A Western Buddhist's Travels

Sightseeing & detours on the path of enlightenment

Becoming Radical means acceptance of others

Yesterday, I discussed respect, today is another virtue that goes hand in hand with respect; acceptance.

Acceptance as with respect starts with yourself. You are who you are, the person you are right now, because of choices that you have made in the past. This is the same for all of us, however who we are today does not define us forever. By accepting who we are now, we can honestly look at what we need to change to become a better person. By accepting who you are right now, you can respect who you are, even with your flaws. Once you can accept that you have flaws, it is easier to accept others having flaws. You could even say, by accepting yourself as you are, you are removing the mask you show others, and reveal the real you.

Accepting yourself as you are now, is not a free pass to continue hurtful or destructive behaviors. Rather it gives us a view of what needs work. If you are always agreeing to do things, to the point you never get everything done, it’s time for a change. One of the best policies in business is to under promise, and over perform, and not over promise and under perform. This is also a good strategy for our own lives.

Once you accept yourself, then you can see everyone else is really the same as you are. Once you realize that we all have attitudes, trained reactions, and preconceptions, you can begin to love yourself and others. How many of you have seen the guys who walk down a street, wolf whistling at all the pretty ladies, or the lady who dresses in a scanty outfit, casually turning her head to see who is looking her way. These are learned behaviors, and we can unlearn them.

Just as ignoring our flaws doesn’t work, neither does blaming ourselves work. If we start by blaming ourselves for our flaws, soon we transfer that blame to others through our thoughts, speech and actions. How often have you come home after a bad day at work, and said something upsetting to a loved one at home, who took the brunt of your frustration with something they didn’t have a part in. The world we live in is not black and white, it’s an infinite number of shades of grey. Just as the yin and yang symbol has a white dot in the black side, and a black dot in the white side, to show that in the light there is always shadow, and the dark always has some light in it. Also the line between the two sides isn’t a straight line, it curves.

Buddhism teaches us that we have 6 roots within ourselves. Three good ones consisting of generosity, loving-kindness, and wisdom, and three evil ones consisting of greed, hate, and delusion. These roots form the basis for the tree of our behavior, and once we realize they feed our behavior, we can become gardeners. We can feed the healthy good roots, while denying sustenance to the evil ones.

There is a First Nations story, about a grandfather talking to his grandson.

A Cherokee is telling his grandson about a fight
that is going on inside himself.
He said it is between 2 wolves.

One is evil: Anger, envy, sorrow, regret,
fearful thinking, greed, arrogance, self-pity,
guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies,
false pride, superiority and ego.

The other is good: Joy, peace, love, hope, serenity,
humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity,
truth, compassion and faith.

The grandson thought about it for a minute
and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf wins?”

The Cherokee simply replied, “The one I feed.”

Use respect and acceptance as a basis to contemplate the changes you wish to make in yourself. Given time you will be amazed at how much nicer other’s seem as well.

 “If we learn to open our hearts, anyone, including the people who drive us crazy, can be our teacher.” Pema Chodron

This series starts here.

Tomorrow is Desire.


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2 thoughts on “Becoming Radical means acceptance of others

  1. I have always loved that old Cherokee story. Great post Keith.

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