No matter what spiritual practice you follow, at the core is acceptance. Acceptance is very difficult with our normal state of mind, as we have been brought up to label, judge and believe we are separate from everything and everyone. When in fact we are all connected. With Zen practice we go beyond mind and therefore beyond the thoughts that separate us. Going beyond the “ego”, as many would describe it. With this state of mind you are in acceptance, you are saying Yes to whatever is. You are accepting your thoughts, feelings and anyone or anything that is around you. Whatever this moment brings, you accept it fully. Even if it is something you don’t like. With this acceptance comes peace and all the other benefits of Zen. From that state of consciousness, you can then make wiser decisions. Shunryu Suzuki says:
In the zazen posture, your mind and body have great power to accept things as they are, whether agreeable or disagreeable.
This is the key to connecting with life on a very deep level – a spiritual level. Accepting whatever is, is all you need to do. As this however can be difficult, you practice Zen – you meditate, you focus on your breath, you sit up right, you bring your attention into the moment, you stay alert. This of course is an on going effort. It is more important to bring your self into the state of acceptance more frequently, then it is to stay in this state for long periods of time. So continually coming into the present moment with a “yes” I can accept this – whatever that may be. This is give you great rewards in life. This state can also be called surrender. Surrendering to what is. Eckhart Tolle in his book the Power Of Now says:
Surrender is the simple but profound wisdom of yielding to rather than opposing the flow of life. The only place where you can experience the flow of life is the Now, so to surrender is to accept the present moment unconditionally and without reservation. It is to relinquish inner resistance to what is. Inner resistance is to say “no” to what is, through mental judgment and emotional negativity. It becomes particularly pronounced when things “go wrong,” which means that there is a gap between the demands or rigid expectations of your mind and what is. That is the pain gap. If you have lived long enough, you will know that things “go wrong” quite often. It is precisely at those times that surrender needs to be practiced if you want to eliminate pain and sorrow from your life. Acceptance of what is immediately frees you from mind identification and thus reconnects you with Being. Resistance is the mind.
Surrender is a purely inner phenomenon. It does not mean that on the outer level you cannot take action and change the situation. In fact, it is not the overall situation that you need to accept when you surrender, but just the tiny segment called the Now.
For example, if you were stuck in the mud somewhere, you wouldn’t say: “Okay, I resign myself to being stuck in the mud.” Resignation is not surrender. You don’t need to accept an undesirable or unpleasant life situation. Nor do you need to deceive yourself and say that there is nothing wrong with being stuck in the mud. No. You
recognize fully that you want to get out of it. You then narrow your attention down to the present moment without mentally labeling it in any way. This means that there is no judgment of the Now. Therefore, there is no resistance, no emotional negativity. You accept the “isness” of this moment. Then you take action and do all that you can to get out of the mud. Such action I call positive action. It is far more effective than negative action, which arises out of anger, despair, or frustration. Until you achieve the desired result, you continue to practice surrender by refraining from labeling the Now.
This is a great practice. Try sitting or lying down and accepting everything that is going on in the moment, including your thoughts, any noises you hear, and feeling that arises, just accept it as it comes and see what happens. The key hear is to not expect things to change, but to simply accept what is. There is a difference. When you are trying to accept to bring about change, you are then in non-acceptance – as you are wanting something other then this moment. You are wanting the future. So simply accept this moment.