what that was, it will become clearer how to approach the issues.

We need to accept peace.  It is not something that must be sought, but something that must be allowed.  It is always there as potentiality.  It is the natural condition of the enlightened mind, heart and soul.  To accept and allow life to be what it is, is to live and move and have our being in peace.  You can call it contentment or equanimity or balance.  It is fresh, clear, luminous, warm and supportive.  It is Divine Grace.  It comes with acceptance.

When we see who we are, then we see what our work in the world is.  It is a natural outpouring of who we are in our manifesting divinity.  If we discover our divine center and become aware of the talents and abilities with which we came into life, we will know what work best suits us and how to do it.  We may find that our work is God’s work and that there is no difference nor any conflict between the two.  All will fit into the time available and will match the energy that we can muster.  Acceptance allows us to relax into our lives with grace and aptitude.  We can call upon all the power of the Most High to deal with the problems that come before us.  We don’t have to do it all, but we do have to do our share, each according to his or her endowments.

God’s Gifts

It may turn out that God’s gifts are the most difficult things to accept.  One reason for this is our feelings of unworthiness.  Because of difficult childhoods, we may be wrestling with authority issues that we then project onto the Divine One.  Or we may feel helpless in the face of the real problems we must deal with as earthlings.  We may feel unloveable or unloved, unattractive, weak, shameful, guilty, unsupported or have a host of other misgivings about our right to Divine Love.  However, we do not have to feel worthy or finished to be the recipient of God’s gifts because they are available to anyone who is willing to claim them.  It is like you have received a notice from the post office that you have a package there and to please come down and get it.  All we need to do is turn around, accept them and say “Thank  You.”

You are gifted with whatever you need for your life and its purpose.  We swim in a sea of Love as a fish in water and rarely perceive it.  I am often told this is because it does not come in the form in which I expect it.  However, if I relax my expectations and take a good look at what is right in front of me, there it is.  A friend may give me a hug.  Someone tells me how good I look or that they like something I have done.  My cat purrs as he kneads my lap preparing to nap.  Birds sing in my garden.  The man smiles as he puts gas in my car.  The mail lady brings my package up to the house.  A co-worker breaks into a huge smile as I walk into the office as if she had waited all morning for me to arrive.    These are all God’s Love.  Are you refusing them?


Then there is protection and care.  We each have a guardian angel who protects us.  However, a modicum of cooperation is necessary for It to be able to function optimally.  If we drive 90 miles an hour in traffic, it may preclude angelic protection.  Even so, there are cases of miraculous escapes from accidents that might have occurred due to lapses of attention or carelessness.  Nor can angels   work against self-destructive impulses.  We must want to live and achieve our lifetime spiritual goals, and we must ask for help.  It is considerate not to ask for non-essentials like parking places because angels are pretty busy .  

When I was at the ashram, I was terrified of Swami Radha.  Occasionally she would send for me to come see her.  In my anxiety, I would ask my angel, Michael, to speak for me, and inevitably the interview would go well.  He is integrally involved in the creation of these guidebooks; in fact, may be largely responsible for them.   If you would like to contact your angel, get your mind quiet in meditation and call for him or her, but don’t specify gender.  They are always there.

Whether your physical body is lovely or not, your soul is because it is made of Light.  This is the gift of beauty.  When the veils are removed from your beingness, that Light shines through and everyone can perceive it.  Moreover, once you become aware that the Light is in everyone, you become able to see it in another person if you wish.  Some folks are easier than others because they have removed more veils.  However, the Light is always there however hidden it may be.  
   At some point in life the world’s beauty becomes enough.  You don’t need to photo-
    graph, paint, or even remember it.  It is enough.  No record of it needs to be kept and
    you don’t need someone to share it with or tell it to.  When that happens – that letting
    go – you let go because you can.  –Toni Morrison
In addition, the world is full of beauty given for our renewal and blessing.  When we are distressed, sick, disheartened or wounded, we can seek out the beauty in nature or in our friends, family and animals for solace.  A garden, however  small, is an oasis of beauty.  Flowers offer food for the soul.  So does good music and all the art forms we have available to us.  Use them to your soul’s health.

We are supported in all endeavors that fit our life’s plan.  Even when we detour, we are held in the arms of the Beloved as a child who is hurt when falling off a bicycle.  The Beloved knows that we will stray in the testing out of our free will and It  knows we will return when we discover a dead end.  When we move in the right direction, we receive a noticeable boost of energy.  Everything becomes easier, doors open.  If we become sensitive to that, we can use it as a compass to keep us on track.  When we find ourselves in the depths of tragedy,  through loss of a loved one perhaps, there is always Divine support if we turn towards it.  Losses teach the soul, so they cannot be avoided.  Here is another place of acceptance.  With the attitude that everything that happens is for our own good and toward enlightenment and with the support we can find in the Beloved, there is always a way out of sorrow and mourning.

Guidance is another facet of divine support.  It is possible to learn how to tune in to Divine guidance, the still small voice within that we can hear in moments of peace and quiet.  With practice in this form of communication, eventually we become able to access it in moments of distress as well as when things are not so quiet.  “Help!” is probably the most effective mantra there is, and spiritual teachers all agree that it is a call that cannot be ignored by the Beloved.  This form of guidance is different from angelic help.  It comes from a higher source and is qualitatively different.  With practice, you will learn which one to call upon in moments of need.

Our most valuable gift has to be our divine identity.  Like any gift, it cannot manifest unless it is accepted.  It is one thing to know I am divine, and it is quite another to feel and live that knowledge.  Perhaps it is even unwise to feel it because the ego can so easily get caught up in inflationary ideas of power.  My guess is that when we really identify ourselves as divine, there is no fourth of July celebration, but rather that we go quietly about behaving like God in the world – humble, quiet, loving and compassionate, giving to others and trying to help bring about the transformation.  Think of Jesus.  He showed us how to do that.  Think of everyone you know who does that.  They are all God too.  When God’s gifts are accepted, we can relax, enjoy life and fulfill our purpose in being here.

There may be signs along the way that we are making progress in shedding our veils.  We may hear the music of the spheres or the Cosmic AUM.  We begin to sense our rebirth from minute to minute and to know that resurrection is ongoing.  We find new opportunites for redemption from ego’s and our soul’s mistakes.  Gradually we become a light-being emitting light from within.  And we find that we can live from guidance without recourse to our mental or conceptual processes.

Exercise: Living Light

Read chapter 7 in No death, no fear.  Gather your drawing materials and make a drawing of yourself as a being of light.  In preparation for this, put on some light-filled music – Bach is good for this.  Settle yourself comfortably on the floor or in a chair and listen for a while.  Do the Divine Light Invocation (Radha, 1987).  See yourself filling with Divine Light until it spills out of you into the room in all directions.  Then draw your image.  Make notes in your journal of what you experienced and put the picture up to live with for a while.

Surrender

Trust

For me, the most difficult part of surrender is the trust needed for acceptance.  In the time during which I was born, John Watson’s advice on childrearing was paramount, so I did not get held nor fed as often as I needed to be.  Watson advised parents not to pick up a crying infant for fear of spoiling it.  He also said infants should be fed on schedule rather than when they indicated hunger.  If you have been doing the exercises in these guidebooks, you have read Pearce’s (1989)  Magical child and so have some understanding of how things have changed since then.  But it is true that the developmental crisis in infancy is trust vs mistrust.  When trust is not developed adequately, it undermines all future development that depends upon it.  So this is my Achilles heel.  I find it very difficult to trust those who have power over me.  Therefore, since I was brought  up in the Christian religion, my mistrust extends to God.  It has become a life work for me to relearn how to trust the Divine One and to perceive it as benevolent.  I am sure there are many others like me who have been taught similar lessons by their lives.       

Trust enables us to let go into the flow because we trust that life is beneficent and will turn out well.  When we trust, we can accept.  And when we can accept, we can surrender.  Therefore,  two primary prerequisites of surrender are trust and  acceptance.

Exercise: Choicelessness

Read chapter 20 in When things fall apart.  What is samaya?  How is that idea relevant to surrender?  What does choicelessness refer to?  How do we enter sacred world?  What are the most important samayas and how do we work with them?  What is the ultimate teacher?  What does Chodron recommend we commit to?  How do we learn to trust our wisdom mind?  In what do you take refuge?


Qualities of surrender

Obviously acceptance is a quality of surrender.  Some others are forgiveness, gratitude, balance, harmony, contentment, happiness, peace, unconditional love and service.  If you think about these for a moment, you may recognize them as qualities that are usually attributed to the the Divine One or to saints who have achieved enlightenment.  It follows, then, that if we are divine beings, those qualities may become manifest in us more and more as we find our way into our own divinity.

Notice that the qualities are ones that we do not experience when we feel stressed out or anxious.  When ego is in control, divinity is repressed.  So it is impossible to feel those characteristics.  See also that the qualities have flowing, restful attributes.  They draw us to people who embody them because they nourish our souls.  We long for harmony, contentment and peace in the midst of our hectic world and the demands it makes upon us.  But what if we could carry them with us in a kind of interior satchel, so we could bring them out in heated moments when discord threatens to overwhelm us?  Or what if we could put some unconditional love in our pockets when we go off to work in the mornings for a mid-morning snack.  We could share it with our friends or those who so desperately need it.  It is possible to gradually grow into these characteristics, so we can bring them into a world that is dying for their sustenance.  This is the service aspect of surrender – ministering to others and helping to heal their woundedness.

Exercise: Qualities of surrender

1.  If you have not already done so, read chapter 6 in Eternal echoes.  Also read chapter 6 in No death, no fear.

2.  Take a few moments and jot down how you feel right now in your journal, just a few notes that will help you remember later on.  Then do the exercise on pages 217-8 in Straight from the horse’s mouth.  Make the list she suggests, then sit for meditation for at least a half hour.   (If you skip the meditation, this exercise won’t work for you.)  When you finish, go outside for a leisurely stroll through a garden or park or other natural setting.  Notice all the beautiful things for which you might be grateful.  Then sit for another few minutes with your journal and contemplate the difference in the way you feel now from the way you felt before you did the exercise.  Were there any changes in your perceptual acuity?


So far, we have looked at surrender in areas suggested by the chakra symbols.  The element of ether referred us to mind and refinement of the senses.  There is another kind of wisdom that comes from awareness defined as consciousness plus knowledge.  We looked at vibration, suggested by the silver crescent, and how it created the world as we know it.  Sound and its relationship to mantra were also explored.  Hearing, the sense of the fifth chakra, reminded us that listening informs surrender as does intuition.  Smoke referred us to persisting ego issues that still need to be addressed: projection, judgment, and self-will.   The elephant reminded us of Spiritual Will and the necessity of surrender to the Divine One, also the role of commitment, choice and what to do about the struggle.  The Candra-mandala or gateway to liberation led  us into the Dark Night of the Soul, the threshold of initiation.  The ruddy filaments symbolize ego death and purification by fire this time around.  The trikona tells us that the Divine One is always reaching down to receive us and welcome our healing through acceptance.

References

Bair, P.  (1998).  Living from the heart: Heart rhythm meditation for energy, clarity, peace, joy, and inner power.  New York: Three Rivers Press.

Chodron, P.  (1997).  When things fall apart: Heart advice for difficult times. Boston: Shambhala.

Gach, M.  (1982).  Acu-Yoga: Self help techniques to relieve tension.  Tokyo: Japan Publications.

Hanh, T.  (2002).  No death, no fear: Comforting wisdom for life.  New York: Riverhead Books.

Heinberg, R.  (1985).  Memories and visions of Paradise: The spiritual heritage and destiny of mankind.  Loveland, CO: Emissaries of Divine Light.

Kinkade, A.  (2001).  Straight from the horse’s mouth: How to talk to animals and get answers.  New York: Crown Publishers.

O’Donohue, J.  (1999).  Eternal echoes: Exploring our yearning to belong.  New York: Cliff Street Books.

Pearce, J.  (1989).  Magical child: Rediscovering nature’s plan for our children.  New York: Bantam Books.

Phillips, R.  (1996).  Healing communication: A psychospiritual approach. Glorieta, NM: Deva Publishing.

Pike, J.  (1955).  Doing the truth: A summary of Christian ethics.  Garden City, NY: Doubleday & Co.

Radha, Sw. S.  (1987).  The Divine Light Invocation: A spiritual practice for healing and for realizing the Light within.  Spokane, WA: Timeless Books.

Vaughan-Lee, L.  (1996).  The paradoxes of love.  Inverness, CA: The Golden Sufi Center.


This unit has examined the necessity of acceptance in order to be able to surrender.  In the next Unit X.  Wholeness we will see that we are the One we search for.

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