With our country divided as it is, to end suffering and attain peace of mind is to accept that what is, is. As simple as this concept is, I’ve been studying it for years and I still continue to learn more about it. Life on earth includes suffering. That’s pretty obvious. Our political candidate does or does not get elected. We have relationship problems, we lose loved ones through separation or death, and we experience loneliness, sickness and accidents. We are haunted by guilt. We have monetary hardships, experience phobias and fears and have unfulfilled desires.
We experience this distress because we desire things to be different than they are. In short, it is resistance to what is that causes your suffering. And when I say suffering, I mean everything in your life that doesn’t work. Do you want to see an immediate, positive change in your life? Then stop resisting what is. Some things are facts. Income taxes exist . . . that’s what is. Gravity exists . . . that’s what is. Your mate is quiet and stubborn . . . that’s what is. You can spend your life attempting to change what is, but there isn’t much you’re going to do about it. Instead, concentrate your efforts upon that which you can change.
The Christian Serenity Prayer says the same thing: “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.”
But you wouldn't believe the resistance to this concept that I received in seminars. People want things changed. In fact, they want everything they dislike changed, and initially, they think I am advocating passive acceptance of life as it is. This is not the case.
Maybe your state government has decided to build a maximum security prison a few blocks from your house. This is not necessarily what is. You have the power to gather your neighbors and petition the state to build it elsewhere. There are things you have the potential to change, so do everything you can to change them if it is important to you. But there are also things you cannot change and I advocate that you recognize these areas in your life and stop wasting your efforts attempting to change what cannot be changed.
When you begin to accept what is in your life, you simply accept facts, logic . . . unalterable realities. Actually, you have no choice in accepting what is. It is what is. But you certainly have a choice in how you respond to what is. You can handle it or make it worse by generating negative subconscious programming.
The wisdom of many of the old Zen Masters has been translated and is available to be studied today. My favorite Zen Master was Joshu, and Zen expressed through Joshu is radical, extreme and sometimes even brutal. He was born in China in A.D. 778 and is believed to have died A.D. 897 at the age of 120. My favorite Joshu story relates to his death His students gathered around their dying master, and one asked, “Oh, Master, don’t leave us without telling us the meaning of life.” In response to this request, Joshu said, “What’s hot is hot and what’s cold is cold!” And he died. It was his way of saying, what is, is.
Peace and Light, Dick Sutphen