Way back in 1989 I began a 6 year period of study with the first teacher in my life that I consider to be a Master. His name was Tri Dang, (pronounced “Tree”) and he was an elite practitioner and teacher of Judo, Aikido, Tai Chi, and several styles of Kung Fu. Master Tri was a remarkable Human Being and he had a profound impact on my life which continues to this day. He taught me many invaluable lessons, including the Truth of what it really means to be a student, and my deep Gratitude and Love for him cannot be measured.
After a few years of intense study he planted a Divine Lesson in me that I wasn’t ready for at the time, but continues to unfold and flower more than 25 years later. I was one of his senior students, and we were alone together chatting in the Dojo (school); and I asked him to tell me the key to happiness and contentment in Life.
Without even pausing to reflect, he looked me straight in the eye and said with a clear and penetrating voice “Accept Everything!”
I was dumbfounded. I just looked at him and sheepishly repeated the message with a question “Accept Everything?”; and with a twinkle in his eyes and a wry smile he simply said, YES! Over the past 25+ years I’ve been contemplating and unpacking this potent little Pith Instruction, and it has been a wonderful and illuminating journey which continues to unfold and deepen.
Let’s start with the word acceptance and uncover what it might mean. One definition which hits close to the mark is “a person’s assent to the reality of a situation; recognizing a process or condition without attempting to change it or protest it.” This means we need to both recognize what’s happening, and fully accept it without any qualifying conditions. In other words, we receive openly and unconditionally — we fully and completely accept what is happening Right Now.
The second word we need to explore is “Everything”. What does it mean? “Everything” is the sum total of what is happening Right Now within your direct experience. Said another way, it is the total experience of your moment to moment field of awareness. For each of us, that is Everything. We have never experienced anything outside our field of awareness, as Everything we’ve ever known or done is within our direct field of experience. Accept It.
Of course, Accepting Everything does not mean that Everything is agreeable, pleasant and enjoyable. We all know Life has many ups, downs, bumps, and bruises, and putting this into practice is certainly not simple nor easy. We Human Beings are notorious for making our lives exceedingly complex.
In truth, how often do we unconditionally accept what’s happening, without any rules, caveats, and conditions?
Do we unconditionally accept other people? — their advice, criticisms, or compliments? How about our work and careers?, Physical and emotional pain?, Sadness, sickness, and death?, Or even our immediate family and friendships, our Body-Mind, and most importantly, Love? The reality is that we are happy to receive and accept as long as it doesn’t trigger our negative reactivity, or expose our hidden vulnerabilities and fears.
In an attempt to avoid our reactive triggers, we add “noise to the signal” by unwittingly distorting it through our conditioned programming. This is the cycle of samsara, and it cripples our ability to openly accept the flow of Nowness, as well as to Give Ourselves Unconditionally to this LIFE. So, how do we know when this is happening? The answer is right in front of us — it’s happening when we are complaining, blaming, denying, avoiding, embellishing, justifying, craving more, or wanting less of what’s happening Right Now.
Instead of Accepting Everything within our flow of experience, we take things personally. We act as if Reality is purposely coming at us and trying to do something to us, instead of appearing Through Us and For Us.
If we would just look closer, we’ll see that Every Moment and Everything is Given to Us; and it is given freely without any conditions whatsoever. When this is recognized, Everything within the flow of our awareness is Known as a Sacred Gift that is appearing for our individual and collective benefit. We Accept Everything that is happening and act accordingly. In this way, our actions are Spontaneous, Natural, and Aligned with the Wonderful and Mysterious Synchronicity of Reality. This is Freedom.