The Jewels of Acceptance

— Gopikrishnan Kottoor

The woman who brought her dead child to the Buddha, imploring him to bring him back to life was asked by the Great One to fetch a mustard seed from a house that had not known death. What the Buddha wished the mother to fathom was that death was a part of life. It happens to everyone. One cannot wish death away. Acceptance of reality as a prelude to getting on with life is the moral of the parable of ‘The Buddha and the Mustard Seed’.

When you have done all there is that you have within your means about something that's bothering your mind, and the storm still continues. What do you do? Lie back and cry? Is your misfortune so heavy and unbearable? Take a good look at the photographs of innocent children appearing in newspapers because their parents have no money to save them from the dreaded cancer called leukemia. Or watch children in the hospital hardly able to open their eyes or suck their mother’s milk, because their little muscles are dying every moment, on account of myopathy. They encounter terrible pain that’ll hasten to snuff out their tiny lives. The children have hardly begun to cherish the gifts of nature, earth, love, and life. When you think of such realities, would you still think ‘O my God, why only me’? How much more human to realize, that there are deeper tragedies in this world happening to millions of innocents, by the seconds? Ask yourself this question. Are you not more fortunate in many ways than many around you?

You can be tranquil at heart when you begin by being thankful for what you have, and for being the one you are. Here is a story that will help you appreciate the heavenly values of being thankful for what you have. A monk came into the monastery late in the night after his discourses, very tired and hungry. He called out his favorite disciple saying “I am so hungry I could swallow the Himalayas”. The disciple went to the kitchen but came back with his arms empty.

“My master”, he said, “there is no food in the kitchen. It is so late in the night and I am afraid it would be difficult now to light a fire...”
The monk stood silent a moment, and murmuring to himself, “Thank God,” lay down to sleep. The disciple was baffled. The master was very hungry, there was no food in the monastery that he could eat, yet he had said “Thank God” and laid himself peacefully down. How could that be?

The curious disciple went over to the master and requested him to tell him the reason for thanking God even though he was hungry and had to retire for the night without food. The master rose, smiled and replied, “Dear one, it is indeed true that I am hungry, and must be without food tonight. But should I not still thank God, for my appetite? Food will come to me tomorrow.”


““I must not worry about that now. I must count myself fortunate that I have a good appetite, which I can relish on the morrow. Just think of all the people who have food before them, but cannot eat any because they have no appetite! Tell me now, am I not more graced by God than they are? When I thanked God, I thanked Him for giving me a good appetite. What would I do, dear, without my appetite?”

When you truly begin to accept yourself inwardly, that’s when you also begin to love, be it Nature, or fellow human beings, and set about to build a happy ambience around you, giving yourself inner peace, and harmony to those around you. In fact, you then switch on the auto pilot of goodness, and things begin to work for you, making you feel free.

You enter a state where alpha waves that help in creativity are active in your brain, helping you to be at ease with yourself. Your surroundings include not only human beings; it includes pets and other living forms as well. When you are at ease with Nature with acceptance that is total, you are calm from within. This state of well-being contributes to a state of overall contentment. No wonder that, having reached such alpha states, St. Francis of Assisi and Ramana Maharshi of Tiruvannamalai would communicate even with the birds, the squirrels, and the bees! The exalted states of relaxation and communication that they achieved were born out of love, kindness, compassion, and sharing born of inner acceptance, where the outer did not matter anymore. In such a state of higher contentment, there is hardly any anxiety or stress.

When stress happens to a person, the brain prepares the body to deal with an emergency. Breathing becomes rapid. Both the brain and the body are put in the defense mode. When you mess yourself up with constant fears, worries and anxieties, wrong signals are issued by the brain to the body system, which affect your health in destructive ways. The immune system that is put on hold to defend the ‘emergency’ comes under continual strain. Constant worry and tension can make your immune system go haywire, exposing you to infections, immunosuppressed diseases, or even cancer, apart from all the mental agony. Negative stress or undesirable stress that imbalances the mind is a potential threat to happiness and peace.

Monkeys made to undergo constant stress in laboratories have shown destructive loss of neurons in the memory encoding areas of the brain. When you worry, refusing to accept yourself or the state you are in, you are detached, introverted, anxious, distanced and all alone, brooding. You can feel your energy draining out from every pore of your being, but you think that the next step of your brooding will end it all, and that you will be happy once again. But that is not true. You’ll just keep holding on to your brooding thoughts and restart your worry all over again. All you get is tiredness, depression, anxiety and fatigue, with an immune system that is running you down because of your stress.


Worry leads to more and more worry, and it isn't the right road to take, especially if you are looking for relaxation and contentment.

We have two choices right in front of us. One is to worry, make our life miserable for ourselves and for others and to die without peace of mind. The other is to accept ourselves for what we are, and to give ourselves and all around us peace and joy, irrespective of what sadness we might have, and to die with peace of mind. Which choice would we rather take?

Remember Superman? For those who think that life has no more meaning because some sudden unfortunate event or change has disrupted the steady flow of life creating a blackout, the book "Still Me" by Christopher Reeve should provide revelation and hope.

‘Still Me’ recounts in moving detail, Reeve’s determined fight back to life and action, after having been paralyzed neck down following a fall from his horse. It recapitulates how from his totally helpless condition, Reeve persevered with his inner courage and confidence to come back to independently move about in his wheel chair and even direct a major movie before his death even though every doctor attending on him had given up hope of his returning to near normal life and movement.

The book reveals the real inner Superman in the heart of the actor who made the Superman comic hero a living legend in the lives of millions of children all over the world. Victorious over his crippled life, Christopher Reeve in ‘Still Me’ becomes the Superman for all the adults the world over. Standing tall in his wheel chair state, Reeve turns into a beacon light of inspiration for millions who need that special need of acceptance in their lives to find alternate strength in disruptive change, and to move forward.

In life's tests, the winner is he who accepts himself entirely, and then goes on to achieve his higher aspirations. He is one who finds strength in change that may even appear disruptive, but uses the change to his advantage using high degrees of self-motivation.’ When you accept yourself, you become ready to search out alternate ways to deal with yourself. Sweet are the uses of acceptance which like a jewel light the paths of our adversity.

About the Author
Gopikrishnan Kottoor is an award winning poet. His poetry can be read at Nth Position online (UK) and New English Review (UK). He has so far published eleven books of poetry.

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