Every wave is allowed to arise and dissolve in the vast, unlimited, boundless oceanic space of consciousness that you are, just as all waves are unconditionally allowed to arise and fall in the Ocean, which remains undisturbed, always.
Love is to know yourself as this vast, boundless ocean, and therefore to know deeply that every wave – every thought, every sensation, every feeling, every sound, every smell that arises – is none other than yourself in disguise. Every wave is saturated with yourself – an intimate friend, not an enemy to be feared or pushed away.
When our true nature as the ocean is forgotten, a basic fear of life arises, a fear of the waves, which are now seen as ‘other’, and there is a contracted attitude towards life, with the illusion of a separate ‘me’ at its core, and this is the origin of all of our suffering and seeking, both personal and global.
However, every moment is an invitation to remember, that although the waves of consciousness may rise and crash, in the Ocean’s depths lives the deep peace and silence of yourself. Silence, and knowing.
Life Without a Centre
The following beautiful (and long) post is an excerpt from Jeff Foster’s (as yet to be released) book “The Deepest Acceptance,” which should be published some time in 2012 by Sounds True.
Let’s turn to the idea of acceptance – a word that seems to be very much misunderstood by spiritual seekers. Now, the ocean ‘accepts’ every wave that appears in it [and for ‘ocean’ read ‘conciousness’, or ‘awareness’, or ‘Being’, or pick your favourite word!] because it is every wave that appears! The wave is inseparable from the ocean, and so the ocean has no choice but to accept! The ocean does not accept some waves and reject others – we are talking about an unconditional acceptance that is way beyond our conditioned ideas about acceptance.
The acceptance of the ocean for its waves is beyond the conceptual opposites of acceptance and non-acceptance – the acceptance is the inseparability of the ocean and the waves, and as such it has no opposite. Every wave is already accepted by the ocean, and it is this ‘already accepted’ nature of the waves that goes to the heart of what this book is all about. This is the Deepest Acceptance of life – the acceptance that you as an individual cannot ‘do’.
It’s not a question of trying to do this Deepest Acceptance – it’s a question of recognising it, seeing it in every single experience. You don’t have to ‘do’ this Deepest Acceptance, for it has already been done. And so all that’s left is to see that in this moment, and in every moment, every wave – every thought, every sensation, every feeling – is already allowed to be there. By the time a wave appears it is already accepted – its appearance is its acceptance. In a sense, you have already accepted the present moment, you have already said ‘yes’ to it – otherwise it would not be appearing as it is.
And so throughout this book, when I talk about acceptance, I’m not using the word in the way we have been conditioned to use it. I’m using the word in a new way, that points to this Deepest Acceptance of life, an acceptance, an allowing, that has already been done. And so, when in this book, I suggest that you ‘accept’ or ‘allow’ what is – it’s a shorthand way of directing your attention to the fact that in this moment, those thoughts and feelings are already allowed, because they are already appearing. To ‘accept’ thoughts and feelings is to see that in this moment, those thoughts and feelings are already accepted. It’s not a doing, but a seeing.
This turns many spiritual teachings on their head. Now acceptance is not a place to reach in the future – it’s not something to look for, wait for, hope for. It’s not a magical event that will happen one day. It’s not even grace. It’s something to rediscover, right in the midst of your present experience, here and now.
‘Acceptance’ is not a future goal – it is a present reality, always. If it is grace, then it is an ever-present grace, available to all, no matter what is happening.
This totally revolutionises our understanding of acceptance and rejection. Acceptance is no longer about me – a separate individual – trying to accept, trying to be in a state of constant acceptance – that could so easily just be another form of seeking. It’s about recognising yourself as the open space of acceptance, the ocean which accepts all of its waves.
I remember, years ago when I was identified as being a spiritual seeker, hungry for the release and escape of enlightenment, how I used to believe that doing ‘acceptance’ 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year was the key to becoming enlightened. If I could just accept everything all the time, I would be free, or so I thought. It was a beautiful idea, but no matter how much I tried to accept everything, to be present with everything, to allow everything unconditionally, to be choicelessly aware of everything, there were still some things I just could not accept. Extreme physical pain, rape, torture, genocide – how could I accept all of this? When extreme pain happened in my own experience, I would try desperately to accept it, and would exhaust myself along the way.
I realise now of course, that there was an agenda (in other words, seeking) behind my attempt to accept. I secretly believed that if I accepted the pain, it would go away. It was rejection of pain disguised as acceptance. What an ingenious place for the seeker to hide – right at the heart of a beautiful spiritual practice! Acceptance done with any kind of motive is not real acceptance – it is rejection in disguise.
What I didn’t realise back then was the unconditional, all-encompassing nature of acceptance. I was so busy trying to accept that I missed this deeper acceptance of life, in which even my failure to accept was accepted! Yes, this is how radical this acceptance is – even your non-acceptance of pain is accepted. All waves are accepted by the ocean, and if what’s happening right now is non-acceptance of pain, then that is accepted too. The pain is okay, and Jeff’s dislike of pain is okay. The seeker is accepted even in their failure.
And of course, here is a total paradox. If my non-acceptance of pain is accepted by life, totally accepted, then it is no longer non-acceptance. The non-acceptance transmutes. Logically, philosophically, rationally, this makes no sense – but it is so. I don’t want you to believe me – I want you to discover this for yourself. This book is all about that discovery.
This is about a deeper sense of okayness, even when on the surface things are not okay. It is about a deeper completeness, even when on the surface things don’t seem complete. What I’m talking about is the ultimate relaxation, the ultimate peace, the ultimate stillness beyond all conditioned ideas of stillness. It’s not about you – a separate person – being relaxed or peaceful – it’s about a deeper sense of relaxation that comes with knowing that every thought, every sensation, every feeling is already accepted in the space that you are.
Knowing that, in the moment, even your non-acceptance is accepted is something that can crack even the most hardened suffering at its core. You could say perhaps that all suffering is simply our blindness to this Deepest Acceptance.
Viewed from this new perspective, all suffering is an invitation to this deepest acceptance. Suffering is no longer something ‘bad’ or ‘evil to be transcended or destroyed’ – it is a unique opportunity to see what you are still at war with. Within suffering, you will always find this war – you will always find a blindness to this deepest acceptance. And so the war is always an invitation back to this deepest acceptance.
Suffering hurts, and the hurt points us home. There is a very beautiful word in the English language – nostalgia – and it means ‘the pain of coming home’.
It could also mean ‘the discovery of home, even in the midst of pain’…
Jeff’s web site is Life Without a Centre.