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Accepting vs. Understanding

April 15th, 2013

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A few weeks ago, I came across a children's book that my kids brought from the library, it was about a bat that moved to a little forest and tried to make new friends.

bat

When the other animals approached the bat he would say, what seemed like "silly" things to them, like for instance: "when the rain floods I get my head wet" or "the bottom of the mountains touch the sky."
In time, all the animals started talking about the bat and they all agreed that he was totally nuts, and little by little they left him alone. The bat felt lonely and sad, and had no idea why he had no friends, until one day, the wise owl came along, and he became good friends with the bat, the only friend he had.

All the other animals were puzzled, as to why the owl would be friends with a crazy bat, so they came to visit the owl and told him that the bat was crazy, and told him all the silly things he had said. The owl listened patiently and then asked the animals to follow him, he took them all to a nice tree, and had them each, one by one, hang upside down a sturdy branch for a long period of time. As the animals were doing that, they started seeing the world upside down, like the bat is used to see it, and they realized why the bat said weird things, because he was seeing the world from a totally different perspective, just as real as theirs.

I really liked this story because it teaches kids that no matter how weird certain people may look like or sound to us, we should never judge them harshly and we should always give them a chance. One of my favorite quotes that I shared in my post about judging is:

"In order to understand someone, you need to walk a mile in their shoes"

This is so true, we can't possibly understand others fully unless we are in their shoes and more often than not, we can't do that, so we should simply refrain from judging them. The key to this is learning to accept even when we can't understand, it is as simple as that, acceptance doesn't always come with understanding, if it does, all the better, but we should always try to accept people or events, whether we understand them or not. Unfortunately many people refuse to accept that which they can't understand because they may feel revolted, angry, confused, etc.

This is also true for events and circumstances that happen in our lives, we may not understand them but it is very important to accept them. Accepting only means letting go of resistance, stop resisting what is.
Note that, by accepting, I do not mean we have to be totally passive about what happens, not at all!

In fact we can accept and take action in any direction we consider right, when true acceptance is present, there is no resistance, so our following actions will be much more fruitful, mindful and useful than if we act from a place of resistance and negativity. I would like to share one of my favorite teachings from Eckart Tolle on this topic:

If you find yourself in a less than desired situation, you first need to accept it fully as it is, only then can you have clarity to act, and you usually have 3 options:

  1. You remove yourself from the situation, if that is possible
  2. You change the situation, if you can indeed change it, or
  3. If you can't do any of the above, you go deeply within to learn the lesson from it

So you always have a choice of action, but to know which is the best action to take, you have to get rid of resistance first.

Going back to accepting people, is not as hard as you think, I often find that if I look deeply into the other persons' eyes, I can see myself in each and everyone, we all share a beautiful soul that sometimes gets really buried inside and covered with layers and layers of suffering, fear, conditioning, etc. and it is hard to find, but it is there. Accepting others as they are is an act of compassion.

If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion. ~Dalai Lama

So remember, you can always accept, even when you can't understand! and, as one of my readers pointed out: accepting does NOT mean we agree or approve of the action, event or circumstance either.

Have a great week!

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