Thursday, June 12, 2008


On this blog, I seem to keep going back over old ideas, "rehashing" the same basic thoughts -- but I guess that's what I'm enjoying so much. More and more, the truths of life seem fairly simple. Not that life is "easy" for me to understand -- far from it -- but the proper way to live life, or the best approach to life, does seem less complicated as the years pass -- and a big part of that relatively straightforward approach is simple acceptance. It seems to me that acceptance is at the heart of what Jesus, Buddha, Lao Tzu, St. Francis, Shakespeare, Whitman, etc. taught us about living. I guess non-resistance would be a synonym here, for Jesus said we should not resist evil with more evil, but rather rise above it with good, with love, with kindness, with gentleness, with acceptance. There is immense pain in the world today, and the only way to overcome it -- prove its ultimate inability to harm us – is, oddly enough, to accept it. That doesn't mean being "happy" that people are in pain, or ignoring it, but it does mean being at peace with it. It's happening, so I have no other sane choice, really, than to be at peace with it. The Buddhists talk about the difference between pain and suffering, and I believe Jesus would have agreed with this. The Buddhists and Jesus knew that we all have pain in our lives, sometimes severe, but it becomes suffering only when we turn away from it, run from it, refuse to accept it. Non-acceptance always produces fear -- and no words were used more often by Jesus than "don't be afraid". He knew that fear is the only real enemy -- that fear (non-acceptance) turns pain into suffering.

So, if we humbly and totally accept the fact that there's pain in the world, and in our lives, this can (at least sometimes) enable us to "deal" with the pain and eventually overcome it, because acceptance frees up the overwhelming power of all that is not pain -- love, gentleness, patience, kindness, perseverance. If we're not so busy resisting and fleeing from pain, we're free to face it, look at it carefully, even marvel at it, and then get to work changing the situation. Acceptance and non-resistance brings a peacefulness, an openness, that lets in the real power in life -- the power of harmony instead of discord.

In a previous post, I mentioned Jay Leno, primarily because the best kind of comedy and humor is, in a way, all about acceptance. If we can laugh about something, we have accepted it. Of course, the same is true, strangely, of crying. If we can heartily cry about a situation, we have accepted it. Laughter and tears are brother and sister. Remember crying because you were happy, and joking about something because you were scared? Both laughter and tears mean we're not fighting our pain, running from it, denying it, hiding from it. We're facing it, working on it, and slowly moving through it. I've often thought about the people in China and Burma in the last few weeks, and how, in the days after the tragedies, their gradual, hesitant smiles with friends must have brought them strength to deal with the situation. Soon after the smiles there probably came a little quiet laughter as they found the wisdom to see that life is ultimately good and continues on. Perhaps they are starting to see, again, "the big picture", in which everything, not just earthquakes and cyclones, is enormous, immense, awesome, and wonderful (in the sense of 'full of wonder'). Perhaps they're seeing that even a little child playing ball in a street is something amazing and inspiring, every bit as incredible as a natural disaster. Perhaps they're seeing the wisdom of a quote from Dr. Seuss: "Don't cry because it's over. Smile because it happened." In other words, maybe the people in China and Burma are gradually coming to see that, yes, many of their children's and friends' lives are over, but the fact that they once lived and flourished and brought joy to everyone is worth celebrating, and maybe even laughing about, as they review good memories. Maybe laughter, in the end, is always more powerful than tragedy.

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