The more I enquire, the more I understand acceptance is all that’s required.
Speaking from the point of view of relative truth, acceptance is acceptance of what is not me: other people, circumstances, phenomena, and so on. Speaking from the point of view of absolute truth, acceptance is acceptance of me, because there is no not-me.
I think acceptance is difficult for people in our society to hear. What we hear is some version of defeat or resignation. We cannot hear it as a possibility, which is to say we cannot hear it at all.
To hear acceptance is a task worthy of one’s life.
A few weeks ago, a work colleague was telling me of the time immediately after she migrated from India to Australia. She had a husband and young child, and she knew only her husband’s school friends who lived here. She said she prayed every day she would find a friend of her own. I don’t remember her exact phrase; it was something like, “Every day, I touched the feet of [her Hindu gods].”
“What do you mean?” I asked.
“I surrendered,” she said.
Following is a passage from Thich Nhat Hanh on surrender, or acceptance. The Paul Tillich he refers to is the Christian theologian.
“The true nature of things is called, in Buddhism, cessation (nirodha) or extinction (nirvana). Cessation is first of all the cessation of all notions and illusions, and extinction is the extinction of notions and wrong perceptions. The extinction of delusion brings about the cessation of craving, anger, and fear, and the manifestation of peace, solidity, and freedom. All notions applied to the phenomenal world – such as creation, destruction, being, non-being, one, many, coming, and going – are transcended. The greatest relief we can obtain is available when we touch the ultimate, Tillich’s ‘ground of being’. We no longer identify our body’s duration as our lifetime. We no longer think that life begins when we are born or stops when we die, because the notions of birth and death have been transcended. Life is no longer confined to time and space. This is the practice of releasing the notion ‘lifetime’.
Touching nirvana, touching the ultimate dimension, is a total and unconditional surrender to God. If the wave knows its ground of being is water, it overcomes all fear and sorrow. The moment [one] surrenders one’s entire being to God as the ground of being, all of his fears vanish.”
~ Thich Nhat Hanh, Living Buddha, Living Christ
Image: Pastoral (Rhythms), 1927, Paul Klee