In the Here and Now

Forgiveness and self-acceptance are part of the practice of being in the moment.

BY: Lama Surya Das

 

Continued from page 1

We can make friends with ourselves in this way, and come to self-acceptance--and even an unselfish form of self-love--which greatly reduces the wear and tear that inner conflict and stress inflicts upon our bodies and minds.

This kind of mind training or attitude transformation can help us to learn a great from our difficult experiences. We can make lemons into lemonade, as the saying goes; we can turn stumbling blocks into stepping stones on the path of conscious growth and inner development. Where would we be without our wounds? Where would our power of compassion, empathy, and understanding come from? We all experience some bad karma sooner or later; but even bad karma can help us become more sensitive to the plight of others, and contribute to their well being. At the very least it can help us to feel that no one wants inflicted upon them what we ourselves dislike and wish to avoid, a poignant realization that can vastly further strengthen our own compassionate altruism and nonviolence.

I personally have found that the most painful of life's experiences are often the most growthful in that they precipitate personal transformation, if taken with both insightful wisdom and a friendly, compassionate spirit. My favorite Buddhist virtues are Patient Forbearance and Perseverance, and Courageous Acceptance. They help me befriend all the parts of myself and all various facets of life, both pleasurable and painful. Cultivating these inner strengths within my own heart and mind brings indescribable peace, balance, and harmony into my life and all my relations, and provides a still center within me that is like a sanctuary or refuge amidst the vicissitudes of this chaotic world.

We must learn how to work with all kinds of disappointments, losses, griefs, and suffering in life; how we relate to them makes all the difference. Timeless wisdom tells us that it is not what happens to us that determines our character, our karma, and our destiny, but what we do with what happens to us that determines who we are to be and what kind of life we actually have.

We all have plenty of life experiences. However, some of us just rush headlong from one to another as if life is not much more than a "to do" list. Without much reflection upon the meaning and lessons of our experiences, and without integrating this "higher education" into our lives, we cannot develop our capacity to be wise elders. Without reflection or introspection, we run the risk of squandering ourselves and becoming little more than a weary old fool.

The Buddha said:
"Do not pursue the past.
Do not lose yourself in the future.
The past no longer is.
The future has not yet come.
Looking deeply at life as it is
in the very here and now,
the practitioner dwells
in stability and freedom."

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