I wrote this on a plane back to Denver recently (via Calgary, never again …) It felt like a training day at Calgary airport or something because there were several personnel for each position and mainly they were chatting away to each other pleasantly and veerrrry slowly, despite the hundreds of people backed up in line. (I have always liked how laid-back Canadians are, until today.) And this was not just one line – I had 45 minutes to clear Canadian immigration and then customs and then US immigration and then bag drop and then security. My speedy passage was also obstructed by the exception to the laid back rule, the official who made me go back to the end of the line because he said I threw my customs form at him … debatable, but maybe true, I did run right past him 😉 But they always get away with it in the movies…
Anyway, an hour later, as a result of others’ kindness in letting me go ahead, I am here on the right plane, grateful that I was not mauled by a bear. (I watched Revenant on the plane; Leonardo di Caprio’s character was seriously mauled by a bear.) Nor did I have my wife or son murdered in front of me. Nor did anyone abandon me as a bloody pulp in the middle of the Rocky Mountains in mid-winter, at a time when they didn’t even have roads! Or cars! Or phones! Or satellite navigation! Or stores! Just Cowboys and Indians, all of whom were out to kill you or at least wasted no time worrying about your health and well-being. The buffalo and birds were better behaved than most humans in this movie, though the same can often be said of humans and animals today.
I was thinking too that the way those dudes traversed mile upon mile of wild mountains, rivers, and waterfalls — even with dislocated ankles and blood gushing from their throats, pretty much for no good reason whatsoever — makes my own hikes in the Rockies seem like a walk in the park. Literally. And no real refuge for them anywhere, just delusion upon delusion.
Yeah, the Canadians may have been having a slow day, I thought, but I am still a very lucky person with a precious human life (at least as long as my karma continues to project this airplane staying up in the air.)
All is here, it is already here
Patient acceptance is a profound mind. It seems to be the other side of the coin from wisdom. With patience we accept the dream-like manifestations of our karma and take responsibility for our conceptual imputations or thoughts. With wisdom we understand that these appearances and thoughts have no existence from their own side and so they can be completely purified and changed. More on that subject here.
Resignation is buying into appearances, I think. So acceptance is not the same as resignation, or fatalism for that matter. I didn’t resign myself to missing my flight, hence my breakaway attempt through Customs, but I did practice a little acceptance. Which of course had its usual benefits, having a soothing and illuminating effect on the mind.
As mentioned before, we can be patient both with external circumstances and with the actual problems within our own minds, our unpleasant feelings – making space for these so that we can deal with them. When we notice mental pain, we don’t resign ourselves to these thoughts, but nor do we repress, suppress, combat, or reject them. The more stiffness, stuckness, and rejection we feel toward whatever is arising, the more we can be prompted to turn toward the natural vast open peaceful spaciousness of our mind, recognizing our Buddha nature, identifying with it. There is room for all of this, there is no need to panic.
In a way, acceptance is an existential decision. We decide to say to each thing that arrives not so much “All is well,” (which can be hard to pull off, especially at first), as, ‘Yes, all is here, it is already here.” If we feel disturbed, hindered, crushed, depressed, or melancholy, we are aware that this is how we are feeling; and it has already arisen and cannot be undone so we accept it. With acceptance we open up an infinite inner space because we have “given up the idea that things should be otherwise”, as Geshe Kelsang says. We have given up the idea of filtering, controlling, validating, and judging everything (including Canadians and, indeed, ourselves).
Patient acceptance enables us to take on the tragedy of samsara without turning our life into a tragedy by identifying with it. We make space. Then we can use what is arising to propel us forwards. Accepting what is makes us more peaceful and more wise, and therefore more able to change what needs to to be changed. As Geshe Kelsang says:
Every opportunity to develop anger is also an opportunity to develop patience. ~ How to Solve our Human Problems
Remembering these teachings means we can in fact be enriched by our experiences, not impoverished. We can even get to the point where we feel as though we are choosing everything.
Last but not least, if you want to make this whole process easier you can also do it in the context of the light, liberating mind of renunciation – it gives us lift off. We don’t have to buy into all these delusions any more if we don’t want to.
Over to you. Comments welcome!
Air travel one of the best ways to experience benevolent emanations of Buddhas!
It certainly seems to be!
Your article brings to mind a teaching of Geshe Kelsang, perhaps 10-12 years ago at a summer festival. Geshela gave a mini commentary on the mind that says “Oh No!”. He taught for quite a while about the ludicrousness of that mind, the ludicrousness of any attempt to reject our current experience. He pointed out that it is a denial of karma, a denial of responsibility, a wishful denial of a conventional truth. We don’t have to actually wait until we say “Oh No!” because we can hear the internal self-speak, and feel the bodily rejection, the tenseness, the tightness. I think it’s almost like developing an optional allergy towards our appearing conventional reality. I don’t remember the actual year of that festival but would like to revisit (re-listen to) that particular teaching. If anyone else does remember it please pass on the year 🙂
Great analogy at the beginning of your article Luna … Reminded me of when my karma changes … Not much I can do but merely patiently accept I am in samsara & it’s my karma ripening. More we resist or fight, the more our negative seeds ripped.
Thank you for the reminder 🙏🏻💗
Can we say that if we do not accept we make stronger our ignorance? Because the only feeling of sad or resistance to the object arising, is alredy an afirmation of the inherent existence of the objects and the I who reject them
Good point … what do others think?
Honest, beautifully writen, and a wise modern kadampa practitioner, realistically practing. What a good example. Hooray and a big helping of thanks to you x
🙂 Aw, you’re a kind monk.
Julian of Norwich is often quoted… “All shall be well, and all shall be well and all manner of thing shall be well.”
but I like yours better!
‘YES, ALL IS HERE, IT IS ALREADY HERE.”
In agreement about the “The Revenant”. Spectacular suffering for no good reason at all.
No good reason seems about right! Cheers, thanks for sharing that quote Franco 🙂
I really look forward to these posts, Luna. They often fill in the gaps between live Kadam Morten NYC teachings which, with him traveling a lot more these days, happen less frequently. Offline and online Dharma, works for me!
Thank you Peter. And may I say that i think you are very lucky to have such a fabulous teacher 🙂