Acceptance versus acting

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    Hi Brian,

    One of the spiritual practices that has been recommended is surrender or acceptance. However, sometimes, the people or situations serve as great stumbling blocks to the spiritual practice. When should one act then?


    Each of us is constantly being confronted with obstacles. They are part of God’s design of creation.

    The person who is controlled by the ego is not spiritually prepared to deal with the challenges that arise in life. The ego tends to react unconsciously to a situation it doesn’t like. Then the ego-controlled person creates suffering for himself or others.

    A spiritual practice empowers you to deal with the obstacles that arise in the best way possible. You can connect with the deeper reality and avoid falling under the ego’s influence. You are given a level of detachment or space between yourself and the event arising on the surface of your life.

    Let us look at surrender and acceptance as two different spiritual practices.

    Ramana Maharshi emphasized two spiritual practices: self-enquiry and surrender. David Godman wrote an excellent book about Ramana Maharshi’s teachings titled Be As You Are. There is a section on surrender in the book. Here is a short excerpt of Godman’s description of surrender :

    Completely surrendering all responsibility for one’s life to God or the Self. For such self-surrender to be effective one must have no will or desire of one’ own and one must be completely free of the idea that there is an individual person who is capable of acting independently of God.

    I believe that your question relates more to acceptance than surrender.

    Eckhart Tolle teaches about the spiritual practice of acceptance. He explains that the majority of suffering that we experience is not caused by the inevitable challenges of life but instead by our mental attitude toward them.

    Tolle’s teachings revolve around the Zen practice of entering the present moment. When dealing with a challenge he would advice you to ask yourself, “Is there anything that I can do about this problem right now?” Most situations are not a life-threatening emergency. So the answer is, “No.” You may need to take steps to deal with a challenging situation, but nothing needs to be done right now in this moment.

    Acceptance frees you from the suffering caused by the ego and the thinking mind. Instead of having your awareness trapped within the thinking mind and worrying about a situation, you can instead connect with the deeper reality. Or as Tolle would say you, “enter the present moment.”

    Once you are in the moment you have greater access to your intuition. Then you can come up with the best way of dealing with a challenging situation.

    Acceptance is not a passive resignation to what is happening in your in life. There is not a choice between accepting and acting. You use both approaches to deal with a challenge. You accept what is in this moment, and then you take steps to deal with the situation.


    Thank you Brian for the wonderful reply.


    Kind regards,


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