Any kind of expectation creates a problem. We should accept, but not expect. Whatever comes, accept it. Whatever goes, accept it. The immediate benefit is that your mind is always peaceful. — Sri Swami Satchidananda
I’ve started to have a quote with these posts every day for some time now, and previously I selected them because they somehow fitted with what went on that day. But I chose this one today because it so beautifully illustrates the way I used to avoid the more challenging feelings in my breast, belly and guts.
“Whatever comes, accept it.” What a nice statement, you’d say, wouldn’t you? But what, if a lot of life is about what we cannot, and maybe even should not accept? For instance, violence against ourselves and others, should we accept that?
What this injunction leads to is a superficial acceptance. Especially in the should and shouldn’t context it entices one Â to produce what could be called “strategic acceptance”, an acceptance that feels like ‘real thing’ – doing what we should be doing according to wise men – but we didn’t, because in the ‘real thing’ you accept whatever, period. And the quote also suggests, that by mere acceptance the things we don’t like go away faster.
But have you ever experienced being in a difficult space, like feeling deep sadness maybe or even desperation, and someone tried to console you with the fact that this also is just passing by, “Whatever comes, accept it. Whatever goes, accept it.” Has anybody ever gained a peaceful heart by such admonishment?
If so, I’ve never met him or her.
Peaceful mind, yes, no problem – when I was still so mental that I still believed that I could control what I felt by means of my mind, gaining ‘peace of mind’ was easily possible; I meditatively fade the difficulties out by re-loading the understanding that they are impermanent, following that I’m reaching out for and then owning the “great spaciousness” that is ever-present inside; by really going into and believing that everything is impermanent, that it is intrinsically empty and void of substantial meaning… by remembering the “Buddha Space” and “dropping everything”, I certainly and reliably arrive at: a peaceful mind.
Yet, that is not a peace I value anymore – it’s mental peace; a tricky peace because it has no real base in life.
Because there is a peace of the heart that rests within the dynamics of life, which self-manifests seemingly spontaneously at times. I guess peace of heart is also a state of consciousness, which means it can be experienced on every level of development. I hope that there is a developmental level of which this wholesome peace that I’ve now had a few close encounters with is an intrinsic part. Thinking that this level might actually exist inspires me right now, when I’m in sore need of an inspiration like that.
These last 48 hours have been increasingly difficult for me, starting out very much in anguish about my relationship’s situation, passing through an hour or two of incredible, miraculous peace – a peace of heart and of intersubjective flowing. Only to end in a leaden time, a feeling atmosphere that makes cold autumn-rain a nice experience in comparison.
It’s the uncertainty, coupled with the impossibility to do or say anything that helps – a stew of utter powerlessness with a sniff of self-loathing that increased some over the day. Aaarrrgh! Self-loathing is about as awful as it can get; remembering when there were similar pain-filled situations in my life I am reminded of suicidal thoughts that have indeed been present in my life at periods of great despair.
Self-loathing is a tightening ring of iron around my belly just below the navel. And it is a great companion of my “I’m-not-good-(enough)” feeling, that I know so incredibly well. I’m pretty perfect when it comes to pulling myself down. That’s one game I’m hard to beat 🙂
Maybe all of this needs to be experienced and acknowledged to come to places where peace of heart is part of the landscape. From a deep valley in one jump to the top – one moment you’re pretty desperate, there is nothing left to do or not do to bend reality to your wishes, you’ve surrendered: There’s been two kinds of hell offered to you and you chose the apparently less hellish one and accepted it. Out of the blue sky the situation changes; the whole outlooks turns from bleak black & white into full color as life/hope returns.
This truly is amazing: After a long time trying to accept a situation you finally decide, “My soul as a whole does not want to bear this any longer, I go willingly into this other potential hell, and either the situation bends or I break – and now truly I’m willing to break, if life so decides.”
To come to this place is an alchemical journey and excruciating: refining and transmuting lead into gold has always been very, very risky business… and it is an ongoing process, but the first nuggets will always be the most beautiful ones, because, after all, they come as a complete surprise.
So the quote I started this day with is both true and superficial, true in that acceptance is beautiful – if you can do it with your whole heart. Wether we should or shouldn’t expect anything, is not very relevant to real life, as its processes by their very nature will strip you again and again of all hope and with that of expectation. And what comes then, from a space that is bigger than us, encompassing our space, is unexpectated, maybe even unwanted… but possibly something that will enlarge our heart, gut, mind, and spirit.