Just as there are laws of the physical universe such as Newton's laws of gravitation and motion, there are five sequential rules that govern spiritual consciousness. They are acceptance, cooperation, understanding, loving, and enthusiasm. Each one is a doorway to the next. Our awareness of the presence of spirit in our lives is governed by these five laws. As we become able to comprehend and align ourselves with them, we gain access to the treasures they guard.
I think of spiritual consciousness as our ability to know our divine nature and to let that inform how we function in our lives. No matter what one's beliefs are regarding God, spirituality, or religion, the laws of spirit represent a passageway to mental and emotional freedom. When we do not work in cooperation with these laws, our consciousness typically operates in a reactive mode to external conditions -- perceiving ourselves to be victims or winners in the game of life.
The first law of spirit, or stepping stone along this path to freedom, is acceptance. Real acceptance is not for wimps, nor is it a wishy-washy passive way of making do with whatever is present. It is not a "whatever" attitude of resignation either. Acceptance is a conscious choice to drop all forms of resistance to whatever has come present in the moment and making the most of it. Acceptance isn't about liking or approving of something. It is about letting life flow and unfold without getting in the way. It is about being receptive rather than exerting resistance to what comes present. Instead of focusing on the past or the future or wanting things to be different than they are, we open to what is true in the moment. This absence of "againstness" allows us to engage our reality in such a way that we can learn from it and strengthen our ability to function in this world.
For many of us, our first impulse is to resist something that we do not like that comes our way. Acceptance requires overriding this impulse and choosing to breathe into and through the experience, trusting that it has value that is for us and not against us. The truth of the matter is that resistance prolongs the negative experience, and acceptance allows for the possibility of changing our experiences by changing our attitudes.
Consider the bride who had her heart so set on having an outdoor wedding that she didn't make a solid plan B in case of inclement weather. As her wedding day arrived, the storm clouds were rolling in and the forecast was not promising. She was the one who would make the final judgment call about whether or not to move the ceremony indoors. She woke up worrying about the weather, and was distracted by her concerns throughout the entire day leading up to her 6 p.m. ceremony. She missed out on all the available joy and excitement of spending her wedding day with her bridal party. She didn't realize that while the impending storm was out of her control, the internal weather in her heart and mind was entirely up to her. Instead of deciding to play it safe and give her team time to set up the ceremony indoors, she waited until the very last minute. Finally, I went to encourage her to move the ceremony indoors. She was sitting there sobbing in her wedding dress, with makeup dripping down her stubborn face. Just then, the sky blackened and there was a torrential downpour. All the chairs were soaked, the guests ran for cover in a panic and the staff was out in the rain gathering the chairs, whisking them into the reception tent, toweling them dry while sliding over the wet and treacherous floor. Imagine how different this bride's day would have been if she had been able to accept that she had no control over the weather.
Here are two things to watch out for next time you have preconceived notions about how you want things to be and then reality presents you with something very different:
- If you hold on to your desire, you create a mental and emotional tension between your desire and reality. The distance between the two will be connected by a stream of negative emotions. Alternatively, if you choose to accept reality, all that energy that would have been spinning around in negativity can be invested in figuring out how to make the best of your situation.
- As in the example of the bride described above, no amount of wishful thinking or attachment to a desired outcome makes it any more probable than it is. Consider only truly viable alternatives. If there is a 70 percent chance of rain, attaching yourself to the idea of sunshine merely sets you up for unhappiness and blinds you from seeing, appreciating, and investing in the real options that are available to you.
Ultimately, acceptance is about trusting yourself to rise to whatever occasion presents itself to you. It is about being open to ALL of life, knowing that it all has value whether you like it or not.
Here are two of my favorite quotes on the subject of acceptance:
The reason more of us are not spiritually aware people is that we often don't or won't accept what is happening. Acceptance is a flow of consciousness that continually moves on to the next thing.
So accept whatever comes your way, and don't grumble against anything that happens to you. If it happens, it happens. Go on about your business. Keep flowing. You cannot control circumstances from the outside, so instead of resisting pain or failure and defending against it, you can embrace and encompass your pain and your failures, fully accepting them so that they become part of you.
You then can let them go because they are part of your inner environment -- they are within your domain -- and the loving of your Soul can dissolve them. -- John-Roger
Accept -- then act. Whatever the present moment contains, accept it as if you had chosen it ... This will miraculously transform your whole life. -- Eckhart Tolle
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