One of the gray areas for me on my journey has been acting on vs. accepting what is. I would like to share with you my own experiences with this in terms of interpersonal relationships, as well as what I have read.
As an example, when I am engaged in a conversation with someone and they say something that I feel is untrue about myself, I accept that rather than react to it (unless I slip up). In fact, I go a step further to look for the truth in what is being said to me. Other people tend to point out the things in us that we don’t want to deal with or haven’t dealt with yet, especially if what they are saying causes an emotional reaction in us.
Aside from that, what they are saying is true for them even if I see it as being false. Sometimes I see how another person is actually projecting their own issues onto me, but I don’t point that out to them as that is their business. Plus, I may be tempted to use that observation as an escape route from my own culpability. The main thing I do is notice how I feel when that happens and respect the other person where they are on their journey. I don’t try to convince them they are wrong.
The reality of this moment is what is being presented to us, regardless of what form that takes. As Byron Katie points out, “When I argue with reality, I lose – but only 100% of the time.” So rather than argue with reality because I don’t like what it has presented, I try to make peace with it and take action from that space. I remember that we are always being presented with exactly what we need at this moment, otherwise it would not be happening. I try to look at my life situation as if it is calling me to awaken. Life serves as my mirror. My ideas about myself are projected out onto others and I can learn from that if I am open and not in a state of resistence.
It’s also been illustrated to me that someone else's pain that they take out on you, in the form of anger or hostility, ultimately may have nothing to do with you. It has to do with their own past pain. This makes it much easier for me not to take things personally, or at least notice when I do. If someone seems angry at me, I know deep down that I am playing an important role in bringing something to that person's attention that they have not dealt with yet, just as they are doing for me. I am just a mirror of them and vise versa, so I try to look at it from that perspective. Regardless of whether we are acting consciously or unconsciously, we are all part of a universal process designed to bring about freedom in one another, whether we like it or not, accept it or resist it.
When someone close to me is suffering and I want to help but don’t know what to do, I can accept "not knowing" as it is. In so doing, I have had ideas come to me out of that state of accepting my own confusion. In effect, clarity can come from a state of confusion when we surrender to the fact that we don’t have a clue what to do. Meditation can also aid in finding the "right" action by becoming fully present and putting out an intention or question. It's said that we can not ask a question we don't already know the answer to, which I have found to be true. That means we just need to clear our minds so that answer can come to us.
At this stage I am constantly seeing how identification with the past creates hostility and suffering in myself and other people. When I see two people arguing or saying things designed to hurt, or complaining about something someone said to them, I see how simple it would be for them to release that feeling, simply by doing The Work (as Byron Katie refers to it) on the issues at hand, or by becoming fully present with no concept of an imagined past. It is not the other person causing the suffering we experience, it’s our own thoughts about the situation or person. I typically don’t offer this up to people because they may not want to rid themselves of those feelings for fear of losing their victim identity or having to admit they might be wrong. That’s a scary concept for the ego.
The conclusion I have come to is to accept, then act if need be. If I can’t accept something, I look within to see what is causing the resistence. It always has to do with me and not someone else. Once my present situation is accepted fully, I can then act more efficiently than when I am in resistence. Resistence just creates more resistence in the mirror of the world we are looking at, so it’s up to me (and you) to make the world a better place.
Below are some quotes from “Loving What Is” by Byron Katie I think you will enjoy.
If [he] says something that hurts, he’s just revealed what you haven’t wanted to look at yet. The man is a Buddha.
[W]e’re babies just learning how to live out our love. We keep trying to meet love in everything and everyone, because we haven’t noticed that we already have it, that we ARE it.
What I love most about reality is that it’s always the story of a past. And what I love most about the past is that it’s over.
“It’s a tree. It’s a table. It’s a chair.” Is it true? Have you stopped to ask yourself? Have you ever become still and listened as you asked you? Who told you it was a tree? Who was the original authority? How did they know? My entire life, my entire identity, had been built on the trust and uninquiring innocence of a child.
But even the Now is a concept. Even as the thought completes itself, it’s gone, with no proof that it ever existed, other than as a concept that would lead you to believe it existed, and now that one is gone too. Reality is always the story of a past. Before you can grasp it, it’s gone. Each of us already has the peaceful mind that we seek.
We [the world around you] don’t know how to change; we don’t know how to forgive or how to be honest. We’re waiting for an example. You’re the one. You are your only hope, because we’re not changing until you do. Our job is to keep coming at you, as hard as we can, with everything that angers, upsets, or repulses you, until you understand. We love you that much, whether we’re aware of it or not. The whole world is about you.