To accept the workings of the universe

Article by Ed and Deb, from care2.

We
were just with Deb’s mother, Anne, in England. On the third day we were
invited for tea at the House of Lord’s (more of that below) and were
preparing to catch a train to London. In a bit of a rush we were
quickly downing breakfast when the toast got burnt. We watched in
amusement as Anne took a deep breath and simply said, “Oh dear, burnt
toast,” calmly tossed it in the trash and put a fresh slice of bread in
the toaster.

Few of us usually have such a reaction to burnt toast, especially
when we are in a hurry. But Deb’s mom displayed the same attitude of
calm acceptance later that day when we were having tea in London. Now,
being invited to the House of Lords does not happen every day, but we
were there to discuss a meditation project with one of the younger
Lords. It is a stunningly beautiful old building, seeped in history and
tradition and was a real treat for Ed, who grew up in the Bronx. We sat
in the chambers and listened to the debate; we walked through the
Queen’s robbing room where her throne sits; and then we went for tea.

Tea in the regal Tea Rooms sounds quintessentially English and we
fully expected it to be of good English quality. The room was
spectacular, the service was everything we could have wanted, but the
cakes were not—they were boring, dry, commercial and cheap—not good
Brit fare at all. All we could do was swallow distastefully and
continue our conversation.

Accepting and simply being with what is, is a quality that Deb’s
mother has perfected. It showed itself as she delicately ate her most
unappetizing chocolate éclair. It is a quality that we can continue to
learn in every moment that does not go our way. But, instead, we
usually spend most of our time wishing that things were different –
whether it is the big things like our partner or job, or the smaller
things like the weather, burnt toast, or chocolate éclairs.

When we resist what is then we create more suffering for ourselves,
as there is a constant, underlying dissatisfaction, otherwise known as
the “If Only…” syndrome: if only this, that or the other happened, then
I could be happy. If only so-and-so would change his or her behavior /
lose weight / find a job, then I could be happy. If only I had more
money / a bigger house / went traveling / had a good lover, then I
could be happy. We were teaching a workshop and a participant, Mary,
said she could only be happy when her children were happy. The list is
endless. You can fill in the blank spaces for yourself.

Accepting what is, as it is, does not mean that we are like doormats
and get passively walked over by all and sundry. Rather, it means
recognizing that what happened even just a second ago can never be
changed, it is letting the past be where it is so it does not take over
the future. We make friends with ourselves and our world. At the same
time we can also make changes wherever necessary, working toward a
saner and more caring present. We can either make a song and dance
about burnt toast and get even more stressed, or we can take a deep
breath and put a fresh slice of bread in the toaster.

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