“Wise, spacious, and loving.
Teachings that can free the heart.”
– Jack Kornfield, author of A Lamp in the Darkness and A Path With Heart
Jeff Foster’s new book
The Deepest Acceptance
Radical Awakening in Ordinary Life
published by Sounds True
Also available is an accompanying 7-hour audio set of unscripted, spontaneous spoken teachings by Jeff based on the contents of the book.
How can we find an effortless “YES” to this moment?
How do we stop running from “the mess of life”
– our predicaments and frustrations, even our search for liberation –
and start flowing with all of it?
Jeff Foster invites you to discover the ocean of who you really are:
an open, spacious, ever-present, loving awareness
that has already allowed every wave of thought and emotion to arrive…
Praise for the deepest acceptance
“Foster writes clearly and sincerely, addressing issues like suffering, addictions, and love. Nonsectarian, unassuming, and accessible, Foster’s book achieves substantial commonsense wisdom; highly recommended for the general reader.” – Library Journal, Feb 2013
“A timeless classic through which numberless people will connect with the source of ultimate fulfillment.”– Peter Fenner, PhD, author of Radiant Mind and The Edge of Certainty
“Long after the words have faded from memory, the
intelligence and love with which they are written remain behind and that
is the true gift of this beautiful book.” – Rupert Spira, author of The Transparency of Things
“There is a transmission in this book: an alive, compassionate presence that invites awakening right here, this very moment, no matter what is going on in our lives.” – Tara Brach, PhD, author of Radical Acceptance and True Refuge
“A beautifully written guide to the fearlessness and simplicity of living fully immersed in each moment of our lives. The Deepest Acceptance rings with the power and authenticity of Jeff Foster’s deeply felt, deeply lived wisdom. His affirmation of life and compassion for the full range of human experience is a much needed contribution to nondual spiritual teachings.” – Judith Blackstone, PhD, author of Belonging Here and The Intimate Life
Some words from Jeff on his core teaching of Deep Acceptance:
ARE YOU REALLY A PERSON?
As all the authentic spiritual teachers throughout the ages have been reminding us, in reality you are not a separate individual, not an individual ‘self’, not the story of ‘a person in a world’, but a vast ocean of consciousness in which every little manifest wave of experience – every thought, sensation, image, sound, feeling – arises and dissolves in this moment. You are not limited in space and time – you are the loving capacity for life itself. You are the wide open expanse of awareness in which the manifest world appears and disappears, leaving no trace.
The non-separation of self and world – this is where all religious and spiritual teachings point in the end, and it is now being confirmed by modern science too. Everyone knows this Oneness, deep down. Yes, there is something here, and call it what you will – for not being an ‘it’, it is truly unnameable – right in the depths of present experience; something that doesn’t come and go, something that cannot break or rot or shatter, even in the midst of extreme sadness or pain or fear. It is a place that is always deeply okay, even when things on the surface do not seem okay. Being beyond the opposites, being beyond the dualistic world of thought and language, it is beyond the cycle of birth and death. It was never born and cannot die. It is life itself. It is what you are.
Don’t just believe me – look for yourself. When you bring your attention right back to the present moment, to what’s actually happening right now, what do you find? Do you find a fixed, unchanging, solid entity called a ‘self’? Or do you find that everything here is constantly changing, moving, from moment to moment? Do you find solidity, or do you find a cosmic dance?
Thoughts appear and disappear, all by themselves. Images, memories, ideas all ‘pop’ into awareness, linger for a while, and then disappear. Thoughts of the past, thoughts of the future. Stories about what you should be doing, about what you should have done, about things you need to do tomorrow. Thoughts about what should and shouldn’t happen in the world. All sorts of feelings come and go – sadness, boredom, frustration, anger, fear. Sensations happen all over the body. Sounds appear out of nowhere – traffic outside, a television buzzing, a door opening, the sound of breathing, a bird chirping, tweet tweet!
Everything that appears in what you are, we could call a wave of experience. And so, this thought is a wave. This sensation is a wave. This sound is a wave. This feeling is a wave. Present experience is the ocean of consciousness waving, dancing, playing.
Can you recognise that present experience is always simply this present-moment dance of waves, all happening in the vast ocean that you are? And for ‘ocean’, you can read the word ‘consciousness’ or ‘awareness’ or ‘Being’ or ‘spirit’ or ‘source’ or ‘energy – or whatever word feels right to you. It’s all beyond words, anyway…
“What you are
has already said YES
to this moment….”
THE DEEPEST ACCEPTANCE OF LIFE
Now, let’s take a fresh look at the word ‘acceptance’.
From the perspective of who you really are, as the vast ocean of consciousness, although all the waves (thoughts, sensations, sounds, feelings) are different in appearance, they are the same in essence. They are all water. The strong, violent, painful waves as much as the soft, gentle waves – they are all made of the same ‘stuff’ as you. Thoughts, sounds, pain, sadness, fear – everything is made of consciousness. In this sense, everything that appears in present experience is deeply intimate with what you are.
Therefore, on the deepest level, who you really are does not have a problem with any of the waves that appear. None of the waves can threaten who you really are. How can water threaten water? And so you could say that on the deepest level, who you really are accepts every wave – every thought, every sensation, every feeling. The ocean does not accept some waves and reject others – the unconditional inseparability of the ocean and the waves is the acceptance that I’m talking about. The ocean has no choice but to accept the waves – it is the waves! Acceptance is ‘built-in’ to your present experience!
A question asked by every spiritual seeker: “How can I, a separate person, accept the present moment as it is?” Well, now we see that it’s not a question of you trying to do this deepest acceptance – this acceptance is not a doing. In a sense, if you are trying to accept, you’re already too late, because this acceptance has already been done. Every wave, if it is appearing, has already been accepted into what you are.
In a sense, you have already accepted the present moment, exactly as it is. What you are has already said YES to these thoughts, these sensations, these sounds, these feelings – otherwise they would not be appearing like this. The floodgates are open – this moment has already been allowed in, in its totality.
And so, in my meetings, retreats and books, 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 this new way, that points to this deepest acceptance of life itself, an acceptance, an allowing, that has already been done. And so, when I suggest that you ‘accept’ or ‘allow’ what is – it’s a shorthand way of asking you to simply, gently, effortlessly notice what is present. To notice that in this moment, these thoughts and feelings have already been allowed in.
This recognition is not a time-bound doing, but a present-moment seeing. This is the true meaning of the word ‘meditation’. Meditation means to gently notice what is already here, without trying to change it in any way. There is no expectation in true meditation, which is to say, there is no meditator, nobody separate from what’s appearing.
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, beg for. It’s not an achievement of the separate self, it is not something that comes through years of effort. It’s not a magical event that will happen one day. It’s something to rediscover, right in the midst of your present experience, here and now.
“Even when things fall apart,
there’s something here
that doesn’t fall apart…”
THE DEEP ACCEPTANCE OF NON-ACCEPTANCE
Years ago, 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, but would exhaust myself in the process.
I realise now of course, that there was a secret agenda behind my attempt to accept. I secretly believed that if I accepted the pain, it would go away. I believed that if I accepted my thoughts, they would disappear! It was therefore a rejection of pain, a rejection of thoughts, 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, with any kind of expectation, is not real acceptance – it is rejection in disguise.
What I hadn’t recognised, back then, was the unconditional and deeply accepting nature of who I really was. I was so busy trying to accept that I ended up missing this deep acceptance of life – in which everything, absolutely everything appearing in awareness was already accepted – including my failure to accept! Yes, this is how radical this acceptance is – even your non-acceptance of this moment is accepted here! All waves are accepted by the ocean, and if what’s happening right now is non-acceptance of pain, or fear, or sadness, then those waves are allowed to arise too.
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.
Recognising who you really are – not a separate self, but the calm in the midst of the storm of life – is always possible, even in the midst of physical pain, addictions, relationship conflict and even depression. Even when things fall apart in your life, there is something here that never falls apart. I don’t want you to believe me – I want you to discover this unshakeable peace for yourself. Everything I share, in my books, meetings and retreats, is about this discovery – this simple yet radical awakening to who you really are, beyond your story of yourself.
– Jeff Foster
More praise for the deepest acceptance
“The Deepest Acceptance is the story of a merciful awareness, which offers us the heart’s inborn destination we were born to discover. Love is the highest form of acceptance. Judgment is the mechanics of non-acceptance.” – Stephen Levine, author of A Year to Live
“The Deepest Acceptance is a multi-faceted spiritual gem. Every page transparently illuminates our real nature as naturally accepting, centerless awareness. Jeff has performed a great service in revealing awareness as the already-present source for living our lives in the most loving and meaningful way possible. I am immensely grateful to Jeff for bringing forth the essence of his nondual teaching with such great power, love and sensitivity. A timeless classic through which numberless people will connect with the source of ultimate fulfillment.” – Peter Fenner, PhD, author of Radiant Mind and The Edge of Certainty
“Written with warmth, humility and a gentle but penetrating honesty, Jeff invites the reader to explore those places in themselves that they would most want to avoid and to find there, at their heart, the very thing they were seeking. However, long after the words have faded from memory, the intelligence and love with which they are written remain behind and that is the true gift of this beautiful book.” – Rupert Spira, author of The Transparency of Things
“Jeff has achieved something wonderful with this honest and insightful book – something that benefits all of us and sheds much-needed light on the mystery we call life.” – Stephen Gawtry, Managing Editor, Watkins Mind Body Spirit magazine
“Jeff Foster is an honest seeker who has unraveled the many trappings of seeking through his faithfulness to the humble ground of being here, now.” – Mark Nepo, author of Staying Awake and Seven Thousand Ways to Listen
“This book is a constant invitation to not leave spiritual awakening where it is often left, as a search for experiences, a way to avoid the messiness of life or some sort of head trip. It invites you into every nook and cranny of life’s experience, leaving no stone unturned.” – Scott Kiloby, author of Living Relationship
“Throughout The Deepest Acceptance, Jeff Foster offers sentence after sentence that penetrate the mind and heart in a fresh, thrilling, life-changing way.” – Raphael Cushnir, author of The One Thing Holding You Back and Surfing Your Inner Sea