Acceptance vs. Resistance
Updated: Mar 26, 2020
In this post I would like to talk about another important implication in discovering your true nature, that is, realizing that acceptance is what you are, resistance is what you do.
"Q: Do you believe our souls are immortal?
A: I try not to have too many beliefs".
- Troy Casey -
There are many ways we can point to our true most fundamental self that is underneath all beings and the whole reality and each words has the power to convey a specific and distinct feature of our self. Each tradition uses different labels in the attempt to describe what we are, an hard task since That which we are can neither be pointed nor described but simply be. I myself prefer not to use one single word to describe That because mind tends to stick on labels creating false identities and ideologies out of it. Nevertheless, human language is an amazing and a powerful tool that can be used as a pointer to guide us through this realization.
Many times I have used the word Consciousness to point to the fact that what we are is conscious of all the experiences occurring in this precise moment ("From the Illusion Of Matter To The Reality Of Consciousness", "Meet Consciousness"). After practicing meditation long enough you will realize that there is something that allows everything to be known and experienced and that without this grounding element you, as a human, would not be able to experience any bodily sensation, smell, sound, taste, touch, sight, thought or emotion. Importantly, this "thing" that we are and that is conscious of everything else is not itself a bodily sensation, a smell, a sound, a taste, a touch, a sight, a thought, an emotion: that is the tricky part of this work.
In other posts ("Before The Big Bang", "You Are Nothing, You Are Zero: An Effective Path Towards Real Change"), I used instead the word Nothingness because what we are and the reality we live into has no real physical substance. If this statement sounds pure non-sense is only because we have been taught to look at reality in a rigid and frozen fashion, an illness well represented by the widely accepted model of materialism, the root of most of our suffering. Your goal during this journey is to get rid of all concepts and ideas you have assimilated in your life about reality and learn to look at reality more fluently, as if everything was water. As I have already discussed in previous posts ("Objectivity Is Your Own Creation - Part 1","Objectivity Is Your Own Creation - Part 2","Objectivity Is Your Own Creation - Part 3","About Perceptions" and "Trust Only Your Direct Experience"), all you have about your daily experiences, no matter how spectacular or mundane they are, is perceptions, bodily sensations, mental constructions (thoughts, ideas, concept, memories) and emotions. This is what everything you are experiencing right now boils down. There is neither physicality nor materialism in those experiences and by going a step further you will also realize that all this is known by and made out of you, an entity with no substance: Nothingness. Whatever else seems to exist is a concept or a distinction superimposed by mind over You.
One of the intrinsic feature of the journey in realizing our true nature is that it alternates ups and downs. I have started to see a certain pattern and regularity in this process: to be able to get to the next level in grasping deeper aspects of our nature and the reality we live into, we need to go through periods of suffering and discomfort. It is a kind of law. During this dark phases our mind can play tricks on us and get us to make false conclusions about this work.
As I explained in more details in my previous post "Awakening: Traps And Misconceptions", the realization that what you are has no physicality and no real substance, might get you into the trap of considering life a meaningless and a pointless path, you might dismiss the importance of your own body, you might stop engaging yourself in the active and social life, you might conclude that the only and real reality is the transcendental one. All these conclusions represent a normal outcome of this journey but they need to be overcome.
It is only clear to me now that awakening is not a one shot realization but a journey made by many steps in which we discover different facets about our self. Recently, I had the possibility to discover and to start embracing another facet of our true nature that is Acceptance, that is the realization that what we truly are, that is neither our body nor our mind, knows no resistance.
Using the word Acceptance to point to our true nature, I specifically refer to the intrinsic feature of reality in allowing everything to arise, a total welcome of any experience without any sign of resistance and judgment. This term refers to the fact that everything that is in existence has been already accepted and therefore any resistance from our side is a useless struggle. There is nothing that limits us in our way of thinking, feeling and acting. Everything is welcome to be experienced. There are no real limitations and boundaries that prevent a feeling, an emotion or a thought to arise, even the most terrible one. This process that unfolds every single second within our life of which we pay little attention is effortless, it comes naturally.
Acceptance, in this context, can be seen as an empty container that cannot be limited, controlled, boxed or restricted. It is a container that has no boundaries from which anything can arise. It is a mysterious force that is at the very bottom of all our daily experiences, a force that allows everything in existence to exist. The most relieving aspect of this realization for me was the total absence of judgment and punishment in this force that we are, two elements highly present in most religious education.
The resistance that comes into our life in whatever we experience is only due to the mind that represents the real source of our fears and suffering. It is mind that judges, it is mind that labels, it is mind that creates distinctions, it is mind that gives the list of should and shouldn't. These processes are not present in the mysterious force that we are, they are created afterward by us as minds. Punishments, prohibitions, judgments are mind activities that go against the intrinsic feature of reality in being totally embracing and by resisting to it we create our own suffering. Observe within you this process happening all the time 24/7 in your life. Observe how your mind is ready to judge whatever feeling, emotions or thought arise within you, observe the limitations you are creating and imposing over this open container.
Meditation is an incredible tool to observe this process unfolding. I invite you to spend 10-15 minutes a day sitting and realizing that all experiences are simply arising, that there is no control and limitation in what we might feel in the body and in the content of mind. We might observe the appearance of the most dark, dirty, immoral thought ever created in human mind and realizing that that very thought is welcome and there is no sign of resistance or judgment in its appearance. Those activities come after through the mind that needs to justify or label those thoughts. Suffering, in most of the cases, is the attempt of mind to manipulate reality to be in a certain way, it is the attempt in controlling and aligning what naturally comes with our own expectation and desires.
Acceptance is what you are whereas resistance is the activity you do as a mind. Any experience has been already accepted by what you are. At the contrary mind needs to create separation and distinctions in order to survive as a separate entity. Mind needs to constantly work to keep the illusion of being a separate individual alive.
Needless to say, this realization does not represent an easy principle to put in practice in our daily human life. As manifested individuals, we live in social world, we have our own interests and agenda to materialize, our dreams and passions to follow and many times we are pushed in behaving in a way that turns out to be more in line with our own self-interest and egoism. What we truly are has no real form and no real substance but the process of identification with our mind makes us feel as if we are physical individuals that need to survive in this world. This is the challenge that we, as humans, are called everyday to take in consideration: realizing to be individuals that are ultimately part of a larger unify reality that connects all of us and we need to learn to act accordingly. Mistake after mistake.
The separation that occurs when we identify our self exclusively with the body-mind is what sets the detachment from our true nature. If this gap is not filled early in our life, we might take directions that are far from whatever reason we found our self here manifested. I am deeply convinced that each of us has a reason to exist and our goal is primarily to fill the gap in realizing what we truly are and only then being preoccupied in discovering what we are here for. This modus operandi will make us waste less energy in achieving whatever we love to do and it will cause less suffering and struggle throughout our life.
I consider this first step to be fundamental in directly becoming conscious of the real values underlying our being humans. Education, family and society have definitely an important role in this process but it is not enough. Firstly because nowadays our society is brainwashed with other priorities and it has little understanding of reality; secondly because being taught from outside what to do has not the same effectiveness than becoming directly conscious of certain truths. The values I am taking about are universal, they concern all of us, they represent what we are and it is our responsibility as conscious humans to follow them.
The realization that what you are welcomes everything regardless its content has a deep transformational process at the individual level. It teaches you the tough lesson of letting go and surrender: by realizing that at the very bottom of reality there is total acceptance in whatever might arise, it is an invitation for you as a human being to stop trying to be in constant control of something that it is in existence independently of your individual will.
This does not mean we cannot try to change our life at best, it simply teaches us to be more humble and respectful as individual in regard to this force. Any time an unpleasant emotion or thought arise, learn to accept and welcome them because the fundamental you has already done so, it had already allowed that thought or emotion to be. Secondly, catch yourself (as a mind) in the act of judging whatever it comes, in the habit of labeling whatever you might be experiencing. Thirdly, be aware that you have the power to change those habits and emotions in the same way you were able to create them.
By accepting in having dark and pessimistic thoughts does not mean you need to keep them. It means to acknowledge them with no judgment and with no blame being free to create more functional ones. In most of the case our thoughts are the trigger for our actions, and by consciously changing them in line with the realization of who we are, we will create conscious actions that will help us in constructing a better life for our self and for others.
Consciousness, Nothingness and Acceptance are different words but they point to a single tangible entity that represents the ground of all existence. They point to what represents our true nature and I believe that each of them give justice to some of the features that can be attributed to this mystical force that we are and that we should use as guidance in acting as human being in our day life. These are not mere concepts, but real intrinsic features of which you can become directly conscious by removing the veil of mind.
The take home message of this post is the following one: you can struggle as much as you want (as a mind) to change the reality you live in. Just be aware that you will always be a step further from That which has already welcome and allowed everything to exist as it is, effortlessly.
Thanks for reading.