Guidance and suggestions around the practice of acceptance
by Sister Thanissara, Forest Sangha Newsletter
The Buddha taught us that hatred can never be overcome through hatred, but only through love. Perhaps one of the most difficult lessons for humanity to learn is that of compassion. Compassion arises when we have insight into ‘way things are’ – the Dhamma. Before we can see clearly, we have to accept life in a way that is free from reaction. People sometimes think that one will be totally ineffectual if one just ‘accepts’. However, compassion is not necessarily ‘weak’, actually it is one of the most powerful forces in the universe. The following meditation is offered to help us work more consciously on this quality of acceptance.
Light some candles and incense,And then read this slowly to a friend …
Accept all beings without the desire to change, dominate or manipulate them.
Stop for a few moments, sit quietly with a straight back and gently close your eyes. Feel the rhythm of the breath as it enters ad leaves the body. Allow yourself to let go of the sense of past and future, and come into the present moment, being exactly with the way things are – now.
Bring your attention to the body. How does it feel? Accept – with kindness – the feelings and sensations in the body and thoughts in the mind, just the way they are. Breathe in deeply, feeling a sense of trust and well being. Breathe out, allowing any tightness and holding to dissolve. Do this for a while, breathing in a sense of well being and on the out breath – letting go into the space, silence and support of each moment. Allow the body to relax and the mind to calm. When different feelings, sensations and thoughts arise within yourself, just note them, allowing yourself to be fully at peace with their flow. Don’t struggle to hold on or push away, just witness – seeing all things as Dhamma, as a part of nature.
Now find a place within yourself where you can totally accept all aspects of your own being with kindness and love…. Your personality, the things you like about yourself and the things which you judge as ‘bad’.
As you move deeper into this place, allow yourself to accept fully all the people you know. The ones you love and trust and also the ones you find difficult or have bad feelings towards. Just allow yourself to accept the reactions that different people bring up in your mind, without judgement. Accept all beings without the desire to change, dominate or manipulate them. Contemplate the thought -May all beings be truly enlightened, may their hearts be at peace.
Being at ease with each moment, allow your attention to stay with the flow of the breath – with no force – breathing very gently and fully. Open your mind and heart to a sense of wholeness. There’s nowhere to go, nothing to get and nothing to get rid of. All beings are a part of your own mind and share the same essence as you. Just be at peace with the way life is. Extend this sense of love and understanding to all beings as if they were your children – seeing the potential in them for enlightenment.
As you sit and breathe, bring to mind a sense of connectedness with the Earth. Extend a feeling of peace and gratitude to this ancient and powerful planet who nurtures and takes away life. Your body has arisen from the four elements and in its own time will return to the four elements, it belongs to nature. Accepting the way of nature, allow yourself to feel protected, supported and at ease. Trusting the perfection of the way things work out, see that you are not this body or mind, these are conditioned and must unfold according to the Laws of Karma. In this sense of acceptance, allow yourself to trust in the refuge of Dhamma.
Turn your attention to the breath, feel the life force bringing you energy and love. When you breathe in – breathe in a feeling of acceptance for all that is painful – breathing out – breathe out peace. Let the sense of peace expand outwards, without limit, allowing the sense of ‘me’ and the ‘world’ dissolve into the stillness of the present moment.
Stay with the breath for a while, and when you’re ready, and in your own time, slowly open your eyes.