Unit IX. Acceptance
2. Ego controls
4. Acceptance of oneself
7. God’s gifts
Materials needed: Journal, drawing materials
When things fall apart*
No death, no fear
Living from the heart*
Paradoxes of love*
Memories and visions of Paradise
Straight from the horse’s mouth*
Exercises and practices:
Touching the earth
Memory or vision of Paradise
Qualities of surrender
* You may already have these books
Surrender means to accept what is.
That means giving up all thoughts of and attempts to change things.
It means ignoring desires, wants and preferences. It means forgetting
about expectations of how we think things ought to be or to become.
It means releasing our assumptions, opinions, ideas, concepts and needs for
information. The way things are right now, in this moment, is exactly
how they are meant to be. Furthermore, they have been arranged for the
good of our souls and lives in the world no matter how difficult the prospects
may seem to be. We may not believe this is so, but it is fact, a fact
that can be verified by experience if we relax into it and give it the good
old college try. We could begin with an hypothesis that it is true
and do some reality testing. Let us take an example.
I struggle every year with worries about whether I will be able to find
someone to dig up my vegetable garden as that is now beyond my physical ability.
It is important to me to grow my own vegetables, so I know they are clean
and unadulterated. I also enjoy some that are not found in the local
markets. If I fret and struggle with these worries, they enlarge and
accelerate until I can hardly risk picking up the phone to ask someone for
fear they will say no. However, if I remember that help is always provided
when I am able to generate some trust around the issue, Spirit unfailingly
comes through with someone. Sometimes it is a person who does not need
the money but rather the teachings Spirit can send through me or food for
Or suppose we feel caught in the economic, inflationary crunch. It
seems there is not enough money to make ends meet anymore. Everything
costs more, and we don’t see how we can find the means to buy what we need
to keep body and soul together. This is not an imaginary situation.
It is one that many people are facing right now even in the richest country
in the world though they may not talk about it. What happens if I accept
it instead of railing against it? A change of attitude changes the way
I feel about it. Emotions settle down and I am able to more rationally
seek a solution. I might, for example, see it as an opportunity to release
some more attachments. I can wear last year’s clothes. I
can invite friends to a pot luck supper instead of staging a sit-down dinner
party. I can collaborate with friends to put in a garden to supply food.
I can open myself to new possibilities for work that I never thought of before.
I can clean houses or make repairs on houses for other people. These
jobs are never filled, and they are just as valuable as any other kinds of
work if they are seen as honest sources of income.
One of the most important things I learned at Yasodhara Ashram was that
all work has equal value. It is how we view it that makes all the difference.
When I first went to the ashram, I thought the most difficult thing for me
to do would be the work, karma yoga, I would have to do. I knew it would
be manual, domestic labor: cooking, cleaning, canning and weeding the garden.
After some 30 years of housekeeping, that was definitely not an appealing
idea. However, I was delightfully surprised. Because the work
was done in the company of others and dedicated to the Divine One, I really
enjoyed it. Some of this was because I did not have the total responsibility
for the outcomes of it. All I needed to do was to stay in the present
with it and watch what was occurring. This is acceptance. Surrender
to what is. You have to try it to see for yourself. One thing
to remember though. You are not going to change anything, just do what
is in front of you as my mentor used to say. If you can bring joy into
it, more the better. If you can bring yourself to trust the Divine
One to take care of you, you will not starve.
Read chapters 1-2 in When things fall apart and chapter 5 in No
death, no fear. Where does our resistance to surrender come from?
What is its dominant emotion? How might we get around that? How
much of our resistance is due to how we construe reality? What if you
changed your mind about how things are? What kind of outlook would bring
you more peace and serenity? Where is your true home?
The practice of mindfulness is the practice
of coming back to the here and the now to be in touch deeply with ourselves,
with life. – Thich Nhat Hanh
There is no such thing as time. Physicists and rishis agree on this
fact. That means that everything is happening right now. That
is a difficult idea to get our minds around since we have been conditioned
since birth to believe in linear clock time, so much so that most of
us have an inner clock that keeps perfect time. I haven’t used an alarm
clock in years except to catch airplanes in the early hours of the morning.
I can wake up on the minute that is predetermined before I fall asleep.
Nevertheless, time is simply a social convenience that helps us do things
So what does it mean to live in the present moment? Among other things,
this means to keep our minds firmly planted in what is going on right now.
The past is over, and it is safe to release all the trauma, emotions and regrets
that may be associated with it. It is not better than the present, we
only fantasize that is the case when we don’t like what is going on in the
present. Notice that that kind of situation involves judgment, comparisons
and desires. If we do not judge the present nor compare it with some
kind of arbitrary standard, we might find out that it is all right just as
The same goes for the future, even the one five minutes ahead of us.
This is not to say that we do not make plans, for sometimes that is necessary.
However, it does say that we do not get married to our plans and insist that
they come to fruition no matter what. In doing so, we may forego something
infinitely better that wishes to slip in on little cat feet to surprise us
with joy. If we recognize that all plans are tentative, it saves a great
deal of frustration and enables a kind of warm flexibility to inform our
lives. Surprises can be exciting and fun if we are open to discover
their inner gifts.
Therefore, we might accept that time is arbitrary and bend it to serve us
instead of enslaving us.
Exercise: Touching the earth
Read chapter 8 in No death, no fear and do the exercises. Can
you get a sense of the paradoxes of time in reflecting on this chapter?
It is almost like a rubber band that can be stretched out or relaxed into
a small space. Consider how you really experience time. Does it
bully you? frustrate you? help you? scare you? What
is your reaction to the way time manifests in your life? Do you want
to moderate that? What would be the role of acceptance if so?
If you can relax with respect to time, can you feel it seeking its own balance
or does it simply disappear?
We need to stay conscious in the moment, every moment, so we do not miss
the opportunities that are offered us or the lesson that is presenting itself
right now. It is very difficult to stay conscious all the time.
We have spent a lifetime being unconscious, lulled to sleep by all our conditioning.
Life makes us tired, and it is much easier just to let it go by without any
more stimulation from doctrines about enlightenment. If you do not believe
that you have been asleep, watch some children. You had that kind of
energy and wonder once. What happened to it? Life. Education.
Work. Disappointment. However, it is not gone forever.
You can wake up and reclaim it, but it will be difficult. . . and very rewarding
if you persist.
The trouble with surrender and trying to live in the NOW is that we have
egos that have been taught that their job is to control reality so that we
can experience life as we want it to be. Self-will and desires are at
the top of the list of priorities. Television and advertisements drill
into us that we have “needs” that can only be satisfied by buying something
or acquiring something whether it is status, sex, a soul mate or an automobile.
Our families and education system teach us that we cannot be successful in
life unless we learn how to control ourselves, others, the environment and
its resources. What all these teachers do not tell us is how to be happy,
how to find love, how to bring peace into the world. Nor are we taught,
usually, how to give love to others. Consequently, we have become a
nation of diabetics and cancer victims addicted to commercial and/or mood-altering
drugs. In case that statement does not make sense, consider that sugar
is often used as a substitute for love and cancer is associated with helplessness
To do this work, it is essential to release our efforts to make things happen.
We must accept that we cannot always have our own way and that, perhaps, it
might not even be good for us to have it since that reinforces ego’s attempts
to dominate our lives. All religious traditions spell out what
are often called “sins.” These are attitudes or practices that are detrimental
to spiritual growth and development. All are ego-related. Let
us look at the seven deadly sins of Christianity and see with what they might
be replaced by a practicing mystic.
Seven deadly sins
The first and foremost is pride or arrogance which is how it often
is manifested. This is an unyielding attitude of superiority that tends
to rigidify the personality at the same time that it fends off others who
might like to become closer to the person. It is an obvious ego defense
often used by people who have serious doubts about their own self-worth.
Its negation which is favored by spiritual practice is humility, an
attitude that results from surrender to Divine Love and acceptance of what
Another deadly sin is avarice or greed. This is based on desires
and a wish to satisfy all of one’s ego wants. Avarice may manifest as
a piling up of possessions, money, status or power. This activity may
result from insecurity and a sense of deprivation likely to have its roots
in infancy and childhood or in poverty during the developmental years.
Its opposite is renunciation, self-denial and moderation all of which
wean the ego away from its dependencies.
Lust, luxury, sensuality or pleasure-seeking gives undue attention
to gratification of the senses. Avarice may be found in combination
with luxury as it would tend to support it. This deadly sin can be found
in those who focus all their attention on self-gratification. Its antidotes
are celibacy, purification and self-denial.
No one would contest the inclusion of wrath or anger in this list
since it so often injures others as well as the owner of it. In fact,
modern medical research is documenting the negative physical effects of anger
on those who experience it to excess. There is a place for righteous
anger against wrong-doing. But the bulk of anger is ego-related and
due to frustration, not getting one’s own way or projection. Its opposite
is love and good-will. Love and anger would even seem to be mutually
exclusive as their physical actions in the body are very different, i.e.,
reaching out to or striking against respectively.
Intemperance or gluttony is taking pleasure to extremes. Overeating
comes to mind as does nymphomania. Everything is indulged in to its
limit and the person may still be unsatisfied. This is another sin that
may have its roots in deprivation as it seems to compensate for it.
Restraint and fasting are practices that would tend to modulate
Envy or discontent and ill-will are one result of lack of self-worth
and self-esteem. We can see it as a form of compensation for a perceived
lack in oneself or in one’s resources. Others are seen to have more
of what one lacks and deserves. Contentment and equanimity are
attitudes that when cultivated may help to counteract envy.
Finally we have sloth or laziness, unwilliness to work or exert oneself.
This might grow out of dependency, lack of self-confidence or passive aggression.
It manifests as lack of energy to take action in the world. Its opposite
would be a willingness and ability to do meaningful work.
I believe it is wrong to present sin as wrongdoing. Bishop Pike’s
(1955) idea was that anything that separates us from God is a sin.
To the extent to which this is true, each person can determine for him- herself
whether something is a sin. Generally, however, I dislike the word because
it implies judgment and punishment. It seems to me that we are all
doing the best we can under our own circumstances, and there is no reason
for anyone else to judge me unless I am harming someone.
Nevertheless, we have to deal with these kinds of attitudes and behaviors
because they can block our spiritual path. This is not because we are
bad or wrong, but because they prevent development of attitudes and behaviors
that are compatible with Spirit, Love and Light. It goes without saying
that we cannot address these issues unless we accept the fact that they may
be present in our own lives to some degree or other. It is only through
extensive clarification of the personality and ego that we can be sure that
we have identified and overcome such blockages.
Exercise: Ego controls
1. Read chapters 9-11 and 13 in When things fall apart.
How does cool loneliness help you deal with the blockages we have been discussing?
What are the marks of existence and how can they be addressed? Do you
resonate with any of them in particular? Compare the four maras to the
seven deadly sins. What did you learn from Chodron about how to deal
with them? Why is an open, non-judgmental space essential to transformation
of ego issues?
2. Read chapter 12 in Living from the heart and do the exercises.
Water is a symbol for both the soul and love. It is also a purifier.
So use the practices on a regular basis in your work on purifying the ego’s
needs for control.
Another thing that must be accepted is renunciation in all its forms.
This is because attachments to anything be it people, things, ideas, social
position, etc. keep us from our primary relationship to God. We must
also give up expectations of how things should be or will be along with any
assumptions that we know how things are or ought to be. Old habits have
to go especially those that are dysfunctional.
Attachments to people are most difficult because we have been taught
to depend upon others for meeting our needs to belong or for love and security.
However, as adults, we are now able to take care of our own needs, so we can
let go of any dependencies in our relationships. This is not to say
that we do not have relationships, but that we do not cling to or grasp them,
or feel they are essential to our well-being. All non-essential learning
must go. This means habits of thinking, information clutter, concepts
and opinions. It should all be culled through and sorted out in comparison
to a set of value criteria and priorities. Swami Radha used to liken
this process to cleaning out a closet that had been collecting junk for years
and had not seen the light of day.
Read chapter 8 in When things fall apart. What are the eight
worldly dharmas and how can we deal with them compassionately?
On a slightly different level, we need to discard any attachments we may
have developed to psychic powers, visions or voices.
These can be dangerous sidetracks if we become too identified with them.
Along the same lines, take heed for spiritual materialism. This is the
attitude that I am so spiritually advanced, look at me. True spiritual
advancement is marked by humility. So let that be a measure of your
progress on the path.
Exercise: Spiritual powers
Review chapter 5 in Healing communication. This will give you
some ideas about how spiritual powers may be used productively. You
might want to try the Windows of the Sky practices. More information
about this can be found in Acu-Yoga (Gach, 1982).
We have to accept, then work to remove, all illusions or veils over who
we really are. These veils are called maya, and they
contribute enormously to our sense of separation and our perceptions of dualities.
Just being in a body means we have minds that are programmed to process polarities.
Our neurons work in an on/off modality. That means a duality.
Dualities by their nature enable us to use our senses in the world, so we
can never be completely free of them. However, we can recognize them
for what they are and put less energy into our perceptions of them.
Think of them as constructs of the mind just as the senses are tools of the
mind. And, knowing that the mind constructs reality, take it with a
grain of salt. Detach yourself from belief in it, let’s say. The
rishis say that freedom from maya means we no longer need to reincarnate again
because the work has finally been done.
Read chapters 1-2 in No death, no fear and do the practices.
Think about how the Buddhist attitude is an antidote to what we have been
taught to believe. Select one of the practices and carry it out for
a week or so to see what changes it can manifest for you.
Death or fear of death is another idea that needs to be released.
Who we really are is immortal and can only change its attire. What distresses
us is losing physical contact with those we love when they die. We
can no longer apprehend them through our physical senses. However, other
means of contact remain intact. On the other hand, the thought
of losing our own bodies may frighten us. This fear arises when we
identify with our bodies rather than seeing them as temporary vehicles for
our souls. Life contains us, not the other way around. So we
exist in life and are supported by life, a life that does not go away nor
go anywhere. It is just here. It pervades everything in the world
and universe. We exist in life and love as a fish exists in water.
As we grow into trust and acceptance, these fears will gradually extinguish
Another form of death is death of the moment and of the past. It is
the nature of reality to move and change, to transmute and transfigure itself,
to transform into something else new and different. It is a dynamic
pageant of life, so we cannot hold on to it. This can be a relief if
the moment is unpleasant, but we are going to have to transcend judgments
of pleasant and unpleasant along with all the other value judgments we have
learned how to make.
Read chapter 9 in No death, no fear for some more ideas on how to
cope with death and dying.
Acceptance of Oneself
One of the most interesting things to observe about projection is that we
also tend to project good qualities we cannot accept in ourselves onto other
people. When we idolize movie stars, political figures, sports heroes
or, yes, religious figures, we are denying that those salient characteristics
also exist in ourselves. Perhaps they are not manifested, but they are
there. Baseball card swapping and collecting is an example. Teenage
girls cutting out pictures of movies stars is another. But the projections
don’t end with puberty. Adult men spend hours on a weekend afternoon
in front of the television set watching baseball, football or basketball
vicariously enjoying the masculinity so blatantly displayed in those games.
That this is a deeply felt need in men is reflected in the salaries such
heroes can command. Similarly, women shop for beautiful clothes and
other items that attractive models insinuate will cause them to more closely
resemble the advertisements or “dolls” in the fashion magazines. Often
these “dolls” are anorexic and thus keep their exceptionally thin figures.
More to the point, anorexia and bulimia are two disorders almost exclusively
suffered by women who feel that their bodies are too fat to pass inspection
by those in the world whose opinions they value. So we see that advertising
has caused vast numbers of adults in our society to deny their own inner
beauty or sexuality thereby projecting it onto others who are, perhaps, not
as truly beautiful or attractive as the one doing the projecting. There
is no need for shame or guilt in being who you are. Someone once said
that beauty is in the eye of the beholder – what else is that but projection?
It is true that we must accept the limitations of embodiment, and this can
be a real challenge especially when the body becomes ill or aged or fails
to serve us in the manner to which we have become accustomed. Handicaps
can become the focus of someone’s life if they make coping with daily events
a problem. But it is just being in a body that causes most of our spiritual
problems. Because we are dependent upon our senses to interface with
the outside world, we are almost forced to perceive everything in terms of
dualities which we now know is not the true reality. In learning how
to meet the needs of our bodies, we develop mental concepts and self-images
that do not correspond to who we really are. All the sages tell us this.
We come to base our self-esteem and self-respect upon an illusionary self-image
that the ego is pledged to defend whether it is an attractive image or not.
What if we were able to accept our own divinity and began to visualize ourselves
as god-people? How would that change your self-image? All of the
good qualities that you project onto the god-image now become your qualities.
Which ones do you manifest and which are repressed and subject to projection?
How would your self-value change if you could claim this spiritual inheritance?
It is true that we must accept our limitations, those things about ourselves
that we cannot change such as our height and big noses or the way our hair
grows on our head. But we can change the way we think about our qualities.
If we see ourselves as beautiful souls and truly believe that, we will radiate
light in such a way that everyone around us will see us as the most gorgeous
person they know.
Along with accepting the attractiveness of our souls, we must accept their
plans for this lifetime. Until we discover why we came into a body and
take responsibility for unfolding and activating those plans,
we are going to experience our lives as victims of fate or other people’s
wills or our own obsessive compulsions to make things happen some certain
way that will gratify our egos. That energy could find better expression
in opening the way for our souls’ agendas in this lifetime.
In addition to accepting ourselves, we need to also accept others in their
pristine identities. Consider how much time you might be spending trying
to get those around you to conform to your ideas of how they should be living
their lives. Or of how you would like them to meet your needs.
We are raised to believe that relationships should be reciprocal in terms
of meeting needs. To some extent this is so, in acquiring our food,
for example. Few of us are entirely independent in that domain.
However, this sort of collaboration does not necessarily extend to being waited
on by a spouse or children, nor to exchange of favors and other forms of
gratification. It is appalling to discover that sexual “favors”
are even legislated in most states. The last time I looked, denial of
sexual intercourse to one’s spouse over a specified period of time was grounds
for divorce in New Jersey. This kind of thing is a violation of respect
for the divinity of others.
That which we fail to acknowledge in ourselves is called the shadow.
Usually the shadow is repressed, so we are completely out of touch with it.
However, it needs to be reclaimed in order for us to become whole and to free
the energies used in repression for other activities. I realize that
this information is beginning to sound like a litany, but that is because
it is so important, and it is essential that we deal with it in order to progress
on the spiritual path. Unrecognized shadow aspects have the power to
disrupt our lives and usually at the most inopportune moments. So here
we have other personality aspects that must be accepted, so they can come
out of hiding and be integrated into the whole self. A great deal of
the initial purification work has already dealt with these issues, but we
need to take another look to see if there are deeper roots that need to be
1. Read chapter 14 and 15 in When things fall apart.
Chapter 14 is about bodhicitta. Bodhicitta is one’s innate tenderness
and open heartedness. It accepts and protects the vulnerability of ourselves
and others. This is the part of yourself that you can call upon for
help and guidance in place of the usual ego defenses when you are releasing
old negativities. Chapter 15 is about Tonglen, a Buddhist practice
to deal with negativity.
2. With bodhicitta in mind, review your projections. Make a
list of all the things you value in other people. Think about specific
people you admire and what exactly you like about them. Then opposite
each item, make a note about how it manifests or is a potential in you if
it is not manifested. Notice particularly the ones that arouse emotions
or that are immediately rejected as they will be important to you.
Do the same with things you dislike in other people.
3. With these two lists in hand, begin to do the Tonglen practice
Tonglen is a practice to develop your heart by calling up empathy for yourself
and others. It comes out of the Buddhist tradition and is based on a
wish to help others. It develops bodhicitta, the genuine heart
of sadness. You begin with those you love, including yourself,
and eventually are able to bless those who are your enemies. You may
use the following directions or those in Chodron’s book (1997, pp. 95-97)
whichever feels most compatible.
Directions: Sit for meditation. Allow your body to become
quiet and your breath to slow down. Then begin to work with your
breath. First, breathe in the dark, heavy, black and hot energy.
Breathe out the light, cool and white. Breath into the holding on and
breathe out the letting go. When this is well established, begin
to work with the shadow. Breathe in the negativity and breathe out sympathy
and relaxation. Make it impersonal, do not focus on the person if it
is projected, but on the energy. However, if it is your negativity,
you own it, then let it go. You are dealing mainly with the feelings,
cleaning them up. When I practice it, it feels to me like my body is
a magnet and I am re-aligning the energy as it goes through me. You
do not hold on to the stuff, you transmute it. You do not think about
it, just do it. Use your imagination to visualize the quality of the
energy, then see what it is turning into as you breathe it out. Finally,
when you are comfortable with this stage, you can begin to work for all people
including those you dislike. Eventually, you will be able to practice
Tonglen anywhere you feel the need. If you walk into a room where there
is a lot of conflict, you can just vacuum it away. Tonglen may be
used to clear any negative energy and is not just restricted to the shadow.
This practice takes a while to manifest results, so be patient and use every
opportunity to practice it. It is perhaps easiest to begin with yourself
or someone you love and/or who loves you, someone who is not threatening,
and then move on to more complicated relationships as you gain some skill.
Buddhists tell us that impermanence is one of the givens or three marks
of life on earth. The other two are suffering and egolessness.
Impermanence simply means change. Nothing stays the same. All
is fluid and moving. What is curious about this is that although
change is always going on we cannot really change things. Or, to be
more exact, we cannot always make things happen the way we want them to –
at least with any degree of reliability. Even if we work very hard
to make our dreams come true, it seems there is always a characteristic of
the dream we failed to consider, and it turns up missing thus
spoiling the whole accomplishment. If you pray very hard for a certain
kind of lover and do all you can to attract that person, you may find that
though s/he has all the qualities you specified, s/he is the wrong age or
is unavailable because you did not include that in your working image.
Or you may have given twenty years of your life to make a lot of money only
to find that there is no longer a compatible person to share it with.
You may buy the perfect home only to find, after you’ve moved in, that you
miss being near the water or that your neighbors let their dogs run, so your
cat cannot go outside.
We need to leave space open in which the Divine One can work. Remember
that soul plan? If we get into a space of general acceptance of what
is and cease striving to get our own way, we might find that the higher powers
are coming through with some very soul-satisfying developments that we could
not have even imagined let alone requested. Sometimes we just have to
get out of our own way. Be quiet. Relax. Wait. Some
people say, “Go with the Flow.” This is good advice. Float on
the river of life and see where it takes you. There can be a bit of
adventure in this kind of attitude. More often than not, what happens
will delight you. A Buddhist teacher used to advise us to “Ride the
wave.” That can have all sorts of implications if you consider the symbolism
of oceans and waves.
Another way in which we need to address change is in terms of changing our
habits. That can be done systematically through various spiritual practices.
Or it can be done as a result of feedback we get from others about our behavior.
When someone gives you negative feedback, especially, be grateful instead
of defensive. Defensiveness keeps you from having to do anything about
the problem. I have a good friend who is so adept at giving corrective
feedback that I usually don’t get the full impact until just as I am dropping
off to sleep that night. Incidently, this is an ideal time to introspect
as the ego is weary and much less likely to interfere.
Exercise: Changing habits
Read chapter 21 in When things fall apart. How does Chodron
suggest we change our habits? What is the role of mind? How do
habits relate to grasping and fixation? Make some notes in yor journal
about your findings.
One productive thing we can do about change is to work toward balancing
the polarities. We don’t forcefully manipulate things, it is more like
a dance with what is. If, in a dance, we lean too far in one direction,
there’s a likelihood of tilt. However, dance is supported by balance
both kinesthetically and visually. So, let us say, Penelope has a tendency
to say mean things when she feels attacked. What she might do is mentally
bow to her partner, make a turn in her head feeling for the balance point
between ignoring what was done and retaliating with rage. In that open
space, an appropriate answer may come more easily. Or, if I am always
seeing the negative side of things and coming across as a critical, sour puss,
I can make a definite effort to look for potentially good outcomes.
Instead of commenting on how crowded the houses seem in the town to which
my friend has moved, I might note the potential for finding new friends
in such a highly populated area. Nothing is all bad – or good.
Look for the balancing factors.
Exercise: Balancing polarities
Read pages 96-116 in Paradoxes of love. Vaughan-Lee is dealing
mainly with masculine and feminine differences here, but what he says applies
to all polarities. Think about your life and see if there are any polarities
you need to work with. Draw a map of its development in your life and
include a stretch of it to represent the future and changes you would like
We call change in our spiritual lives transformation. We hope to metamorphose
into spiritual butterflies. We feel constrained by our present chrysalis
and long to escape into the freedom of the Light. On a more inclusive
level, there are some who lament the current state of affairs in the world
and our tendencies to destroy the planet and each other. More optimistic
folks say the transformation is coming and the present darkness simply presages
the coming of Light. Others think we have lost what we once had, a golden
age of Paradise, and are trying to restore it with our numerous inventions
and machinations. Transformation on this level implies enormous if not
apocalyptic change; and we may, in fact, be standing on the brink of such
a change. If we believe in a Divine Power, that is certainly possible.
What do you think? And what would you see as your position in such a
dynamic upheaval? How does individual transformation relate to more
Exercise: Memory or vision of Paradise
Read Heinberg’s book, Memories and visions of Paradise. Heinberg
is a member of the Emissaries of Divine Light who have a center in Loveland,
Colorado. These people have committed themselves to gifting the world
with Divine Light. I have visited their center and know that they are
people who radiate Light from beautiful souls. Heinberg is reviewing
ancient myths to see what they can tell us about transformation. In
only 43 pages, he gives us something to think about.
In all of this, one might wonder what of my family and friends, my children,
my job? How do I work on my own soul’s development and still have time
and energy for those I love? This is a very important question when
we are looking at priorities. Children, especially, take enormous time
and energy. It may be, if you have young children, that you will have
to see your spiritual journey grounded in your interactions with them and
with family and/or jobs. It is no accident that the yogis assigned 25
years to the householder stage of development. If you have several children,
it can take longer than that. However, householding is the most rigorous
spiritual practice I can think of. You get your ego lessons absolutely
every day, sometimes several times a day when your childen are infants and
preschoolers. So, in accepting your responsibilities to family and
society, you are not reneging on a commitment to the spiritual path.
Instead, you are plunging in right at the center of the battlefront.
If we think of it that way, it becomes easier to accept what it demands of
We must also take responsibililty for our own lives, our freedom, our choices
and our divinity. We sit in the driver’s seat of our lives. What
is important to remember is that it is not the ego, but the Self who is driving
the vehicle. We have not only made promises to our families, but to
our own souls that must be honored in the best way possible. Here is
another opportunity to take a dilemma to a higher level in search of a solution.
What does a perplexing situation look like from the soul’s point of view when
the ego says it cannot manage all these commitments? How do your family,
friends, job and other potential sources of distraction from the spiritual
path fit into your soul’s plan? You chose them for some reason.
If you can discover what that was, it will become clearer how to approach
We need to accept peace. It is not something that must be sought,
but something that must be allowed. It is always there as potentiality.
It is the natural condition of the enlightened mind, heart and soul.
To accept and allow life to be what it is, is to live and move and have our
being in peace. You can call it contentment or equanimity or balance.
It is fresh, clear, luminous, warm and supportive. It is Divine Grace.
It comes with acceptance.
When we see who we are, then we see what our work in the world is.
It is a natural outpouring of who we are in our manifesting divinity.
If we discover our divine center and become aware of the talents and abilities
with which we came into life, we will know what work best suits us and how
to do it. We may find that our work is God’s work and that there is
no difference nor any conflict between the two. All will fit into the
time available and will match the energy that we can muster. Acceptance
allows us to relax into our lives with grace and aptitude. We can call
upon all the power of the Most High to deal with the problems that come before
us. We don’t have to do it all, but we do have to do our share, each
according to his or her endowments.
It may turn out that God’s gifts are the most difficult things to accept.
One reason for this is our feelings of unworthiness. Because of difficult
childhoods, we may be wrestling with authority issues that we then project
onto the Divine One. Or we may feel helpless in the face of the real
problems we must deal with as earthlings. We may feel unloveable or
unloved, unattractive, weak, shameful, guilty, unsupported or have a host
of other misgivings about our right to Divine Love. However, we do not
have to feel worthy or finished to be the recipient of God’s gifts because
they are available to anyone who is willing to claim them. It is like
you have received a notice from the post office that you have a package there
and to please come down and get it. All we need to do is turn around,
accept them and say “Thank You.”
You are gifted with whatever you need for your life and its purpose.
We swim in a sea of Love as a fish in water and rarely perceive it.
I am often told this is because it does not come in the form in which I expect
it. However, if I relax my expectations and take a good look at what
is right in front of me, there it is. A friend may give me a hug.
Someone tells me how good I look or that they like something I have done.
My cat purrs as he kneads my lap preparing to nap. Birds sing in my
garden. The man smiles as he puts gas in my car. The mail lady
brings my package up to the house. A co-worker breaks into a huge smile
as I walk into the office as if she had waited all morning for me to arrive.
These are all God’s Love. Are you refusing them?
Then there is protection and care. We each have a guardian
angel who protects us. However, a modicum of cooperation is necessary
for It to be able to function optimally. If we drive 90 miles an hour
in traffic, it may preclude angelic protection. Even so, there are
cases of miraculous escapes from accidents that might have occurred due to
lapses of attention or carelessness. Nor can angels work
against self-destructive impulses. We must want to live and achieve
our lifetime spiritual goals, and we must ask for help. It is considerate
not to ask for non-essentials like parking places because angels are pretty
When I was at the ashram, I was terrified of Swami Radha. Occasionally
she would send for me to come see her. In my anxiety, I would ask my
angel, Michael, to speak for me, and inevitably the interview would go well.
He is integrally involved in the creation of these guidebooks; in fact, may
be largely responsible for them. If you would like to contact
your angel, get your mind quiet in meditation and call for him or her, but
don’t specify gender. They are always there.
Whether your physical body is lovely or not, your soul is because it is
made of Light. This is the gift of beauty. When the veils
are removed from your beingness, that Light shines through and everyone can
perceive it. Moreover, once you become aware that the Light is in everyone,
you become able to see it in another person if you wish. Some folks
are easier than others because they have removed more veils. However,
the Light is always there however hidden it may be.
At some point in life the world’s beauty
becomes enough. You don’t need to photo-
In addition, the world is full of beauty given for our renewal and
blessing. When we are distressed, sick, disheartened or wounded, we
can seek out the beauty in nature or in our friends, family and animals for
solace. A garden, however small, is an oasis of beauty.
Flowers offer food for the soul. So does good music and all the art
forms we have available to us. Use them to your soul’s health.
graph, paint, or even remember it.
It is enough. No record of it needs to be kept and
you don’t need someone to share it with
or tell it to. When that happens – that letting
go – you let go because you can.
We are supported in all endeavors that fit our life’s plan.
Even when we detour, we are held in the arms of the Beloved as a child who
is hurt when falling off a bicycle. The Beloved knows that we will stray
in the testing out of our free will and It knows we will return when
we discover a dead end. When we move in the right direction, we receive
a noticeable boost of energy. Everything becomes easier, doors open.
If we become sensitive to that, we can use it as a compass to keep us on
track. When we find ourselves in the depths of tragedy, through
loss of a loved one perhaps, there is always Divine support if we turn towards
it. Losses teach the soul, so they cannot be avoided. Here is
another place of acceptance. With the attitude that everything that
happens is for our own good and toward enlightenment and with the support
we can find in the Beloved, there is always a way out of sorrow and mourning.
Guidance is another facet of divine support. It is possible
to learn how to tune in to Divine guidance, the still small voice within that
we can hear in moments of peace and quiet. With practice in this form
of communication, eventually we become able to access it in moments of distress
as well as when things are not so quiet. “Help!” is probably the most
effective mantra there is, and spiritual teachers all agree that it is a
call that cannot be ignored by the Beloved. This form of guidance is
different from angelic help. It comes from a higher source and is qualitatively
different. With practice, you will learn which one to call upon in
moments of need.
Our most valuable gift has to be our divine identity. Like
any gift, it cannot manifest unless it is accepted. It is one thing
to know I am divine, and it is quite another to feel and live that knowledge.
Perhaps it is even unwise to feel it because the ego can so easily get caught
up in inflationary ideas of power. My guess is that when we really identify
ourselves as divine, there is no fourth of July celebration, but rather that
we go quietly about behaving like God in the world – humble, quiet, loving
and compassionate, giving to others and trying to help bring about the transformation.
Think of Jesus. He showed us how to do that. Think of everyone
you know who does that. They are all God too. When God’s gifts
are accepted, we can relax, enjoy life and fulfill our purpose in being here.
There may be signs along the way that we are making progress in shedding
our veils. We may hear the music of the spheres or the Cosmic AUM.
We begin to sense our rebirth from minute to minute and to know that resurrection
is ongoing. We find new opportunites for redemption from ego’s and our
soul’s mistakes. Gradually we become a light-being emitting light from
within. And we find that we can live from guidance without recourse
to our mental or conceptual processes.
Exercise: Living Light
Read chapter 7 in No death, no fear. Gather your drawing materials
and make a drawing of yourself as a being of light. In preparation for
this, put on some light-filled music – Bach is good for this. Settle
yourself comfortably on the floor or in a chair and listen for a while.
Do the Divine Light Invocation (Radha, 1987). See yourself filling with
Divine Light until it spills out of you into the room in all directions.
Then draw your image. Make notes in your journal of what you experienced
and put the picture up to live with for a while.
For me, the most difficult part of surrender is the trust needed for acceptance.
In the time during which I was born, John Watson’s advice on childrearing
was paramount, so I did not get held nor fed as often as I needed to be.
Watson advised parents not to pick up a crying infant for fear of spoiling
it. He also said infants should be fed on schedule rather than when
they indicated hunger. If you have been doing the exercises in these
guidebooks, you have read Pearce’s (1989) Magical child and so have
some understanding of how things have changed since then. But it is
true that the developmental crisis in infancy is trust vs mistrust.
When trust is not developed adequately, it undermines all future development
that depends upon it. So this is my Achilles heel. I find it very
difficult to trust those who have power over me. Therefore, since I
was brought up in the Christian religion, my mistrust extends to God.
It has become a life work for me to relearn how to trust the Divine One and
to perceive it as benevolent. I am sure there are many others like
me who have been taught similar lessons by their lives.
Trust enables us to let go into the flow because we trust that life is beneficent
and will turn out well. When we trust, we can accept. And when
we can accept, we can surrender. Therefore, two primary prerequisites
of surrender are trust and acceptance.
Read chapter 20 in When things fall apart. What is samaya?
How is that idea relevant to surrender? What does choicelessness refer
to? How do we enter sacred world? What are the most important
samayas and how do we work with them? What is the ultimate teacher?
What does Chodron recommend we commit to? How do we learn to trust our
wisdom mind? In what do you take refuge?
Qualities of surrender
Obviously acceptance is a quality of surrender. Some others are forgiveness,
gratitude, balance, harmony, contentment, happiness, peace, unconditional
love and service. If you think about these for a moment, you may recognize
them as qualities that are usually attributed to the the Divine One or to
saints who have achieved enlightenment. It follows, then, that if we
are divine beings, those qualities may become manifest in us more and more
as we find our way into our own divinity.
Notice that the qualities are ones that we do not experience when we feel
stressed out or anxious. When ego is in control, divinity is repressed.
So it is impossible to feel those characteristics. See also that the
qualities have flowing, restful attributes. They draw us to people who
embody them because they nourish our souls. We long for harmony, contentment
and peace in the midst of our hectic world and the demands it makes upon
us. But what if we could carry them with us in a kind of interior satchel,
so we could bring them out in heated moments when discord threatens to overwhelm
us? Or what if we could put some unconditional love in our pockets
when we go off to work in the mornings for a mid-morning snack. We
could share it with our friends or those who so desperately need it.
It is possible to gradually grow into these characteristics, so we can bring
them into a world that is dying for their sustenance. This is the service
aspect of surrender – ministering to others and helping to heal their woundedness.
Exercise: Qualities of surrender
1. If you have not already done so, read chapter 6 in Eternal echoes.
Also read chapter 6 in No death, no fear.
2. Take a few moments and jot down how you feel right now in your
journal, just a few notes that will help you remember later on. Then
do the exercise on pages 217-8 in Straight from the horse’s mouth.
Make the list she suggests, then sit for meditation for at least a half hour.
(If you skip the meditation, this exercise won’t work for you.) When
you finish, go outside for a leisurely stroll through a garden or park or
other natural setting. Notice all the beautiful things for which you
might be grateful. Then sit for another few minutes with your journal
and contemplate the difference in the way you feel now from the way you felt
before you did the exercise. Were there any changes in your perceptual
So far, we have looked at surrender in areas suggested by the chakra symbols.
The element of ether referred us to mind and refinement of the senses.
There is another kind of wisdom that comes from awareness defined as consciousness
plus knowledge. We looked at vibration, suggested by the silver crescent,
and how it created the world as we know it. Sound and its relationship
to mantra were also explored. Hearing, the sense of the fifth chakra,
reminded us that listening informs surrender as does intuition. Smoke
referred us to persisting ego issues that still need to be addressed: projection,
judgment, and self-will. The elephant reminded us of Spiritual
Will and the necessity of surrender to the Divine One, also the role of commitment,
choice and what to do about the struggle. The Candra-mandala or gateway
to liberation led us into the Dark Night of the Soul, the threshold
of initiation. The ruddy filaments symbolize ego death and purification
by fire this time around. The trikona tells us that the Divine One is
always reaching down to receive us and welcome our healing through acceptance.
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Gach, M. (1982). Acu-Yoga: Self help techniques to relieve
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Hanh, T. (2002). No death, no fear: Comforting wisdom for
life. New York: Riverhead Books.
Heinberg, R. (1985). Memories and visions of Paradise: The
spiritual heritage and destiny of mankind. Loveland, CO: Emissaries
of Divine Light.
Kinkade, A. (2001). Straight from the horse’s mouth: How
to talk to animals and get answers. New York: Crown Publishers.
O’Donohue, J. (1999). Eternal echoes: Exploring our yearning
to belong. New York: Cliff Street Books.
Pearce, J. (1989). Magical child: Rediscovering nature’s
plan for our children. New York: Bantam Books.
Phillips, R. (1996). Healing communication: A psychospiritual
approach. Glorieta, NM: Deva Publishing.
Pike, J. (1955). Doing the truth: A summary of Christian
ethics. Garden City, NY: Doubleday & Co.
Radha, Sw. S. (1987). The Divine Light Invocation: A spiritual
practice for healing and for realizing the Light within. Spokane,
WA: Timeless Books.
Vaughan-Lee, L. (1996). The paradoxes of love.
Inverness, CA: The Golden Sufi Center.
This unit has examined the necessity of acceptance in order to be able to
surrender. In the next Unit X. Wholeness
we will see that we are the One we search for.
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