Today marks the sixth anniversary of this space.
The practice of acceptance isn't enough.
I've spoken about acceptance for many years, and I hear others speak about it. Among Buddhists, Muslims, Jews, Christians, and students of the Gurdjieff method, the idea that we must accept our life is widespread. It's spoken about glibly, and with confidence, as though we understood it; yet almost all of us resist our lives, in one way or another, with great vigor.
In examining this question in myself this morning, I see that to say "I should accept" or "I will accept" isn't enough. It's not just a matter of acceptance. The conditions I am in are real; they are inevitable: Meaning, they cannot be avoided.
So in not avoiding, I accept. Yet to accept is incomplete; because when I merely accept, there is a lack of understanding. It's insufficient; it lacks appreciation. I don't see and admit that the conditions around me are right for me; I don't see that this is exactly what I need. In point of fact, because God has created everything exactly as it ought to be, He has equally — as Christ pointed out in the sermon on the Mount — arranged things precisely the way they should be for me in order to experience His Grace. So life, as I encounter it, and as it is arranged, exactly as it is arranged, emanates from a higher principle and contains me within that principle in a state of perfection that I do not fully sense, and do not understand.
Yet I am assured that this perfection is incomparable and beyond my own comprehension.
If I sense and understand this perfection, I do not just accept my conditions. I embrace them; and to embrace is to wholeheartedly endorse, to move into with love. But I don't really feel that way about life. There are so many petty reluctances and failures to recognize the goodness around me — which abounds, even in the trials and difficulties — that I refuse to embrace. If I accept, I accept reluctantly, and to accept with an air of resignation is not to fully accept. I am holding something back.
This practice of holding something back is typical of me. Everything in life offers the opportunity for a full participation; and yet I want something for myself, so I hold back. I don't see that everything I need is already given. There's a secret, sneaking sense of paranoia behind every action, an imp that I can see subtly informing one circumstance after another.
I'm suspicious. And I want. Yet to want, in the midst of this abundance, is to lack gratitude; to lack appreciation, to lack trust, to lack love. So if I want to speak of seeing what I lack, here are some examples. And they all stem from the same root: a form of inner greed that refuses to appreciate the Compassion and Mercy of God, favoring instead my own narrow understandings.
A full understanding that everything is already given is implied. This is exactly the point that Jesus tried to impart to us in Matthew 6:25-33. It appears to be about an external conditions, but ultimately it reflects on the inner state, because the outer conditions only derive validity, if any, from the inner attitude.
So. To embrace. This is not to be outward and effusive, and enthusiastically endorse everything that happens to those around us. There are many things which are grievous, and should not be trivialized by such behavior. To embrace does not necessarily mean to be happy or joyful; although it can.
What I mean by embrace is to take in the holy. To be intentional about life. Not to just let it happen; not to just accept it; but to have an intention to inhabit it.
This is to see and sense the sacred nature of all that takes place and to drink it deeply. It is a different way of taking in impressions; they must come in whole, intact, that is, untouched. Things which are intact and do not come into contact with my ordinary being can be embraced by my inner state because they fall much more deeply into me. This is a different order of experience and a different order of understanding. Every reaction I have is a way of touching things. The parts of me that need to be in contact with life are quite different than these reactive parts. Reaction is only capable of meddling; to embrace is to imbibe, to digest.
The joy that is experienced within the context of embracing life is an inner joy, not an outward one; and it expresses itself in many mysterious ways that cannot be written about and perhaps not even talked about. One can only say that they are truths. This is a matter between a man or woman and God Himself. It won't provide answers to outward life. None of the answers we seek live there, anyway, although our senses are convinced that they do.
Once a year, on the anniversary of this space, I change the sign off for my essays.
In keeping with that tradition, the sign off for the next year is below.
May your soul be filled with light.