It has been a few days since I have written, not for lack of desire, but because I was on vacation in Charleston, South Carolina, and it was wonderful. I loved every minute of it. Even the moments I might look back on now in search of “unpleasantness” were actually really enjoyable nuances in the grand scheme of life. I had a lot of really deep discussions with my fellow adventurers and I hope that what I said came across as genuine, intentional, and not-to-crazy.
Though what is crazy really? Why would I care if someone were to think I was crazy? I learned this weekend that early settlers used urine to dye their clothing. They let pee get stale and then soaked their brand new clothes in it! That’s crazy right? But that was day to day reality for the people of the 1600-1700s. Their reality seems crazy to us, but it was sane to the people experiencing it.
“reality is what you make it” or “life is what you make it”
We’ve heard it time and time again, either to our peace or pain. I have even alluded to similar themes already in this young blog. However I believe there to be more to it than just that. Sure in fact you could simplify it to such a minuscule statement, but the depth of power to that statement should not go unnoticed.
What is reality, really?
Reality is what we consider to be real. That’s what I would think initially, but how many times in human history have we come to accept new facts that create new realities. Learn something new that shifts our entire view of reality. Just thinking about the way the world has changed so incredibly over the last 10, 50, 100, 200 years is incredible. It creates an almost unending list of new facts that completely reshaped the way we as humans would understand what we now consider to be our reality, but in the past would label “heresy” or “witchcraft”
With this in mind, delving deeper into what “reality” really is starts to mean something different. It makes our reality temporary, and changing. Mutable even. This is where the ideas presented in Perspective: The Philosopher’s Stone came to fruition. As we discussed in that article, reality is simply what most people perceive. However, an important aspect may have been overlooked in that article, as is the nature of this short form publishing. That is to activate that control over perspective, you first after to accept reality for its temporary, transmutable entirety. Until you accept that the world can be shaped in front of you, by your perspective, it will not. That is the purpose of this article. To better understand reality, so that we may have better acceptance for it.
I’ve heard it said, though I will need to research where, before we can change anything, we must first accept it for what it is. That sounds like a really complicated idea, or a parable, but it’s as simple as it’s written. We have to be able to understand something, to know it, identify it, before we can change it. We have to know what blue and yellow are, before we can change either of them to green. This means that if we do not fully grasp and accept our reality for what it is, we will not be able to change it into a reality we like.
I have found though, the more my reality may change, especially when it is changing for the better, the harder it is to accept, and therefore the pace at which it changes begins to halt. This leads me to believe that acceptance is not a one-time thing. It is not an enlightenment button you get to press with enough meditation, or prayer. It comes in waves of influence and ebbs and flows like the rest of existence.
When we get distracted by the changes, or start having trouble accepting reality, we find all of our experience begins to deteriorate. Our ability to do anything seems to vanish, Our creativity, love, passion, motivation, all gone. This causes us to naturally fall into looking for a reality we can accept, as opposed to accepting the one in front of us and making it into what we want it to be. This means the energy we would be spending shaping reality, is now being poured into searching for a reality and the longer you look for the perfect one, the harder it becomes to accept any reality for what it is.
In Religious Practice
There are a lot of practices around the world that can help us achieve true acceptance over our reality. In fact much of the Tao Te Ching speaks about acceptance as a pillar of spirituality and happiness. It took me time and dedication to find a system that helps me understand and accept things for what they are, and even this “system” has changed and adapted as many times or more than my ever-changing reality. At this time the way I recenter myself in reality, to accept things for what they are is:
- Figure out what I can do at this very minute to change the “problems” in my reality
- Do my best to change the things I can about these undesired parts of reality
- Accept that I have changed the things I can, and the things that have not changed are meant to remain for now.
Reading this over I realize that there is a lot of similarity to a prayer:
Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
the courage to change the things I can,
and the wisdom to know the difference. “
Just another example of how all religions tie into each other to teach us the same lessons, and provide us the same tools to achieve the same goal. It is our understanding of them that differs, not the ideas. The idea of acceptance persists through even more religions still. In many ideas of Buddhism is the concept that we should accept that “existence is suffering” which does sound immediately miserable out of context, but with contemplation is incredibly powerful. In this idea, if we apply the same practice of dualities, we accept suffering and receive serenity (similar to the prayer), thus changing our reality. That means when we accept our reality for what it is, we will then be able to change that into anything else we desire. The first step to change is acceptance.
Important to note here, is that a Buddhist would most likely not agree that this should be used to “change our reality”. In fact the entire idea is to accept that we cannot change the nature of existence which is to suffer, or “accept the things we cannot change”, as in the prayer above. This creates a bit of a conundrum though, as the reason we are meant to accept that existence is suffering is so that we may find peace within that. Peace in knowing that we will suffer and that’s okay. That’s beautiful, but also magical because by accepting suffering, we experience peace.
This is the trans-mutative power of acceptance. We did not achieve that peace by seeking peace, we achieved it by accepting the opposite, its duality. We accept suffering, and because of that acceptance, within it simultaneously, we experience peace. This brings all the ideas of the last few articles together, we realize that Through Acceptance of One Side of a Duality, We Experience the Other, Thus Influencing our Perspective, and in Turn Our Reality. Fear becomes love, and happiness perseveres.