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.