Acceptance isn't inaction
When the wind blows at Evergreen and releases the seeds from the reeds,
I'm reminded of the countless thoughts released by my brain every day.
I remember asking my mother when I was a little girl if we were only allowed to say a limited number of words in our life. She said that there was no limit, but that if there was, I’d soon reach mine because I talked so much.
As I grew up, I learned to talk less, but my mind still had a habit of racing along on oiled rails, spewing out thoughts instead of words. These thoughts attempted to rearrange the past, arrange the present, and pre-arrange the future. Of course, most of my thoughts focussed on arranging the present to my liking, because most of the time it wasn’t!
If there was a limit to the number of thoughts one was allowed to think in a lifetime, I would’ve reached mine years ago.
Then I read The Power of Now, by Eckhart Tolle, which is about accepting the Now, and surrendering to what is. These were strange ideas. Accepting and surrendering to what is sounded tame. I agreed with the person who listened to one of his lectures and said:
You mentioned “surrender” a few times. I don’t like that idea. It sounds somewhat fatalistic. If we always accept the way things are, we are not going to make any effort to improve them . . . How do you reconcile surrender with changing things and getting things done?
In response, Tolle wrote that acceptance of what is means relinquishing our inner resistance to it, which manifests in immediate negative thoughts and emotions about what is. It doesn’t mean we lead a life of inaction. It doesn’t mean we sit like powerless blobs in the landscape, putting up with unpleasant or unnecessary life situations with resigned silence.
As Tolle goes on to explain, if you’re stuck in mud, you don’t resign yourself to being there.
You surrender to what is. You accept you’re in the mud. In the moment that you surrender to the situation, “magic” happens. When you surrender to the situation, without wasting time and energy having negative thoughts and emotions about it, you are putting yourself into a place of calm power where you can do something about it. Your whole focus is on the Now – how to get out of the mud.
There’s no frustration, anger, accusations, or disappointment.
There’s just a clear focus on what to do next.
Years ago, I found myself stranded on a train platform in Athens. In my purse was an invalid plane ticket because I’d missed my flight home. I had no money, nowhere to stay, and no friend to call. Bursting into tears or stamping my little foot wouldn’t help me. Wishing I was Superman so I could go back in time to rearrange the universe so the plane hadn’t taken off would be a pointless fantasy. All I could do was take a deep breath, accept what had happened, and look about with an alert, open mind.
Surrender and acceptance involve alert attention. Surrender and acceptance open the moment to all possibilities. There’s no space for negativity and emotional drain.
Most difficult situations aren’t solved in seconds. We take one step, then another, then another. Each step opens up more possibilities to choose from to get us closer to where we want to go. That’s what happened in Athens. I had to take steps. I had to move, I had to talk, I had to accept help from a local, I had to be thankful.
Surrendering and accepting what is aren’t synonyms for inaction. They lead you to perfect action – because they bring you to full consciousness.
In A New Earth, Tolle stated:
Thinking is no more than a tiny aspect of the totality of consciousness, the totality of who you are.
I used to think that thinking was my most powerful tool to negotiate and survive whatever life chose to chuck at me. But now I realise I was looking at life through a window smeared with thoughts that cluttered the moment and were a waste of time and energy.
When I step into the state of acceptance, when I surrender to what is, I am in a space of positive creation.
I am working with – not against – the Now – the flow of life.
Acceptance isn’t passive. It proactive.
It fills the moment – the Now – with energy and creativity.
With love, Marlane