Yesterday we talked about unconditional love. Acceptance is another concept that is closely associated with unconditional love. Now we will look at the difference between accepting someone and loving them.
The thought process
Over the years I have found the idea of being accepting much more difficult to grasp and achieve than the idea of being loving. Why is that, you ask? My experience tells me that most people easily identify themselves with the image that they are loving people, but fewer look at the idea that they are accepting of everyone and everything in their life.
In this, I have come to see that being an accepting person is much more difficult to achieve than being a loving person. Over the next two days I will attempt to illustrate why it is much more important for our spiritual growth to strive to be accepting rather than loving people.
As I consciously began the journey of my spiritual path, I was fortunate to have a very wise teacher. He rarely used the word “love”. I never thought about it at the time, but looking back nearly thirty years to those days, I think I am starting to understand.
The fact that the word “love” was rarely used did not bother me at the time. I was in my mid-twenties and had not found much good use for that word. If I told someone I loved them it was either because I thought I “should” say that or because they were expecting me to say it. I observed that the word love seemed to have a different meaning for everyone who used it.
My teacher constantly talked about “accepting”. Accept yourself. Accept those around you. Accept the situation you were in. Accept everything that has happened in your life. My remembrance of the reason he said these things was so that through acceptance we could begin to master ourself and thereby master the situation around us. According to him, when we are not accepting of ourself and the situation we are in, we are in denial. When we are in denial we cannot fix, resolve, or change anything to our benefit.
Putting it into practice
That was a great explanation for the time. I was just barely aware that there was such a thing as a spiritual path. I had no idea that by accepting what was around me that I could learn to master myself and the situation around me.
Learning acceptance became one of the greatest tools in my little box of things that I used to fix my life. Over the years, when I encountered a “problem” I learned to look to myself and find that it was because I was not accepting of the situation. In reviewing my lack of acceptance within a situation, it almost always came back to an attachment that I had to what the situation “should be”. I next reviewed the lessons that my teacher drilled into my head about attachments causing pain. Gradually I understood that lack of acceptance is caused by attachments and attachments always lead to pain. Eventually I started living a much more pain free, nonattached, and accepting life.
OK – what now?
So what does this have to do with love? I am getting there, just hold your horses.
Within a few years of beginning my association with this wise teacher, I started hanging out with members of the “New Age Movement” in Arizona. My teacher said that there was nothing “new” about it, and it was not “moving” anywhere. Being new to all this stuff I filed this remark. My teacher encouraged me to expose myself to the ideas of the new age groups. He wanted me to learn for myself and make my own decisions. He pointed me where to go, but I had to learn to travel my own path.
I noticed that the new age people used the terms “love” and “light” a lot. Everything would be just fine “some day” when we become “loving beings and we are filled with light”. However, there was no agreement on how to achieve this lofty goal.
Some said it was meditation. Some said it was diet. Others swore (I am not making this up) by drinking your own urine. Others said that it was all in the Urantia Bible. Others waited to be beamed bodily into “mother ships”. This last reminds me of the description of the rapture that is currently being postulated by fundamental Christians. Also, I was not surprised when the Heaven’s Gate Cult mass suicide was publicized.
I gradually moved along my own path and away from these groups and their ideas. I immersed myself in the corporate world for twenty years and worked on my little mantra. “Pain comes from attachment and attachment indicates lack of acceptance.” I worked on acceptance and never gave a thought to the idea of becoming a loving person.
Today we have gradually worked through the evolution of my thoughts regarding acceptance. As I was learning to be accepting I was unknowingly learning to understand unconditional love. Tomorrow we will look at how I finalized my understanding of the difference between acceptance, our normal use of the word “love”, and unconditional love.
Until tomorrow –
Es kava turen hai
We work towards an identical goal.
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