The Perfection of Acceptance

Ksanti (kshanti): Patience, acceptance; to suffer or allow things to happen with perfect equanimity. In its highest perfection it means to welcome all events, good or evil, with the knowledge that they only happen to help us to grow, but have no inherent reality.

Regarding acceptance, human beings fall into two great errors: the first is to refuse to see evil where it exists, and the second is to fear it when one does see it. – Inscribed on the Believing Mind

God is all and God is perfect; therefore, anything that we see as imperfect is within us. – Lester Levenson

One day Banzan was walking through a market. He overheard a customer say to the butcher, “Give me the best piece of meat you have.”
“Everything in my shop is the best,” replied the butcher. “You cannot find any cut of meat that is not the best.” (Zen koan)

Said Ummon to his disciples, “I do not ask you to say anything about what has happened before today, the fifteenth of the month, but say something about after today, the fifteenth of the month.” Because no monk could reply, Ummon answered himself and said, “Every day is a good day!”  (Suzuki, 1950, p. 56)

If you view something that is right as right, then there is something that is wrong. If you view something that is wrong as right, then there is nothing that is wrong. – The Ta-ch’eng Ju-tao An-hsin fa

Be very charitable; when one of your eyes sees what is not right, shut it and then open the other one! Change everything into good. – Saint Mariam of Jesus Crucified (the Flying Nun)

Be a passerby. – Yeshua (Gospel of Thomas)

Without a breath of censure or criticism, he surveyed the world with eyes long familiar with the Primal Purity. His body, mind, speech, and actions were effortlessly harmonized with his soul’s simplicity. – Yogananda

God gives to all things alike, and as they all proceed from God they are alike. . . . A flea, to the extent that it is in God, ranks above the highest angel in his own right. Thus in God all things are the same and are God himself. – Meister Eckhart (Walshe, Vol. II, Sermon Fifty Seven)

If you truly walk the Way,
You are blind to the faults of the world.
If you judge others’ faults,
Your fault-finding itself is wrong.
Others’ faults I do not judge;
For my faults I blame only myself. – Hui-neng (BTTS)


Those who know that coming and going are not under the control of the self know that that which the ego takes as real are illusory phenomena that cannot be grasped. If one stops resisting the illusion, one becomes unlimited. If one stops resisting changes, then one is not disturbed by anything that happens.

* * *

The sage has patience with things and does not have patience with himself and with him there is no grasping and rejecting, disliking or liking. The stupid one has patience with himself and does not have patience with things, and with him there is grasping and rejecting, disliking and liking. If you can empty your mind, be unhurried and free and completely forget the world, this is having patience with things and going along with the times, which is easy. Opposing, resisting and changing things is difficult. If something wills to come, let it come and do not resist it; if it wills to depart, let it go and do not chase after it. Whatever you have done is past and not to be regretted. That which you have not yet done (or that which has not yet happened), let go of it and do not think of it. This is to be a practitioner of the Way. Having patience, one leaves the world to its own devices, and gain and loss do not arise from the self. If you have patience and do not oppose, if you let go and do not resist, where and when will you not roam in the remote? (Bodhidharma’s Method for Quieting the Mind)

Meister Eckhart:

Meister Eckhart said to a poor man, ‘God give you good morning, brother.’
‘Keep it for yourself, sir, I have never had a bad one.’
He said, ‘How is that, brother?’
‘Because whatever God has sent me to suffer, I have suffered gladly for His sake and have considered myself unworthy of Him, and so I have never been sad or troubled.’
He asked, ‘Where did you first find God ?’
‘When I left all creatures behind, then I found God.’
He said, ‘Where did you leave God, brother?’
‘In every pure, clean heart.’
He said, ‘What kind of a man are you, brother?’
‘I am a king.’
He asked, ‘Of what?’
‘Of my flesh, for whatever my spirit desired from God, my flesh was always more nimble and quick to perform and endure than my spirit was to receive.’
He said, ‘A king must have a kingdom. What is your realm, brother?’
‘In my soul.’
He said, ‘In what way, brother?’
‘When I have closed the doors of my five senses and desire God with all my heart, I find God in my soul, as radiant and joyous as He is eternal life.’
He said, ‘You must be a saint. Who made you one, brother?’
‘Sitting still and raising my thoughts aloft and uniting with God that has drawn me up to heaven, for I could find no rest in anything that was less than God. Now I have found Him, I have rest and joy in Him eternally, and that surpasses all temporal kingdoms. There is no outward work so perfect, but it hinders the inner life.’ (Walshe, 2009, pp. 580-581)

The Mahaprajnaparamita Sutra:

Furthermore, a Bodhisattva stands firm in the perfection of patience. He instigates, exhorts, introduces beings to patience, in the following way: Upon taking the vow of enlightenment he puts on the armour thus: “If all beings were to hit me with sticks, clods, fists, or swords, not even one single thought of anger should arise in me; and also should I introduce all beings to such patience!”

It is as if a clever magician or magician’s apprentice had conjured up a great crowd of people: if they all hit him with sticks, clods, fists, or swords, he would bear towards them not even a single thought of anger; and if he were to introduce these magically created beings to such patience, no being at all would have been introduced to it, however many he had introduced to it. The same is true of the Bodhisattva. And why? For such is the true nature of things that in fact they are illusory. (Conze, 1975, p. 139)

The Prophet Isaiah:

“Behold, all they that were incensed against thee shall be humbled and confounded: they shall be as nothing; and they that strive against thee shall perish. Thou shalt seek them and shalt not find them, even them that fought against thee; for they that war against thee shall be as nothing, and as a thing of nought. For I the LORD thy God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, Fear not; I will help thee.” – Isaiah 41:11-13

Lester Levenson: “When we want to change the world, it is the ego playing God.”

Q: I really couldn’t care less about politics or all these things which at one time seemed so important. Is that bad?
Lester: No, you are right. The higher you go the more you see the perfection and therefore the less you see the problems. The more one sees problems, the lower one is. What you’re talking about is problems.
Q: So, I should just do everything with a desire to help, and that is love.
Lester: Yes, just feel love–you don’t necessarily have to do anything. Love, and your thoughts are positive. Thought is far more powerful than action. It’s the basis of and effects action; it’s the initiator. It comes before it and determines action. A realized being sitting in a cave somewhere all by himself is doing more good for the world than organizations of action. He is aiding everyone, his help being subconsciously received by all.
Q: Sometimes I think it’s easier to go along with the crowd.
Lester: If you think it’s easier, just go their way and you’ll have more misery, just as they do. Desire for ego-approval makes it seem easier; you’ll find out otherwise. You’ve been one of the crowd, haven’t you? You’ve been like them. It’s not easy. No, the right way is easier. Do you see that? The right way is letting go and letting God, and then everything falls into line perfectly, no effort. But when I have to do it, it’s not God; it’s me, the ego, wanting to do, to change things, correct this world and so forth.

Conze, Edward (1975). The Large Sutra on Perfect Wisdom. University of California Press. (download)

Jorgensen, John A. (1979). The Earliest Text of Ch’an Buddhism: The Long Scroll. The Australian National University. (download)

Levenson, Lester (1993). Keys to the Ultimate Freedom. (keys-to-the-ultimate-freedom)

Suzuki, D. T. (1950). Living By Zen. New York: Samuel Weiser, Inc.

M. O’C. Walshe (1987). Meister Eckhart: Sermons and Treatises Volume II. UK: Element Books Limited.

Walshe, Maurice O’C. (2009). The Complete Mystical Works of Meister Eckhart. New York: The Crossroad Publishing Company. (download)

Useful resources for the practice of acceptance:

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