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Sunday, July 6, 2008

Accept Reality or Create Reality?

Question: Derek, you say Tao cultivators accept reality as it is to avoid the pain and trouble of unrealistic expectations... but then in the following paragraph, you say we are ultimately responsible for creating our own reality. So which is it? Acceptance of reality, or creation of reality?

Answer: Great question! Tao cultivators both accept and create reality. This may sound like a paradox, but it really isn't.

Accepting reality in this context does not imply not wanting to change anything. It means, at any given moment, we accept everything exactly as they are.

This may not sound like much, but think about the people who rail against the way things are. They complain bitterly. They wish things can be different. They regret having done something or having neglected to do something. They rage against fate. Thus, they experience bitterness, remorse, resentment and anger. These destructive emotions rob us of the ability to see things clearly, and therefore plan and implement meaningful changes. They are also expenditures of valuable mental energies which can be better directed to more constructive ends.

Therefore, acceptance of reality means you accept that what's done is done as of this point in time. Our good experiences are blessings for which we are grateful. The bad experiences are lesssons we can learn from, so they are also something to appreciate. We recognize that since none of us can travel back in time to change what has already taken place, we may as well make our peace with the universe, and realize that up until this moment, everything has proceeded exactly as it was meant to, and the result is the totality of our present being.

Then, from this mindset of calmness and composure, we can contemplate the next series of questions:

  • How should my reality be from this moment on?
  • What kind of reality in my future would give me the most fulfillment and satisfaction?
  • What exactly do I want my reality to be, if I can create whatever I want?
  • What will I attempt to achieve, if I know I cannot fail?

Once you have developed fairly good ideas about the above, it's time to think about actively participating in the business of living so you can move closer to your vision. It's time to contemplate actions and changes. Cultivators of the authentic Tao realize that existence is all about the constancy of change, so wanting to make changes isn't "going against nature." Changes will occur - that is an ironclad given we have learned from Tao teachings. The only question is, will they be changes coming from us, or from random external factors?

If this leads you to making a mindful decision to take charge of your destiny, then you are ready to consider the most important question of all: What can I do to direct my destiny along the right path?

When you arrive at this point, you have owned up to your ultimate responsibility to create your reality. You have, essentially, set foot on the Tao that stretches ahead of you into eternity.

2 comments:

xelados said...

Great job on finding that question and providing an equally well-thought answer. If I may, I have a small story to tell that supports this ideal. For brevity's sake, I will omit some personal and nitty gritty details.

My fiancée left the home that I live in 2 days ago. Life has become quite turbulent lately, with many issues coming up that need concrete, committed decisions to be made. One could say that my fiancée never had to make decisions so quickly, nor had to think critically under pressure. I believe that is why she moved back in with her family. Regardless, my bedroom became quite empty, and the companion that I could expect to be there every day had disappeared.

This incident bothered me, but I took care not to let my emotions get the best of me. I took a mental step backwards and analyzed the situation from many different angles. You could say that, for a moment, I disregarded my self and its expectations. Instead, I focused on what was real and what was "now".

My conclusion was a mix of clarity and longing, but I took to heart a very important concept of the Tao: emptiness. While my fiancée was living with me, our lives were very full. It was hard to find time to do our own things, and the physical space in my room was very limited. Her relocation did quite a few things that are surprisingly beneficial:

1. Each of us regained our own personal spaces, even if they were separated by a few miles.
2. We each gained more mental and spiritual space. Without our companion around all the time, we are now more able to focus on life and our respective families.
3. We each gained time. Time that was previously spent cuddling or being bored together can now be spent doing the things we each like to do.

So, by stepping back and understanding that the sudden emptiness in both of our lives could be useful, I was able to handle the situation and am already beginning to settle into the schedule I had before she moved in 7 months ago. It's also taught me that loving someone doesn't mean having them by your side 24/7; sometimes letting go is the best thing to do.

I apologize for rambling, but I felt it was relevant.

Derek said...

Excellent. I can easily imagine someone else in the same position having a completely different experience: Emotional upset, rage, depression, withdrawal, pleading, thoughts of retaliation, questioning self-worth, and so on. This kind of negative energy can really get in the way of life. Taken to an extreme, it can even be crippling.

I think you have demonstrated a great example of how knowing something about the Tao can really come in handy in daily living - especially during a time of personal crisis great and small.

On the other hand, if everyone got seriously into the Tao, Jerry Springer may have a tougher time finding guests for his show. ;)