Acceptance: the first step toward self-transformation

please don't flush
Sign on yesterday’s train.

Do you ever feel that you have lost or are in the process of losing lots of things and people over the course of this life alone? And that, as you get older, this may just be more and more the story of your life?

From one perspective, yes, the end of collection is dispersion (including, it seems, all the working bits of our body) and the end of meeting is parting. But that is from the point of view of the dualistic mind, the mind of “in here” and “out there”, the mind of self-grasping. Inside our mind there is nothing to lose and nothing to gain, which means that outside our mind there is nothing really to lose or gain either. We may think that we have lost things and people, but we have lost nothing, other than perhaps our illusions. Whether awake, asleep, in this life, in the bardo, everything unfolds as mere karmic appearance to mind, created by our minds, not outside us. The story of our life will be very different if we rewrite it with deep wisdom and unconditional love ~ for then we will not be separated from anyone.

Even death, the biggest loss, is mere aspect of mind, mere imputation; and for people who realize this and are able to access and control their very subtle mind:

For such practitioners, death is just mere name.
They are simply moved from the prison of samsara
To the Pure Land of Heruka. ~ Root Tantra of Heruka  

I stopped long ago

inner peace 5We have everything we need inside us. We need to believe this, for it is true. All the peace and bliss we have ever wanted, all the connection, all the most exquisitely beautiful appearances, have always been part of our nature and potential; we just need to realize this.

And, if we do, we can finally stop running round and round in circles, life after life, following our delusions that have been convincing us that we have to get happiness and get rid of suffering outside the mind, and freaking out when our attempts prove futile. “I stopped long ago”, Buddha said calmly to the mass murderer Angulimala. This “madly hostile man” was in hot pursuit of Buddha, yelling at him to STOP, but failing to catch him even though he was running and Buddha was walking. “It is you who need to stop”, Buddha said. You can watch this scene in the Life of Buddha movie here.

We stop our delusions by transforming them, and we do this by first getting good at accepting that they are there as opposed to suppressing or repressing or combating them, and then trying to transform them. What does acceptance mean? I think part of it is that whenever we feel discouraged or useless or lonely, we can accept that, yes, we feel this way, that’s the way it is, but NOT accept that it is real or that it is me. We don’t accept that these thoughts are about anything particularly real — rather that they are just floating story lines with nothing behind them.

If we allow ourselves to relax and breathe a moment, as explained here, some space might open up around these seemingly solid feelings. They are just weather in the mind – we can let them pass and know that there is peace, that our mind is on our side, that there is in fact plenty of room in our basically okay peaceful sky-like mind for all of this. We make space. We can dilute our thoughts in a container of infinite size. We’re okay. We’ll survive. We might even expand.Dorje Shugden

Wisdom Buddha Dorje Shugden

Then it is not so hard to gain better perspective and transform whatever is coming up. And there is also powerful help on hand for doing this; we don’t have to do it all alone if we don’t want to. I just received a Wisdom Buddha Dorje Shugden empowerment and teachings at the International Spring Festival at Manjushri Center in the English Lake District. Dorje Shugden is a Dharma Protector, which means he specializes in helping us keep our minds off delusions and on Dharma. One way he does this is by helping us transform all appearances into the spiritual path, opening our wisdom eyes so that we know what to do with each delight or disaster as it arises, generating Dharma minds such as renunciation, compassion, or wisdom.

Dorje Shugden overcomes obstacles and helps us gather favorable conditions for Dharma practice, and after making lots of prayers to him over the past few days I now find myself writing this in the quiet seclusion of first class on the train from Preston to London Euston, which is weird as I never travel first class and have zero recollection of buying a first-class ticket. In fact I know I didn’t buy one, so this is technically a mistake. But, as it happens, the last two trains to London were cancelled and so standard class is totally jam-packed; yet first class trainhere is little old me in an empty carriage watching the sunset — with free wifi, endless supplies of free coffee and Perrier, place settings, and a box labeled “Delicious Deli Snacks”. The best favorable conditions may not, admittedly, be such luxury, and perhaps I would have more to practice patience with, for example, if I was in steerage like everyone else. But although some might argue that this means I am not quite ready to transform standing in the aisle for 3 and a half hours, and most likely they are right, I am not complaining (much less feeling guilty, even though one or two people have suggested I should be ;-)) This is because it still feels unusual, as if Dorje Shugden orchestrated it; so I am prompted to transform and offer it. And post this article while I am at it.

More later. Meanwhile, over to you – have you had some success in accepting seemingly insurmountable painful emotions and delusions (rather than suppressing them) such that you were then able to do something practical to transform them?

Postscript: Someone has just asked me how they can rely on Dorje Shugden as they haven’t come across this Buddha before. Enlightened beings appear in different forms for different purposes, including as teachers, personal Deities, and Protectors. One simple way to get the numerous benefits of having this Buddha in your life is to consider Dorje Shugden to be the same nature as Wisdom Buddha Manjushri and Je Tsongkhapa — he is the manifestation of the omniscient wisdom of all enlightened beings appearing in this form to protect you. Then just make any requests to him to avert your obstacles and give you favorable conditions for gaining temporary and lasting freedom and happiness.

You can do this, if you like, by thinking he is with you and saying his mantra in your heart:


And/or by using this concise but says-it-all prayer:

All the attainments I desire
Arise from merely remembering you.
O Wishfulfilling Jewel, Protector of the Dharma,
Please accomplish all my wishes.

Author: Luna Kadampa

Based on 40 years' experience, I write about applying meditation and modern Buddhism to improve and transform our everyday lives and societies. I try to make it accessible to everyone anywhere who wants more inner peace and profound tools to help our world, not just Buddhists. Do make comments any time and I'll write you back!

24 thoughts on “Acceptance: the first step toward self-transformation”

  1. Blessed though this is, would it not have been even more so if you had swapped your fortuitous first class ticket with one of the unfortunate people who had to stand for 3 hours? Perhaps there was a senior citizen amongst them, or… well, anyone, really. I’m sure your heart would have been the gladder for it, as would the recipient of your kindness.

    1. Yeah, you’re right. I am far from perfect. I will try do better next time. You’ve made me think.

      If it was you, what would you say … would you kind of announce it, “Hey guys I have a first class ticket if anyone wants one?”

      (I would have to get past the British embarrassment factor.)

      1. Well, I wouldn’t announce it; I wouldn’t want to draw attention to myself. I think I might walk down the carriage and offer it to a person I felt was in need, while asking guidance from Tara, of course. I appreciate the aisles were stuffed, but it would be easy to let people think that I was on the way to the toilet.

  2. …thank-you ; takes me back to Losang at Manjushri in the Spring of ’16……remembered to ‘ merely remember ‘……

  3. Great article, thank you! A wonderful compliment to this week’s DS empowerment at the NY Temple with Gen Samten, and retreat on the Oral Instructions of Mahamudra.

  4. Hey Luna,

    Thanks for the lovely article. Could you please write something about patient acceptance of good conditions as well, like your first class carriage! I sometimes tend to push them away in some sort of a self-deprivation way, inculpating it even before I let myself enjoy it to be distracting me away from my practice. For some reason, I tend to believe that life needs to be at least a little bit austere so I can focus on my practice and growth (similar to the no-pain no-gain mantra of working out at the gym). In defense of this viewpoint, I do tend to simmer down my efforts in my studying and practice when I’m dating or in a relationship, for example, because I feel more laid back or complacent and also logistically, I have less time available for formal studying and practice.

    I’m sure you see a lot of latent delusions in the above statements, I wish I could borrow your mind to look at my own. Please help.


      1. Arya Luna..
        I’m afraid I deny many good things that show up in my life for lack of acceptance for them. I think my trouble is that I’m unable to discriminate self-cherishing from enjoying good conditions and when I try to sever self-cherishing, I tend to cut out the good conditions as well and end up more towards asceticism. This is an ongoing issue. I want to be able to accept and enjoy good conditions while still continue to hurt my self-cherishing. Please clarify it for me.
        Much gratitude and love.

        1. Hi Yona, We are aiming at being Buddhas in a Pure Land enjoying endless good conditions, so there is some contradiction not to allow ourselves to enjoy our good fortune and happiness now. We created the cause to experience good things happening so, when they do, we can enjoy them, recognize that they come from good actions and therefore be encouraged to create more, and we can offer them up to all enlightened beings and living beings, praying that everyone enjoys such good conditions. This whole struggle we have with our self-cherishing mind is based on an underlying confusion — your self-cherishing has no basis to arise if you are actually enjoying your good conditions, without attachment, because self-cherishing is based on a feeling of lacking happiness or suffering. xo L

          1. Luna, thank you so much for your kindness and wisdom! You nailed it right on where my confusion was, I got it now. Instead of going in with my caveman’s club at self-cherishing that hits everything under the sun, I now have a precise scalpel of wisdom to cut it with. Not saying that all my issues are now resolved but I know now exactly what to meditate on and how to practice. Thank you so very much!

          2. I hope you can answer a follow up question too! I’m sorry if I’m taking too much of your time.

            I’m also very afraid of having ‘worldly’ desires such as desire for partner, I feel bad for having them and try to get rid of them since they are coming from self-cherishing but that feels like some form of self-denial. You explained very clearly on how I can enjoy good conditions without the self-cherishing. Can I also purify having desire for good conditions by getting rid of just the underlying self-cherishing without necessarily getting rid of the desire itself? In New Guide To Dakiniland, Geshla says under “What are outer and inner Dakinilands?” about beings living in Keajra that “All the enjoyments they desire will appear spontaneously.” I don’t think I understand that. Aren’t all beings in Keajra abiding in bliss? Do they still have desires for enjoyments (apart from virtuous desires such as attaining enlightenment)? I’m just unclear if its possible to entertain our desires coming from karmic forces and yet cull out the self-cherishing bit from them.

            1. One of the four complete purities of Tantric practice is complete purity of enjoyments — we enjoy things while understanding they are not outside the mind as a way to generate bliss mixed with emptiness. As you learn to enjoy things in a non-dual way, you realize you don’t have to be in a death struggle with your self-grasping and self-cherishing, they just have nothing to grasp at. Use your enjoyments to connect to the natural joy and bliss of your own mind and then there’ll be no basis for strong ego minds to arise, as you already have what you want; so no need to be in a big fight. Trust the natural peace of the mind.

              Meantime, you can also practice contentment and renunciation and compassion, of course, there is no contradiction. Union of Sutra and Tantra is the way to go.

              1. Thank you Luna. I get what you say, its quite deep. I have more questions arise but I will sit with this for now. And thank you for visiting my mind in my dream last night 🙂 it happened for the first time from what I can tell.

                I promise to live by your advice.

  5. My challenge to myself is to have the faith to recognise the kindness of Dorje Shugden in the present moment.
    Following teachings in the past I have reflected on how “adverse conditions” in the past have lead me to spiritual growth, or at least the ideal conditions to allow spiritual growth to occur. I know for certain that I would never have chosen these conditions for myself (preferring a “cotton wool” kind of existence). For example, I ended up living in a Dharma Centre for a number of years following a series of what I believed were “unfortunate incidences”. And yet I learned so much from my time living there.
    In retrospect I can see the benefit of most of the parts of my life that at the time I would rather have avoided. It seems to me that part of the reliance on the Dharma Protector is to recognise the opportunity for developing renunciation, compassion and wisdom in every situation, as it arises.
    One piece of advice that I have never forgotten is that Dorje Shugden will never give us conditions that we cannot handle. When I remember that it gives me confidence.
    I think the key is to never forget Dorje Shugden.

  6. I saw you at the Festival and my heart did a happy somersault. I resisted the urge to run up and hug you remembering that you have never met my face and body! If you are back in the summer I may decide to throw caution to the winds! Thank you for being a true travelling Kadampa 🌸💕🌸

  7. Thank you for this 1st Class article Luna. I particularly like ‘we have everything we need inside us’ I’ll meditate on that this morning. Dorje Shugdan knows what he’s doing for sure. Lots of love 🌺

  8. I rejoice!
    Any class filled with passengers like U Luna would be the Pure Land!
    Thanks for sending these wonderful life lines! They always seem to appear in my inbox at the nick of time, when my mind is turning dull, ordinary and deluded.
    But now…better indeed!

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