"Acceptance" is a key spiritual quality recognized in all the world's faith traditions. But recognizing and resisting what is "unacceptable" is also key. How can this be squared?
First, let's be clear that "acceptance" doesn't mean complacency or quiescence in the face of evil or preventable harm. Second, acceptance doesn't mean collaboration with what is harmful.
So what does it mean? First, it means not being in denial. Accept reality as real rather than being in denial about it.
Second, it means not hating. We can stand up for our principles, for justice and kindness. But it never helps us do this or makes us more effective if we hate other people in the process. For instance, while pacificism is a worthy stance, most spiritual traditions do not require pacificism. In the event of a just war (however that may be determined), one may find oneself called upon to kill enemy combatants. It is not necessary to hate them, however. Many soldiers, in the stresses of war, succumb to hatred, but that is unfortunate.
Third, acceptance means we approach our wants and needs with an attitude of requesting rather than demanding. The difference isn't in how politely you say it. The difference lies entirely in this: are you upset if the answer is 'no'? The extent to which a 'no' answer bothers and rankles is the extent to which there was demand energy there.
Fleet Maull writes that acceptance is an essential aspect of compassion:
"Compassion is the willingness to be with suffering — our own and that of others — without resentment, blame, or other fear-based, reactive-survival mode behaviors that will just make the situation worse. Acceptance is key to embracing suffering, our own and others’, in responsive-relational mode as well as a radical act of self-empowerment. The power of acceptance can’t be overestimated. Accepting the basic fact of the suffering and pain we witness and remaining willing to experience it is what allows us to access our innate capacities for compassion. Our initial impulse may be to turn away from suffering. Our empathic sensitivity may even trigger avoidance mechanisms or fight-flight-freeze responses. However, we can also recognize our empathic distress as the natural response of our tender and vulnerable heart to the pain of others. Doing so will help us shift away from a threat-avoidance response, move into a healthy stress response, and discover the courage to move from empathy to compassion.Yours in the faith we share,
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I.C.Y.M.I. (In Case You Missed It)
The May 15 Service, "What's Your Class?"
The May 22 Service, "A Path Toward Hope":
PRACTICE OF THE WEEK
From Norman Fischer’s Training in Compassion, training #20 is: Practice for death as well as for life.
The past is a dream, and the future an illusion. Life is always right now. But here’s one reflection about the future that can help us live right now: at the hour of your death, how do you want to be? Some people are able to be in denial that death is close. For others, their last conscious hours are filled with confusion and dread. But for some, there is profound peace and boundless love. To end our days that way requires attention to it today. Practice for death as well as for life.
Actually, it is artificial to separate life from death. In a very concrete sense, there is no such thing as “life” or “death.” “Birth-death” is one phenomenon. Time passing is birth-death. Moments arise and then pass away as one action, and loss is constant.
If you wait till the time when death is close to begin your practice, it may well be too late. It is much better to spend time in your life working on your spiritual practice so at the time of death it will be there for you. With years of practice while you’re still more-or-less healthy, when you’re dying, instead of either denial or confusion and dread, it will be possible be in unlimited love and peace.
Even in the last moments of life, you can breathe in and you can breathe out. You can breathe in the suffering and breathe out healing and relief. Whether you will, depends on whether this is an established practice for you. So practice now – for death as well as for life.
See the full post: "Practice for Death as Well as for Life."
Here it is, your...
MOMENT OF ZEN
#122: The Party
Members were excited about Raven's announcement.Verse
Woodpecker said, "Let's have a party."
So the next night everybody gathered for grubs and leavings to celebrate.
Mole asked, "How is it to be a new teacher, Porcupine?"
Porcupine said, "Not sure yet."
Owl said, "The Assembly Oak is glad."
Badger asked, "Come on, how can that be?"
Porcupine said, "I'm glad for Owl."
Mountains, prairies, rivers, oceans,
great wide earth, sun, moon, stars --
They do this thing, individually and collectively,
That's like celebrating and like grieving
They do this thing
That's like love, that's
Never not abundant, never not bereft.