This week we will look at the basic structure of principle five. We’ll also consider some observations about, and illustrations of, the principle of acceptance in general.
General Considerations and Personal Reflections
And of course, A Story:
Here are some personal reflections. I offer them in the spirit of dialogue and exchange, and look forward to hearing your thoughts about, and experiences with, this principle.
It has been said that this Principle explains how apparent opposites can be reconciled when you change your point of view about the problem or situation.
The extreme heat of summer makes us think of the cool of winter, and the extreme cold of winter makes us think of the warmth of summer. Every difficult situation leads us to remember, or dream about, its opposite. However, when we find ourselves in this other situation we are usually not content for long, and soon find ourselves itching for something else. Each new compensation leads us back to some opposite point. Whenever we are in a difficult situation (that is, when we suffer) the search for a new compensation begins. However, the compensation cannot in itself help us resolve the problem, nor get us past our suffering.
Compared to someone who who has a defined meaning in their life others appear to lack a sense of direction. They’ll also differ noticeably in their attitude, and behaviours when confronting problems. A person who has a clear meaning in their life can see difficulties as things that can serve that meaning, or that can be useful as tools, or lessons, or as a means for self-transformation. That’s a very different attitude than that of trying to avoid, or compensate for, difficulties. A person with an interesting direction faces problems and accepts them, and tries to transform them, or find something useful in them. If the heat of summer and the cold of winter are both useful for me than how can they be opposed to each other.
There’s a tale that illustrates some aspects of this Principle, many of you will know it in some form. Like many of the tales and stories we use to illustrate the principles this one originates in a very different time and place. Despite those distances and those between our historical situations and cultural values, these tales nonetheless afford us a glimpse into how others tried to understand the same realities we are exploring:
There was a man named Job who was upright and feared the lord. He had many sons, and daughters. He had many camels, oxen, asses, sheep and goats. Job’s wealth was great, as was his righteous heart. All through the lands of the East he was known as a wise and just man, always obedient to the will of God.
One day all the sons of God came to present themselves to their lord. Among them the was Satan, the adversary. And God said to Satan: “Where have you been?” And the adversary answered him: “I have been going to and fro on the Earth and going all about it”. And the lord said: “Have you seen my servant Job. He is a just and upright man, without equal in that world.” Satan replied: “Yes, so he seems, but you have blessed him with good health, and family and cattle and riches of all kinds. Stretch forth your hand and take what he has and see if he does not blaspheme you to your face”. So the lord told Satan that he might test Job in every way but not to touch his person.”
In rapid succession Job’s sons were murdered by highwaymen, his sheep lost in a fire, his camels stolen, and a mighty wind destroyed his home. Hearing this news Job fell to the ground and mourned. “Naked I came into the world and naked I will go from it. The lord gives and the lord takes away; blessed be his will. And in all this, Job neither sinned nor cursed God.
So Satan asked God for permission to touch Job’s person. And God agreed, saying only “you must spare his life”. And Job was covered with itching sores from head to foot. So sitting in the ruins of his house he took a roof tile and began to scratch himself. These afflictions and others plagued him for years. And finally his wife said: “How do you remain so simple. Curse God and die. He replied: “We accept God’s goodness, how shall we not accept his evil? Blessed be his name and his will.”
Job’s friends and his neighbours drew away from him. And those he had comforted in their times of need said to him: “Good and evil are distributed to all. But who but a great sinner could receive such woe. Who suffers so much evil from heaven for good deeds, or is the lord unjust?” To this Job answered: “Who am I to judge the designs of God? He has given to me and he has taken from me. Blessed be his decrees”.
And in the end the lord descended to them and he told Job’s erstwhile friends that they had unjustly accused Job who was the most righteous of men. And though he never explained his actions he restored Job’s health and doubled his wealth. And Job lived 140 years and had many children and saw his grandchildren’s grandchildren and their children live and flourish. And Job said: “The lord has taken from me and the lord has given to me. Blessed be his will”.