The DK Foundation

Going there to come back

In the past month, two long-term clients who are very dear to me have been in touch because, in their assessment, they are in a state of crisis, helpless in the circumstances that they find themselves.

Neither is actually tackling the principal problem in their respective situations and in their inertia they are acquiescing to the very things that they so ardently wish to see changed. Both have a problem with taking iniatives: one fears to fail, the other fears to upset other people. Although careful of what they admit to, both are very resentful of others for setting them up to be uncomfortable in the way that they are.

They have contacted the Foundation in a state of bruised bemusement, listing all the things that they have done in support of their plans and expressing bewilderment at their lack of success and life’s harsh treatment of them.

One tells me he is trying to work on acceptance. He laughs about his predicament but he feels cheated by life. The other has the passive resignation of a rabbit caught in the glare of headlights and, bless her heart, probably has not laughed at anything in twenty years

I encourage them to list all the things they could have done and have not in support of their plans, and then the things that they have done and should not have done. If they do this, the situation will be such a mystery, life will not seem so unfair and they will also understand why acceptance is not the answer.

I suspect these lists must be very long because both have gone very quiet and this surely is not because they have been surprised by my response. They both know me too well to know that I am going to give agreement to the proposition that life is unfair or support to self-pity.  If we are prepared to seal people into limitation by this kind of complicity, we might as well shut up shop at the Foundation and join the pier end fortune tellers - preferably on the pier in Brighton that has also given up and is now disintegrating into the sea.

Life is not unfair or problematic. We are happy to see it thus when we do not play our cards well, but what is going on in our western lives is very largely product of our own choices, including the choice not to see options. What we have brought in through choice we can sort out the same way. There is a responsibility in this but here is also freedom, and much of the work done at the Foundation is concerned with helping people access this freedom.

Complaining and making excuses are unkind tricks we play on ourselves to keep ourselves little and powerless. If we will own the mess, there is major opportunity in it because our messes bring our unhelpful tendencies into focus.

There is a rule at the Foundation that everyone clears up what they drop or spill, not as a punishment but because it is an opportunity to recapitulate on things up to that point. If we all did our own cleaning we would live in saner societies, but instead, if we can afford it, we pay other people to take away opportunities.

There is a very important place for acceptance, in our lives but it is not spiritualising inertia.

As a response to specific circumstances acceptance may be a very desirable way of acknowledging the requirements of conscience and honouring responsibilities, or an alternative to corroding effects of grief, disappointment or resentment. But as a spiritual path, acceptance is not suitable for westerners who are brought up to be part of a changing, responsive world. Show me a westerner espousing acceptance as a way of life and, through astrology, I will uncover a person following the line of least resistance for his personality type. In most cases what is being achieved is not a state of acceptance at all but a state of muffled or deferred resentment, or erosion of will leading to impotence.

We would not chose acceptance if we could get our way - because it is not the way of the West. Our spirituality is not based upon surrender. We settle for acceptance when it appears to be the less uncomfortable option. Situations that make us uncomfortable settle into our psyches like fences. Eventually, we stop seeing the fences; we just know not to go there. They become features of our lives, the existence, purpose and consequence of which we no longer question; we just know they denote no-go areas. They are, of course, the defences of the separated self and the cause of our limitations. The spaces in between, cramped, sterile and stony though they often are in between are the comfort zone.

Lives are made and unmade in our comfort zones and even our spirituality may not order us out of it. If we want our life to be more than an uneasy stand-off between what we want and what we think we can get away with, we have to learn to deal with discomfort.

We use feeling comfortable as a sign that things are all right. But it may also be a sign that the life force is preparing to leave, of course. One feels comfortable, we are told, shortly before one drowns or dies of hypothermia. A progressive decision usually does involve a degree of discomfort because; by definition it is breaking new ground for consciousness.

A lot of work has to go into encouraging people not to bolt or subside into despair, but to stay with the discomfort long enough to get the measure of it and decide whether it is informed by conscience, habit, or fear.

Our situation is not helped by the lack of humour and understanding that we have about our own infelicitous choices and the awesomely effective process we are all involved in. How else do we learn about ourselves and how to interact with life of not by trial and error and screwing up? There is no other way: if we are guided by the experiences of others there will be no gris for individuality. It is of this process that we need to learn a greater acceptance. If we are afraid of making mistakes we are afraid of life. And many disciples are very afraid of that messy business that lies in wait for them outside the meditation room where ordinary people have to do ordinary things.

We could all do with more humour and less drama, but spirituality, self-knowledge, and humour have never been comfortable bedfellows. The problem is the self: it is too vain and important. It is more comfortable to think that God has singled us out for misfortune. Believe me, none of us merits it. And you may take that whichever way you like.

In so many respects, whether we are a partner, parent and child it is a lot less controversial to stay within our comfort zones and to see acceptance as the responsible option. But it will not necessarily be easier. If it is to be an act of true acceptance then there must be no complaints against other people or life, no tolerance given to resentment, even the privacy of our own hearts, and no energy sent into thinking about how things might have been.

These qualities make a distinction that the soul recognises, between conscious act of acceptance and missed opportunity. 

A state of inertia is not acceptance

But every mess we make is an opportunity.

We have to go there to come back.

And this year a third client has discovered this. Perhaps it is for this she came to Saturnian England. Whilst the progressed Moon was in her twelfth house, dredging up the previous twenty-six years, she sat beneath her own peepul tree and looked hard at what the Moon revealed  to her. She saw that she had always run away, Leaving other people to deal with the consequences and leaving herself with nothing to show for her forty years on the planet. It was a bitter realisation that filled her with grief and shame and she resolved to put things right for those for whom she considered she had responsibilities. And so without thought for herself - she assumed she had blown it - she began to slowly and painfully to put some structure in her life. I am no soft touch but her anger with herself for her own past stupidity hurt my heart, but I realised she had to do things in her own way and she was not so much beating herself with this stick as driving herself along with it.

Slowly, over months involving much discomfort because she has to take on all the things that hitherto she had run away from, precisely because they provide measures of resolve: the routine, the ordinariness and the responsibilities, the structure began to rise. And beyond it something else was building that she was not seeing because she was not looking for anything more A whole new reality was in formation because she was turning Saturn around. Then she saw it. She is still at the doorway looking out at it hardly daring to believe what she sees, waiting really to be invited to enter it. 

In her native language her name means Grace and I would like to dedicate this article to that amazing, humble woman.

Suzanne Rough

May 2003  

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