Acceptance is a strangely loaded word. Self-help gurus sometimes say that if we accept things then we won’t try to change them. Social justice advocates sometimes say that if we accept the world as it is then we won’t take the actions necessary to bring about true justice. We need our fear, anger and discontentment, people say, to motivate us. But what if there is something better?
I’ve been thinking about how we all so often fail at New Year’s resolutions and how they make us feel bad. I’ve also been thinking about a way that may be much better for us and even help the world.
Recently I was asked, what would I consider to be the three stages of waking up to our power to change our lives and the world? Since it is nearly New Year’s, I thought it might help to share the answer. It might help you keep your new year’s resolutions.
Feel pressure to buy what may turn out to be unwanted gifts? Research shows gifts aren’t what make the hols great. Here’s how to have a better Christmas or other holiday.
Life is very busy and also very short. It can fly by very quickly. Many of us are born with some particular drive or aspiration or vision to engage in spiritual inquiry. Some of us embrace what feels like our path and others of us push the nagging questions aside in favor of the necessities of the day. Later, after time has passed, some of us regret not embracing those big questions about life. So what can you do?
We all know about accelerating climate change, failing democracy, endemic racism and other dire global news. Should we have hope? Should we be in despair? What, in fact, should we do? How can we respond in ways that make us feel we are taking care of ourselves while actually helping the world? That is the subject of a workshop on Spiritual Activism I’m co-leading with Lama Willa Miller at the Garrison Institute this September. You should come!
In meditation, sometimes we chase after a particular type of “feeling.” The thing is, in life, everything comes and goes, even nice feelings. Meanwhile, while we are chasing after these temporary feelings, we miss the opportunity to really pay attention and learn about life as it is (as opposed to as we want it to be). Stuck in this chasing loop, we miss the chance to develop our prajna–our wisdom. This post is about how to use meditation to gain wisdom about life instead of to chase after a particular temporary feeling.
A Zen student had travelled to India and had become overwhelmed when he gave to beggars there. On the one hand, he had an intention to help in the world. On the other, he wondered if he was incentivizing begging. I did not want to give him “advice,” but instead to offer an approach to decision making that does not depend on the concepts and stories we tell ourselves but that instead arises from our True Self. The approach involves trusting our intuition and then adjusting our actions over and over as we get new information.