Self-Acceptance

Self-Acceptance

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The title appears to contradict what I have been writing about because it presumes the existence of a ‘self’. However, I am using the term because it can be easily understood. The other side of the coin is not accepting oneself and that attitude actually reinforces the self or ego.

We are all on the spiritual path and we tend to compare ourselves to the masters we admire. The admiration can inspire us to develop virtue on one hand but on the other hand, it may make us feel inadequate and discouraged. I may tell myself that I am not generous enough or loving enough and so on. I may extend myself in helping others and instead of feeling good about it, I may feel short-changed. Instead of developing virtue, I end up building a reservoir of anger, resentment and discontentment.

That is why self-acceptance is very important on the spiritual path. If I am angry all the time, hitting myself for being an ‘angry person’ will only reinforce that ‘angry’ attitude. Everything that we resist – persist. Instead of scolding myself for being angry, I can just acknowledge that anger. If I think that I am not generous enough, I can acknowledge my resistance to give instead of scolding myself for being selfish.

We are the way we are and it may not be conducive for our self-development to force ourselves to do those things which we are not inclined to do. Doing so will only cause us to feel resentful or manipulated.

Virtue needs to and will arise naturally. When we train our mind to look at reality, our attitude towards the world will change along with the change in our perception, for example, looking deeply into the truth of inter-dependence can inspire love for all beings.

Recently while sitting in a restaurant, I could clearly see how everything is interdependent on each other. I thought about the infinite number of people and factors that contributed to the food on my table; from the restaurant owner to the waiters, to the farmers, transport companies and so on. Contained within the food are the contributions of all these people and factors. There are also those other customers who are contributing to my enjoyment of the food by not acting in a rowdy manner. The contemplation brought love to my heart. I felt a sense of gratitude to the world and everyone within it.

I was merely contemplating about the contributors to the food on my table. There are many other things in my life that contributes to my survival and comfort. If I add all these things up, it is not difficult to see how we are all interdependent on one another.

Contemplating interdependence at work, I can see how everyone in my office is contributing to my career. This understanding makes me appreciate all my colleagues. Contemplating the workings of interdependence in my spiritual development, I appreciate those who had brought me difficulties in the past because their very actions are the cause of the greater inner-peace that I now experience. Without them, I would not have progressed on my spiritual path.

This is a very useful contemplation to apply in our daily life; not just when we are meditating. The contemplation inculcates gratitude and humility. It is seeing reality as it really is; a truth that can bring inner-peace and ease. If we develop this kind of seeing into a habit, it will replace our habit of seeing everything as separate and existing inherently.

Seeing that every enjoyment that we have now is due only to our own effort is illusory. Such a narrow view inculcates selfishness and anger. We get angry very easily when we think we are more important than others. If I think that I am the most important person in the world (most of us do!), then I can easily get angry at others. But if we look pass this illusory veil of separateness; we begin to replace than anger with loving-kindness and compassion towards all beings.

Contemplation on impermanence can give us strength because it gives us the wisdom to see that whatever problems we are going through at the moment will eventually pass. It encourages us to appreciate everything that we have for example, if I look at my child with an eye of impermanence, I want to saviour every moment with her because she is growing up so fast.

Instead of wasting our mental energy in abusing myself, it is better spent in contemplating the natural laws mentioned above and other truths shared by the spiritual masters. In that way, virtue will arise naturally and effortlessly within us.

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1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. balachandran
    Sep 12, 2012 @ 04:00:22

    Being on the spiritual path does not need comparison. All it needs is understanding the self; what is that little voice saying to you within; listen carefully; don’t make any jugments. If you are going to compare with a spiritual master, then you are serving the ego. Be yourself in daily sadhana. Contentment is a virtue by itself. [Babaji said] take one step towards me,I will take twenty steps towards you; why then should you compare with the masters. He has assuared you already. Celebrate the path. Sometimes you feel all the steps you have taken is fruitless; remember the karmic cycle; burn it through KRIYA and behold you are already there. The masters have gone through countless lifetimes of sadhana; be happy to be in the path; do it deligently and all your worries will vanish.

    Reply

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